Metrolinx Piloting Apple Pay on Toronto's UP Express, Working to Expand to TTC

Metrolinx this week announced that commuters can now use contactless payment options like Apple Pay to pay for their fare on UP Express, a train that connects Downtown Toronto with Toronto Pearson International Airport.

presto machine apple pay
Prior to boarding the train, commuters simply need to hold their iPhone or Apple Watch near the PRESTO payment terminal to pay for their fare with a credit card loaded in the Wallet app — or tap a physical credit card. At the end of the trip, riders must "tap off" with the same credit card or mobile payment device they used to "tap on" with to ensure that they pay the correct fare for their trip on UP Express, as usual.

If a rider is approached by a fare inspector, they can present the same credit card or mobile wallet used to pay the fare as proof of payment.

The contactless payment option has been available for UP Express adult fare since March 11, as part of a pilot program. Student or other discounted fares still require using a PRESTO card for now. Metrolinx plans to expand contactless payments to more transit agencies "soon" across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, including the TTC.

It's worth noting that it is still not possible to add the PRESTO card to the Wallet app, and this does not appear to be part of the current plans.

"We're currently working with the TTC to determine the potential timelines for this work," a Metrolinx spokesperson told Global News.

Later this year, Metrolinx also plans to add Interac Debit as a payment option for UP Express.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay

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Top Rated Comments

murdoc2k Avatar
43 months ago
This is wonderful news. Toronto has now reached the 2010 milestone in tech. Only 11 more years to go.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jicon Avatar
43 months ago
I’d prefer Presto card Wallet integration, but this is a good step forward
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Hyperchaotic Avatar
43 months ago
I send a message to Translink ('') in Vancouver every year asking for express transit. They're used to me now, they have started responding with "oh hi, no we still haven't.... but will forward your mail again...".
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ipedro Avatar
25 months ago
Update: Open Payment is currently “targeted” for rollout by the end of this year. I’m not super confident in the TTC and Metrolinx’ ability to meet deadlines but at least we know it’s coming, sooner or later.

A nice surprise is that a virtual Presto card is also coming, likely via Apple's Transit Card on iOS and watchOS.

cc: @avonord

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Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ipedro Avatar
43 months ago

what about transfers? does it track them as a Presto card does?
Yes, it tracks transfers. That’s done at the system level not at the terminal. If you tap the same card within 2 hours, it’s a $0.00 charge, no different than how a PRESTO card does it.

"Metrolinx Piloting Apple Pay"
No, they're piloting contactless payments ?
They’re also piloting Apple Pay. It’s not just a straightforward contactless payment. Apple Pay serves up a token, not a credit card number. It requires its own implementation, otherwise it would look like a different credit card each time it’s tapped, making it impossible to track transfers, fare verification and ride history. The article title is correct: Metrolinx is piloting Apple Pay.

Seems like a quite nice implementation.

I suppose it still needs authentication though? Express Transit doesn't need auth, it has Power Reserve for when the phone is dead and it works with concession cards (I don't know if Presto have those)- so in several ways is very useful.
Express Transit works with credit/debit cards.

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Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ipedro Avatar
43 months ago

I can't understand why they are not even planning integration of Presto cards with the Wallet. What could be the reason? Are there technical limitations? If not, what is the problem?

I’d prefer Presto card Wallet integration, but this is a good step forward
I actually prefer this implementation. It sets the stage for eliminating the need for a PRESTO card at all. Using a credit card charges you the PRESTO price rather than the cash fare. That’s a pleasant surprise.

Once you’ve tapped a credit card at least once, you can then add it into your PRESTO account in the app so it’ll work exactly like a PRESTO card:

Once your card is added to the app, you can track your trips like any other PRESTO card with the added benefit that you don’t have to load it before use. It’ll charge as you go.

Not everyone has a credit card but once debit cards are added, it’ll cover the vast majority of people. There’ll still be one time use PRESTO tickets which can be purchased with cash and are given out in community centres and shelters for the less fortunate. Ultimately, we won’t need a transit card at all, removing much of the complexity that exists today.

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Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)