‘I still use tokens’: Switch to Presto monthly passes reveals fare accessibility issues for residents

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.


Swapping Metropasses for Presto passes: TTC discontinuing Metropasses this December

TTC Metropass users will need make the switch over to Presto by the end of this year. The TTC will be discontinuing old Metropasses in favour of monthly Presto passes. The move marks a significant milestone in the TTC’s adoption of the fully cashless payment system operated by Metrolinx.

According to the TTC’s website, the last day Metropasses will be accepted is December 31, 2018. Tickets and tokens however will be accepted until the end of 2019 when Presto has introduced single fare Presto passes to replace them.

The TTC monthly pass on Presto works exactly the same way as the old TTC Metropass at the same cost. It provides unlimited travel for a month, the only difference being that you tap your Presto card on a card reader instead of swiping it or showing it to a fare collector. Those new to Presto will need to create an account on the Presto website and register their card if they want to automatically renew their monthly pass.

The discounted Metropass rates for seniors, youth, and post-secondary students are carried over to Presto. However, “seniors, youths and post-secondary students must set a senior, youth or post-secondary fare type on their card at Shoppers Drug Mart locations or at the TTC’s Customer Service Centre above Davisville Station, before they can purchase a monthly pass” as indicated on the Transit Commission’s website. Users also have the option of purchasing a 12-month pass which serves as a replacement for the old Metropass Discount Plan.

New users will need to be aware of some considerations as they switch over to Presto. Funds and monthly passes that are purchased online take up to 24 hours to be loaded to cards so these should be purchased ahead of time to ensure you can use your card. Additionally, the TTC monthly pass only applies to travel on the TTC. To pay YRT and Mi-Way fares, you will need to pay cash or load your Presto card will additional funds that are separate from your monthly pass.