presto toronto

The 5 worst things about Presto

Presto is officially the sole fare system of the TTC, and it's safe to say that the Metrolinx-managed smartcard has its flaws. From the Presto readers down to basic card functions, it feels like commuters have to deal with glitches on the daily. Maybe we should have listened to the TTC Union and let Metropasses stick around a bit longer.

Here are the five worst things about Presto. 

The 24-hour rule

At this point, we've all heard about (or experienced) what happens if you lose a card—nothing.

Until 24 hours later, that is, when Presto and all the other GTHA agencies can update their systems. Which means that is someone finds your card, they have a full day to use up the funds on it, even if you've already reported it missing and cancelled it.

And that's only if your money has even gone through: it also takes 24 hours for online payments to load onto your card. The only way to avoid the wait is to make your way over to the self-serve Reload Machines inside the TTC stations, or set up an auto-load.

But, with auto-load, if someone gets their hands on your Presto card, their only limit is your credit limit.

Presto machinery

Whether it's the card readers, the gates, or the re-loading machines, it always feels like there's at least one piece of Presto equipment not quite performing to par. 

Sure, malfunctioning card readers in streetcars might equal a free subway ride, but is that what we really want for our transit system? And don't get us started on the loading machines at St. Andrew station.

Plus, the Presto gates inside subway stations always seem to open up one beat slower than necessary for seamless exiting, which is a major cramp in Toronto's commuter style. 

Not showing the balance

There's nothing worse than tapping your card and realizing you don't have enough money left for a trip.

It would save us the sweaty palms if every card reader could tell you how much is remaining on your balance every time to you use it—that's what the Octopus card in Hong Kong does (and many others). 

Plus you'd be able to track whether you're still in a two-hour transfer window, or on a continuous trip, because that can get confusing.

The Presto mobile app

Yes, we finally have one, but it's still in beta mode—so we actually don't. When it's finalized, you'll reportedly be able to view your transaction history, load your card via NFC (if you're an Android user), and receive a reminder every time your balance is running low.

In the meantime, you'll have to sign into your account via the clunky web browser. 

The cost to buy it

It costs $6 to buy a Presto card. It may not seem like much, but consider this: you've already paid an equivalent of two Presto TTC trips (it's $3 per ride for adults) without going anywhere. If you're a tourist or someone living on a tight budget, it may not be that affordable after all. 

Lead photo by

@illyamykytyn


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