How To Get Around Toronto Without A Car

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I’ve been in Toronto for almost two weeks and so far I’ve walked, cabbed, Ubered and taken transit. You name it I’ve taken it and I thought it was time to share with you some of my tips on how to get around Toronto. What may come as a big shock to you is that I’m a big fan of taking the Toronto Transit Commission or the TTC as it’s called by the locals. If you live, work or play in Toronto and you are near to a Street Car or a Subway then I think you’ll probably agree with me. The TTC isn’t perfect though so read below for the best way to get around Toronto no matter where you are in the city.

Union Station entrance

Union Station entrance

Pearson International Airport to Toronto – Before you can even enjoy Toronto you have to first get there. If you are flying into the city chances are pretty good you’ll be landing at Pearson Airport. To get to downtown Toronto you have a few options. The most expensive is by cab (metered fare) followed by Limo which is a flat rate charge of $60. Depending on traffic, both options take about 40 minutes to reach the downtown core. Coming this Spring you’ll be able to take the UP Express for $27 which will deliver you straight to Union Station in under 30 minutes. Your final choice costs just $3 but can take about 1 hour. From Pearson you take the Red Rocket to Kipling Station Subway stop and from there you take the subway to Spadina where you can change to take the University line South to Union Station. This involves a few changes but at $3 it is the cheapest and guess what? It’s the TTC.

TTC from Pearson Airport to Union Station

TTC from Pearson Airport to Union Station

Taxi Cabs – Cabs are easy to find when you are in Toronto, at least in the downtown areas. In a pinch I will take a cab but my experience over the last two weeks hasn’t been positive and here’s why: Even though all cabs are supposed to take credit cards I was actually told by one cab he wouldn’t accept my Visa and made me go to a bank to get out cash to pay him. Another bad cab experience happened to a friend who was running late to meet me. She hailed a cab only to be refused because the trip was too short and not worth his time. I also found the cabs to be a bit dirty, old and the fares are expensive given that you spend a lot of time waiting at lights. If you do have to take a cab please make sure you have cash on you otherwise they may not take you, or if they do it’ll be a fight to get them to take your credit card.

Toronto Taxi

Toronto Taxi

Uber – I’ve only just started using Uber but I’ve fallen in love with the service. Download the APP to your smartphone, enter in your credit card information and you are ready to Uber. I’ve used it a few times on this trip when I was in a hurry and everytime I pull up the APP I’ve found a car within mere minutes of my location. I always enter the Fare Estimate destination and once I check to see the anticipated fare I book it. When the driver pulls up I know the make and license plate of his/her car and I even see a picture of him/her. Once inside because I’ve punched in my destination they are off. At the end of the trip I say goodbye and exit because the trip has been automatically charged to my credit card on file and a receipt has been emailed to me. Boom it’s done, no more digging for change or waiting for my credit card to authorize and then losing the receipt later on in the evening.

Uber Toronto

Uber Toronto

Toronto Transit Commission – As I started off with, the TTC has become my preferred way to get around Toronto. Granted if you live in the burbs the TTC may not be your best bet but if you are sticking near the downtown core then the network of Subway and Street Cars are fantastic. The one thing I don’t like about traveling the TTC is the one directional fare. When you get on a Bus, Street Car or Subway line our fare is valid only for the direction you are going. For example you can’t take a Street Car along Queen Street West to a favourite shop and return on the reverse route with the same transfer. You have to buy a completely new ticket for the return journey. Each ticket is $3 so this could become expensive if you plan on exploring lots of the city in a day. My recommendation is to buy a day or weekly pass ($40.75). I’m on my second weekly pass and the best part about it is I don’t have to worry about having change or tokens on me. I can ride the TTC as much as I want no tickets needed. Where do you buy your weekly pass? Go to any subway station and ask for the pass at the Ticket booth. You can pay for it with cash or credit card.

Weekly TTC passes

Weekly TTC passes

passing a Street Car on Queen Street West

Passing a Street Car on Queen Street West

Riding a Toronto Subway during off peak times

Riding a Toronto Subway during off peak times

Subway Map of Toronto

Subway Map of Toronto

No city transit is perfect but as an outsider once I got my bearings I find the TTC and navigating around Toronto to be pretty easy. Keep your eyes peeled for the CN Tower and with that as your landmark it’s easy to figure out North from South and East from West. If the TTC isn’t available then by all means Uber your way around town.

Riding the Street Car along Queens Street West

Riding the Street Car along Queen Street West

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About Author

Marc Smith is a single, 45-year-old, gay urbanite, living in high-rise heaven in Vancouver’s chic Yaletown neighbourhood. After a ten-year career as one of Vancouver’s pre-eminent event planners, he decided it was time for a change and posted on his Facebook page “I am ready for a change. What shall I do with my life?” 30 Day Adventures was born from that status update.

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