EquiPass: Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the EquiPass Program?

EquiPass is a discounted monthly transit pass or single-ride fare that provides a lower-priced transit option for individuals or families who live on low incomes.

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2. What discount does the EquiPass offer me?

If you choose a monthly plan with unlimited rides, the EquiPass monthly pass costs $ per month. Should you travel less than 34 rides in a calendar month, then the EquiPass single-ride fare is a better option at $ per ride. These prices are subject to regular fare changes, which generally occur on January 1 each year.

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3. Who is eligible for an EquiPass discount?

The EquiPass discount is available to City of Ottawa residents whose household income falls below the low-income cut-off (LICO) threshold, as set out annually by the Government of Canada.

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4. Who is not eligible for the EquiPass discount?

Individuals who meet any of the following criteria:

  • Household income is above the Low Income Cut-Off (LICO) threshold as defined by the government of Canada.
  • Those receiving Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) benefits. You are eligible for a Community Pass.
  • Those receiving transportation benefits from any other source including Ontario Works or the Province of Ontario.
  • Students receiving a U-Pass or School Board monthly pass by the Ottawa School Transportation Authority (OSTA) or Consortium de transport scolaire d'Ottawa (CTSO) do not qualify during the school year. They can apply for an EquiPass during the months they do not receive any of the passes mentioned.
  • Those who are 65 years of age or older, as you are eligible for OC Transpo’s Seniors Pass*

* Individuals are only entitled to one fare discount. Seniors who meet the income level entry and benefits more from the EquiPass discount over the Senior discount, will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

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5. Will newcomer refugees be eligible for the EquiPass discount?

Some newcomer refugees will be eligible, depending on the nature of their sponsorship arrangements.

  • Refugees of all ages
  • Privately sponsored refugees
  • Inland claimants
  • Government-assisted refugees under the age of 18 can be eligible for the EquiPass.
  • Government-assisted refugees over the age of 18 while receiving financial assistance through the Refugee Assistance Program (RAP) are not eligible for the EquiPass as they can purchase an adult monthly pass with the transportation benefit provided through the program. They can apply for the EquiPass discount after a year of their settlement in Canada, when they no longer receive financial assistance through RAP.

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6. What if I have an Access Pass?

You can apply for an EquiPass if you like, but only one discounted pass can be put on your Presto card at a time so you’ll have to determine which pass best meets your transportation needs. Contact OC Transpo for more information: equipass@ottawa.ca or by phone at 613-741-4390 (TTY 613-741-5280).

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7. What is the Low Income Cut-off (LICO) threshold?

The Low Income Cut-off (LICO) threshold is set annually by the Federal Government of Canada and therefore is subject to change. The LICO is reviewed every year and typically made public in July. This means that your eligibility for the EquiPass discount may change each year. Family size is based on a person’s marital status and number of dependents. Annual net family income is based on your and your spouse’s (if applicable) 2016 net income (after tax) and has been set at:

Family Size Annual Net Income
1 person $20,675
2 person $25,163
3 person $31,334
4 person $39,092
5 person $44,514
6 person $49,367
7 person or more $54,220

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8. How do you know if you qualify?

Your net income is located on line 236 of the Canada Revenue Agency’s Notice of Assessment (NOA) for your 2016 Income Taxes. Both your and your spouse’s income must be added together to compare to the above chart. If you have any dependents and receive the Canada Child Benefit, please provide a copy of this statement with your application. The benefit statement is used to confirm the number of dependents in the family.

There are also some exceptions. You could qualify if:

  • You are a refugee newcomer to Canada (copies of landing documents and alternate income documents will be required) and are privately sponsored or an inland claimant or a child under 18 from a family in receipt of the RAP
  • You have never filed income taxes before (copies of income documents, such as T4 statements for 2016 or three (3) recent consecutive paystubs will be required)
  • You can provide an Ontario Works (OW) or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) benefit stub for the current month
  • Other cases that raise additional questions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Other cases that raise additional questions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

If you have questions about whether you are eligible or what documentation is required, or if you do not fall into one of the above categories but think you still qualify, please contact OC Transpo by e-mail at equipass@ottawa.ca or by phone at 613-741-4390 (TTY 613-741-5280). 

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9. Where can I get an application?

Application forms must be filled out and submitted for processing. You can get an EquiPass application form:

  • Online EquiPass application
  • By mail – Call 613-741-4390 (TTY 613-741-5280) to request a copy.
  • In person at various locations across Ottawa:
    • OC Transpo Customer Service Centres (Lincoln Fields,
    • Rideau Centre, St-Laurent, Place d’Orléans, 925 Belfast Road),
    • City of Ottawa Client Service Centres (City Hall, Orléans, Nepean, Kanata and Walter Baker Sports Centre),
    • City of Ottawa Libraries,
    • City of Ottawa Community and Social Support Centres; and
    • Community Health and Resource Centres

For a full list of locations, visit octranspo.com/tickets-and-passes/equipass.

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10. Where can I submit my application?

While you can pick-up an application in many places, drop-off locations are limited to ensure your information is protected. You must drop-off (return) your application in a sealed envelope addressed to “EquiPass Applications” at one of the following locations:

  • OC Transpo Customer Service Centres:
    • Rideau Centre – 3rd Floor
    • Lincoln Fields Station
    • Place d’Orléans Station
    • St-Laurent Station
    • 925 Belfast Road
  • City of Ottawa Client Service Centres:
    • City Hall / Laurier (110 Laurier Avenue West)
    • Ben Franklin Place / Nepean (101 Centrepointe Drive)
    • Kanata (580 Terry Fox Road)
    • Orléans (255 Centrum Blvd.)
    • Walter Baker Sports Centre (100 Malvern Drive)
    • Metcalfe (8243 Victoria Street)
    • West Carleton (5670 Carp Road)
    • North Gower (2155 Roger Stevens Drive)
  • By mail to:
    OC Transpo
    Attn: EquiPass Applications
    925 Belfast Road
    Ottawa, ON K1G 0Z4

You will receive a letter advising you of the status of your application within approximately 15 business days of submitting your application.

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11. What do I need to submit with my application?

The following must be included for all members of the household listed on the application form (Provide copies only - no documents will be returned):

Family or Single Applicants:

  • Your 2016 Notice of Assessment (NOA) from Canada Revenue Agency.
  • Parents or guardians with dependents 17 years and under must also provide the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) or Ontario Child Benefit (OCB) statement. This will not be added to your income, but will be used to confirm the number of dependents.

Parents or guardians with dependents 17 years and under must also provide a copy of the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) or Ontario Child Benefit (OCB) statement. This will not be added to your income, but will be used to confirm the number of dependents.

Applicants who have never filed income tax:

If you have never filed an Income Tax return, please include:

  • A copy of your last 3 pay stubs for any and all job(s) held in the last 12 months and / or any 2016 annual Income Slips (e.g. T4, T4A, or other).

Note: The EquiPass discount in this circumstance is set for one year. To renew your EquiPass after the first year, you must provide a Notice of Assessment (NOA) after filing your income taxes the following year.

Refugees or Newcomers

If you are recent refugee/newcomer to Canada, but have not filed a tax return:

  • A copy of your Record of Landing (Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) form IMM 1000) and Sponsorship agreements or payments, including Refugee Assistance Program cheque stubs, if applicable
  • If currently employed, a copy of your last 3 pay stub(s) for any and all job(s) currently held, and / or any annual Income Slips (e.g. T4, T4A) you may have received to date

Note: The EquiPass discount in this circumstance is set for one year. To renew your EquiPass after the first year, you must provide a Notice of Assessment (NOA) after filing your income taxes the following year.

Applicants not covered above: If you are unable to provide the documentation above, please contact OC Transpo at equipass@ottawa.ca or 613-741-4390 (TTY 613-741-5280) for more information. Applicants are responsible for making copies of documents needed for this application and any associated costs. Documents will not be returned.

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12. Who will be reviewing the EquiPass applications?

EquiPass applications will be processed by OC Transpo, in collaboration with Community and Social Services.

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13. How long does it take to process my application?

Please allow three weeks for processing.

  • OC Transpo will ensure that all customers who qualify receive their discount based on the date the application is received. All applications must be received by the last day of the month before eligibility. (eg, If you submit an application in April, and eligibility is granted, your first pass will be for the month of May).
  • If you haven’t heard within 15 business days of applying for the EquiPass discuont, you can check on the status of your application by emailing OC Transpo at: equipass@ottawa.ca, or calling us at 613-741-4390 (TTY 613-741-5280).

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14. How do I know if I have been approved?

A letter will be mailed to each applicant listed on the application form to advise them of a decision. This letter must be provided with photo identification when going to get your EquiPass discount loaded onto your Presto card at one of our OC Transpo Customer Service Centres.

If your application is rejected, you will be given a reason why. Possible reasons include, but are not limited to:

  • Application incomplete, or not signed by all family members 18 and older.
  • Missing appropriate documents.
  • Not eligible based on your income.
  • You already receive transportation benefits from another source.
  • You receive a U-Pass or School Board monthly pass. You should re-apply when you no longer receive this pass.
  • You qualify for the Community, Access or Senior’s Pass.

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15. What if I haven’t yet received my letter? Can I check on the status?

Please wait at least 10 business days for in-person applications, and 15 business days for those mailed to us before contacting OC Transpo regarding the status of your application. To check on the status, you can e-mail equipass@ottawa.ca, or call us at 613-741-4390 (TTY 613-741-5280). If e-mailing, please provide the first and last name of the primary (main) applicant. Please allow 24 to 48 hours for a response. Your patience is appreciated.

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16. How do I get my EquiPass discount once I receive my letter?

Bring your approval letter to any OC Transpo Customer Service Centre. You will be asked for identification (ID) to confirm your identity. If you do not have ID, please contact OC Transpo at: 613-741-4390 (TTY 613-741-5280) to discuss your situation and available options. A Customer Service Representative will then set the EquiPass discount on a registered Presto card. A Presto card will be provided to you at no cost. The EquiPass is not transferable and can only be used by the approved customer.

Once you have the EquiPass discount set on your card, you can then buy your monthly pass or load your e-purse using any of the following methods:

  • Online at prestocard.ca, or by phone at 1-877-378-6123 (TTY 7-1-1).
  • In person at an OC Transpo Customer Service Centre, or select City of Ottawa Client Service Centre.
  • For Para Transpo customers, using ParaPay.

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17. What happens to my financial documents once my application is processed?

All copies of personal financial documents are destroyed once the application process is complete. Paper applications forms will be retained and stored in a secure manner. If an application is incomplete, personal financial documents will be retained for up to 2 months in a secure location, in case the applicant provides follow up information.

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18. Do I have to put the EquiPass on a Presto card?

Yes, there is no paper version of the EquiPass. It must be loaded on a Presto card.

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19. Does my Presto card need to be registered?

Yes. The EquiPass is a discounted transit pass or single-ride fare, therefore not transferable. Only the person who was approved can use it. OC Transpo will verify that it is registered to your name and your current address.

If your Presto card is not registered when you come in, or if you need to change the address on the registration, the purple Presto registration form that came with your approval letter will be sent directly to Presto by OC Transpo.

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20. How can I load my EquiPass once the discount is on the card?

After your EquiPass discount is set on your Presto card for the first time, to avoid lineups and wait times in following months, we encourage you to load your Presto card online if possible. You can also set up an AutoRenew contract, which means your monthly pass will load automatically around the 20th of each month. If you are using the single-ride option, you can set up an AutoLoad contract that will load funds to your e-purse in the amount you choose. For more information on AutoRenew and AutoLoad contracts, please visit prestocard.ca. Please note that AutoRenew and AutoLoad contracts will automatically cancel if the EquiPass discount expires. If you cannot load your monthly pass or e-purse online, you can do so in person at the following locations:

  • OC Transpo Customer Service Centres (Rideau Centre, Lincoln Fields, Place d’Orléans and St-Laurent);
  • Select City of Ottawa Client Service Centres (including City Hall, Ben Franklin and Kanata / Terry Fox), or
  • At one of our new Ticket Machines at select O-Train stations on the Trillium Line (Line 2), with more locations coming with the opening of the Confederation Line (Line 1).
  • In April and May 2018, you will also be able to load your Presto card at Shoppers Drug Marts and some Loblaw and Real Canadian Superstore locations. Note: You can NOT set your EquiPass discount the first time at these locations. You must visit one of the four OC Transpo Customer Service Centres the first time with your approval letter to have the discount set.

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21. How long is my EquiPass discount good for? How often do I have to reapply?

For most people, the EquiPass discount will be set on your Presto card for a period between 21 and 27 months. It will depend on when you receive it.

If you qualify under one of the exemptions listed in question 6, your EquiPass discount will expire after 1 year as you will be required to file your Income Taxes and re-apply. Your EquiPass discount expiry date will be included in the letter you receive from OC Transpo. You can also check your discount expiry date online at prestocard.ca or in person at an OC Transpo Customer Service Centre.

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22. Will you be reminding me when my EquiPass discount expires?

No. You are responsible for checking the expiry date and re-applying.

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23. How do I know if the EquiPass discount has expired?

The EquiPass monthly pass option will no longer be available for purchase on your card and your e-purse will revert to charging an adult fare of $ per ride. You can also ask at an OC Transpo Customer Service Centre, check on a Ticket Machine or online at prestocard.ca.

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24. The application form says that you will be collecting information on our application. What information are you collecting?

We will be tracking cards issued to prevent fraudulent use of the discount. Please note that if a duplicate card is found, all Presto cards except one will be cancelled. Duplicate purchases may make you ineligible for the EquiPass discount.

In addition, non-personal information will be collected for program statistics and to support the general program reporting.

Lastly, we will update personal information for the programs involved, such as address or income with other involved programs including the EquiPass, Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Programs.

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25. What if I lose my Presto card with an EquiPass discount on it? Or what if the card gets damaged or becomes defective?

The process is the same as replacing any registered Presto card

If your card is lost / damaged / defective, ensure that you “hotlist” (i.e. block) the card immediately, by going into your online account at prestocard.ca, calling Presto or by visiting an OC Transpo Customer Service Centre (ID will be verified). If you aren’t sure if your card is damaged or defective, take it to one of our OC Transpo Customer Service Centres, and they will verify it.

Once the card has been hotlisted, you will need to obtain a new, unregistered Presto card at an OC Transpo Customer Service Centre. DO NOT register the new card, and DO NOT load a monthly pass on the new card. To obtain the card:

  • For lost cards, you must purchase the new card at a cost of $6 plus a minimum $10 e-Purse load.
  • For damaged cards, you will be given a free card, but may need to pay the minimum $10 e-Purse load.
  • For defective cards, the Customer Service Representative will verify the card, and if determined to be defective, you will be provided with a free card and the equivalent of two-day passes for travel.

Once you have your new card, you transfer your data to the new Presto card immediately. This generally takes between 12 to 24 hours. For lost or damaged cards, you are responsible for the cost of travel during that period.

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26. I’m a student, only 17 years old. Do I qualify for an EquiPass discount?

If you are not receiving a subsidized pass from the local School Boards, or are not receiving a U-Pass, yes, you qualify for an EquiPass if your family income falls under the LICO threshold. If you have a U-Pass or School Board monthly pass, you may still qualify during the summer months if you are not attending school. Please apply for those months only.

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27. I have a U-Pass, but I’d prefer to get an EquiPass. Can I get a refund for and opt out of my U-Pass?

No. You cannot opt out of your U-Pass in favour of the EquiPass Program. The U-Pass is less expensive than the EquiPass discount. You can apply for the EquiPass discount for months when you don’t have a U-Pass, e.g. in the summer months, if not going to school full time.

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28. I’m 18 or 19 years old, and I have never filed taxes because I just started working this year. I don’t have a Notice of Assessment. Do I qualify?

It is possible that some people have just entered the workforce, and never had to submit Income Taxes. In this case, please ensure we get all of your Income Tax slips for the previous year – including, but not limited to, T4 and T4A statements, if you were working. If you were not working the previous year, please provide your last 3 pay stubs for each job that you currently hold. We will review, and advise you if more information is required. This will only apply for 18 and 19 year olds.

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29. I am 20 years old or older, but have never filed my Income Taxes before. Can I apply?

Yes you can apply. Please contact OC Transpo at 613-741-4390 (TTY 613-741-5280) to discuss your situation and eligibility. Note that your application may take additional time to process without a Notice of Assessment (NOA).

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30. It’s December, and I don’t have this year’s tax information yet. What do I use to apply?

As of January 2018, we are using the 2016 LICO chart to compare to your annual income from your NOA. We will be accepting the 2016 or 2017 NOA for 2018.

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31. I don’t have my copy of the NOA anymore. How do I get a copy?

Contact Canada Revenue Agency to get a copy. For more information, see http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/tpcs/ncm-tx/ssmnt-eng.html.

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32. If my EquiPass discount is not transferable, what happens if a Transit Fare Enforcement Officer (TFEO) stops me? What do I need as proof?

If fare inspection occurs, just provide your fare proof, in this case a Presto card. In order to confirm your eligibility, you may be required to provide proof of your identification if you are travelling on a non-transferable discounted fare.

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33. Can I ride STO using my EquiPass?

Yes. You can travel on STO with your EquiPass monthly pass as it is subject to the same rules and regulations as any OC Transpo monthly pass. However, if you start your travels on an STO bus, the single-ride option (e-purse) is not available. Please note, if you started your travels on an OC Transpo bus and are transferring to an STO bus, your transfer is valid. You must be a resident of Ottawa to be eligible for the EquiPass – residents of Quebec must hold an STO monthly pass. In addition, if you are travelling from Gatineau to Ontario before 9:00 am with an OC Transpo Presto card with a monthly pass, you must present an Ontario Residency card, available at STO offices.

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34. Am I eligible if I live in Quebec?

No. You must obtain and use an STO fare card. Learn more about their discounted low-income program called Equity Community Choice Mobility (ECHO) at the following link: http://www.sto.ca/index.php?id=echo&L=en.

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35. Can a visitor staying in the city for more than a month get an EquiPass discount if they meet the income level?

No. The EquiPass discount is only available to residents of the City of Ottawa.

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36. If individuals are denied and do not agree with the outcome, what are their next steps?

Applicants will receive a letter by mail informing them if they are eligible for the EquiPass Program. If an application is denied, the letter will tell the applicant the reason(s) for their ineligibility. If applicants have questions about this decision, they can contact OC Transpo by mail at OC Transpo, Attn: EquiPass Applications, 925 Belfast Road, Ottawa, ON K1G 0Z4, or by email at equipass@ottawa.ca.

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Image text: Free Wednesdays for Seniors 65+ Don't Tap your Presto card on Wednesdays!

Free Wednesdays for Seniors 65+

  • Unlimited rides, all day
  • All routes

You will still need to pay the full fare to ride Para Transpo on Wednesdays.

Proof of payment (POP) logo with a POP transfer

Be ready for fare inspection

Aboard double-deckers, articulated buses and the O-Train, and on the O-Train platform

Keep your PRESTO card, monthly pass, POP transfer ticket or DayPass at hand and be prepared to show it to fare inspectors on request.

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