HSR!~ You can take the bus...
HSR!~ You can take the bus everywhere!! Buses in Hamilton are very frequent and if you don't know your way around this is the best bet. Most streets in Hamilton (especially downtown, where I would say all) are ONE WAY which can be a big pain if you are just visiting and trying to get somewhere.
Local Transportation - Busses
Busses of the Hamilton Street Railway run on a number of different lines. According to the outline of the city, most run either east/westbound, or south/northbound between upper and lower Hamilton. So getting from any point of the city to Upper Hamilton for example requires a transfer downtown.
Tickets are $2.55, and you have to have the exact change on hand - drivers don't carry any change, the money is collected and counted by a machine. The other alternative is to buy five discounted tickets for $2 each at stores like Shoppers Drugmart or cornerstores, or a monthly pass. If you need to transfer or plan to take a ride back soon, make sure to get a transfer ticket, which is valid for 2.5 hrs, and can be used on any bus on any direction.
Service hours depend on the route; some are operated untill about 2am.
Apparently there is also the option to get a transfer to the Burlington bus, but I don't quite know how that works since I have never used it.
Also, there are plans to implement the "presto"-system, which allows you to pay your fare with a contactless smartcard. As of Dec 2010, they are not operational yet. Once in place, the cards can also be used in other cities with the presto-system, such as most of the neighbouring towns and Toronto.
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Too many One-Way streets!
Driving is easy in Hamilton, except there are too many one-way streets. It's confusing to visitors. There is bus service in Hamilton too, but it sucks. A lot of routes only have service every 30-60 minutes even during rush hour, and no night service. Plus, buses are very slow. It takes too long to get anywhere by bus.
The Hamilton Street Railway provides around 34 different bus routes. Some like the 1-King and 2-Barton and 5-Delaware run frequently, serve downtown and will get you to the main neighbourhoods, schools and attractions with ease as they run frequently and are pretty quick. The 'mountain', or the upper part of the city is mostly shopping plazas and malls, homes and the College are usually served from downtown and service spans from Upper Kenilworth to Upper Paradise, the buses run at a fair frequency of a bus every 15-25 minutes. Buses that run to the industrial, beach and Bayfront areas are the 4-Bayfront, 11-Parkdale and 99-Waterfront Shuttle (which is free and only operates in the summer, these run every 20-30 minutes. Then the suburbs such as Ancaster and Stoney Creek are served less frequently, the 16, 55, 55A and 58 operate at a 30 minute frequency, so know when the buses come. If you need McMaster University or Westdale Village, you can get there with ease by just taking a 1A, 5 or 51 which will run frequently. Although night service on weekends is very scarce with routes either providing limited service or none at all. You can take the 11 or 9 into Burlington (the latter only operating on Sundays with service to Woodland cemetery) and you can transfer onto a Burlington bus by asking for a transfer from an HSR bus operator and using the transfer while getting onto the Burlington bus. If you're in Downtown, you will probably get everywhere by taking one bus (like if you're staying at the Sheraton, Staybridge, Homewood, Crowne Plaza) but if you're staying on Upper James, you'll have to take the 27 or 20 to get downtown and if you're staying on Centennial, take the 56 to Eastgate or walk the short distance and then take the 1 or 10 to get to Downtown.
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To Hamilton from Toronto
There are four trains daily from Toronto to Hamilton, all during the evening rush hour. These are, of course, commuter trains and are usually quite packed leaving Toronto. At that time of day, though, they are the best option.
At other times, you'll take the bus. It leaves from Union Station, costs $16.40 return and takes anywhere from 50 to 75 minutes, depending on traffic.
They leave every 30 minutes, and more frequently during peak hours.
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