Toronto is a huge city, and most roads run for very long distances. Public transportation in the city is partly "centralized," where you can ride a subway, a streetcar, and a bus with just a single ticket. This is much recommended since driving should be avoided by tourists here. Aside from parking shortages, some available parking spaces might also be expensive.
Here are some tips on how you get around Toronto on your feet.
Get anywhere with a single payment – Toronto has a well-maintained and effective public transport system run by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). You can get almost anywhere you want in the main part of the city with the subways, streetcars, buses, the Scarborough RT Line, and Wheel-Trans vans for people with disabilities. Current fares are C$2.75, which are available in tokens. TTC also offers a number of Downtown Express buses that run during rush hour, which you have to pay additional fare.
TTC Day, Monthly, and Weekly Pass – A TTC Day Pass is available for C$8.50. This allows you unlimited travel on all TTC services within the Toronto (except for Downtown Express buses) on any day of the week from 9:30 am until 5:30 am the next morning. On weekends and statutory holidays, a single TTC Day Pass can accommodate up to 6 people (2 adults with up to 4 children, for instance). The day pass does not have to be purchased on the day of use.
There is also a monthly pass called the Metropass. This usually costs C$99.75 a month, though it is available at a lower price under certain conditions. The monthly pass is transferable, allowing owners to transfer the pass to another person at the end of the trip. Finally, there is a weekly pass that costs C$30 a week. It lasts from the start of 5:30 am Monday morning, to 5:30 am the following Monday. The weekly pass is also transferable.
Toronto subways – The city has three subway lines: the Bloor-Danforth Line, the Yonge-University-Spadina Line, and the Sheppard Line. The first line runs from east to west along Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue. The second line runs in a U formation, traveling north to south along Yonge Street, bending at Union Station, and then traveling north south along University Avenue, Spadina Avenue, and Allen Road. The third line runs from east to west along Sheppard Avenue.
Tokens versus tickets – Tickets are an excellent option for those who intend to use the transit a lot, especially for families. However, if you decide otherwise, you may want to purchase tokens instead of tickets. They are equally valid at the collector’s booths and as well as when boarding buses and streetcars.
TTC also offers separate and automated token and Metropass-only turnstiles at all stations that are often much quicker than waiting for the queue in front of the collector’s booth to clear. Tickets can be purchased from many convenience stores (just look for a TTC sign in the front window) and a few hotel desks as well as at the collector’s booths at any subway station. Meanwhile, tokens can be purchased from vending machines in stations and from collectors. Bus and streetcar drivers do not offer change and do not sell tickets or tokens.
Transfer with ease – All but one of the TTC’s bus and street car routes have a subway station somewhere on the loop. While many routes would take you into the station and beyond the ticket barrier, some of them (especially downtown) would only take you to the outside of the station.
In this case, you can enter the station by presenting a valid transfer. If you don’t have one, you need to pay cash fare. Transfers are free, but should be obtained at the first vehicle or station you enter on your journey. If you start on a bus or streetcar, ask for one as you pay your fare. If you start at a subway station, look for a red machine then press the gold button and collect your transfer.
Connecting public transit services – The areas surrounding Toronto such as Mississauga, Brampton, York Region, and Durham Region, have their own public transport system. There are not free transfer privileges between the TTC and these other systems. If you need to use both the TTC and another system, two fares must usually be paid. However, these networks do overlap in some places, so you can transfer easily.
The GTA Pass – A weekly GTA Pass (Greater Toronto Area Pass) is available for C$43.00. It is valid on the TTC and the transit systems in Mississauga, Brampton, and York Region. This pass is also transferable, although only one rider may use it at a time.
The GO Transit – GO Transit is a system of regional trains and buses that connects Toronto to its surrounding areas. The majority of these services, especially trains, are oriented to weekday commuters traveling to and from downtown Toronto. GO Transit charges fares by distance. The GTA Pass is not valid on GO Transit.
Taxis can be expensive – Taxis are plentiful in Toronto, but they are not cheap. As with most big cities, driving a car downtown (like a cab) can be annoying. Parking is often hard to find and expensive, and traffic along certain street can make vehicle travel slower than mass transit.
Grab a bike – Toronto is relatively bike friendly. The city government has installed many new bike-only lanes that span major areas around the city. Donut-shaped bike lock racks have also been installed on may sidewalks, usually in front of shops, restaurants, and major points of interest. The only things to avoid, however, are streetcar tracks (your bike might get caught) and parked cars (as drivers carelessly open the driver’s side door).