Metrolinx says it will change rules to allow kids to get Presto cards for free

A spokesperson with Metrolinx says it will work with TTC to change rules to allow kids to get Presto cards without needing to pay $6 for the card and a minimum card load of $10.

Parents had raised concerns that kids needing Presto cards to ride TTC had to pay $16 for the card

Metrolinx plans to start replacing the machines in early 2017.

A spokesperson with Metrolinx says it will work with TTC to change rules to allow kids to get Presto cards without needing to pay for them.

The TTC was encouraging parents to get Presto cards for their children for easier access to subways. But the transit agency faced criticism from parents who said the rules around purchasing Presto cards forced them to pay the $6 fee for the card and a minimum pre-load of $10.

Children between ages six and 12 can currently hop on and off for free without the card, according to the transit agency.

The move to get everyone to use Presto cards aims to prepare riders for the elimination of fare collectors in TTC stations by mid-2019, said spokesperson Heather Brown. The aisles will be "barricaded off," forcing children to enter stations using the Presto machines, she told CBC Toronto.

The TTC is delaying the conversion to Presto to wait for a single-use ticket option.

"We need kids to be able to tap themselves through the fare gate and enter the station that way," Brown said. 

The program, first launched in 2015, allows children 12 and under to ride the TTC for free.

Parents looking to convert to the digital fare collection system will need to visit a customer service representative at a Shopper's Drug Mart or the TTC service centre at Davisville Station. They need to bring government-issued identification to have the appropriate fare type automatically adjusted on their Presto cards.

"It doesn't deduct any funds," said Brown. 

TTC to be fully converted to Presto by 2020

The TTC plans to be "fully" converted to the Presto payment system by Jan. 1, 2020, Brown told CBC Toronto.

In preparation for the phase-out of tokens and paper tickets, she added, "now is the time to get a Presto card for anyone who is on our system."

Presto machines are now installed on buses, streetcars and at every subway station.

Monthly Metropasses will no longer be offered starting in January. Meanwhile, legacy paper tickets and tokens will stop being sold in August 2019, Brown noted. 

"It's just about making it easier for people to get into the station," she said. 

Last month, the transit agency introduced two-hour transfers, allowing Presto card users to make as many trips as they want in a two-hour window on a single fare.

The discount, applied to an individual's Presto card, is only on TTC fares. UP express is free for kids and GO Transit has a children's fare for kids between 1 and 5.

August also saw the introduction of youth, post-secondary and senior 12-month passes on Presto. Adult 12-month Presto passes were introduced in late May. 

With files from Amara McLaughlin and Taylor Simmons