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Toronto Transit Guide: Getting Around the Big Smoke

PUBLIC TRANSIT. The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) operates subways, buses and streetcars throughout the city. Subways operate between 6 a.m. and 1:30 a.m., Monday through Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. on Sunday (here’s a map of the whole system). Some bus and streetcar routes are 24 hours (check out this handy “Blue Night” network map [PDF]). Subways run frequently—every three minutes on average; the frequency of streetcars and buses varies by route. A single adult fare is $3. Exact fare in cash is accepted or you can buy tokens in advance at subway stations and select corner stores. Day passes are $10.50 and week passes are $37.50. On weekends and holidays, a single day pass is valid for two adults and up to four children. All fares are discounted for children and seniors. If you plan to transfer during your trip and are paying by cash or token, get a transfer ticket as you board, either from machines in subway stations or from the driver on buses and streetcars.

DRIVING & PARKING. Parking is usually either metered or only allowed during certain hours of the day (or on certain days). Read signs carefully. There are numerous paid lots downtown. Look for the Green P signs. Right turns are permitted on red lights unless signs indicate otherwise. Yellow lights strung above a crosswalk and marked with Xs are pedestrian signals; when they are flashing, you must stop for pedestrians. Stay clear of taxi and bus lanes, marked by white diamonds on the pavement. Do not pass a streetcar when its doors are open. Watch for signs indicating that turning or parking is prohibited at certain times (e.g. rush hour). Toronto’s only toll road is Highway 407. Useful abbreviations: DVP (Don Valley Parkway), QEW (Queen Elizabeth Way).

TAXI. You can hail a cab on the street in Toronto (if the roof light is on, it’s available) or you can call for one. Meters start at $4.25 and increase by kilometre. A flat fee to the airport is determined by city zone, but usually runs $50–$60 from downtown. The biggest and most reliable cab companies are Beck (416-751-5555), Co-Op (416-504-2667), Crown (416-240-0000) and Diamond (416-366-6868). To get a fare estimate, try Taxime.ca.

BUS & COACH. The Toronto Coach Terminal is right in the heart of downtown, within walking distance to the Yonge and University subway lines. It’s served by Coach Canada, Greyhound and Megabus. To make reservations and for more details, call or go to the websites for individual bus lines.

TRAIN. GO Transit is the regional commuter rail and bus system that serves the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and neighbouring cities. The central hub is Union Station, on Front Street between York and Bay Streets. Via Rail is the national, long-distance train service. Via trains arrive and depart at Union Station in downtown Toronto or in Oakville (just west of Toronto) or Guildwood (just east of Toronto).

BIKE. Bixi is a citywide bicycle-sharing system with some 1,000 bikes at 80 docking stations in the downtown core. Use your credit card to pay for 24-hour ($5) or 72-hour ($12) access. Additional fees apply for the next 31–60 minutes ($1.50) and 61–90 minutes ($4) and every 30 minutes ($8) after that. Maximum two bikes per credit card. For more information and docking locations, check out Bixi’s Web site.

FERRY. To visit the Toronto Islands, take a ferry from the docks at the foot of Bay Street, at Queens Quay West. From Union Station take the 509 Harbourfront streetcar and get off a the first stop, or walk south on Bay to the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel; the docks are on the west side. Check the city’s Web site or call 416-392-8193 for fares and schedules.