Gemini version available ♊︎

GoTransit forces PRESTOCARD on transit commuters

Posted in Action, Deception, Law, Microsoft, Windows at 9:22 am by formic_


On June 1st 2012, Go Transit in the Greater Toronto Area started to phase out anonymous 2 ride and 10 ride paper based tickets. These 2 ride and 10 ride tickets would get stamped in a machine and it didn’t require giving Metrolinx your name and address or other personal information. You can still buy anonymous single ride and day passes but if you ride the bus every day this is a huge inconvenience and the price is higher. If you ride the bus every day you’re likely to opt-in to the PRESTOCARD system. The PRESTOCARD system is dangerous to your personal privacy because  it collects personal information that was never previously required to ride the bus. Personal information collected by the Government of Ontario is stored on computers running Microsoft Windows Server and is a blatant security risk.

Personal Information

Personal information that may be collected by PRESTO in connection with your use of the PRESTOCARD is recorded information that identifies individuals and may include:

a)      information relating to financial transactions in which you have been involved or will be involved with PRESTO, including your credit card number and your bank account information;

b)      any identifying number, symbol or other particular identifier assigned to you by PRESTO;

c)       your address or telephone number;

d)      correspondence sent to PRESTO by you that is implicitly or explicitly of a private or confidential nature, and replies to that correspondence that would reveal the contents of the original correspondence; and/or

e)      your name where it appears with other personal information relating to you or where the disclosure of your name would reveal other personal information about you.


The claim from Metrolinx (whom owns Go Transit and Metrolinx) is that the information will only be used for a list of purposes although it says ‘among other things’ meaning the list is not complete:

PRESTO’s primary purpose for collecting your personal information is to provide the services and/or products requested by you. In addition, you agree that your personal information may be used, among other things, to:

a)      open and set-up your PRESTO Account;

b)      verify your identity and/or your eligibility for certain PRESTO Services;

c)       mail to you your PRESTOCARD and other such items or communications;

d)      operate the PRESTO Services effectively;

e)      administer loyalty programs associated with the use of the PRESTO Services;

f)       protect you and PRESTO from error and fraud

g)      better understand your needs and eligibility for products and services offered by PRESTO or the Service Providers;

h)      communicate to you those products and services that may be of interest to you;

i)        improve the products and/or services offered to you; and

j)        comply with legal and regulatory requirements.

What they do not list is the fact that the GO Transit system uses “tap on” and “tap off”. What this means is that you get on the bus, you tap your card and it makes a record that you boarded the bus. When you leave the bus you are required to “tap off” which makes a record that your trip ended. From a billing standpoint this means they keep track of your trip. They know where you get on the bus, and where you get off. This means the government (who owns Metrolinx) has your name & address, and can attach your trip information to their records and more readily build a personality profile on you.

The PRESTOCARD itself is RFID based and is read by an RFID reader on every bus. At some point the reader talks to head office, I suspect using WiFi communications. If anyone knows more about Presto and Wifi please leave a comment. I’ve discovered the Wifi prestocard client while on the bus using tools from the Aircrack-ng suite of utilities. My only guess is that this is how they update the billing records on the road.

Since Metrolinx is owned by the Government of Ontario, there will be no third party disclosure issues when handing the information over to the police, or other government agencies. When CCTV exists on Go Transit buses, facial recognition technology will get help via a list of names of people riding the bus since the trip is tracked for billing purposes. If you use your PRESTOCARD on Mississauga or Brampton Transit, it will already “out you” to CCTV. Not to mention the fact that the government will have information on your entire trip from start to finish. This information is valuable to the government and there are many uses. One of the more pragmatic things I can think of would be to give the government statistics it can use to market its incumbent political party to demographics more likely to vote for them.

What ever happened to the right to travel anonymously? Metrolinx, Go Transit and PRESTOCARD are all services that will remove this right and people will simply adapt before complaining. Those of us who don’t want to be tracked will stand out, we’ll get evil looks from bus drivers when we don’t tap on, and disgruntled looks from people waiting in line while people like me pay cash.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.


  1. rms said,

    June 16, 2012 at 11:39 pm


    Is it possible to pay cash in advance and not give the system a credit card?

    If so, people could swap cards from time to time in order to confuse Big Brother.

  2. formic_ said,

    June 19, 2012 at 3:43 pm



    You can buy single day paper passes with cash. The only advance payment option is the presto card.

    You could swap cards if you have a friend who takes the same route. Otherwise billing could get messy because it the price depends on the route taken. If any issues arose where the card was frozen, the original owner needs to call presto to get it fixed.

    I was on the bus last week and the bus right before mine had broken down. Everyone who had prestocard that was on the broken bus was told not to tap off. They were told they would be billed the entire route (hamilton go to york university). To get the billing fixed the customer had to call presto to get the charge fixed to reflect their actual trip.

DecorWhat Else is New

  1. Daniel Stenberg Knows Almost Nothing About Gemini and He's Likely Just Protecting His Turf (HTTP/S)

    The man behind Curl, Daniel Stenberg, criticises Gemini; but it's not clear if he even bothered trying it (except very briefly) or just read some inaccurate, one-sided blurbs about it

  2. Links 29/05/2023: Videos Catchup and Gemini FUD

    Links for the day

  3. Links 28/05/2023: Linux 6.4 RC4 and MX Linux 23 Beta

    Links for the day

  4. Gemini Links 28/05/2023: Itanium Day, GNUnet DHT, and More

    Links for the day

  5. Links 28/05/2023: eGates System Collapses, More High TCO Stories (Microsoft Windows)

    Links for the day

  6. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, May 27, 2023

    IRC logs for Saturday, May 27, 2023

  7. No More Twitter, Mastodon, and Diaspora for Tux Machines (Goodbye to Social Control Media)

    People would benefit from mass abandonment of such pseudo-social pseudo-media.

  8. Links 28/05/2023: New Wine and More

    Links for the day

  9. Links 27/05/2023: Plans Made for GNU's 40th Anniversary

    Links for the day

  10. Social Control Media Needs to be Purged and We Need to Convince Others to Quit It Too (to Protect Ourselves as Individuals and as a Society)

    With the Tux Machines anniversary (19 years) just days away we seriously consider abandoning all social control media accounts of that site, including Mastodon and Diaspora; social control networks do far more harm than good and they’ve gotten a lot worse over time

  11. Anonymously Travelling: Still Feasible?

    The short story is that in the UK it's still possible to travel anonymously by bus, tram, and train (even with shades, hat and mask/s on), but how long for? Or how much longer have we got before this too gets banned under the false guise of "protecting us" (or "smart"/"modern")?

  12. With EUIPO in Focus, and Even an EU Kangaroo Tribunal, EPO Corruption (and Cross-Pollination With This EU Agency) Becomes a Major Liability/Risk to the EU

    With the UPC days away (an illegal and unconstitutional kangaroo court system, tied to the European Union in spite of critical deficiencies) it’s curious to see EPO scandals of corruption spilling over to the European Union already

  13. European Patent Office (EPO) Management Not Supported by the EPO's Applicants, So Why Is It Still There?

    This third translation in the batch is an article similar to the prior one, but the text is a bit different (“Patente ohne Wert”)

  14. EPO Applicants Complain That Patent Quality Sank and EPO Management Isn't Listening (Nor Caring)

    SUEPO has just released 3 translations of new articles in German (here is the first of the batch); the following is the second of the three (“Kritik am Europäischen Patentamt – Patente ohne Wert?”)

  15. German Media About Industry Patent Quality Charter (IPQC) and the European Patent Office (EPO)

    SUEPO has just released 3 translations of new articles in German; this is the first of the three (“Industrie kritisiert Europäisches Patentamt”)

  16. Geminispace Continues to Grow Even If (or When) Stéphane Bortzmeyer Stops Measuring Its Growth

    A Gemini crawler called Lupa (Free/libre software) has been used for years by Stéphane Bortzmeyer to study Gemini and report on how the community was evolving, especially from a technical perspective; but his own instance of Lupa has produced no up-to-date results for several weeks

  17. Links 27/05/2023: Goodbyes to Tina Turner

    Links for the day

  18. HMRC: You Can Click and Type to Report Crime, But No Feedback or Reference Number Given

    The crimes of Sirius ‘Open Source’ were reported 7 days ago to HMRC (equivalent to the IRS in the US, more or less); but there has been no visible progress and no tracking reference is given to identify the report

  19. IRC Proceedings: Friday, May 26, 2023

    IRC logs for Friday, May 26, 2023

  20. One Week After Sirius Open Source Was Reported to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for Tax Fraud: No Response, No Action, Nothing...

    One week ago we reported tax abuses of Sirius ‘Open Source’ to HMRC; we still wait for any actual signs that HMRC is doing anything at all about the matter (Sirius has British government clients, so maybe they’d rather not look into that, in which case HMRC might be reported to the Ombudsman for malpractice)

  21. Links 26/05/2023: Weston 12.0 Highlights and US Debt Limit Panic

    Links for the day

  22. Gemini Links 26/05/2023: New People in Gemini

    Links for the day

  23. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, May 25, 2023

    IRC logs for Thursday, May 25, 2023

  24. Links 26/05/2023: Qt 6.5.1 and Subsystems in GNUnet

    Links for the day

  25. Links 25/05/2023: Mesa 23.1.1 and Debian Reunion

    Links for the day

  26. Links 25/05/2023: IBM as Leading Wayland Pusher

    Links for the day

  27. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, May 24, 2023

    IRC logs for Wednesday, May 24, 2023

  28. Links 25/05/2023: Istio 1.16.5 and Curl 8.1.1

    Links for the day

  29. Gemini Links 25/05/2023: On Profit and Desire for Gemini

    Links for the day

  30. SiliconANGLE: Sponsored by Microsoft and Red Hat to Conduct the Marriage Ceremony

    SiliconANGLE insists that paying SiliconANGLE money for coverage does not lead to bias, but every sane person who keeps abreast of SiliconANGLE — and I read their entire feed every day — knows that it’s a ludicrous lie (Red Hat/IBM and the Linux Foundation also buy puff pieces and “event coverage” from SiliconANGLE, so it’s marketing disguised as “journalism”

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts