Now we get down to the nitty-gritty. This article picks up where the Overview article leaves off, and we get down to the details that will help you navigate the TTC, Toronto’s public transit system.
Fares (as of May 2011)
For a single trip, the fares are as follows:
Student (ages 13-19 with ID) $2.00
Child (age 12 and under) $0.75
And if you’re paying cash, you will need exact change, particularly on buses and streetcars.
If you buy tickets or tokens in multiples, the per-trip cost goes down. They are usually available to buy in multiples of 5 and 10.
(If you’re paying adult fare, buying tokens is your best bet. Tokens can get you in the automated entrances to the subway, whereas if you pay with cash or tickets, you will need to find the entrance with the ticket taker on duty.)
If you plan to make four or more trips in a day, a $10 day pass will be your cheapest option. On weekends and statutory holidays whole families (one adult and up to five children OR two adults and up to four children) can travel on one pass.
There are also longer-term passes. Weekly passes are available ($36 for adults, $28 for seniors/students), but please note that they operate per calendar week, Monday to Sunday, and NOT for a week from date of purchase. (Weekly passes will also get you in at the automated entrances to the subway.)
Metropasses are monthly passes. As with the weekly passes, they operate per calendar month and NOT for a month from date of purchase. They cost $121 for adults and $99 for seniors/students. College and university students can also buy them for $99 with a valid ID. The great thing about metropasses is that they don’t require ID and can be transferred from one person to another. Please note, though, that only one person can travel on the metropass at once. (Metropasses will also get you in the automated entrances to the subway.)
A single trip on the TTC can involve travel on subway, buses and streetcars. In some stations, the streetcars and buses are able to come into the station, so you won’t have to go through the ticket gate to get on. This is not true for all stations, though, and in some cases you will have to go up to street level to catch the bus or the streetcar, so it’s best to always take a TRANSFER. This will be your proof of payment, so you won’t have to pay a second time when you get on the next vehicle.
Transfers can be obtained from the driver of the bus or streetcar when you pay your fare, or from the squat red boxes just inside the ticket barriers in the subway stations. The red boxes have a clock and a silver button on the front. Press the silver button and it will spit out a transfer for you, stamped with the time.
Transfers have a time limit of about two hours, and they’re only valid at the bus or streetcar stops directly outside the subway stations. This means you can’t start walking towards your destination and then hop on to the bus as it catches you up.
You can also only use the transfer for the length of one trip. You’ll have to pay another fare on the return journey.
Buses and streetcars will have signs announcing the name and number of the route, as well as the name of the final stop on both the front and the side of the vehicle.
Most buses and streetcars are also now equipped with automated technology that announces the name of each stop as the vehicle arrives there, both out loud and on an LED screen just behind the driver’s seat. This is incredibly useful if you’re in an unfamiliar area. If you’re uncertain, you can also always ask the drivers. For the most part, they’re a friendly bunch.
On the subways, the next stop is announced as you’re pulling out of and into each station. There are also maps of the routes above the doors, mixed in with all the advertising. The subways will have the name of the final stop on their route written on the front of the train. The drivers are less accessible on subways, but most of the other passengers will help you if you ask.
The TTC is generally well-lit and pretty safe, even at night. That said, it is a big city, so please take all the usual precautions. If you’re feeling nervous, all subway platforms are equipped with a Designated Waiting Area, which has brighter lights, an intercom connected to the staff member on duty, a security camera, a bench to sit on and a pay phone.
Women travelling alone on buses at night (between 9pm and 5am) can ask the driver to stop and let them off between stops if that is closer to their destination. (Unfortunately this does not apply to streetcars as well; for safety reasons, streetcars cannot let passengers off between stops.)
On the subways, there are Passenger Assistance Alarms which can be used in case of harassment, illness, accidents or any kind of threat. It will trigger an alarm and the driver will call for emergency assistance. The train will stop in the next station and the doors will open.
If you have any questions that I haven’t covered here, the TTC website has an FAQ. Or, feel free to leave a questions in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer.