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Toronto-area transit riders will be able to use the PRESTO fare card in all subway stations, buses and streetcars by 2016, the TTC and Metrolinx announced Wednesday. (Metrolinx)

Toronto-area transit riders will be able to use the Presto fare card in all subway stations and surface vehicles by 2016, the TTC and provincial transit agency Metrolinx announced Wednesday.

The electronic fare card is already in use throughout the GO Transit system and at 14 TTC stations. More than 400,000 transit riders in the GTA already use Presto, which allows users to pay their fare by tapping the card against an electronic reader.

The reader also automatically deducts money from an amount the rider pre-loads onto the card.

The card saves riders the trouble of paying their fare with change or tokens.  It also enables riders whose trips span two different transit systems to travel more easily throughout the region.

The plan is to have Presto cards eventually replace tokens by 2016.

TTC chair Karen Stintz said Presto machines will first be installed at subway stations, with the goal of having them in all stations by late 2013.

Stintz said the new streetcars set to enter service starting in 2014 will be equipped with Presto readers, so the readers won’t be added to the existing streetcar fleet.

After streetcars, the readers will be installed in buses, Stintz said.

Also, Presto will replace monthly passes for GO Transit riders starting on Jan. 1.

Light-rail agreement signed

Ontario Transportation Minister Bob Chiarelli calls the move "a tremendous technological step forward" for Canada's busiest transit hub.

He joined TTC bosses at a news conference where they also announced the signing of a light rail transit deal between the commission and Metrolinx, the province's transit agency.

The master agreement will be in effect for the next 10 years regardless of who leads the provincial or municipal governments.

The 24 kilometres of LRT will roll out in 2020 on Sheppard East, Eglinton, and Finch West, while the Scarborough rapid transit line is replaced.