Tap and GO with PRESTO!
PRESTO is an electronic fare system that allows transit users to pay for their journey quickly, easily and securely.
Benefits of the PRESTO Card
Using the card saves you time
Every time you ride the bus you tap your card on the PRESTO machine to pay your fare. With a beep, the system calculates the correct fare for your trip, and deducts the funds from the balance stored on your card.
Using the card saves you money
Our automatic loyalty program ensures you never overpay for transit. If you take more than 11 trips in one week using your PRESTO card, all subsequent rides will be free for that week, and if you do that for a month, the total will never exceed that of a monthly pass.
You do not need to sign up for the program, or have a registered PRESTO card. All cardholders travelling on HSR using funds are automatically eligible. This program excludes monthly passes, co-payment, extra passenger fares and transfers, and is only valid on HSR vehicles. The trip counter automatically resets at 12:01am on Monday morning, and will run until 11:59pm the following Sunday. Your trips can be taken on any day(s) during the week.
Using the card is easy and convenient
You can travel on a single fare between and within the following transit systems:
- GO Transit
- Brampton Transit
- Burlington Transit
- Durham Region Transit
- Mississauga Transit (MiWay)
- Oakville Transit
- OC Transpo (Ottawa)
- York Region Transit
- Toronto Transit Commission
Your PRESTO card is secure
Create a My PRESTO account and add up to 10 PRESTO cards to manage them. If your card is ever lost or stolen, your funds are protected. You can also review your card activity and set up Autoload and Autorenew to have funds or transit passes automatically added to your card.
Pay for yourself and someone else
If you’re traveling with someone else, you can use your funds to also pay for their ride. When boarding the bus, tell the driver that you’re paying for an additional passenger(s). The driver will assist you in how to tap on the PRESTO machine. Each additional passenger will be charged an adult fare on your card.
Get started in four easy steps
Step 1. Purchase a PRESTO Card
The PRESTO card has an initial fee to the rider of $6.00 (HST included).
The minimum load onto the card at time of purchase:
- In-person $0.05
- Online or by phone $10.00
NOTE: The minimum load amounts will be changing as of September 28, 2020. Do not punch holes or modify your PRESTO card, it will become invalid.
Where to purchase your card
- In-person: Visit the HSR ticket office at 36 Hunter St. GO Station, City Hall or Municipal Service Centres in Dundas, Ancaster, or Stoney Creek. You can also visit any Shopper’s Drug Mart or Fortinos location in Hamilton. View these locations on a map.
- Website: www.prestocard.ca Your card will be mailed to you within 7-10 business days. You can create a My PRESTO Account or be without an account.
- By Phone 1-877-378-6123
Step 2. Register your PRESTO Card (optional)
Benefits to registration
- Pick your category: Child, Youth, Adult or Senior
- If you lose your card the balance is protected
To activate your PRESTO Card
If you ordered a card with a My PRESTO Account from the PRESTO website, you'll need to activate it before you ride. Cards purchased in person are already activated.
Activate your card online, through PRESTO’s Chat feature, or by calling PRESTO at 1-877-378-6123 and following the automated instructions.
Youth and Senior ID
Some pass holders are eligible for a discount. To do this you need an identification card to travel at a reduced rate. See a list of qualifying passes.
Step 3. Use your PRESTO Card
After your funds or pass have been added to your card, you're ready to ride. Tap your card on a PRESTO device at the beginning of your ride to pay for your transit quickly, simply, and securely. If your card is assigned a category other than adult, you may be asked to show ID when you tap.
Transfers are valid for 2 hours from the time of your first tap. If you board other vehicles within 2 hours of your tap, it counts as a transfer and you will not be charged any additional money.
Step 4. Reload your PRESTO Card
There are lots of options to reload your PRESTO Card. Choose the best one for you or mix it up:
In person: Visit the HSR ticket office at 36 Hunter St. GO Station, City Hall or Municipal Service Centres in Dundas, Ancaster, or Stoney Creek. You can also visit any Shopper’s Drug Mart or Fortinos location in Hamilton. View these locations on a map.
Website: Visit www.prestocard.ca to check out the many online options, including automatic reload. You may only use a debit card or credit card with most of these options.
You can check your travel history, balance and more by logging into your PRESTO card account. You must register your card to have access to this information.
App: Use the PRESTO app for a simple, easy way to manage and instantly load your card on the go. To download the app visit the Google Play Store or App Store. For more information, visit the PRESTO app page.
Phone: Contact the PRESTO Call Centre at 1-877-378-6123 and a PRESTO representative will be happy to assist you with card loading and payment options by telephone. You may only use a credit card with this option to load e-purse value.
DARTS and PRESTO
For Accessible Transit Service customers, PRESTO will be rolling out across the DARTS fleet of vehicles in the near future.
PRESTO Card FAQs
What is the difference in loading funds versus passes?
Loading funds (e-purse) allows you to load as much money as you would like (maximum of $1000), whenever you would like. Your fare is capped at 11 rides per week (see Benefits <anchor link>) and you will never be charged more than your fare type’s monthly pass in a calendar month. The funds value minimum initial load and each reload is $0.05.
Passes can only be loaded from approximately the 17th of the month prior to approximately the 13th of the Pass month (i.e. July Passes can be loaded from June 17 through to July 13 only).
How do I change my fare from adult to another type?
The new PRESTO card is pre-set as an adult. To change your fare type (Child, Youth or Senior rate), your card must be modified from Adult. Visit any of the Customer Service Outlets and provide proof of your birthdate. HSR Child and Youth fares are the same rate. A Child is considered to be anyone 5 to 12 years old and a Youth is 13 to 19 years old. You must change your card from Child to Youth when you reach 13 years old or it will default to Adult. Please be aware that at any time, HSR Operators can ask for ID to prove that you are entitled to use this reduced fare.
What happens if I run out of funds on my account?
If you have a registered card, your card will go into a negative balance, or overdraft. This will happen once and you will be able to continue your current trip, including transfers, on HSR and Burlington Transit but not GO Transit. Visit a Customer Service Outlet or go online and load money onto your card. The amount owing will be deducted from your transaction along with a $0.25 service charge.
How do I use the auto-load or auto-renew feature?
To avoid overdraft, check out the auto-load features that PRESTO offers online. You can set up your PRESTO card so your e-purse is always replenished. All monthly passes have an auto-renew feature. Auto-load and auto-renew features can only be used on registered cards.
How do the Seniors and Golden Age Passes work?
To receive a Senior rate, your card must be modified from Adult. Visit any of our 14 Customer Service Outlets and provide proof of your birthdate. PRESTO will work for Senior ticket, Senior monthly pass and Senior Annual pass on HSR buses. Anyone 65 years of age or older is considered a ‘Senior’ for HSR fares.
PRESTO and the HSR Senior Annual Pass
The HSR Senior Annual Pass is loaded onto the PRESTO card which provides you with unlimited travel on the HSR for 12 months.
In order to qualify for this special pass, you must be between the ages of 65 and 79 years old. Proof of age is needed when acquiring this pass.
The HSR Senior Annual Pass is only valid on HSR vehicles. You can transfer for free onto Burlington Transit with this pass, but you need to use money in your e-purse to travel within Burlington or to come back to Hamilton after your transfer has expired, if it is outside the two hour transfer window.
PRESTO and the HSR Golden Age Pass
Purchase your PRESTO card for $6 at the HSR Customer Service Centre at 36 Hunter St. East and travel for free. You must be 80 years of age or older and a resident of Hamilton. Proof of age is required, as well as proof of address in Hamilton (acceptable ID would be a Driver’s Licence, Ontario Photo Card, Income Tax statement with name and address, Health Card that has address, etc.). A photo ID will be issued to be used in conjunction with your new PRESTO card.
The HSR Golden Age Pass is only valid on HSR vehicles. You can transfer for free onto Burlington Transit with this pass, but you need to use money in your e-purse to travel within Burlington or to come back to Hamilton after your transfer has expired, if it is outside the two hour transfer window.
You can have your card set up with the HSR Golden Age Pass as well as an e-purse that can be used for Burlington Transit, GO Transit or any of the other participating transit agencies. You will be charged the Adult fare when travelling on the other transit agency buses. Do not have GO Transit or any other transit agencies change your card to a senior concession as this invalidates your HSR Golden Age Pass. Golden Age passengers who frequently travel on transit outside of Hamilton should purchase a 2nd PRESTO card with a senior concession to be able to benefit from other transit agency senior rates (if applicable).
For more information on the Senior Annual Pass or Golden Age Pass Program, please call our HSR Fare Administration Office at 905-546-2424 ext.1882
How do transfers work?
The transfer window is set to two hours from the time of boarding your first bus. When you tap on to the Fare Payment Device as you board, the system will write a transfer to your card when a valid fare is paid. When you tap on to the next HSR bus within the two hours, the system will recognize the transfer and no additional fare will be deducted. A paper transfer is no longer required.
Transferring to Burlington Transit
Burlington Transit recognizes the transfer written to your card, no additional fare will be deducted and no paper transfer is needed when transferring within two hours from the start of your trip.
Transferring to GO Transit
The co-fare and fare subsidy will be applied on a trip specific basis. The card will calculate and deduct the appropriate discount for the local trip to or from an activated GO Train station.
If using an e-purse, a discount of a $1.85 will be applied when you transfer to the next portion of your trip. For example, when you travel on HSR and transfer to the GO Train, the fare you pay GO will be reduced by $1.85.
On Board PRESTO Machines
We are rolling out new PRESTO machines on all of our HSR buses. You will see these arriving on board from September through November.
The devices have a new look and offer some immediate improvements:
- As always, customers can tap a PRESTO card on the device where indicated. The new equipment is designed to allow future enhancements for credit and debit card payments. Customers are now encouraged to remove their PRESTO card from their wallet, to avoid a “multiple cards detected” error message.
- The devices have a new design, including larger screens that display information in a clearer and more intuitive manner, enhancing both user experience and accessibility. The machines also have upgraded technology to ensure that they continue to perform reliably over the coming years.
- In future, this upgrade will also make it possible for HSR to use the new barcode scanning system for E-Tickets, which includes the ability for a customer to print a ticket at home.
Metrolinx is also in the planning phases in developing other options for fare payment to include debit, credit and mobile phone. There is still work to do, but the goal is to have these new payment options available for all PRESTO customers, across the entire system.
On board PRESTO Machines FAQ
Why are you changing the PRESTO devices on my bus?
We were one of the first transit agencies to adopt PRESTO. This means our devices are now almost 10 years old. We’re replacing these devices with upgraded ones to continue to provide reliable service.
Are other transit agencies getting these devices too?
Yes. These devices are being rolled out across GO Transit and other local transit agencies in the 905 area.
Why is a “multiple cards detected” message displaying when I tap?
You’re seeing this message because the PRESTO device is picking up signals from other card(s) that are close to your PRESTO card, preventing payment from being accepted. Make sure you tap only your PRESTO card on the reader – not your whole wallet or purse. The devices have a contactless card reader that has the capability to also accept other forms of payment (like debit and credit) in the future. Because of this, the devices are designed to process only one card or payment method at a time. It’s similar to why you can’t tap your entire wallet on a payment terminal at any retailer.
Why do I need to take my PRESTO card out of my wallet when I tap?
This is because the devices have a contactless card reader that has the capability to also accept other forms of payment (like debit and credit) in the future. Because of this, the devices are designed to process only one card or payment method at a time. While the readers won’t actually accept payment by debit and credit at this time, the readers can still pick-up signals from these cards if they are close to your PRESTO card and prevent payment from being accepted. It’s similar to why you can’t tap your entire wallet on a payment terminal at any retailer.
Why is it taking a bit longer for the device to process my tap?
The device will take a bit longer to process your tap than you’re used to, so make sure you hold your card on the reader until you hear the ‘beep’. This is because the new devices have more extensive security features – to meet the latest security best practices to prepare for credit and debit card payments – that add to their processing time.
The PRESTO E-Tickets are a new, convenient and touchless way to pay your transit fare that is now available for HSR customers. Tickets can be purchased, activated and displayed for payment by an individual on their smartphone.
E-tickets are the ideal fare payment type for:
- Occasional riders
- Group travel for multiple passengers
PRESTO E-Tickets are easy to use
Buy your E-Ticket using the PRESTO E-Ticket app on your smartphone before you travel. Then, before you board, activate your E-Ticket with your smartphone. Once you board, the E-Ticket is your proof of payment so make sure you have it displayed on your smartphone when you board to show the driver and in case of inspection.
PRESTO E-Tickets are currently only available for DRT and HSR. They are valid for travel on a single transit system and do not count towards any loyalty programs, discounted transfers or co-fares that may be in place for PRESTO card or paper ticket users.
Download the E-Ticket app
PRESTO E-Tickets FAQ
How and when do I activate my PRESTO E-Ticket?
You need to activate your E-Ticket before you board the HSR bus (internet connection required). Just before you board, open the PRESTO E-Tickets App, select the E-Ticket you want to use and then select “Activate.” Once you board, show the bus driver your activated ticket, they may ask you to touch the screen to see the validation features.
Can I use a PRESTO E-Ticket to transfer between different transit agencies?
E-Tickets are only valid for travel on HSR buses and do not count towards any loyalty programs, discounted transfers or co-fares.
How can I use an E-Ticket with TransCab?
When you enter the cab, activate your ticket and show the cab operator.
Do PRESTO E-Tickets expire?
Your E-Ticket will remain in your account until you activate it.
Will my PRESTO E-Ticket show how much time is left in my travel window?
Yes, once you activate your E-Ticket, the app will display the time your travel window expires and a countdown timer at the bottom of the activated E-Ticket screen.
Can I use a PRESTO E-Ticket to travel with a friend or family member?
You can buy and activate up to 20 E-Tickets at a time, and use those to travel with others who do not have the PRESTO E-Tickets App. But your entire group must stay together on transit in case you are asked to show proof of payment or if you plan to transfer during your E-Ticket travel window.
Can I use my PRESTO card account or the PRESTO App to buy PRESTO E-Tickets?
No, PRESTO E-Tickets are only available through the PRESTO E-Tickets App, which is separate from the PRESTO App. Your account on the PRESTO E-Tickets App is different from a regular PRESTO card account. Your regular PRESTO card account is only for loading funds and passes, and managing agreements connected to your PRESTO card. A PRESTO E-Tickets account is only for buying, managing and using your PRESTO E-Tickets.
Can I use a printout of my PRESTO E-Ticket to travel?
No, your E-Ticket is only valid if it is activated on a smartphone that you are carrying with you when you take transit. In future, this will be a payment option.
What do I do if my phone dies or stops working while I am travelling?
You will need to pay your fare through another method. You can pay your fare with cash or use a PRESTO card. You will not lose any non-activated E-Tickets you’ve already bought. However, if you activated an E-Ticket before your phone stopped working, that E-Ticket will expire at the end of the travel window.
Can I get a refund on PRESTO E-Tickets?
PRESTO E-Tickets are final sale.
What is E-Ticket Storage?
There are two options for storing your E-Tickets.
- Storing on your Device: When you buy an E-Ticket, it automatically saves to your device. Saving to your device means that you can view and activate your E-Ticket without an internet connection (i.e. wifi or data).
- Storing in the Cloud: After buying an E-Ticket, go to the Settings section of the PRESTO E-Tickets App, select E-Ticket Storage and select the option to store your E-Ticket in the cloud. Storing your E-Tickets in the cloud means they will only be available when you are connected to the internet, but you can access them from any smartphone that has the PRESTO E-Tickets App installed. We recommend storing your E-Tickets in the cloud if you are getting a new device or will be taking transit with a different device than the one you used to buy your E-Tickets.
What happens if I uninstall the PRESTO E-Tickets App?
If you uninstall the PRESTO E-Tickets App, you will lose all E-Tickets that are saved on your device. We recommend that you transfer all unused E-Tickets to the cloud before uninstalling the app.
How do I deactivate my PRESTO E-Tickets account?
To delete your PRESTO E-Tickets account, you’ll need to first sign into your account at https://account.bytemark.co/authenticate. Once you’re signed in, go to the settings menu and select “Your Profile,” then select “Deactivate my account.” To confirm, select “Deactivate.”
If you choose to deactivate your PRESTO E-Ticket account you’ll lose any unused tickets in your account. If you’d like to buy a PRESTO E-Ticket in the future, you’ll need to create a new account.
For more information, please visit PRESTO.
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