Metrolinx has announced a new initiative that combines university transit passes onto PRESTO Cards for the fall of 2018. The new program will allow universities to offer students a PRESTO card, preloaded with the pricing discount usually offered through the U-Pass, upon agreement with a university and its local transit companies.

“The functionality to enable the PRESTO university pass program coming this fall 2018, will offer an automated solution for discounted fares to students at universities that have reached an agreement with their transit agency,” stated Vanessa Barrasa, a spokesperson for Metrolinx, in an email to The Medium.

The University of Toronto Mississauga students pay for a transit pass, separate from PRESTO, which currently only applies to MiWay transit.

“The announcement was of no surprise as the senior executives of Metrolinx said that integration with the current U-Pass system would not be costly and could be done soon,” Salma Fakhry, UTMSU’s president, said in an email to The Medium.

“We hope that the current infrastructure of the U-Pass program will be the base pillar of this integrated program. No additional payments should be leveraged onto students to make this card work,” stated Fakhry.

“MiWay has said that opt-outs are not an option, as is the practice for most if not all UPASS programs across the country,” she also added.

According to Barrasa, this system has undergone testing in Hamilton with students from McMaster and Redeemer University. The student-pass holders would then find using Hamilton Street Railway more accessible through their fall and winter terms.

Based on the specific contract terms struck between schools and transportation services, students will be set to receive an integrated PRESTO to use through the fall and winter terms.

According to Fakhry, the UTMSU has been working towards this initiative since October 2016.

As of press time, it remains unclear if the students will continue to pay for the new pass as part of their ancillary fees.