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TTC board approves 2-hour timed-based transfers for PRESTO card users

Hamilton politicians are struggling with the question of maintaining paper HSR tickets while getting more riders to use PRESTO cards.
Hamilton politicians are struggling with the question of maintaining paper HSR tickets while getting more riders to use PRESTO cards. Global News

PRESTO card users in Toronto will be able to hop on and off TTC vehicles within a two-hour period without being charged an extra fare each time they do so.

TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said Tuesday the transit agency’s board approved time-based transfesr for PRESTO users that would be effective starting August 2018.

As of right now, TTC users currently have to pay an extra fare if they get off the transit system at any point in their trip and want to get on again.

However, time-based transfers would allow commuters to run errands, for example, within a set time frame without reaching for their wallet a second or third time.

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The idea of adopting time-based transfers is not new to the TTC. The proposal was proposed multiple times since 2005. But according to a report to the TTC board Tuesday, the time is right for it to be finally implemented.

“The greatest benefit from this policy change stems from reducing the cost of transit, making it more affordable for multiple short distance trips, thereby giving TTC customers the flexibility they require to carry out everyday activities,” the report said.

The TTC report said the transfer policy would add an estimated 5,000,000 customer trips per year.

If implemented in August, the net cost estimated by the change will be $11.1 million in 2018, and an annual cost of $20.9 million after that.

READ MORE: Mayor Tory, city councillors urge TTC to adopt time-based transfers

The report approved by the board Tuesday also requested additional service during off-peak hours to support the estimated ridership increase resulting from the implementation of time-based transfers.

Ross said the subsidy required to introduce the new transfer system would be rolled into the TTC’s base budget in 2018 and will need Toronto city council approval.

Earlier this month, Toronto Mayor John Tory, along with TTC Chair Josh Colle and TTC board member Mary Fragedakis, forwarded a letter to TTC CEO Andy Byford asking him to examine the costs and implicates of introducing time-based transfers for transit users.

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“We know that PRESTO use is at 14 per cent among TTC customers,” the letter said. “Making time-based transfers available for PRESTO users would have multiple benefits including making transit more affordable, increasing ridership, and encouraging PRESTO adoption.”

READ MORE: Time-based TTC transfers better for low-income Torontonians

Several municipalities in Ontario — including Brampton, Oakville, Mississauga, York Region and Windsor — already use time-based transfers.

With files from David Shum