Transit+ App: Grade 12 Student’s Vision to Transform Public Transit in Toronto

transit+ concept


  • Transit+: A mobile app designed to improve public transit usage in Toronto by incentivizing car drivers and streamlining the transit experience.
  • Inspired by Hong Kong’s MTR system, Transit+ features a rewards program and digital card integration to increase revenue and reduce dependency on government subsidies.
  • Developed by a Grade 12 student, the app aims to address transit poverty, improve infrastructure, and contribute to a greener, more connected Toronto.

A Grade 12 student from Toronto, Zarif Ali, has come up with a concept that could revolutionize the city’s public transit system, inspired by an assignment in his geography class.

Ali’s idea focuses on creating a new app, Transit+, that integrates aspects of Hong Kong’s highly efficient MTR system and aims to make public transit more attractive and accessible for Toronto residents.

“I watched Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act episode on the state of public transportation and that inspired me to find a solution to the consequences of poor transit,” says Ali. “Transit equity is a fundamental human right, and reliable public transit is closely tied to improved education and employment opportunities. I wanted to explore solutions for Toronto and other cities in Ontario that suffer from transit poverty.”

Transit+ intends to incentivize car drivers to switch to public transit, offering a rewards-based program modelled after Starbucks’ rewards system. Users would earn points for each transit ride, redeemable for free rides or purchase credits at vendors supported by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and Metrolinx.

“The Transit+ rewards program is designed to benefit everyday riders and generate revenue for the TTC to improve infrastructure,” Ali explains. “By implementing a rewards program and expanding the usage of the Presto Card, the TTC and Metrolinx can increase revenue and reduce dependency on government subsidies.”

One of the biggest changes would be to also implement a Digital Card for PRESTO, which leverages NFC on smartphones, so riders can just tap their iPhones or Android devices at Presto card readers, via Apple Wallet and Google Wallet.

Transit+ would also capitalize on the TTC’s land assets, says Ali, allowing new developments and retail spaces along transit lines, further generating revenue for the public transit system. Ali’s ambitious concept aims to create a more efficient, streamlined, and environmentally friendly transit system in Toronto, ultimately improving the quality of life for city residents.

The concept looks pretty convincing but at the end of the day, trying to get transit officials to adopt such a drastic change might be a very hard sell.

Cellphone service in underground subways is only coming to Rogers customers (and possibly more) after the latter acquired BAI Canada, which owned rights to the network.

What do you think of this app concept for Toronto transit?