Debit cards can be tapped to pay for transit in Toronto region

May 3, 2023
Nine regional transit systems will allow a debit card to be used as payment for transit with the government of Ontario and Metrolinx continuing to work with TTC to include the option in the future.

Customers traveling around the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area can use their debit cards to pay for transit on PRESTO devices on GO Transit, UP Express, Brampton Transit, Burlington Transit, Durham Region Transit, Hamilton Street Railway, MiWay in Mississauga, Oakville Transit and York Region Transit. Additionally, paratransit services in Burlington, Durham Region, Hamilton, York Region, Oakville and Ottawa will also accept debit payment.

Ontario Associate Minister of Transportation Stan Cho joined Metrolinx President and CEO Phil Verster, Interac Corp. Chief Commercial Officer William Keliehor and elected officials on May 2 to announce the fare payment advancement.

“Our vision for the future of transit isn’t’ limited to building more infrastructure that services the needs of future generations, it’s also about optimizing the services provided by our existing transit networks today. One way we are doing this is by making paying for transit more convenient and more flexible,” said Associate Minister Cho.

He noted since the introduction of credit card tap to pay options in August 2022, customers have used the option for more than 1 million taps into the system and called the program a great success. The government of Ontario and Metrolinx say they are working with Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) to introduce debit and credit payment options to TTC’s network this summer.

Opening fare payment to debit cards is the next evolution of the PRESTO fare system, which provided a foundation for the provincial government and its transit providers and partners to offer additional payment options. A pilot program on UP Express launched in 2021 that allowed customers to pay by credit and debit card. The credit card tap to pay option was extended to the entire GO Transit network, as well as transit systems in Brampton, Mississauga and Oakville in August 2022.

“We are thrilled to bring our customers yet another way to pay their transit fare with the addition of Interac debit payment now accepted on PRESTO devices across participating transit agencies,” said Metrolinx Chief Payments Officer Barclay Hancock. “This is just another way we continue to innovate the PRESTO payment experience and make is easier to travel seamlessly across the region.”

While Metrolinx was the first transit agency in Canada to offer debit payments, TransLink became the first agency in the country to fully integrate contactless debit payments systemwide. A growing number of Ontario residents are interested in more contactless payment options for transit. A 2022 survey by Interac found:

  • 69 percent of Ontarians polled saw debit as a convenient way to pay for transit.
  • 69 percent claimed that tap payments would save time when paying fares.
  • 68 percent were interested in using debit or credit cards to pay for their trips if they had the option.
  • 72 percent believed it would be easier for visitors to pay for transit using their bank card as opposed to tickets, tokens or passes.

“Expanding Interac Debit to more transit authorities in the PRESTO network will provide transit riders across Ontario with a quick and convenient option to pay for a ride directly from their banking account,” Keliehor said. “When transit authorities add Interac Debit, they are offering riders a method of payment that almost 30 million Canadians already use for day-to-day transactions. Interac is proud to play a part in supporting the needs of transit riders in Ontario.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.