Monday, September 5, 2011

Presto: the Toronto Transit Card

Over the summer, York Region Transit set up booths around York Region selling discounted Presto cards. The full cost of a Presto card is $25. Six of the 25 goes to paying for the card itself while the rest goes into the card for transit use.

I read the week before last week's Markham Economist and Sun and saw an article about how a group of people wanted a refund on their Presto card because its registration and set up was mafan. Though my sister and I also went through the trouble of activating it and setting it up, we kept our cards.

My sister and I each bought a Presto card at a YRT Presto event in Vaughan Mills this summer. The laptops at the event that were meant for people to register their cards weren't working, so we went back home. We registered our cards online at, but learned that the cards are defaulted to charge users the regular adult price. My sister wanted her card to charge student transit prices for YRT, so we went to YRT's Richmond Hill office [which is inside the York Region building] to get it set up. We had to wait in line before being attended to, but we didn't mind the wait. It only took 5 minutes for the lady at the office to set up the card. I recently received my GO transit student ID, but I have no idea where I can get my Presto card set up for Go student pricing. I will try the YRT Richmond Hill office first, then the nearest GO stations.

Presto's website said that the card's activation has to be completed by using it 7 days after activating it. I used my card when boarding a YRT bus within the 7 days after activating it, but my sister did not. She freaked out for awhile and complained about how stupid it was that Presto cards had to be activated again by using it when she didn't need to use it. She waited 3 weeks before using her card and it still worked!

Compared to Hong Kong's octopus transit card that takes less than 10 minutes to set up and activate, yeah, Presto is annoying. ... I also think Presto cards look ugly compared to the octopus cards, but I love using transit cards. You can keep them at the end of your wallet and scan your wallet. (Just make sure no one steals your wallet.) How cool is that?

Transit cards

[September 10, 2011]

I transferred buses using the Presto card for the first time today. I was charged the appropriate fare after scanning the Presto card on the first bus. The Presto machine displayed the amount it charged and the remaining time (1-hour and 59-minutes) I had left to ride the bus [like a paper transfer]. When I scanned my Presto card on the second bus, the machine showed that I was charged $0.00 and that I had 40-minutes left.

I like how I don't have to worry about losing my paper transfer.

[September 14, 2011]

It seems that if you stick to a certain route within the YRT's area, there aren't that many problems with the Presto card. I met a lady at the bus stop the other day that said she used her Presto card on the (2) Denison bus. She asked for a transcript to get on the northbound Warden TTC bus but the bus driver denied her one. When she arrived at Denison and Warden, she found out that the TTC bus did not have a Presto machine, so she had to walk.

[September 17, 2011]

I learned last year that York Region Transit and GO Transit have a system together where you can pay 50 cents for rides to and from GO transit stations on the YRT. My first time transferring from a GO bus to a YRT bus during the Presto era was a few days ago. I paid fifty cents and asked the bus driver for a transfer. He hit a touch screen next to him with a finger and I waited for him to hand over a transfer paper. No paper. It felt like the driver was ignoring me because he didn't say anything or show eye contact. I noticed that the old area where a stack of transfer papers sat was empty, so I accepted the fact that maybe he just didn't have any transfers. I took a seat and prepared for a 30-minute walk home.

As I was sitting in the bus the next day, a lady walked into the bus, inserted her ticket, and asked for a transfer. The bus driver hit the touch screen next to him and out came a paper from behind the screen. It was a transfer paper! When the bus stopped at a red light, the driver got out of his seat and put in a new roll of paper behind the screen. Since I've been using the Presto card, I haven't asked for transfers and people who enter the bus after me haven't asked for one either. I guess the transfer machine from the day before ran out of paper, because I certainly did not see anything come out from behind the touch screen.

[November 24, 2011]

YRT and viva in my area have been on strike for awhile now, so I decided not to add money to the card. I still haven't tried adding money to the card at the Go station... I'll do that when the strike's over [and if they decide to continue using the card].


  1. Hi there,
    Just wondering if you still have the Presto card with that design from the picture? Thanks!

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