Whether you’re a tourist, a resident, or a commuter, getting around Toronto can seem intimidating at first. Between all of the cars on the roads (and there are far too many!) and the confusing public transportation system we have here, it isn’t easy to know the best ways of getting around the city. However, as it’s become clear that Toronto is facing a serious traffic problem, sometimes it’s a lot easier to get around here without driving! Here are a few ways to get around the city:
1 – Streetcars.
Streetcars are highly underrated, in my opinion! Most people here forget that using a TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) streetcar is as viable option. Often times, streetcars are a more direct way of getting to your destination. For example, whenever I decide to go from my neighbourhood (the east end of downtown) to the heart of the city, I walk a couple of blocks north and take a streetcar down one of our major streets – either King Street or Queen Street, though there are other options, too. Streetcars often take you where the subway won’t!
You can use a single token to use a streetcar (don’t forget to ask for a “transfer” ticket if you need to use the streetcar or subway in the two hours following your initial ride). You have to buy a minimum of 3 tokens, but they can be extremely useful!
2 – Subway.
Like TTC streetcars, the subway can be highly useful, efficient, and quick. It is definitely very busy in the morning hours (particularly if you’re going into downtown, but usually fairly empty if you’re leaving downtown), but it’s still a good option over driving. There are only 4 lines for now (incredibly low, we know!), with 2 of them being main connecters. Line 1 (known as the north-south line) is usually very busy, though with its built-in wifi and new subway train, it can still be comfortable enough for most passengers. Line 2 (known as the east-west line) is often fairly busy, too, though in my experience, a bit less so than Line 1. Either way, you have a way to get to major destinations using the subway, and can always get off at major stops within the city and walk a bit to wherever you want to go! Some stops are quite far from the next, whereas some aren’t very far at all, so make sure you do your research if you decide to get off a stop early.
3 – Bus.
The bus is slightly less fun for some people, whereas others love being above-ground. Toronto has over 100 bus routes, including some express routes and night routes! Many of these buses run until the early hours of the morning, whereas some only run at peak hours of the day. It can be very helpful to know which routes work best for you.
4 – Go Bus/Go Train.
If you’re a commuter, or if you want to go from Toronto to one of its various surrounding suburbs or nearby cities, the Go Bus and Go Train both offer several options for this. They can both be extremely fast, and can save drivers a lot of headaches by connecting them to surrounding areas fairly quickly. A lot of Go Stations also offer parking, meaning a lot of people who work downtown park at these stations and either take a train or bus in! As someone who knows many people who do this every work day, I understand it can be highly efficient and a less stressful option than dealing with Toronto traffic.
5 – Biking.
This one seems obvious, as any big city has its fair share of bikers. Toronto has a large amount of bikers – people who live in the city and are fortunate enough to either study/work in the main city, too – which is always good for our environment, our roads, and our health! For tourists or visitors to the city (or even anyone who lives here and wants to try biking for a day), there are tons of Bike Share stations set up within the city. Day passes start at $7/day and annual memberships start at $90/year. If you would rather be able to drop your bike off at random stations throughout the city, this might be a good option without having to own a bike!
Otherwise, Toronto has certain neighbourhoods that are very biker-friendly (along the lake is a great spot for this!). It can be a good, fun, and cheap way to see the city.
6 – Walking.
While we all know Toronto gets cold in the winter, walking is still always a great option when it’s not too cold outside. For visitors, walking around the city is a good option, though unfortunately many people seem confused by the city and its various neighbourhoods. At first, I found the city a little confusing, too, but now, the downtown core is ridiculously easy to navigate. Toronto is separated (from east to west) by one main street – Yonge Street – and as long as you know this, it gets easier to figure out why some streets are “(insert street name) West/East”. Get an idea of where Yonge Street is, and the rest is doable!
Toronto is a very interesting city and can be easily watered down without a nice walk around, so this option also lets you really explore all of the vibrant and diverse culture to be found here without really spending any money!
7 – Use a car… during non-peak hours.
If you have to drive around Toronto, it might be a good idea to avoid the major highways during certain hours. While traffic is consistent here throughout the day, there tends to be less traffic from 11am-3pm and 7:30pm-6:30am. Yes, we know this means a large chunk of the day is “too busy” for drivers, but if you can find a way around it, your commutes will be far less intense. This city is relatively small, geographically-speaking, yet it can take over an hour to get only 15-20km away! Crazy, right?
Needless to say, my major source of stress here in Toronto is figuring out how to get around – to work, to family, or to events/friends – without being overly annoyed. I think the same can be said of many people who either visit Toronto or live here, too. However, with some recent proposals to make Toronto a more expensive city to drive in, it might be wise for everyone to start using alternative options to keep out roads less congested!
What’s your favourite way of getting around any city?