Destination guide: Toronto, Canada
Toronto is one of the most important cities in Canada and has one of the best standards of living in North America. Among its main attractions are James Garden, the Hard Rock Café, Planet Hollywood, Chinatown, Yorkville, the Town Hall, the CN Tower, Queen Street West, Niagara Falls and a wide range of bars, pubs, nightclubs, theatres and casinos.
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Toronto - Transportation
To & From the airport
Airport Express ([tel] 905-564-3232, 800-387-6787; www.torontoairportexpress.com) operates an express bus connecting Pearson International with the Metro Toronto Coach Terminal ([tel] 416-393-7911; www.greyhound.ca; 610 Bay St; [hrs] 5:30am-midnight; [metro] Dundas) and major downtown hotels. Buses depart every 20 to 30 minutes from 5am to 1am. Allow 1½ hours to get to/from the airport. A one-way/round-trip ticket costs $17/30 (cash, credit card or US dollars). Students and seniors receive $2 off one-way fares; kids under 11 travel free. Buses leave Terminals 1/2/3 from curbside locations B3/17/25.
If you’re not buried under luggage, the cheapest way to Pearson is via the TTC. From the airport, the 192 Airport Rocket bus departs Terminals 1, 2 and 3 every 20 minutes from 5:30am to 2am. It’s a 20-minute ride to Kipling Station ($2.75, exact change only), where you transfer free onto the Bloor–Danforth subway line using your bus ticket. Allow an hour for the full trip. The 300A Bloor–Danforth night bus runs every 15 minutes from 2am to 5am ($3, exact change only). The 300A departs the same locations as the 192; it’s 45 minutes from Pearson to Yonge and Bloor.
A taxi from Pearson into the city takes around 45 minutes, depending on traffic. The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) regulates fares by drop-off zone ($46 to downtown Toronto). A metered taxi from central Toronto to Pearson costs around $50. If you’re driving yourself to/from the airport, avoid Hwy 401 and take the Gardiner Expwy west from Spadina Ave, then head north on Hwy 427. Parking at the Terminal 1, 2 and 3 garages costs $3 per half-hour, $24 per day. Long-term parking at off-site lots costs around $13 per day or $50 per week.
From April to September, Toronto Islands Ferries ([tel] 416-392-8193; www.city.toronto.on.ca/parks/island/ferry.htm; adult/child/concession $6/2.50/3.50) run every 15 to 30 minutes from 8am to 11pm. The journey (to either Ward’s Island or Hanlan’s Point) only takes 15 minutes, but queues can be long on weekends and holidays – show up early. From October to March, ferry services are slashed (roughly hourly), only servicing Ward’s Island, plus a couple per day to Hanlan’s Point. The Toronto Islands Ferry Terminal is at the foot of Bay St, off Queens Quay.
Car & Motorcycles
Parking in Toronto is expensive – usually $3 to $4 per half-hour, with an average daily maximum of $12 or more (or a flat rate of around $6 after 6pm). Cheapest are the municipal lots run by the Toronto Parking Authority ([tel] 416-393-7275; www.greenp.com) – look for the green signs. They cost the same as metered street parking – usually $3 per hour. Some metered spaces have a central payment kiosk – purchase your time then display the receipt on your dashboard. It’s illegal to park next to a broken meter; residential streets have severely restricted on-street parking.
Vehicles must stop for streetcars, behind the rear doors, while the streetcar is collecting or ejecting passengers. Drivers must also stop for pedestrians at crosswalks when crossing signals are flashing.
Hwy 407, running east–west from Markham to Mississauga for about 40km just north of the city, is an electronic toll road. Cameras record your license plate and the time and distance traveled.
The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC; [tel] 416-393-4636; www.toronto.ca/ttc) operates Toronto’s efficient subway, streetcar and bus system. The regular fare is adult/child/concession $3/0.70/1.85 (cash), or 10 tickets (or tokens) for $21. Day passes ($8.50) and weekly Metropasses ($30) are also available. Tickets or tokens are available in the subway and at some convenience stores. You can transfer to any other TTC bus, subway or streetcar for free using your paper streetcar/bus ticket or transfer ticket from automated dispensers near subway exits. Exact change is required for streetcars and buses; subway attendants are more forgiving.
Subway lines operate from approximately 6am (9am on Sunday) until 1:30am daily, with trains every five minutes. The main lines are the crosstown Bloor–Danforth line, and the U-shaped Yonge–University–Spadina line which bends through Union Station. Stations have Designated Waiting Areas (DWAs) monitored by security cameras and equipped with a bench, pay phone and intercom link to the station manager.
Streetcars are slower than the subway, but they stop every block or two. Streetcars operate from 5am until 1:30am on weekdays with reduced weekend services. The main east–west routes are along St Clair Ave (512), College St (506), Dundas St (505), Queen St (501 and 502) and King St (503 and 504). North–south streetcars grind along Bathurst St (511) and Spadina Ave (510). The 511 turns west at the lakefront toward the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) grounds; the 510 turns east toward Union Station. The 509 Harbourfront streetcar trundles west from Union Station along Lake Shore Blvd.
Visitors won’t find much use for TTC buses, which are slow and get held up in traffic. Women traveling alone between 9pm and 5am can request stops anywhere along regular bus routes; notify the driver in advance and exit via the front doors.
For more far-flung travel, the TTC system connects with GO Transit’s GO Bus ([tel] 416-869-3200, 888-438-6646; www.gotransit.com) routes in surrounding suburbs like Richmond Hill, Brampton and Hamilton.
Metered fares start at $4, plus $1.60 per kilometer, depending on traffic. There are taxi stands outside hotels, museums, shopping malls and entertainment venues. Reliable companies:
Crown Taxi ([tel] 416-240-0000; www.crowntaxi.com)
Diamond Taxicab ([tel] 416-366-6868; www.diamondtaxi.ca)
Royal Taxi ([tel] 416-777-9222; www.royaltaxi.ca)
All Aboard the Bike Train
The Bike Train ([tel] 416-338-5083, 866-333-4491; www.biketrain.ca) initiative provides bike racks and staff on select passenger train routes throughout Ontario. Service between Niagara and Toronto launched in 2007 with the Greenbelt Express, and later extended to Windsor/Essex and Montréal. The most recent addition was to Gravenhurst and Bracebridge in 2010. All three major rail carriers (GO Train, VIA Rail and Ontario Northland) participate; check the website for specific routes and rates.