Expat guide for public transport in Toronto
The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) runs a well-developed public transport system in the city, consisting of a complex network of buses, streetcars and subways that covers most locations within the city. As you move beyond the city limits, public transportation varies widely both in accessibility and quality. While most of these systems connect to TTC routes, they may not have schedules or stops amenable to commuters.
Go Transit has a system of commuter trains that originate from many parts of the GTA and end up in the city core. This system is quite reliable and works well as long as you have a way to reach the Go stations located throughout the GTA.
If you live anywhere outside of the city core, a vehicle becomes a necessity. While taxis are readily available, they are not practical for daily commutes in the long-term. Likewise, most recreational locations outside of the city can only be reached by car.
The Toronto Transit Commission
With 138 bus routes, 11 streetcar routes and 3 subway lines, the TTC public transit system employs over 11,000 people in order to provide transportation throughout the City of Toronto. The system is so successful that it boasts one of the highest per-capita ridership in North America.
To access the TTC you can either pay per trip with cash or tokens, buy day passes, or purchase a monthly Metropass. The rates vary according to your age and how many passes you choose to purchase. In addition to the regular TTC passes, it is possible to buy a pass that covers the fares for both the TTC and for the major transit system throughout the GTA. For the current rate schedule, go to http://www3.ttc.ca/Fares_and_passes/Prices/index.jsp. As of this writing, the price for a single rider is $3 for adults, $2 for students & seniors (65 and older), and $0.75 for children under the age of 4. If you are a student, you must produce a valid student ID card in order to receive the reduced fare. Bear in mind that the TTC frequently raises its fare to accommodate inflation and the operating costs necessary to maintain its service. Check the above link often to make sure the prices haven’t changed.
TTC tokens and passes can be purchased at all subway stations from TTC personnel located in booths at each station entrance. In addition, some Toronto stores also sell TTC passes and tokens. Just look for the “We Sell TTC” signs located on the doors or windows of participating stores. Recently the TTC purchased electronic dispensers for weekly & monthly passes. As of this writing, however, they are not yet up and running, and are only located at the Bathurst subway station.
It is important to remember that the TTC and GO Transit Systems are separate systems. You cannot transfer between the two without first paying the appropriate fee.
Accessible Transit for the Disabled
The TTC operates a large number of vehicles throughout the city that are designed to make it possible for the disabled to access public transportation. Over 1,000 city buses are designed to “kneel”, lowering the entrances for loading and unloading. This number is increasing all the time, and the TTC works hard to make sure all routes have buses have accessible transit vehicles.
There is also a Wheel-Trans system dedicated to getting disabled persons around the city. The Wheel-Trans system allows for door-to-door transit at the same rates as regular TTC service. To learn more about the Wheel-Trans system, visit the site at http://www3.ttc.ca/WheelTrans/index.jsp.
Public Transit Systems in the GTA
Each part of the GTA has its own system of public transit. While some are better than others, if you live in one of these areas, it’s probably not a good idea to rely on public transit as your only source of transportation.
Municipality of Halton: Halton does not have a public transit system that operates throughout the entire region. However, there are municipal systems for Burlington, Milton and Oakville.
- Burlington: http://cms.burlington.ca/page4370.aspx
- Milton: http://www.town.milton.on.ca/residents/transit/miltontransit.htm
- Region of Peel: Like Halton, Peel does not have a universal transit system. Mississauga and Brampton each have individual transit systems for their regions. At this time there is no transit service in Caledon.
- Mississauga: http://www.mississauga.ca/portal/residents/publictransit
- Brampton: http://www.brampton.ca/transit/home.taf
- Durham Region: Like York Region, Durham has its own regional transit system. The DRT operates both regional and local routes throughout the urban and suburban areas. To learn more, visit the DRT website at http://www.durhamregiontransit.com.
General Transit Etiquette
While much of transit etiquette is basic common sense, there are a few things to keep in mind while riding on any TTC or Go vehicle.
- Please be sure to move as far back as possible when entering the vehicle. Standing in the middle of the vehicle clogs the aisle ways and prevents other passengers from being able to enter or exit.
- Seats at the front of the vehicle are generally reserved for the elderly or disabled. If you are young and able-bodied, please refrain from using these seats, or offer them up when a disabled or elderly passenger enters.
- Please remove your backpack to prevent crowding or hurting other passengers.
- Always take the seat closest to the window, to ease crowding during peak times.
- Eating, talking loudly on your cellular phone, or personal grooming (such as trimming your nails) should be done at home.
- If you are able, it’s always nice to offer your seat to an elderly, disabled, or pregnant passenger who is standing in a crowded vehicle.
- The driver needs to concentrated on driving! Please do not engage the driver in unnecessary conversation.
- Stand behind the yellow line at the front of each transit vehicle.
- Whenever possible, exit through the rear doors of a TTC vehicle, so that oncoming passengers may board.
- Always wait for passengers to exit the vehicle before trying to enter.
- Never rush or hold open the doors of any transit vehicle.
The TTC is considered to be a generally safe transit systems, but common sense, again, should always take precedent. Stay well back of the yellow line at all train & subway stations and stick to well-lit areas when traveling at night. The TTC has its own police system, and the constables they hire are armed and have the right to detain you and hold you until the Toronto police arrive on the scene. Assaulting any transit worker is a very serious crime the comes with heavy fines, imprisonment, or both.