Over the past three months, TTC ridership has declined 86% as a direct repercussion of COVID-19, which has resulted in a loss of $21 million in revenue per week.
As the province continues to reopen, the TTC will play a critical role in the restart and recovery from the pandemic. In turn, the transit agency announced it will be giving out free PRESTO cards in the coming months to get more commuters to use the payment method, particularly in areas in the city where PRESTO use is low.
In a 77-page report detailing the transit agency's plan for response, restart, and recovery amid the pandemic, the transit agency says as part of an effort to further encourage customers to use PRESTO, the TTC will distribute complimentary PRESTO cards to commuters this summer and fall.
"A plan is being developed to distribute these cards in areas of the city where PRESTO use is relatively low, and where customers could benefit from receiving a PRESTO card," reads the report.
According to the report, the cards will be distributed at no charge to customers from existing stocks held by the TTC. Previously, TTC ran a similar program last November at select subway stations.
According to TTC spokesperson Stuart Green, the complimentary cards will give people who are not already on PRESTO easier access to the cards to minimize the use of cash/legacy fare media and to reduce touchpoints.
"93% of trips now were/are on the card. We want cards in the hands of even more," said Green.
Currently, a new PRESTO card costs $6, but those who receive these complimentary cards won't have to pay the fee.
The TTC said customers can still continue to pay with cash, tickets and tokens for the foreseeable future.
Additionally, starting July 2, PRESTO is bringing back its front-door fare payment system, allowing customers to use the front door of TTC vehicles again after months of not being able to during the pandemic.