The City of Ottawa is pressing ahead with a roll-out of the Prestocard system, offering 10,000 new free cards to users early in the New Year.

OC Transpo General Manager John Manconi updated councillors over the holidays. In a memo, he said the larger test program of the Prestocard will begin January 18th.  The cards will be offered for free on a first come first serve basis.  The cards will be available at OC Transpo’s four Sales and Information Centres at the Rideau Centre, St. Laurent, Lincoln Fields and Place d’Orléans.

The Presto smartcard tap and go payment system, created by Metrolinx, was originally supposed to launch July 1, 2012.

However, widespread technical glitches with the pilot testing program caused that launch to be delayed.

The system seems to be working with a 98 per cent success rate, but Metrolinx said they need a staggered rollout to make sure it's working properly.

OC Transpo will continue to test Presto card until April, at which time Ottawa Council will decide whether to fully implement the smart card system.  If the system doesn’t work by April, Council has one last chance to cancel the program entirely.