Big Changes Coming to Transit Discounts for Some Post-Secondary Students in Halton

Any post-secondary student who takes transit can attest to the fact that public transit is not the most enjoyable commute option - it’s hard on your time, and it can be hard on your wallet. Now, a major change is coming to Presto cards for students in college or university.

If your university or college has a student union, it’s likely that you have access to a Universal Transit Pass (UPASS). This pass typically offers students a discounted fare on buses, where the pass is included in tuition at a low cost, and students can simply flash their pass and their ID card at a bus driver and board the bus. Good news - if you also use a Presto card, your UPASS will automatically come into effect when you tap your Presto card very soon.

On September 14, Metrolinx introduced this brand new initiative for post-secondary students.

The Presto card will now be enabled with functionality that will support the use of any existing Universal Transit Passes that student unions or universities and colleges may offer,” said a the Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario in a statement. “This is an important step towards the province's goal of fare integration, and this is something that students have been calling for since the creation of the Presto card program.

Metrolinx said that the Presto enabled UPASS program will be implemented this fall, offering an “automated solution for discounted fares to university students within their jurisdiction."

There are a few institutions that use a UPASS across the province - such as University of Ottawa, the University of Toronto Mississauga, the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Guelph - where students will find this development quite helpful, and likely make it easier to take transit anywhere they go, since they’ll likely only have to carry one card (Presto) instead of two or three (Presto, student ID, UPASS).

"This is a good action that Metrolinx is taking," says Jose Wilson, Vice President External at the University of Toronto Mississauga Students Union. "The implementation of this will allow students who already use a UPASS to combine it with their Presto card. This is also getting us closer to our stated goal of receiving a Greater Toronto Area wide UPASS. That would save students large amounts of money, while also increasing transit ridership in the region."

There might be more to come - the Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario is calling on the province for further action on a more affordable transit system.

"This year, students are demanding a transit system that is affordable and accessible for all," said Nour Alideeb, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario. "Students are calling on the provincial government to increase funding for transit infrastructure, to decrease rising transit fares, and to ensure that our transit systems are as efficient and as accessible as possible."

It remains to be seen when this fall the Presto-UPASS integration will roll out.

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