It has been a few weeks since the TTC discontinued Metropasses in favour of Presto monthly passes as part of their switch to Metrolinx’s cashless fare system. The change however has not been without criticism from some community residents.
Bobbie is one of several University Heights residents frustrated with the replacement of monthly TTC metropasses for Presto. When commuting to work on the 60 Steeles West bus she opts for tokens or cash. As Bobbie explained: “I take the bus from the intersection where I live to work. Between my home and workplace there’s no subway station or I have to find a Shoppers. I don’t do online banking so I don’t use Presto.”
Presently, Presto users’ options for reloading their cards are limited. Users can only add funds or purchase a monthly pass at Presto Fare Vending Machines in TTC subway stations, at a Shoppers Drug Mart or online at prestocard.ca. While users do not need to travel to load their passes online, the online loading presents its own issues. Funds can take up to 24 hours to be added to a user’s Presto card which may lead to them being unable to pay their fare if they need to travel immediately. Additionally, there are residents such as Bobbie who do not use online banking services making online loading a non-option.
Though Presto is designed with convenience and availability in mind, these remain primary issues for residents who have yet to make the switch. As Bobbie said: “I wouldn’t mind eventually using Presto, but it’s an inconvenience to me right now. I used to buy my Metropass at the lottery stand and I bought tokens because they’re more available.”
Such concerns over Presto’s accessibility reveal potential service gaps that can disproportionately affect some residents using public transit. As the TTC continues their plan to phase out tokens and tickets later this year with Metrolinx’s proposed single-fare Presto replacement; they must ensure the Presto-based replacement is as widely available as their current fare system. Otherwise, Toronto’s public transit may inadvertently be made less accessible for more vulnerable groups such as low-income residents and seniors who will have to go out of their way to accommodate Presto’s limited availability.