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Presto cards go on sale at Shoppers Drug Mart this spring

Two levels of government will be represented at an announcement that Presto fare payment cards will be sold at 10 Shoppers Drug Mart stores across Toronto.

Torstar News Service

Two levels of government will be represented at an announcement that Presto fare payment cards will be sold at 10 Shoppers Drug Mart stores across Toronto.

Metrolinx has reached a deal with Shoppers Drug Mart to sell Presto fare cards through the company’s stores.

Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca, acting Metrolinx CEO John Jensen, Liberal MPP Han Dong, and TTC chair Josh Colle are expected to announce the partnership at a Shoppers outlet on King St. W. this afternoon.

According to a source with knowledge of the deal, the fare cards will initially be on sale at 10 Shoppers locations in Toronto this spring, and if all goes well, the program will be rolled out to more of the drug stores later this year.

Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency for the GTHA, owns the fare card system, and announced its intention for a Presto retail partnership two years ago.

At a Metrolinx board meeting in April 2016, Presto executive vice-president Robert Hollis said teaming up with a private retailer would help the agency expand the reach of the fare card program.

“One of the challenges is, how do we get cards in people’s hands?” he said.

“We view it as a very positive way to actually accelerate our card rollout.”

At the time, Hollis said that he hoped to announce the partnership by summer of 2016.

Presto users will be able to buy cards, load money onto them, and check their balances at Shoppers stores, with the help of a mobile point-of-sale device that Metrolinx developed earlier this year. Customers will also be able to set child, student, and senior transit discounts on the cards.

That will provide more options to senior and student Presto users, who until now have had limited options to set up discounted TTC fares on their cards. Special seniors Presto cards are currently available at a limited number of Gateway Newsstands, but riders otherwise have to go to TTC headquarters at Davisville station to enable their cards for senior or student discounts.

Other transit systems in the GTHA, including GO Transit, have already implemented the Presto system, but the TTC has yet to complete the transition.

TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said Friday that the agency plans to stop selling older fare media like tokens and tickets by the beginning of 2018, and sometime next year will stop accepting any form of payment except Presto.

The TTC’s monthly passes are expected to be migrated from Metropasses to Presto later this year.

Presto readers have been installed on all TTC buses and streetcars, and in at least one entrance of every subway station, since the end of 2016.

Uptake is growing fast but Presto users still make up only about 11 per cent of TTC customers.

Presto cards are currently sold at Gateway Newsstands at 57 TTC stations, according to the TTC website, and can also be ordered online. They’re also sold at GO stations within Toronto, and at dozens of locations across other municipalities in the GTHA.

As of the end of last year, more than 2.5 million of the cards have been sold in the GTHA and Ottawa.

The retail partnership won’t cost Metrolinx or the TTC any money. Shoppers has agreed to pay for the right to sell the fare cards, according to the source.

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