On June 22, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) announced that tickets and tokens would be phased out by mid-2017. Instead, passengers will use a PRESTO card to access the city’s public transportation.

Currently, PRESTO holders can use their cards on the new streetcars and at 26 subway stations. This includes the four subway stations in the immediate vicinity of U of T’s St. George (UTSG) campus: Queen’s Park, Museum, St. George, and Spadina.

The TTC has plans to roll out PRESTO card readers throughout the rest of the transit system by the end of 2016. GO Transit implemented the system a number of years ago, as did many other transit systems across the GTA.

What this means for commuters

Commuter students who live outside the City of Toronto frequently need to carry tokens or tickets along with their PRESTO card.

“As a commuter student this would make life easier — having to buy tokens/tickets seems like no big deal, but it’s a real hassle considering that you have to buy them so often,” said Haris Raheel, a student who commutes to U of T from Oshawa.

Victoria Barbosa, a Toronto commuter student, acknowledged the advantages of PRESTO. “If I can just use a card [instead of using tokens], it would make things easier. Also, there would be no need for transfers and wasting all that paper.”

Tanzim Rashid, a commuter student and daily PRESTO user, recognizes the lack of PRESTO reload booths. “[Relying] so heavily on PRESTO would mean relying equally on PRESTO reload booths,” he explained. Rashid, however, described this move as “smart and pragmatic.”

“An improvement”

“We welcome any efforts to improve the commutes of commuter students. If the phasing-out of paper tickets and tokens in favour of PRESTO helps with this, then we welcome the change,” commented Benjamin Atkins and Gabriel Zoltan-Johan, co-presidents of the Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council (VUSAC) in a joint statement.

Atkins and Zoltan-Johan also expressed VUSAC’s commitment to improving commuter students’ experiences. Notably, the co-presidents worked with Jasmine Denike, University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) vp external, to push for the installation of PRESTO card readers at Museum station following a “multi-year endeavour.”

Denike praised this move as an improvement. “It should be more plausible to create a reloadable post-secondary student rate that could be lower than the $112 offered now,” she said.

She further expressed her desire to eliminate the post-secondary student ID card requirement when carrying a post-secondary student Metropass. She also hopes the transition to PRESTO cards will lead the way to a reduction in fares for university students.

Ryan Gomes, UTSU vp internal & services, anticipates that the UTSU’s TTC token-selling services would have to undergo the same change, and that it would be the responsibility of a future successor. “I would hope that the VP Internal at the time does pursue reloading PRESTO cards as a service that could be provided to the membership,” Gomes said.

The TTC has also expressed their desire to make Metropasses and day passes “a thing of the past.” However, there are no concrete plans on how Metropasses or day passes will fit into the PRESTO framework at the moment.