Durham Region Transit: PRESTO increase in contactless payment and Simcoe Street Transit Priority Pilot Study

Posted on Thursday November 05, 2020

Whitby, Ontario –Members of the Transit Executive Committee (TEC) met virtually at Regional Headquarters on Wednesday, November 4, to discuss various Durham Region Transit (DRT) initiatives and updates, which included PRESTO, the Battery Electric Bus Pilot and the Simcoe Street Transit Priority Pilot Study.

  • PRESTO updates: After distributing over 4,000 free PRESTO cards during the first few months of the pandemic,in mid-September, DRT began waiving the $6.00 activation fee (with a minimum $6.50 load) for PRESTO cards to encourage the continued transition to contactless fare payment. This promotion will run through until the end of 2020, and to date, more than 5,000 free cards have been issued. Various PRESTO incentives have helped fuel a significant improvement in contactless fare payment on DRT, with 78 per cent of trips in September using PRESTO. DRT is also collaborating with the Township of Scugog to establish a new PRESTO point of sale (POS) at the Township office in Port Perry.
  • Battery Electric Bus Pilot: The Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC) announced an investment of $999,000 in a project led by eCAMION, an Ontario-based energy storage solution provider, to develop new bus charging technology. DRT will serve as a technical and strategic advisor to the project, offering up to $25,000 in in-kind support over two years. DRT will work with eCAMION to identify opportunities for testing the bus charging solution as part of DRT’s battery electric bus pilot.
  • Simcoe Street Transit Priority Pilot Study: As part of the Ridership Recovery Framework, the Simcoe Street corridor in Oshawa was identified as the preferred corridor to improve service reliability and transit competitiveness.   Simcoe Street is DRT’s second busiest transit corridor and has been identified for future rapid transit expansion. The Simcoe Street Transit Priority Pilot Study will be conducted by the IBI Group. Preliminary findings of the study indicate that the pilot could include bus stop consolidation or optimization, transit signal priority, queue jump lane, and reserved transit lane sections. Next steps for the Simcoe Street Transit Priority Pilot Study will be a presentation to the Oshawa Development Services Committee meeting on November 9, followed by a virtual public consultation running from November 16 to November 30.

Other highlights from the General Manager’s report include: 

  • The Ridership Recovery Framework implementation continues with the Phase A service plan. This included the launch of a new service delivery model for On Demand that meets current and anticipated ridership demand in areas where ridership remains low. 
  • Plans for DRT service to the Toronto Zoo, which was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be revisited in early 2021.
  • DRT recently signed a data license agreement with Metrolinx to study the effectiveness of On Demand, using anonymized data from services in Pickering, specifically travel opportunities supporting residents who use the GO Transit train. The study will also look at opportunities for DRT to attract more riders to On Demand.


“We’ve seen promising contactless fare payment results; an increase in PRESTO E-Ticket app usage shows that customers are onboard with new and innovative fare payment options. We are also excited to continue to collaborate with municipalities and roll out a new PRESTO point of sale.”

-        John Henry, Regional Chair and Chief Executive Officer.

“We are excited that Durham Region Transit continues to explore collaborative opportunities to advance electrification of our transit bus fleet. This innovative and sustainable project will develop new technologies with the potential to create jobs in Ontario and is an example of our commitment and progress towards a zero emission fleet.”

-        Shaun Collier Mayor of Ajax and Chair of the Transit Executive Committee.

“As Durham continues to grow and customers return to public transit, when they’re ready, transit priority measures like those being considered on Simcoe Street will ensure customer trips are faster and more reliable. Our customers and our community benefit when we can keep our buses moving through busy corridors.”

-        Bill Holmes, General Manager of Durham Region Transit.

More information about updates on PRESTO cards, incentives and payment, including free PRESTO cards, is available at durhamregiontransit.com

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Media inquiries:

The Regional Municipality of Durham:
Janet Piercey – Communications Advisor
289-830-2519 or CorporateCommunications@durham.ca