With its world-class theatre, live entertainment, dining, and sporting events, Toronto is a global destination, seeing more than 14 million tourists annually. And with the number of parking spaces decreasing almost daily, driving around the Greater Toronto Area is not always an option. Thankfully, transit has you covered.
The first thing you learn after spending more than a couple of days in the sprawling metropolis is that Toronto is not really a walkable city. City maps are deceptive. Routes that look easily walkable are, in reality, often several long city blocks apart. Individual neighbourhoods are pedestrian-friendly. But when it comes to exploring the 630 square kilometres that make up the megacity, save your shoe leather and look to subways and streetcars.
Save Money with PRESTO
At $3.25 for a single adult fare, trips on the TTC can get pricey, if you go the pay-per-ride method. Instead, do your wallet a favour and get a PRESTO Card. Not only does the prepaid electronic fare card give you a discount getting into Toronto from Lester B Pearson International Airport, but you can take public transit (TTC and GO) without clamouring for cash fares, or having to purchase tickets or tokens. PRESTO is accepted at all TTC streetcars and 30 major stations on the Yonge/ University subway lines. You can also use PRESTO on GO Transit, the Union Pearson Express (UP Express), and even OC Transpo in Ottawa. The card costs $6.00 to purchase and with it, an adult fare drops to $3.00 per trip.
For its size, Toronto has a relatively straightforward subway system, consisting of 3 lines and a light rail:
* Yonge-University Line *
This North/South U-shaped line is the city’s oldest — and busiest. It covers the heart of the city with access to major sporting venues and the financial, theatre, and entertainment districts. And the train even stops directly inside the Eaton Centre Shopping Centre.
* Bloor-Danforth Line *
This East/West train line takes you across the city, from Mississauga in the west to Scarborough in the east. It crosses the Yonge-University line in three places: Spadina (Chinatown), St. George, and Yonge Street. And the Yonge & Bloor intersection is the busiest station in the city, with nearly half a million users daily.
* Sheppard Line *
Cutting across the north end of the city, the Sheppard East/ West line is the newest.
* Scarborough Light Rail Transit Line *
The Scarborough LRT is a short, 6-stop light rail train that starts at Kennedy subway station and extends further into Scarborough.
The majority of events and tourist attractions dot the Yonge-University or Bloor-Danforth line, the most densely populated areas of Toronto.
The TTC streetcar web covers most of the city, filling in the gaps where the subways can’t reach. One of the nice things about the Toronto streetcar system is an opportunity to see a wide variety of neighborhoods and urban enclaves. Outside of rush hour service, when city transit is heavily used, taking a streetcar is an ideal way to see Toronto.
501 Queen Streetcar
If you’re looking for something cheap, fun, and a little unusual, take the 501 Queen Streetcar for a ride on the longest streetcar route in North America. You can eat and drink on Toronto transit, so why not grab a cup of coffee from a local café and enjoy the view on a ride that National Geographic calls one of the world’s “top ten trolley rides” in the world.
There’s nothing quite like Toronto by transit. No place equals Toronto or its people, who, despite the city’s size and intensity, remain some of the friendliest you’ll meet anywhere in the world.
Travelling to Toronto by subway and streetcar is the best way to get around. It’s inexpensive, super convenient, and for the most part and hassle-free. So sit back and enjoy a trip through the city’s vibrant and diverse heritage.