PRESTO grows bigger and digitally better
Call it a growth spurt.
PRESTO, Metrolinx’s transit fare payment system used across Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe region, as well as Ottawa, is now a very popular 10-year-old go-getter.
Digitally savvy and gaining muscle? Check. This year has already seen PRESTO replace the traditional Metropass across the TTC as well as the recent full rollout of the PRESTO app for both iOS and Android devices – and its only February!
Social? You bet. There are now more than 3 million unique PRESTO card users in Ontario.
To understand how far PRESTO has come, let’s look back at the early years. While there were pilot projects before full implementation, the payment method began in 2009 as Metrolinx’s cornerstone tap-and-go fare card. The electronic smartcards are a way to move from a cash, paper ticket and token system of paying for transit trips, and over the years have become a trusted way for customers to pay for their trips on GO Transit – and beyond.
Today, 11 transit agencies across Ontario use PRESTO, and the system has a satisfaction rate of 80 per cent among customers.
You don’t accomplish that in baby steps. The rollout of PRESTO across the province has been a technically complex fare payment project. Integrating a fare payment system across 11 different transit systems with their own distinct fare policies and structures – including the TTC, which is the largest transit system in the country and the third largest in North America – required a customized solution and an extraordinary amount of work.
“It’s not just about rolling out technology,” said executive vice president of PRESTO, Annalise Czerny.
“This has always been about improving the transit experience for our customers. PRESTO not just guarantees the lowest fare but makes the journey more seamless. In many cases, that little card in their wallet – and now the PRESTO app – is as much a part of their daily lives as their car keys and phones.”
Despite how complex the implementation, PRESTO now connects these transit agencies and makes it easier to take transit throughout the Greater Golden Horseshoe region and Ottawa. With a PRESTO card, a customer can board a GO bus in Hamilton, transfer at a discounted fare to the TTC at Union, and hop on and off for 2 hours on that same TTC fare – all with a few taps of a card.
Helping this is a list of exclusive PRESTO Perks – discounts on some of Toronto’s top attractions, including The Royal Ontario Museum, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, the Art Galley of Ontario, LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Toronto, the Hockey Hall of Fame and the Aga Khan Museum. All customers need to do is show their PRESTO cards. There’s even a savings for new members of Bike Share Toronto.
Now add the digital muscle of the PRESTO app, which went through beta testing in December and January and has now been fully launched. Customers can track their usage and load funds and passes onto PRESTO cards through the app with a debit or credit card or through other saved payment methods, such as Apple Pay.
For most Android phones with NFC capabilities, the app allows customers to load funds and passes instantly to a PRESTO card simply by holding it on the back of a phone. And for added peace of mind, all users can check their balance, review trip history, or set up Autoload or Autorenew to ensure they always have enough funds to travel.
There’s also an alert system that lets customers know when the balance drops below a certain amount or when the pass is about to expire. With a clean and simple black and white design and prompts and instructions that are easy to follow, the app gives everyone a smoother, more straightforward transit experience.
Just like the PRESTO card itself.
And for a 10-year-old, that shows remarkable maturity.