At its board meeting on July 10, the Toronto Transit Commission finally approved two hour transfers for passengers paying by Presto. This is great news that has been a long time coming.
The TTC expects that the new policy will cost $21 million a year by 2020, but it will also boost ridership by 5 million passengers. The new two-hour transfer policy will allow a passenger using a Presto card to board any vehicle or enter any subway station within two hours of the first tap without paying a second fare. This will allow anyone to make a short return trip on one fare, or make a stopover before transferring to another route. Customers of most suburban transit systems such as MiWay, Brampton Transit, and YRT have enjoyed the same privileges for over a decade.
The policy takes effect Sunday, August 26.
I’ve argued here before why two-hour transfers are necessary. If a passenger taps onto another vehicle on the same route, a common occurrence due to delays, short-turns, and diversions/shuttles, the Presto Card will deduct a second fare. That has happened to me several times, even when making a valid transfer between a bus and Union subway station. It’s often confusing when the TTC tells its passengers to take a paper transfer when a diversion takes place, or tells its customers not to tap again on a bus or streetcar when they’re short-turned. The new policy finally fixes those errors for good.
However, the transfer policy does not apply to customers paying by cash, tickets, or tokens, so the old archaic paper transfer rules will still apply to many TTC customers.
The TTC is slowly phasing out paper media and passes, but still has yet to implement daily, weekly or monthly caps that will effectively replace day, weekly and Metropasses. There will also need to be a paper Presto card equivalent developed for occasional and one-time customers, such as tourists or anyone who doesn’t want to pay the $6 fee for a plastic card. Hopefully the details of how these will be implemented will be decided and communicated in the near future.