Presto cards are coming to the TTC (finally), pushing Toronto transit into the late 20th century

Presto cards are coming to the TTC (finally), pushing Toronto transit into the late 20th century

City council is poised to adopt Presto for the TTC (Image: Jeff S)

One of the stranger fights that plagued the last few months of David Miller’s mayoral tenure was between Toronto and Queen’s Park over the expansion of the Presto smart card payment system. Miller and then–TTC chair Adam Giambrone wanted the city to back a different form of electronic payment, one that would have allowed people to pay directly with their credit or debit cards. But with word that the TTC is still committed to rolling out Presto—despite lingering financial issues—it seems that Miller and his protégé have lost that fight for good.

From the Toronto Star:

A TTC staff report before the city councillors on the transit commission Wednesday recommends the city and the TTC begin negotiating this month with Metrolinx and the province on the financial and operating terms for adopting Presto…

There will be $140 million available for the TTC to adopt Presto — shared between the province, Ottawa and the city. TTC staff and the city will have to talk to the federal government, however, about the steps required to obtain that third of the funding under the Canadian Strategic Infrastructure Fund, says the TTC report.

Ottawa and Queen’s Park want to throw $140 million our way? Great—even if it’s not enough to cover the costs of a full rollout of Presto to all of the city’s subways, buses and streetcars. So, at least at first, this will actually be a step backwards from the Metropass: riders will need plastic, tokens and paper transfers to get around the city for some time. That said, it’s nice to see the city finally, albeit fitfully, embracing 1990s-level technology for TTC fares. Up next: the Internet—is it just a fad?

• Exclusive: TTC changes mind, wants to give Presto smart cards green light [Toronto Star]
TTC to move ahead with Presto card plan [CBC]