Ross

Getting around Toronto without a car

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Ross

Hi everyone

My family and I will be going to Canada next year, but I will be going alone at first until I find employment. I will be posting a few questions as a result :).

I have never been to Toronto before so I have no idea what it is like to get around there using public transport. I have seen the subway lines, street cars and buses. I only have London as a reference where I could get to most places by getting onto a subway train, getting off nearby and walking the rest of the way. I was much younger then though :)

My plan was to go and find work without my family, and would like to save as much money as possible. Is it realistic to expect to get almost anywhere using the public transport with minimal taxi/Uber use?

I also thought of getting some mode of public transport to get nearby to an interview, and then if it was too far to walk, using a taxi service or Uber. I will most likely be there in Winter, how bad will it be walking around? :)

Are my expectations realistic? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Regards

Ross

Edited by Ross
Typo

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Gary van der Westhuizen

Hi @Ross you can get most places in the City using public transport. Downtown is VERY easy, as you can get a lot of places using the PATH, or the subway. When you move out there is a bus service/services that should get you most places. The only problem you might find is late at night, I would say after 22.00 as some services likes the Brampton Transit doesn't run that late, but to my knowledge the main routes covered by the TTC run 24 hours. It takes some time though, it took us about 2.5 hours the one day to get from one side of the city to the other, but that is extreme. 

All the best! 

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Ross

Thanks @Gary van der Westhuizen! My travel will mostly be to get to interviews and or sort out drivers tests and other admin. Will definitely have to leave very early for interviews to make sure I am on time!

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Gary van der Westhuizen

@Ross it depends on where you live as well. That 2.5 hour example was extreme, and it was from east to west. We live in Etobicoke, but quite far north, and we can get downtown in an hour. We take a bus and the subway. If you live downtown, or closer to downtown, it's easier. 

All the best! 

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Ribsy

It depends on location of where you're staying and where you need to get too.  If you're doing Airbnb, perhaps consider staying close to the GO transit.  I used public transport exclusively for more than 2 months after landing.  It does take longer to get around but it's doable and you have the time available too.  Like @Gary van der Westhuizen, my longest trip was 2 1/2 hours one-way from Mississauga (west Toronto) to Ajax (East Toronto) using a combo of bus, GO Train, bus and some walking. 

However, most of my travelling was in early Spring and not winter so that may have a significant impact.  Public Transport is heated and it depends on how far you'll need to walk. 

As you say, push comes to shove... you can always Uber.  You can also hire a rental car but this may end up being quite expensive, potentially more than CAD 50 per day. 

Good luck!

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Nettie

I used public transport (bus mostly) for three months in 2014, but it was fall, not winter. The winter brings it's own challenges, especially if you're not familiar with the area. You move around a bit harder, because of winter boots, perhaps icy conditions and visibility in very cold/windy weather could be impaired if you wear head gear like a hoodie/parka to protect your face from the cold. Toronto is a bit warmer than Ottawa, I'm not sure if this applies there, but I think for a new immigrant a few degrees warmer won't matter much.

Having said this, I think it is entirely possible to rely only on public transport. I figured out the bus routes from home and then used my phone when I went out the door. (Took screen shots of routes).  It is very important for you to have GPS. Some would disagree and say wifi is free at Mc Donalds if you need it. This is what I did initially, but I was so relieved when I eventually had data and felt more confident. I moved back to Ottawa after many years and I was supposed to be familiar with the area. But I got lost quite often because I was now living in a different part of town. Once my Data situation was sorted, I was good to go! Do not be shy to ask for help from bus drivers, they would usually be friendly and helpful. You want GPS for taking Uber/Cab too, because the drivers know that you're unfamiliar with the area and some take advantage of that and will often take you on a longer road than necessary. This has happened to me on various occasions, even after I have been back for a while. (They hear the accent and even if you're a veteran, they may take chances with  you). It has happened in Ottawa and Toronto with me. 

To get groceries or other shopping that has more boxes/bags, you can use a carrier (that's what I did), or in bad weather, you can take the bus to the store and call a cab/uber from there to get the stuff home. https://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden/ATHome-Lightweight-Trolley-Bag/7008734/product.html I paid about 20$ at Walmart for something similar. The buses "kneel" if you have something heavy to roll onto the bus.

It is true that public transport takes a bit longer but it does have the benefit that you arrive rested at your destination and don't have to worry about traffic. Even though I have a car, I still take the bus sometimes because of convenience. A half hour trip by car takes me an hour in Ottawa, I just factor that in my planning.

I would rather take a cab to an interview....just saying. Or in Toronto, figure out how to get there the quickest, because of traffic, which may make the train preferable in certain situations.

Enjoy your exploration!

Edited by Nettie
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Ross
9 hours ago, Nettie said:

I used public transport (bus mostly) for three months in 2014, but it was fall, not winter. The winter brings it's own challenges, especially if you're not familiar with the area. You move around a bit harder, because of winter boots, perhaps icy conditions and visibility in very cold/windy weather could be impaired if you wear head gear like a hoodie/parka to protect your face from the cold. Toronto is a bit warmer than Ottawa, I'm not sure if this applies there, but I think for a new immigrant a few degrees warmer won't matter much.

Having said this, I think it is entirely possible to rely only on public transport. I figured out the bus routes from home and then used my phone when I went out the door. (Took screen shots of routes).  It is very important for you to have GPS. Some would disagree and say wifi is free at Mc Donalds if you need it. This is what I did initially, but I was so relieved when I eventually had data and felt more confident. I moved back to Ottawa after many years and I was supposed to be familiar with the area. But I got lost quite often because I was now living in a different part of town. Once my Data situation was sorted, I was good to go! Do not be shy to ask for help from bus drivers, they would usually be friendly and helpful. You want GPS for taking Uber/Cab too, because the drivers know that you're unfamiliar with the area and some take advantage of that and will often take you on a longer road than necessary. This has happened to me on various occasions, even after I have been back for a while. (They hear the accent and even if you're a veteran, they may take chances with  you). It has happened in Ottawa and Toronto with me. 

To get groceries or other shopping that has more boxes/bags, you can use a carrier (that's what I did), or in bad weather, you can take the bus to the store and call a cab/uber from there to get the stuff home. https://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden/ATHome-Lightweight-Trolley-Bag/7008734/product.html I paid about 20$ at Walmart for something similar. The buses "kneel" if you have something heavy to roll onto the bus.

It is true that public transport takes a bit longer but it does have the benefit that you arrive rested at your destination and don't have to worry about traffic. Even though I have a car, I still take the bus sometimes because of convenience. A half hour trip by car takes me an hour in Ottawa, I just factor that in my planning.

I would rather take a cab to an interview....just saying. Or in Toronto, figure out how to get there the quickest, because of traffic, which may make the train preferable in certain situations.

Enjoy your exploration!

@Nettie, thanks for the very detailed answer. It definitely gives me a better idea of what to expect, didn't  even think about how cold weather can affect getting around on foot. I think taking a cab for interviews is probably best, I guess it also depends on where I need to go. I thought about taking the subway to get close to where I need to go and then a cab the rest of the way, for example.But I guess it really does depend on where I am relative to the interview. Also things like getting to the bank or other admin tasks I would be in less of a rush and so could use public transport in those situations.

 

Thanks!

Ross

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