OC Transpo – Public Transit Information

Every September, thousands of grade 7-12 students are assigned to take OC Transpo to school. OC Transpo is a convenient option for students, allowing them the freedom to use their free Presto School Board Card for extra-curricular activities, commitments or attending part-time jobs.

A free Presto School Board Pass valid from September to June 30th will be issued to eligible students. Students will be notified by their school at the beginning of September when their Presto cards are available for pick up.

OC Transpo understands that some students who receive a PRESTO card from their school board won’t be able to pick it up before school starts. A grace period will be provided for anyone who does not have a PRESTO card yet. Rest assured that Bus Operators, Station Attendants, and other OC Transpo staff will let you on the bus or train – just let them know you’re a student and have not picked up your PRESTO Card yet. Students starting their trip to school at an O-Train Line 1 station can use the video-chat feature at the ticket machine to contact a Customer Service Representative. This year, the grace period will run until September 8, 2023.

OC Transpo info for new riders

OSTA has been working closely with OC Transpo to ensure safe public transit services for students. If you are new to public transit or would like information on how OC Transpo is handling health and safety on its buses and trains, please watch the OC Transpo Training Video here:

High School and Middle School Bus Service

OC Transpo operates many designated school routes with numbers in the 600s and special school trips on other regular routes. You can find out which routes serve your school by viewing the list of schools with their corresponding routes and maps on OC Transpo’s website. You can also find out more information on what tools OC Transpo offers that make it easy for you to plan your trip, view bus stop and route schedules, detours and cancellations and check bus arrival times. Click here +

To report issues related to OC Transpo services, such as delays and cancellations, please call 613-560-5000

OC Transpo Alerts

Subscribe to alerts at octranspo.com to receive service information about bus detours and cancelled trips. For more information about OC Transpo Alerts, visit their website. You can also follow OC Transpo on Twitter or download the OC Transpo app.

PRESTO Information

If you are a student new to PRESTO, please create a new account here.

Need help setting up your presto? Follow our online guide!


If you are a returning student with a PRESTO account, login here.

Need help setting up your presto? Follow our online guide!

OC Transpo School Service Updates – Find out about added routes and trips

Step-by-step guide to using OC Transpo’s Travel Planner Guide


1. Who gets a PRESTO card?

The PRESTO Card with a school board pass is paid for and provided by the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority (OSTA). OSTA determines who is eligible to receive one according to its eligibility policies and procedures. OSTA has the right to cancel or “hotlist” a student’s PRESTO Card at any time – for example, if a student’s eligibility changes due to a change of address or school or if improper use of the card is suspected.

Reselling an OSTA issued PRESTO Card is prohibited and will result in the termination of the card.

2. When is the PRESTO School Board Card Valid?

The School Board Pass is valid from the first day until June 30 of that school year. As of July, students may use the blank PRESTO Card to load other OC Transpo fare products at the student’s expense. A new PRESTO Card with a School Board Pass is issued to eligible students every new school year in September.

3. Where are PRESTO cards issued?

Every September, PRESTO cards with a School Board Pass are issued to students assigned to public transit and sent directly to the schools. Each school is responsible for distributing PRESTO cards to students. Your school will notify you when your card is available for pick up.

4. Where is the PRESTO School Board Card Valid?

The PRESTO School Board Card is accepted on all OC Transpo buses and the O-Train.

5. Identification

Students must carry a Transit Student identification card (issued to them with their PRESTO Card), a school photo identification card, or some other identification that proves they are a student. Failure to show adequate identification to a Transit Fare Enforcement Officer could result in a fine of $150.

6. Register the PRESTO card

Students should register their card to protect the balance if it’s lost, stolen or damaged. Registration allows students to get a replacement card quickly and transfer any remaining balance (school board pass).

It’s easy to do at prestocard.ca.

  1. Click on I’m New to PRESTO and then click on Create a new PRESTO Account
  2. Fill in the user profile, create a user name and password and select three security questions and enter their answers.
  3. Follow the instructions to register your card by adding it to your account. The PRESTO card number and card verification number (CVN) are both located on the back of it.

Returning students who had previously registered their cards can log into their existing account and add the new card to it.  To add it, after logging in, click on the drop down found at the upper right corner of the webpage and select “Add an Existing Card”.

Note: Some schools take care of registering their students’ PRESTO cards. If you have not been informed of this please check with the school.

7. Lost, Stolen or Damaged cards

If the card is lost, stolen or damaged and has not been registered, please contact your school for assistance.

If a card is lost, stolen or damaged and has been registered, log into your account at prestocard.ca, click on Report Now and read the instructions. Alternatively, you can call PRESTO at 1-877-378-6123 to report the card lost or stolen.

While online or speaking with PRESTO, you can choose to order a replacement card for $6. The replacement card will be sent out by mail to the address in the account profile and will take 7-10 business days to arrive. Cards sent by mail will need to be activated online upon receipt as follows.

  1. Log into your account and click on I’m a PRESTO User.
  2. Click on Activate My Card.
  3. Enter the new card number
  4. Enter the 4-digit PIN that you entered when you ordered the card.
  5. Tap Activate.

Note: There is no need to transfer the school board pass to the new card as this is already done by PRESTO.

For faster replacement, go to an OC Transpo Customer Service Centre or to authorized retail locations and buy a replacement card for $6. Do not use this card until 24 hours after you have completed the steps below. Do not create a new account, register the card, or add the card to an account.

  1. With the new card in hand, log in to your existing account at prestocard.ca
  2. Click on Report Lost Card or Transfer Card Information
  3. Select the card to cancel (the card you are replacing)
  4. Under Transfer the Balance, select “A new PRESTO card I’ve already purchased”
  5. Tap Next.
  6. Enter the new card number and 3-digit CVN (Card Verification Number) found on the back of the card
  7. Tap Submit.
8. Forgot PRESTO Account Username or Password

If you have forgotten your PRESTO account username or password, go to prestocard.ca and on the Sign In page click on Forgot Username or Forgot Password. If you still cannot access your account, please contact PRESTO at 1-877-378-6123 for assistance.

9. How to ride with PRESTO

Students must tap their PRESTO card on the reader each time they board the bus. Hold the card in front of the ‘tap’ symbol at the bottom of the reader. A checkmark will show on the screen if the card is valid.

10. Start of new service

As part of OC Transpo’s fall service change, school service will start on Monday, August 31. The Travel Planner will be updated with the latest service enhancements as soon as details are finalized.

11. COVID-19

We understand that many parents and students are feeling anxious about many aspects of the return to school. OC Transpo’s goal is to provide a safe, simple and stress-free return to school transportation. In collaboration with Ottawa Public Health, we continue to make transit service as safe as possible for everyone, with mandatory masks for all customers, enhanced cleaning, hand sanitizer dispensers in stations and protective shields around bus operators.

OC Transpo is working closely with all four school boards, OSTA and CTSO, on this year’s back-to-school plans. OC Transpo understands this remains an evolving situation, and we are ready to adjust our services as required. Our trip schedules are based on the most recent information, including:

  • Matching trip times to school times and start dates;
  • Adding trips to accommodate early dismissal times from some high schools; and,
  • Monitoring crowding on school routes and traffic conditions every day and having buses on standby to ensure space for all students.

Safer door-to-door

  • OC Transpo has developed a “safer door-to-door” brochure that will be distributed by schools to students when they get their Presto cards. The brochure shows a simple step-by-step process that outlines how to use the transit system and includes messaging on health and safety measures such as always wearing a mask and using hand sanitizer. OC Transpo safer door to door

In summary, OC Transpo is implementing a number of initiatives to assist with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the following:

  • Careful monitoring – All bus routes that serve schools will be monitored so we can make adjustments based on early trends and observations.
  • Deployment of resources – Buses will be on standby to address possible gaps or overloads as required.

As OC Transpo finalizes plans with OSTA details will be communicated on octranspo.com, social media, and through promotion with our partners. Students and parents should check the Travel Planner for schedules before school starts. Some details are still being finalized so they are encouraged to keep checking.

12. Why are so many secondary students being moved to public transit?

OSTA already provides Presto passes to 16,000 students in grades 7 to 12 annually.  Because there is a yellow bus driver shortage, we need to allocate available yellow buses to elementary students who are too young to take transit by themselves.

Some students residing in areas with access to public transit have been moved over to public transit to ensure students receive consistent transportation to school.

OSTA and OC Transpo are working to ensure service is reliable and conven­ient for students assigned to public transit.

For first-time rider information, please watch the OC Transpo video above.

13. OC Transpo service is really not good in my area. My child should not be switched to public transit.

OSTA worked collaboratively with OC Transpo to ensure there is adequate service for students new to public transit.  They have added more than 42 runs throughout the city and will continue to monitor delays and load counts daily to ensure everyone has a safe and timely trip. Please check octranspo.com for your travel plan.

14. My child won’t be able to get their Presto pass until school starts. How will they be able to take the bus the first week of school?

OC Transpo’s bus operators (drivers) have been asked to allow any students who identify themselves as such, to get on the bus without any fare for the first week of school.  This grace period gives everyone the time to get their Presto passes and ID cards for future trips.

15. If a yellow bus driver becomes available, will my child be reassigned to yellow bus from Presto?

It is unlikely that grade 7-12 students would be reassigned to yellow bus as there are many students without transportation.  Any available drivers would first be assigned to elementary schools with open yellow bus routes, then elementary schools where instructional time is being negatively impacted by a temporary doubling of routes.

16. How were students selected to shift to public transit?
  • Geographical areas that OC Transpo services well
  • OC Transpo services the school within a reasonable distance
  • Students living within 1km walking distance of an OC Transpo bus stop
  • Routes that lacked available yellow bus drivers

Why do some students receive OC Transpo bus passes?

Some high school students utilize OC Transpo public transportation services to get to school. They may use dedicated school routes, or regular transit routes. Please check the Parent Portal or contact your child’s school to inquire whether your child is eligible to receive a bus pass. Check OC Transpo’s website for stop and route information.

Visit OC Transpo