The Presto card has been around for a while, but not everyone knows what the Presto card is or what benefits it has. Read below for some details on this new fare collection system and answers to some frequently asked questions.
As described on the official website the Presto card, Presto is an electronic fare collection system that enables transit riders in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) to move within and between transit systems using one fare media.
Presto works as both a monthly pass and a bus ticket in Hamilton, and is similar in implementation to the MasterCard PayPass. Once entering an HSR bus a transit user ‘taps’ their Presto card on the reader in lieu of tickets or cash.
The Presto card can be used to replace paper monthly passes, paper tickets and the cash fare. These methods of payment will not go away, but Presto offers an easier and seamless method of payment without having to worry about buying tickets or having exact change.
A monthly pass can be loaded onto Presto which will allow unlimited travel on any HSR buses for one calendar month. Currently a monthly pass can only be loaded at the HSR Ticket Office at the Hamilton GO Centre. The cost of a monthly pass on Presto is $87.00, the same cost as a paper pass.
As of January 2, 2013, riders can now obtain a $20.00 pre-loaded Adult PRESTO card from the Dundas Municipal Service Centre and / or Hamilton City Hall, as well as re-load e-purse and Month Passes, check PRESTO balances, and settle PRESTO overdrafts.
Presto can also be loaded with a dollar value which can be redeemed for single trips, much the same as using cash or a bus ticket. While the cash fare for the HSR is $2.55, the fare when using Presto is $2.00, much the same as a paper bus ticket. A dollar value can be loaded at any Presto kiosk in the GTHA, including the Hamilton GO Centre.
Transfer time for fares paid with Presto are the same as paper tickets and cash at two hours.
There is a one time $6.00 activation fee when purchasing a new Presto card for the first time. Topping up your card, or buying a new monthly pass on the same card, is not subject to an additional fee.
Once your card is registered on the Presto website you can set your card to auto-refill so you will never be without your bus fare. At a predetermined level you set, your card will top up. This can be set to a credit card or with pre-authorized debit from a bank account.
Another great feature of the Presto card is the security feature for lost or stolen cards. Subject to a $6.00 fee, your pass or cash balance can be transferred to a new card. With traditional tickets, passes and cash fares once they are lost they are gone.
One of the questions I’ve come across is what happens when the Presto reader on board an HSR bus is out of service.
If the reader states ‘stand by’ the driver can boot up the unit to allow the card to be tapped. If the reader states ‘out of service’ this is a different story.
A representative from the Hamilton Street Railway clarifies what happens. “If the Presto machine malfunctions then the operator will accept the passenger without payment for that one bus. The bus is then put out of service and a change off of buses occurs at which point the bus with the broken Presto machine is brought back to the garage for repair.”
No numbers are currently available on what percentage of transit users are using the Presto card, but the numbers appear to be growing.