A small number of Greater Toronto Area commuters are getting their first taste of a smart fare card that will allow them to navigate the region's myriad transit systems.
Seventy-five riders from the GTA began using the Presto card on Monday as part of a pilot project initiated by Metrolinx, the regional transit agency.
The credit-card sized pass is machine-readable and reloadable and will eventually work on all public transportation in the Greater Toronto Area.
Users can load money onto the cards online, by phone or at participating stations.
Those currently enrolled in the pilot project can use their cards at three GO Transit stations — Union, Oakville, and Bronte. Some Oakville Transit buses are also equipped to read the Presto card.
The only Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) station that takes the card is Union, although the program will be expanded to include other major stations in the coming months.
Reader deducts fare automatically
The vice-president of policy and planning of Metrolinx said using the card is easy.
"So you arrive at the station, you tap on to a little register," Leslie Woo told CBC News. "It deducts automatically from your card that you registered with a certain amount of money … and you're on your way and that's it. No transfers, no metal, no paper."
In the next three weeks, 500 people will begin testing the Presto Card, Woo said.
The program will be steadily expanded over the next few months to include a number of stations and transit agencies.
Coming by Spring 2010:
* Oakville Transit.
* Burlington Transit.
* GO's Lakeshore West Georgetown and Milton rail lines.
* TTC's Bloor/Yonge College, Dundas, Queen’s Park, St. George, St. Patrick stations.
Coming by Fall 2010:
* Mississauga transit.
* Brampton transit.
* GO Transit's Lakeshore East, Barrie and Richmond Hill GO rail lines and bus routes.
* Hamilton Street Railway.
* TTC's Kipling and Islington stations
By the winter of 2011:
* Durham Region Transit
* York Region Transit
* GO Transit's Stouffville GO Rail line and all remaining GO Bus routes
* The TTC's Don Mills, Downsview and Finch Subway stations.
Ottawa's OC Transpo system is also expected to begin using the card system by the winter of 2011. The province has awarded a $250-million 10-year contract to management consultant company Accenture to design and implement the Presto card system.