What you need to know about PRESTO before jumping on transit again

Whether it’s heading to school or the office, customers returning to transit this fall can take advantage of enhancements PRESTO has made over the last few months to make their transit experience easier.  With app enhancements, PRESTO customers will be able to load funds and passes instantly, check their balances in real-time, and more. Here’s a handy rundown of some changes and helpful reminders.

For those ready to ride transit again, one of the first questions may be ‘Now where did I leave my PRESTO card?’

It’s difficult to help with that – though check your old wallet in your dresser drawer, beside that sweater your aunt bought you.

A bit easier is a walkthrough of PRESTO features introduced during COVID, as well as some reminders of functions and tools and shortcuts some customers may have forgotten.

Loading funds and passes

With the enhanced PRESTO app, customers can now load their PRESTO card(s) with funds or transit passes, by simply holding their PRESTO card to the back of their smartphone.  That means you can top up your card from wherever you are, and the funds will instantly be available.

Here’s a video on how to use the app to load your card.

Check Balance

PRESTO app users can also now instantly and easily check their card balance, transaction history, and last time they tapped on by using the ’check balance’ button located in the bottom right corner of your card home page. When it comes to checking your balance in real time, the check balance button is your best bet. The balance displayed on the homepage of the app takes a little longer to update so won’t reflect that load you just made.

Autoload

If you want to always stay topped up with funds, consider setting up Autoload. Autoload automatically and instantly loads funds to your PRESTO card whenever your balance falls below a minimum balance you set, so that you’ll always have the funds you need to travel.

For customers setting up autoload for the first time, just be mindful that you need a PRESTO account to set it up and it could take up to 24 hours for the settings to kick-in. And don’t forget to tap your card on a PRESTO device after this time to complete the process.

For more information on how to load your PRESTO card, click here.

Purchasing a PRESTO card

Customers that have either lost or need to purchase a new PRESTO card, have several options.

Customers can purchase a PRESTO card by visiting a local Shoppers Drug Mart, a Fare Vending Machine (located in all TTC subway stations), a Ticket Vending Machine (located in all GO Transit and UP Express stations) or a PRESTO customer service outlet. Click here for a full list of locations.

If you don’t already have one, set up a PRESTO account to take advantage of benefits like balance protection. And, if you already have an account, this is a good time to make sure your account information is up to date, including profile information, email verification and security questions and answers.

A person holds a PRESTO card.
Setting up a fare type is one way to make sure you’re getting the best deal. But also make sure the information is up to date. (Metrolinx photo)

Setting up a Fare Type

To set a fare type – like youth, student, senior or child — customers can visit their nearest Shoppers Drug Mart or the closest transit agency’s customer service outlet.

If you’re a student looking to purchase a student-specific transit pass for example, you’ll need to make sure you have your PRESTO card set to the ‘youth’ or ‘post-secondary’ fare type – whichever applies – before you can purchase the correct pass product.

When setting up a fare type, it’s important to bring proof of eligibility (such as a photo ID with date of birth or proof of enrollment for students, like a student card). Students/youth should always carry a student ID to show for fare inspection.

Some fare types do expire (including those based on age), so if you’ve set one up previously, make sure to check it. You can do that by using the ‘check balance’ feature on the PRESTO app or going to your local Shoppers Drug Mart or Customer Service Outlet.

Lost your PRESTO card?

PRESTO account customers who have lost their PRESTO card or had it damaged can purchase a replacement card and have their balance, passes, fare type and settings transferred over to the new card.

If you buy a new card in person – from a Customer Service Outlet, Shoppers Drug Mart Outlet or a PRESTO self-serve machine – do not add it to a PRESTO Account or load a transit pass. This is done automatically as part of the card transfer process. If you add it to an account or load a transit pass, you’ll have to buy another card to complete the transfer. 

For more information on how to cancel your lost, stolen or damaged PRESTO card and transfer your balance, go here.

New ways to pay

The PRESTO app isn’t the only thing that’s new.  PRESTO’s also piloting credit card payment on UP Express. It’s part of a phased approach to rollout more contactless payment options across the region to make your transit experience that much easier.

For more information before you head out, check out PRESTO’s website and take advantage of the Live Chat feature for any questions.

Story by Brandon Bernard, Metrolinx Senior Advisor, Communications Planning