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Presto! Greater Toronto Transportation Authority Phasing in Smart Card Solution

Soon, public transit riders in the Toronto area will be able to replace tickets, passes, and transfers with a single card. The “Presto” card, which will be tested this month in Mississauga, is a smart card that calculates and collects transfer fares. The Greater Toronto Transportation Authority (GTA) is handling the process of phasing in the program across the region. By 2010, the Presto card system is expected to seamlessly link nine separate transit systems between Oshawa and Hamilton.

To utilize the Presto card, riders must first load the card with a certain dollar value. To pay a fare, the rider then taps the card onto a special fare card reader in a transit station or when entering a bus or train. By using a single, contactless smart card for various forms of public transit, riders are treated to a far more simplified and convenient travel experience.

One organization closely watching this month’s trial run in Mississauga is Guelph Transit which also plans on moving to smart cards. The hope in Guelph is that its card solution will work in conjunction with the program used in the Greater Toronto Area. A high percentage of public transit riders in Guelph are university students. Ideally, Guelph transit authorities would like a smart card fare program that will work for university transit as well as Guelph public transit, along with transportation systems outside the city, such as those which will be using the Presto card program in the Greater Toronto Area.