Toronto Public Transportation
The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is the quick, convenient and safest way to get around Toronto. It operates streetcar, bus, and subway train in Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Streetcar route is generally concentrated only in downtown core. Most streetcars and buses start at around 5:00 AM until 1:30 AM from Monday to Friday. Streetcars and buses has weekend service but on reduced frequency. Route and destination schedule is often posted at most major route intersections. The subway train runs every few minutes on weekdays and Saturdays from 6:00AM until 1:30AM. On Sundays, the schedule is 9:00AM to 1:30AM
The following are the only streetcar lines presently in operation:
503 Kingston Road
512 St. Clair
* You need a ticket, token, pass, or transfer or exact cash on streetcars, buses, and subway train. Drivers do not sell fares or carry change. If you pay cash $2.75. If you are travelling by TTC the whole day, it is recommended to buy a Day Pass for $8.50. The subway train system is linked with buses and streetcars to get you around Toronto on one fare, provided it's a one way trip without stopovers.
* Ticket, token, or pass can be purchased at Collector Booths located at every subway station.
- Historical Travel
- Theme Park Trips
Contrary to what happens in all large cities that I know (specially in Europe), taxis in Toronto are actually very cheap.
I remember taking one from Casa Loma down to the CN Tower for about 12 CAD.
Most of the time, if you only make one or two trips a day it is easier just to go by taxi, even more if you are 2-3 people, it ends up not being much more expensive than other means of public transportation and it is definetly more convenient.
Taking into account the parking rates, you will be better off not renting a car when you plan to stay only in the center (of course it is very useful if you plan to go outside the city like Niagara). What it costs you to park a morning is probably more than it would be for the taxi ride.
The drivers seem to be very polite and the meters all seem to work fine :)
There is a flat rate from the Airport (Pearsons Int.) to the city center. At the time, it was 30 CAD for a regular taxi or 33 CAD for a limousine to take you anywhere in the center. For the 3 CAD extra, we obviously took the limo, which was quite nice.
All companies seem to be reliable and you will always find a number on a payphone or you can just hail one on the street.
TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION (TTC)
A fast, efficient way to get around Toronto is on the Metro. The TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION (TTC) is one of the largest, safest and most efficient transportation systems in North America. Family/Group day passes and unlimited day passes are available.
Whether you are travelling within downtown Toronto or commuting to and from other parts of the city and surrounding communities, you'll find Toronto well served by a number of inexpensive public transit options.
Cash fares are $2.50 for adults, $1.70 for seniors (65 years of age or over) or students (13-19) and .60 for children (12 and under).
Discounted tokens can be purchased in multiples of five and ten i.e. five tokens cost $10.00.
Hans and I bought a day pass for Saturday. It was $8.00 and it was good for 2 adults all day Saturday.
- Family Travel
Airport transport options
Toronto Pearson International Airport is about 35km away from the city center and you basically have 3 ways of getting there:
- Rent a car. There are several car rental agencies at the airport, but I would recommend trying to get a good rate online and then pick it up. It is quite easy to drive in Toronto, this is until you get downtown. There it is more difficult to find a street that will allow you to drive in the direction you want so you might find yourself driving around for a while. Depending on how well you know the city it will take from 30 minutes to over 1 hour (in rush hour)
- Taxi. A ride anywhere downtown will today (November 2005) cost a fixed 44 CAD or 46 CAD (normal or limo). This is obviously the most convenient way and will take from 20 minutes (at night, no traffic) to 1 hour or more during rush hour.
- Airport shuttle. There is a shuttle departing every 20-30 minutes that will stop at 8 hotels downtown. Even if yours is not one of them, it might be possible to walk there, so ask at the information booth. Price is 15.50 per person. It will take from 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the hotel you need to go to (in rush hour, it will take longer).
Obviously, 3 or 4 people will be better of with a taxi as it will be cheaper and faster.
I have personally tried all 3 options and my conclusion is:
Taxi is the most convenient, but if you have the time and your hotel is on the route take the airport express. I would rent a car downtown, and only when you really need it (plan the days you need to drive out of the city as you should not need it there), as parking can be expensive.
TTC Subway Sign in Toronto
If you are visiting Toronto or just new here, I would like to help you find our train station easily. In any street in Greater Toronto Area (GTA), you will see the sign board off the sidewalk exactly like the photo I posted here. If you are looking for the train station and you see this sign, then you are in the right direction. Pay your fare on the ticket booth and proceed to the subway train platform. I also posted photos of the subway platform here.
This signboard also means that the TTC buses are also available in most stations. For complete and detailed information about the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), please visit their website or call them and speak in any of its 70 languages.
Toronto subway train is the fastest and convenient way of going around the downtown and the Greater Toronto Area.
Of the options listed in Frommer's for how to get to downtown from the airport, the Airport Express appealed to me most. It seemed like it would be quicker than taking the public bus, then transferring to the subway and much cheaper than catching a cab. If you are traveling with several people, a cab may be cheaper but for one person, the Airport Express was a better deal and really not much slower than a cab.
The Airport Express has 8 stops in downtown Toronto, since I was staying at the Hilton Toronto, it was very convenient as the stop was right across the street at the Sheraton. Our driver actually stopped at the Hilton since no one was going to the Sheraton.
If you buy online, it's 10% cheaper and buying a roundtrip saves you $3.75. Without the 10% discount, it cost me $26.75 Canadian for a round trip and I thought it was worth the convenience.
Buses leave every 20-30 minutes, you can see a schedule on the attached website as well as where to pick the bus up at the airport.
FERRY TO TORONTO ISLANDS
Berni made a wonderful suggestion to visit Toronto Islands for the day, on Sunday. It was a gorgeous, sunny, autumn day and as it was our Canadian Thanksgiving, lots of people were out and about. We made our way down to the Harbour and boarded the FERRY TO TORONTO ISLANDS. It was a short 10- 15 minute ferry ride.
Summer - Victoria Day (May ) to Labour Day Weekend
8:00 s.m. to 12:45 a.m.
Regular service every 10 minutes and every 15 minutes during peak hours
Spring, Fall and Winter
Please call for departure times.
On the day we went, departures were every 30 minutes on the hour and on the half hour.
Adults: $6.00 return
Seniors" $3.50 return
- Family Travel
Union Station - In the Heart of Toronto
Union Station is a huge subway station in downtown Toronto. Situated between Bay and York Streets. I posted pictures of the Union Station which I took in front of the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, just across the street. Yes, the street is so busy being between two historical structures.
Subway trains runs north-south along the Yonge-University-Spadina line and east-west on the Bloor-Danforth line. This becomes a faster and convenient trip from downtown to North York and from Etobicoke to Scarborough. ViaRail and GO Transit also runs regular schedule out of the Union Station. The former runs from coast to coast, reaching almost every major region in Canada. The latter runs 6 routes of daily commuter trains out of the Station, connecting Toronto to outlying cities and suburbs in Ontario.
You can buy subway tickets at subway station and selected retail outlets. If you are new in Toronto or your first time visiting our city, it would be best to pick up a Ride Guide at any Subway ticket booth. This will give you useful information about TTC services.
TTC subway service starts at 6:00AM daily from Monday to Saturday and 9:00AM on Sundays. The last trip will depart from the ends of the line at around 1:15AM on the north-south lines, and 1:30AM on east-west lines.
Come and enjoy our Union Station facilities. Have a seat, people watch, and have snacks all around the station.
- Historical Travel
Subway Train of Toronto
Take the Toronto Transit Corp (TTC) subway train for a convenient travelling while you are in the Toronto Area. For detailed information on how you can save if you are staying longer in the city, please access the linkpage I provided below. For schedules of TTC train here are some of the information:
Hours of operation
Weekday & Saturday service approximately 6:00am - 1:30am
Sunday service approximately 9:00am - 1:30am
Holiday start times vary.
*Yonge-University-Spadina and Bloor-Danforth trains run
every 2-3 minutes during the rush hours and every 4-5 minutes
outside the rush hours.
*Sheppard trains run every 5-6 minutes every day.
*Scarborough RT trains run every 4-5 minutes during the rush hours
and every 5-6 minutes outside the rush hours.
You may ask for subway train timetable and route map from any cashier booth in all stations.
- Family Travel
Highway Grid of GTA III
QEW - Queen Elizabeth Way - From the Western terminus of Gardiner Expressway to Niagara Falls & the Fort Erie Peace Bridge(to USA), QEW serves as the main freeway for the Golden Horseshoe. QEW includes two of the GTA's largest bridges, including the Burlington Skyway (views of Hamilton) & the Saint Catherines Skyway (above Welland Canal). Since this is the main artery freeway for USA - Canada border trade, it is filled with trucks on weekdays, so be careful and keep a safe distance.
Hwy. 403 - Starts From Hwy. 401 in Mississauga and goes to Woodstock. In between, from exits 100 to 123 it merges with the QEW. Hwy. 403 is the focal centre of Central Mississauga, where its prime office buildings, shopping centre (Square One) & City Hall is located at the Hwy. 10 exit.
Hwy. 410 - From Highway 401, this freeway heads North towards Brampton till Highway 7. It is one of the shortest controlled access highways in the GTA, with a length of only 13.5 km.
Bayview Ave. Extension -Though this is not a freeway, it is a fast alternative route to the DVP, especially during the tyanny of rush hour. It starts from Leaside & continues South to Front Street. Bayview Ave. winds through beautiful parts of Don Valley (passing by the prestigous neighbourhood of Rosedale), so it is worth a scenic detour.
Black Creek Drive - Continuing from Highway 400, Black Creek Drive extends from Highway 401 to Weston Road. At the southern end is the former municipality of York. It is a major arterial road that could provide better access to the Western part of Toronto.
Macdonald-Cartier Freeway - Known as Hwy 401 in Ontario & Autoroute 20 in Quebec, it connects Windsor Ontario (border city to Detroit) to Riviere-Du-Loup Quebec. Outside of Toronto, it serves as central Canada's main freeway, connecting over ten million Canadians & one quarter of the nation's GDP.
Click here for a map of Toronto's Highways (PDF file).
- Family Travel
Toronto Transit Commision
Once known as one of North America's most efficient public transportation systems, the TTC is now a underfunded system. North American car culture has overtaken Toronto, & has left transit in Toronto messed up.
However, TTC is still the best way to get around downtown. Though parking in Toronto is not terribly expensive, experiencing downtown through the TTC is just much more fun!
The TTC is based on the backbone of three subway lines with streetcar & bus routes that connect to it. If you are in need of a map, simply ask the ticket booth at a subway station and they will give you a free copy.
TTC is a based on a single fare system, where no matter how far you go, you pay the same fare. In order to switch from bus to bus or to subway/streetcar, a transfer is often needed. Usually, the bus driver will have transfers to give you if you ask for it. Click here to see the TTC's latest fares.
TTC is not the fastest transit system in the world, & many times there will be delays & other inconviences (e.g. drivers switching shifts). Also, the manual fare collection at the subway station is often slow & you could be stuck in a long line up...
At TTC, you can either pay cash fare, tokens or tickets. Tokens are coins that you can purchase at any TTC subway station booth. Usually they are purchased at a vending machine. You can also purchase tickets at TTC subway stations or at certified TTC ticket vendors.
The reason why tokens are bought are because they are still effective after a price increase. On the other hand, if you have outdated TTC tickets, you have to go to Shelbourne subway station & refund them. If you are coming to Toronto for a one time visit, TTC tickets or even a day/weekly pass may be prove to be more useful for you. Tickets purchased in bulk is discounted, so if you cannot justify the cost of a transit pass, you could save money through ticket purchase. Tokens purchased in bulk also offer a discount, though it is less than tickets.
- Family Travel
Toronto Subway System
Toronto has three subway lines, including the Yonge- University - Spadina line (yellow), Bloor-Danforth Line (green) & the new Sheppard Line(purple). There is also a Scarborough RT line (similar to Vancouver Skytrain), indicated with blue.
Since there are no barriers between the platform & tracks, remember to stand behind yellow line. Even better is to stay near the wall, for there is always a crazy person who wants to push someone into the tracks. It has happened before...
Yonge - University Spadina line runs North to South, forming a parabola shaped line...
Stations starting from NE end(runs along Yonge Street): Finch, North York Centre, Sheppard-Yonge, York Mills, Lawrence, Eglinton, Davisville, St. Clair, Summerhill, Rosedale
Stations forming downtown loop: Bloor- Yonge, Wellsley, College, Dundas, Queen, King, Union, St. Andrew, Osgoode, St. Patrick, Queen's Park, Museum, St. George & Spadina
Stations up to NW end: Dupont, St. Clair W, Eglinton W, Glencairn, Lawrence W, Yorkdale, Wilson, Downsview
Bloor-Danforth line runs along Bloor/Danforth Street & goes from West to East.
Stations from W end: Kipling, Islington, Royal York, Old Mill, Jane, Runnymede, High Park, Keele, Dundas W, Lansdowne, Dufferin, Ossington, Christie, Bathurst
Stations through downtown: Spadina, St. George, Bay, Bloor-Yonge, Sherbourne,
Stations heading East: Castle Frank, Broadview, Chester, Pape, Donlands, Greenwood, Coxwell, Woodbine, Main Street, Victoria Park, Warden, Kennedy
Scarborough RT stations: Lawrence E, Ellesmere, Midland, Scarborought Town Centre, McCowan
Yonge-Sheppard Stations: Sheppard-Yonge, Bayview, Bessarion, Leslie, Don Mills
Click here for TTC subway map.
- Family Travel
Toronto Ferry is a service that connects Toronto Islands with the mainland. It is operated by the City of Toronto. From the ferry docks, you can either choose to go to Hanlan's Point, Centre Island or Ward's Island. The less busy ferries (Hanlan's & Ward's) may allow bikes/rollerblades.
The ferry docks are located at Queens Quay, at the foot of Bay Street. It is just West of Westin Harbour Castle Hotel.
To get there by TTC, take 509 Harbourfront or 510 Spadina Streetcar to Bay/Queen's Quay stop.
The ferries usually set off every 30 min/1hr depending on time of year & weather. It is about a 15/20 minute ride to the other side. There are two levels on the ferry & usually I & almost everyone else prefer the top.
Fares - updated 2004 (include return):
Adults: $ 6.00
Juniors (under 14): $2.50
Children under 2: free
- Family Travel
GO transit provides integrated public transportation to the Greater Toronto Area, from Hamilton all the way to Oshawa. GO transit operates both train & bus services. Click here to see a map of its system.
GO transit also operates a bus service from the Airport to Yorkdale subway station. It costs $ 3.50 one way, & takes 30-35 minutes to reach Yorkdale. Since not all GO buses can handle high volumes of lugguge, use GO bus only if you are carrying a light & easily movable load.
GO trains are two storey train cars that move @ speeds of around 50-70 km per hour. The seats are relatively comfortable & the ride is usually very smooth.
GO buses usually vary in size & some are bigger than others. Some seem to be a variation of Greyhound buses while others follow the public transit bus model. GO buses are not as comforable as train & are usually backlogged by traffic. However, they are the only transportation method in some areas serviced by GO.
GO trains are based on fare zones & bus/train service is based on the same fare. In order to find the suitable fare, you will have to ask customer service or use its Fare Finder (click on link). They offer single -ride tickets, a day pass, 10-ride ticket, monthly pass, Student/Senior discount & Group pass. Find out which one is suitable for your transport purposes.
GO transit is notorious for its schedule delays & last minute canceling. Be prepared for late trains/buses (could be up to two hours)...Sometimes the bus/train could pass by & not stop, so when you take GO transit, you will have to slow down your pace & have patience.
- Family Travel
Outside of downtown, Toronto is endless miles of Urban Sprawl, so be sure to rent a car, or you could waste all your time waiting for a bus that might not come, or a train that is a hour late!
You could easily rent a car at Toronto International Airport or at any hotel.
If you are driving in Toronto, or even Canada for an extended period of time(more than 3 months), make sure you have an International Driving Permit from your own country. For more Ontario driving information, click here.
Remember to follow the driving rules & to wear seatbelts. Toronto allows all cars to turn right on a red light.
Toronto drivers are typically well mannered, but in case of an accident, remember to get the other person's name, driver's licence number, telephone # & insurance policy #. You could be deep trouble if you do have any information! Best to find witnesses, for they are most trusted evidence...
Some major Car Rental Companies include:
- usually Ford & Mazda
1-800-263-0600 OR 416-620-9620
1 800 268-8900
-Chrysler & Suzuki
1-800 GO ALAMO - 1(800) 462-5266
-GM & Ford
Usually, I find that Hertz is the most expensive & Budget, Thrifty more economical.
- Family Travel