presto ttc

Toronto is finally testing contactless credit card payment on Presto machines this week

Though Toronto's public transit system has in the past received recognition for being one of the best in North America, the TTC still lags behind networks in other countries where lines reach more parts of the city, trains are actually on time and advancements like contactless card payments make life a whole lot easier for commuters.

This last, quite simple switch is something that the TTC has been looking into for some time, especially with the problems it's had with the Presto system.

And this week Metrolinx has decided to, at long last, test out "open payment" tap options on Presto fare readers.

Users will be able to simply tap their credit card or mobile wallet to the reader, which normally only accepts Presto cards, to pay for their fare.

The new technology works with physical Visa, Mastercard, and American Express cards, as well as Google Pay and Apple Pay, including Apple Watches.

The pilot program launched today, and will only run on the four-stop UP Express train between Union Station and Toronto Pearson International Airport for now.

Customers are reminded that with this method of payment, they will need to also tap off with the same card or device at the end of their trip.

As the transit agency said at the end of last year, there will be the potential for extension of the test program to the TTC in 2023 if all goes smoothly during this beta phase.

It would mean the eventual replacement of all Presto tap readers throughout the system — at stations as well as on buses and streetcars — which will take significant funds and time to fully roll out.

Metrolinx's sights are set on getting the concept onto GO Transit first, and also to adapt it to accept debit as well as credit card payments by this spring.

As the TTC Board notes, its current base term agreement with Presto expires "as early as November 2027," and with all of the malfunction issues its had with the relatively new system — which it introduced in late 2016 to replace our anachronistic tickettoken and cash fares — new alternatives would not be surprising.

Given that not being able to quickly and easily pay for a fare with the tap of a bank card is one of the biggest complaints that riders in Toronto have about the TTC, there's no doubt that this new development will be happily welcomed by residents if it is indeed expanded to the whole system.

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