Presto Comes to YRT

August 13 update: There will be additional events to be held in the coming week. They will be at Richmond Hill Centre Terminal Tuesday August 16 and Wednesday August 17 from 1:00 pm to 6:30 pm. They will be at Finch GO Bus Terminal on Thursday August 18 from 1:00 pm to 6:30 pm, and again on Saturday August 20 from 11 am to 5:30 pm.

Correction to Autoload details: The threshold for triggering Autoload may be set between $20 and $60. The amount of the Autoload may be set between $20 and $1000. 

July 28 update: After a Presto card is registered, it may be used immediately. In order for it to be fully activated, one must either “tap in” or perform a balance query at a Presto terminal after 24 hours. This amount of time is necessary for the registration information to propagate to all terminals in the system in order for it to be delivered to your card. If you want to log into your card’s account online, you will need to wait another 24 hours from your first post-24-hour tap before that can take place.

YRT rolled out Presto on its buses and VIVA service on July 18. Over the past week, they have held events at Finch Station and Richmond Hill Centre to provide up to 5000 cards with the $6 issuance fee waived. For the price of $19 (cash only) you will get a card with a $19 balance on it and it will be registered on site. They are registering the cards  I had the opportunity to stop by Richmond Hill Centre to get a card and ask a few questions. Before getting into the technical details, let me say that the staff was very friendly and helpful, in particular Lori Bowers, YRT’s Public Relations Coordinator.

Currently on YRT, only the ticket fare is implemented. This means that when you “tap on” when boarding a bus or at a Vivastation, $2.60 will be deducted from your balance. They are working on implementing a monthly pass cap, but until that is in place they are recommending that people who are pass users continue with the pass. Despite this, if you use it for at least 32 fares in a single month from a single service provider, it is possible to get a receipt that may be used when filing your income tax return to get the transit tax credit.

I look forward to the implementation of a monthly pass cap, as I occasionally have to travel in my work and don’t usually know more than a week or two in advance. The decision to use tickets or a pass can be a gamble for me, but with a monthly pass cap on Presto, it wouldn’t matter. Each use will deduct $2.60, and when the price of the pass (currently $105) has been deducted in the month, nothing further is deducted for that month.

Even if you are not in my situation and always use a monthly pass, Presto will mean you don’t have to fork over $105 before the month begins, and you won’t have to rush out at the last minute to get the pass before a store that sells them runs out (been there, done that a few times). Simply sign up for a $20 Autoload that will instantly add a balance of $20 to your card by charging your bank account or credit card each time the Presto balance drops below a set threshold. That way, the $105 would be paid in smaller increments throughout the month, and if you don’t end up using $105 worth of fares, you only pay for what you use.

Autoload can be set up to add any amount from $20 to $1000 when your Presto balance drops below an amount that you choose (from $20 to $60).

If you also use GO Transit, you know that Presto can be used for your GO fare, but did you know that when using YRT to get to or from GO, the 50 cent “ride to GO” fare is automatically implemented? When travelling to GO, $2.60 will be deducted from your Presto balance when you “tap on” on the YRT bus. When you use Presto for your GO fare, the amount of the GO fare minus $2.10 will be deducted, so your ride to go on YRT only costs you 50 cents. When returning, the system knows you were just on GO, so the “tap on” on the YRT bus will only deduct the 50 cents.

Presto implements the YRT 2-hour transfers nicely as well. When you “tap on” initially, the $2.60 fare is deducted from your balance. A subsequent “tap on” on a YRT bus within two hours will not deduct from your balance, and the display on the terminal will show this along with how much time remains in your two hours.

The Presto terminals at Vivastations may be used to check your balance, but a word of warning is in order. When using this feature, you should press the “Balance” button first with your hand that is NOT holding your Presto card. If you try to push the button with the same hand that is holding the card, it is very likely the sensor will read your card before you press the button and you will end up paying a fare at that moment as it can be fairly sensitive. The default operation of the terminal is to “tap on” a single zone fare, and that is what will happen if a button is not pressed first, so the same advice will apply if you plan on needing a two-zone fare.

Watch for upcoming announcements as there are plans to have events in Newmarket and at Promenade Mall.

The $19 charge gets you a Presto card with a $19 balance on it. Ordinarily, this would cost $25 as there is the issuance fee. Only cash is accepted at these events and they appear to have a good supply of loonies on hand since many people, myself included, likely have a $20 bill on them. I am sure they would appreciate it if you do have exactly $19, though.

One Response to “Presto Comes to YRT”

  1. Leo Says:

    These events are quite handy. I picked up a card and used it right away to tap onto the subway at Finch.