Metrolinx to test out tapping payment system using phone or cards

Nov 5 2019, 8:02 am

Commuters will no longer have to deal with frustrating and malfunctioning PRESTO fare machines, as Metrolinx says the provincial transit agency is planning on rolling out an open payment trial in the future.

Open payment would give riders the opportunity to pay for their fare by tapping a contactless credit card, debit card, or a mobile phone on a PRESTO reader.

Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster announced the open payment trial on Monday at a press conference in Etobicoke with Mayor John Tory and Premier Doug Ford.

Anne-Marie Aikins, a spokesperson for Metrolinx, said the transit agency is “actively working” to ensure equipment is in place to support additional payment options such as open payment.

“For instance, later this month, we’re beginning a phased rollout of upgraded payment devices across GO Transit and 905 transit agencies before the existing ones, which have been in field for nearly 10 years, reach their end-of-life. These new devices have the built-in capabilities to support open payment,” said Aikins.

The new Station and bus readers we will test in the 905 in the coming weeks/Courtesy of Metrolinx

Aikins added that system upgrades will also need to take place in order to enable open payment technology and we’re currently developing a detailed roadmap for this work which we hope to share soon.

As for making this a reality, Aikins said there are components of the equipment — not the fare gates themselves — that need to be upgraded. She added that Metrolinx is currently in discussions with the TTC to develop a plan moving forward.

The new Station and bus readers we will test in the 905 in the coming weeks/Courtesy of Metrolinx

However, this new payment option won’t be happening overnight. Aikins said Metrolinx has “very exciting” plans for modernizing PRESTO, and the provincial transit authority has been actively sharing and discussing these plans with all of its partners, including the TTC.

“We are still working to finalize these plans and will have more information to share in the future,” said Aikins.

This announcement comes after an Auditor General Report on PRESTO equipment and lost revenue on the TTC found that when PRESTO vending devices on the new streetcars are out of service, it’s because no one is regularly emptying coins from the machines.

“Due to issues, limitations, and a complicated system, the TTC may not be getting all the passenger revenue it should,” reads the report.