Metrolinx is hoping a brand new Presto card discount will convince thousands of commuters in the Greater Toronto Area to make the "big switch."
The discount, which takes effect on Sunday, is for Presto card holders who transfer between the TTC, GO Transit and the Union Pearson Express.
Anne Marie Aikins, spokesperson for Metrolinx, a provincial government agency in charge of transportation for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, says the discount is designed to help create more seamless and integrated transit system in the GTA.
Under the discount, adult Presto card users can save $1.50 if they combine their TTC trip with GO Transit or the UP Express, while post-secondary students and seniors can save 55 cents.
"It's a big step," Aikins said this week.
"It's going to, I think, convince a significant number of people to make the switch, to bite that bullet and to make the change. I know change is uncomfortable for a lot of people. It's uncomfortable for me. It means learning new things. Making the switch over to Presto is a big thing."
The discount is automatically applied when riders travel and is available only for Presto users who pay as they go with their card balance. Riders have to tap their Presto card to get the discount.
It is not available for riders who use cash, paper tickets, tokens, a Metropass or a monthly pass on a Presto card.
"You'll be able to get this discount that really makes it easier for you to switch between systems," Aikins said.
"People really don't care what system they're on. They just want to be able to get transit, whether it's a bus, whether it's a train, whether it's a streetcar, whether it's a subway. They just want to be to get where they need to go and get there easily without having to think about it too much."
Aikins said the Presto card has been rolled gradually but she acknowledged that riders have been frustrated with its "slow" rollout across the TTC system.
"We expected it to have these hiccups. We have addressed those hiccups methodically as we have gone along. The system is much more reliable than it ever was before," she said.
"More and more people are making the switch. But we need even more people to make the switch.
"And this discount, which you only will get with a Presto card, is what ,I think, will convince some people to say: 'Okay, now is the time for me to make the switch.' It's just the beginning of the benefits you will get."
According to Metrolinx, there are three million PRESTO card users in the Greater Toronto Area.
Matti Siemiatycki, an associate professor of geography and planning at the University of Toronto, said a more integrated transit system in the GTA is the next step.
Discounts can be provided because the digital fare collection system itself leads to lower collection costs and those savings can be passed onto riders, he said.
"Providing discounts really provides savings for people," Siemiatycki added. "We've seen the cost of living going up and we've seen inequality going up, and providing discounts are going to be important."
The discount might be a precursor to a discount for low-income transit users, he said.
Save even more with PRESTO! Starting January 7 you can save up to $1.50 when you use your PRESTO card and transfer between @TTCnotices and @GOtransit or @UPexpress. Lean more at: https://t.co/6UnlUfzsxJ pic.twitter.com/M0sI0Dqdva— @PRESTOcard