By Public Transportation
The Toronto Transit Commission, or TTC (tel. 416/393-4636 for 24-hr. information, recordings available in 18 languages; www3.ttc.ca), operates the subway, bus, streetcar, and light rapid transit (LRT) system.
Fares, including transfers to buses or streetcars, are C$3 or 5 tickets or tokens for C$12.50 for adults. Seniors and students ages 13 to 19 with valid ID pay C$2, or 10 tickets for C$17; children 12 and under pay C$0.75, or 10 tickets for C$5.50. You can buy a special day pass for C$10 that's good for unlimited travel for one adult on weekdays and for up to two adults and four children on weekends.
For surface transportation, you need a token, a ticket (for seniors or kids), or exact change. You can buy tokens and tickets at subway entrances and at authorized stores that display the sign TTC TICKETS MAY BE PURCHASED HERE. Bus drivers do not sell tickets, nor will they make change. Always obtain a free transfer where you board the train or bus, in case you need it. In the subways, use the push-button machine just inside the entrance. On streetcars and buses, ask the driver for a transfer.
The Subway -- The TTC faced some serious public-relations issues in 2010, including a drunken bus driver, but it nonetheless remains fast (especially compared with snarled surface traffic), clean, and very simple to use. There are two major lines -- Bloor-Danforth and Yonge-University-Spadina -- and one smaller line, Sheppard, in the northern part of the city. The Bloor Street east-west line runs from Kipling Avenue in the west to Kennedy Road in the east (where it connects with Scarborough Rapid Transit to Scarborough Centre and McCowan Rd.). The Yonge Street north-south line runs from Finch Avenue in the north to Union Station (Front St.) in the south. From there, it loops north along University Avenue and connects with the Bloor line at the St. George station. A Spadina extension runs north from St. George to Downsview station at Sheppard Avenue. The Sheppard line connects only with the Yonge line at Sheppard station and runs east through north Toronto for just 6km (3 3/4 miles).
The LRT system connects downtown to Harbourfront. The fare is one ticket or token. It runs from Union Station along Queens Quay to Spadina Avenue, with stops at Queens Quay ferry docks, York Street, Simcoe Street, and Rees Street; then it continues up Spadina Avenue to the Spadina subway station. The transfer from the subway to the LRT (and vice versa) at Union Station is free.
The subway operates Monday to Saturday from 6am to 1:30am and Sunday from 9am to 1:30am. From 1am to 5:30am, the Blue Night Network operates on basic surface routes. It runs about every 30 minutes. For route information, pick up a Ride Guide at subway entrances or call tel. 416/393-4636. Multilingual information is available.
Buses & Streetcars -- Where the subway leaves off, buses and streetcars take over. They run east-west and north-south along the city's arteries. When you pay your fare (on bus, streetcar, or subway), always pick up a transfer so that you won't have to pay again if you want to transfer to another mode of transportation.
Taxis -- In many cities, taxis are an expensive mode of transportation, but this is especially true of Toronto. In 2008, rates were raised (again) because of the high cost of fuel. It's C$4 the minute you step in and C$0.25 for each additional 155m (509 ft.). Fares can quickly mount up. You can hail a cab on the street, find one in line in front of a big hotel, or call one of the major companies -- Diamond (tel. 416/366-6868), Royal (tel. 416/777-9222), or Metro (tel. 416/504-8294). If you experience problems with cab service, call the Metro Licensing Commission (tel. 416/392-3082).
Ferry Service -- Toronto Parks and Recreation operates ferries that travel to the Toronto Islands. Call tel. 416/392-8193 for schedules and information. Round-trip fares are C$6.50 adults, C$4 seniors and children 15 to 19, C$3 children under 15.
Toronto is a rambling city, but that doesn't mean the best way to get around is by car. There are long traffic jams, especially during morning and afternoon rush hours. A reputation for "two seasons: winter and construction" means the warmer months are especially busy with road work. And to make matters worse, there is an escalating turf war between the numerous cyclists and motorists sharing the road.
Parking can be very expensive, too, and the city's meter maids are notoriously aggressive in issuing pricey parking tickets at any opportunity.
Rental Cars -- If you decide to rent a car, try to make arrangements in advance. Companies with outlets at Pearson International Airport include Thrifty, Budget, Avis, Hertz, National, and Enterprise . The rental fee depends on the type of vehicle, but do keep in mind that the quoted price does not include an added sales tax. It also does not include insurance; if you pay with a particular credit card, you might get automatic coverage (check with your credit card issuer before you go). Note: If you're under 25, check with the company -- many will rent on a cash-only basis, some only with a credit card, and others will not rent to you at all. Also, keep in mind that you must be 21 or older to rent a car.
Car-rental insurance probably does not cover liability if you cause an accident. Check your own auto insurance policy, the rental company policy, and your credit card coverage for the extent of coverage: Is your destination covered? Are other drivers covered? How much liability is covered if a passenger is injured? (If you rely on your credit card for coverage, you may want to bring a second credit card with you, as damages may be charged to your card and you may find yourself stranded with no money.)
Parking -- It can be a hassle to find parking in downtown Toronto, and parking lots have a wide range of fees. Generally speaking, the city-owned lots, marked with a big green "P," are the most affordable. They charge about C$2 per half-hour. After 6pm and on Sunday, there is usually a maximum rate of C$12. Observe the parking restrictions -- otherwise, the city will tow your car away, and it'll cost more than C$100 to get it back.
Driving Rules -- A right turn at a red light is legal after coming to a full stop, unless posted otherwise. Passengers must wear seat belts; if you're caught not wearing one, the fine is substantial. The speed limit in the city is 50kmph (31 mph). You must stop at pedestrian crosswalks. If you are following a streetcar and it stops, you must stop well back from the rear doors so passengers can exit easily and safely. (Where there are concrete safety islands in the middle of the street for streetcar stops, this rule does not apply, but exercise care, nonetheless.) Radar detectors are illegal.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.