• Getting around Toronto and area by transit

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in Canada. For specific railroad questions, see Fallen Flags and Active Railroads categories.
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in Canada. For specific railroad questions, see Fallen Flags and Active Railroads categories.

Moderator: Ken V

  by Hawaiitiki
From a recent visitor to Toronto, For a system being entirely in one province and mostly within a handful of cities, Toronto has one of the most confusing and hard to navigate transit systems I've ever traversed. Note I'm handy with a smartphone, google/bing maps, and I did research before I visited the city to try and figure out the best way to get around.

Some trams (pretty much a crapshoot for anyone visiting) are token only (that's right Tokens still in one of NA's biggest most modern cities), some accept the allusive Presto Card, which can only be bought in a handful of places. And token machines only really exist in subways stations. The trams go (through street traffic) where subways should have been built and the subways go where most visitors would never go. As an American with American $s, your best bet all around is to just use UBER with the current exchange rates. Not worth attempting the outdated and confusing transit system without a Trontonian guide.

As for the Airport Connector, The UPE would have actually been a breath of fresh air had it not been $25ish each way when I was there and the fact that Union Station is going through a massive renovation making a seamless experience for a visitor virtually impossible.

Also note, I'm 28 y/o 6'1", a Finance and IT professional, and in decent shape, not an older couple with a flip phone trugging a weeks worth of baggage. God save those poor people.
  by dowlingm
Presto is accepted on all streetcars and will be on all TTC vehicles and stations by the end of 2016. Stuff takes time sometimes, especially when a regional/state entity is working with a large municipality with ongoing tensions about who decides and who pays.

As for the confusing system it is a minor miracle that the half billion riders a year TTC serves manage, but somehow we muddle through.
  by Ken V
Moderator's note: Posts were split from Union Pearson Express thread and moved to Canadian Railfan forum.
  by jwhite07
Granted it's been a number of years since I've been to Toronto, but last I rode, TTC still accepted good old fashioned cash on their streetcars, and according to their website that is still the case. The transfer you are given will serve as proof of payment on those routes so designated. TTC also has daily and weekly passes available at any subway station ticket booth, which I consider a good value and a must-get.

Getting around on TTC is pretty much like getting around on any large city's transit system. It helps to familiarize yourself beforehand as you mentioned, and there are plenty of resources at hand to do so - the system's website is a treasure trove of before-you-go information. Also, one of the first things I do when arriving is get a new copy of the system map for reference, again available at any subway station ticket booth. Read the map and follow the signage and you should not have a problem navigating around. That applies anywhere. I would not recommend trying to rely on apps, Google Maps, or other electronic means while trying to navigate an unfamiliar transit system simply because if you're in the subway and you can't get a signal, or if you're from the US and your carrier charges extra for "international" data, your electronic gizmo isn't going to be much help. I have a bit of a lead in navigating around Toronto since I have been there many times and am reasonably "qualified", and I'm quite familiar with how to navigate transit systems in general, having visited and ridden them in many cities (and have been a frequent user of transit in Boston for nearly 30 years). Within the past year I successfully navigated around in New York City (hadn't been there in over ten years) and also London (my first time ever). Not once did I get lost in either place.

The only thing that ever seems to catch me off is if there is some kind of previously undiscovered diversion or incident. I've run into that a few times during my visits to Toronto - in fact, on my very first visit, the Russell Hill subway accident occurred and put a bit of a crimp in some of my planned activities. TTC's streetcar system is also occasionally disrupted by traffic accidents or unplanned track work. This is where the system map and following signage (and hopefully the instructions of some on-site staff) help as well.

Toronto's a fascinating place and one of my favorite cities to visit. I hope despite your navigation difficulties you found it the same.

Oh, and believe me because I have done it several times as well - navigating around on the TTC is WAY better than driving in Toronto!!!