With TBEX Toronto just around the corner and flocks of travel bloggers and industry professionals making the trek to Canada’s largest city, learning about the different ways of getting around Toronto must be at the forefront of everybody’s minds. Here are some helpful hints regarding transportation for those who find themselves in Toronto, for TBEX or otherwise.
Ways of Getting Around Toronto
The TTC is Toronto’s network of subways, light rail trains, buses and streetcars that cover the entire Greater Toronto Area and provides transportation for over 2.76million passengers per day! With 4 subway lines and 69 stations, 149 bus routes and 11 streetcar lines, it’s no wonder their slogan is ‘The Better Way.’ With single cash fares for $3 per ride, day passes for $10.75, and week passes for $38.50 – the TTC is quite affordable is one of the easier ways of getting around Toronto. For a full list of services and maps of serviced areas, check out the TTC website.
If you find yourself with time to spare, or if the weather is not on par, no worries, hop down into the underground labyrinth known as The PATH. This underground world has everything – restaurants, banks, shops, even grocery stores. Not to mention, if you find yourself needing to go further – you will be able to navigate your way into various TTC subway stations along the route. Be warned, the 28-km PATH can get quite confusing, so be sure to stop every now and then and take a peek at the maps, just to make sure you’re headed in the right direction – it’s very easy to get lost. Click here for a PDF map.
Hailo is quite possibly one of the most innovative smartphone apps to help you with getting around Toronto. Hailo launched originally in Dublin, Ireland, but made it’s big debut in Toronto in 2012 and a number of other large cities since then, including London, New York and Barcelona. You download the app to your smartphone, create a profile and sync it with your major credit card. Wherever you are in the city, all you have to do is press the ‘hail taxi’ button and within seconds you are connected to a fully-licensed taxi driver nearby. Not only do you get their phone number, name and a photo of them – but they also have a GPS in their taxi that allows you to know exactly where they are in relation to you and a fairly accurate estimate of how long it will take before they arrive to pick you up. Once in the taxi, all you have to do is enjoy the ride. Upon arriving at your destination, no need to fumble with cash or credit cards because they automatically charge your credit card on file with your desired tip amount. The Hailo Smartphone App for Taxis is definitely becoming one of my new favorite ways of getting around Toronto.
Feel like riding a bicycle around the city, or through some of the hundreds of parks that bring green space back to the concrete jungle? Well renting one is simple, and is one of the more eco-friendly ways of getting around Toronto. Keep your eyes peeled for one of the 80 Bixi bicycle stands throughout the city. It’s as simple as renting a bicycle at one stand and returning it to one at or close to your destination. Bixi launched in Toronto in May 2011 and they have over 1000 bicycles around the city and users can start riding for as little as $5 for a 24-hour period. For full details check out the Bixi Toronto website.
Going Further? Transportation Options From Toronto
Since I live just north of Toronto, GO Transit is my preferred method of travel for getting into and out of the city. GO Transit covers a large inter-region area of Southern Ontario via bus routes and rail lines and serves more than 263,000 passengers per day – and of them, more than 96% pass through Toronto’s Union station. The buses are best described as coach buses, rather than normal transit buses, equipped with comfortable front-facing seats with reclining capabilities. The trains are equally comfortable and efficiently transport passengers to their desired destinations. Check out GO Transit’s website for more information.
Arriving or leaving Toronto via plane? More than likely you will have to make the jaunt all the way out to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport which is a good 30minute drive from the city centre (without traffic) – not to mention the higher airport taxes. If you are interested in a short haul flight – flying within Eastern Canada or the northeastern States- you have another option: Porter Airlines. Porter’s motto is ‘flying refined’ – they have beautiful lounges that cater to their passengers every need, their planes have a comfortable 2-by-2 layout so nobody gets stuck with the dreaded middle seat, and they even include complimentary wine and beer. When you fly with Porter you skip the trip to Pearson, and fly out of the Billy Bishop Airport located conveniently in Toronto Harbour – a short 400ft ferry ride from the mainland – providing passengers with unrivalled urban accessibility.
Via Rail is Canada’s answer to Amtrak. Whether you’re looking to do a short commute across the province, or a scenic cross-country journey, Via Rail is able to take you there in comfort. They operate 497 trains per week over nineteen routes, and throughout the year serve more than 4.1 million riders across Canada. Passengers can enjoy a variety of amenities depending on the route and class they have chosen for their journey- but it’s important to note that complimentary WIFI is available to all passengers on all trains. Via Rail makes getting in or out of Toronto convenient with service from Union Station. Taking the train may be a bit more expensive, but it is an enjoyable mode of transportation that allows you to see all of what Canada has to offer – cities, country and everything in between.
A newcomer to the Toronto transportation scene has been the Presto Card – a contactless smart card fare payment system – much like Hong Kong’s Octopus Card – and it covers multiple transit systems across Southern Ontario. Some of the transit systems include: GO Transit, Oakville Transit, Burlington Transit, Brampton Transit, MiWay, Hamilton Street Railway, York Region Transit, Viva, Durham Region Transit and 14 subway stations of the TTC are equipped with Presto Card systems with plans of utilizing the card TTC-wide by 2016. You can pick up the free card at various locations in the city – most conveniently at Union Station- and load it up immediately with a minimum of $10 up to $1000. The card makes getting around Toronto quick and efficient, not to mention many transit systems, such as GO Transit provide users with a fare discount for using their Presto Card.