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PRONTO fare collection system rolls out Friday for transit riders

MTS public relations manager Mark Olson holds up a new PRONTO card, Aug. 10, 2021.
Matthew Bowler
MTS public relations manager Mark Olson holds up a new PRONTO card, Aug. 10, 2021.

Starting Friday, transit riders will have a new way to pay for transit as the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System and North County Transit District officially roll out the PRONTO fare collection system.

The month-long Ride Free with PRONTO September promotion offered to help riders transition to the new system ended Thursday. Now, riders will need to add money to their PRONTO card or app to ride public transit. The transit agencies distributed more than 120,000 PRONTO cards and 100,000 app downloads for free between August and September to prepare riders for the transition.

"Offering a month of free rides and issuing free PRONTO cards helped riders convert to PRONTO and learn about the new system," said Nathan Fletcher, MTS board chair and chair, San Diego County Board of Supervisors. "Beginning Oct. 1, riders will get to use all features that will make riding easier and more accessible with PRONTO, such as fare capping, instant account reloads, and free transfers for up to two hours on one-way fares."


Some of PRONTO's features include fares remaining the same and riders will always get the best fare — a rider will never be charged more than a day pass in a given calendar day or a month pass in a given calendar month regardless of how many trips/taps they make.

Additionally, riders will not need to buy a month pass in advance. Riders can earn as they go by adding money to their PRONTO account during the month. Every time someone taps to board a vehicle, the appropriate one-way fare is deducted from the balance. Riders will be able to track their progress toward a day or month pass on the PRONTO app or online account.

Riders will still have the option to buy a month pass in advance for all buses, trolleys and SPRINTER. COASTER will require up-front payment for a day or month pass, and the SPRINTER/BREEZE monthly pass is on sale now.

"Equitable access and flexibility are two pillars that really distinguish PRONTO," said Tony Kranz, NCTD board chair and deputy mayor of Encinitas. "The system is accessible across most mobile devices, online, at stations, the MTS Transit Store, NCTD Customer Service Centers and at retail locations."

The PRONTO app can be downloaded for free from the App Store and Google Play. The PRONTO card is available at participating Vons and Albertsons beginning Oct. 25, and more than 70 other retail outlets, beginning Oct. 5, as well as the transit store, customer service centers, and ticket vending machines.


The Ride PRONTO website will allow people to register cards and purchase fares, review order history, add payment methods, set up a customized dashboard and more.