The new payment option comes after a partnership agreement between Metrolinx and Visa. The collaboration builds on the success of Visa's partnership with TransLink in Metro Vancouver.
"We're thrilled to bring the simplicity of Visa tap to pay to transit riders in the GTA in collaboration with Metrolinx. Transit is essential for so many, and we believe in the importance of making the riding experience as seamless as possible," says Brian Weiner, vice-president and head of product and digital, Visa Canada.
The new payment option is also available on Metrolinx's Union Pearson (UP) Express, Brampton Transit, Mississauga's MiWay transit system, and Oakville Transit.
Last May, Visa's Future of Urban Mobility Study surveyed 11,500 adults who use public transit in 14 global markets, including Canada and the United States. Among its findings was the demand for a contactless payment option.
“Digital payments have become a mainstay for many transit riders across the globe, and our research shows an overwhelming number wanting contactless payment options throughout their journey,” said Josh Martiesian, head of urban mobility, Visa North America.
The research commissioned by Visa found that nearly one in three, or 32 per cent of public transit riders, cited contactless payment as a top feature that would entice them to use public transit, with 50 per cent citing the increased convenience of contactless payment as the primary benefit.
Also reflected was a rebound in public transit ridership after the COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant drop in demand for public transit. According to the findings, 36 per cent of Canadian riders expect to use public transit more in the next 12 months, while 48 per cent plan to use it at their current frequency.
"Many riders are ready to get out into the world, and transit is increasingly at the centre of those plans as more people travel for work, school, leisure, daily errands, and everything in between," adds Martiesian.
Transit riders can now pay for their adult fare with their Visa, Mastercard, American Express credit card, payment-enabled phone or watch as part of PRESTO contactless payments. The added convenience comes with not having to purchase or load a separate PRESTO card or handle cash while boarding.
Even better, customers tapping their physical or mobile wallet credit cards get the discounted PRESTO adult fare.
Metrolinx has plans to add the debit contactless payment option to its various transit agencies across the region in a phased manner. UP Express already offers a debit tap payment option after a successful pilot program.
Visit contactless.prestocard.ca and gotransit.com for details.
Jennifer McLaughlin is a federally funded Local Journalism Initiative reporter at Markham Review