Toronto Explored ~ TTC 101

by Jon Law

We’ve all heard the challenges of getting around Toronto by car. From the Don Valley Parkway, or the Don Valley Parking Lot as some call it, to finding parking, Toronto can be a stressful place to drive. My recommendation is to leave your car somewhere else and use the TTC.

What makes the TTC an easy way to get around is a Presto card. Yes, there is a one time purchase of your actual card, but the discounts on fares it provides and the two hour transfer window more than makes up for that very quickly. The TTC website has all the information on fares and passes as well as a trip planner. You just drop in your starting point and destination, when you want to leave or arrive and in very short order you are presented with multiple options on the best route. Google Maps also works well and provides real time updates about anything that is running late.

With Presto cards, you tap on a green box to pay a fare. The general rule for when to tap your card is to tap if you are getting on a new TTC vehicle somewhere where you could board just walking up to it. At stations, you tap to get in and then can board your subway, bus, or street car. Outside of a station you always tap when boarding a bus or street car. Make sure you take a look at the time when you tap so you know when your two hour window will expire. During these two hours you still have to tap, but it will be counted as a free transfer even if you are getting back on the same route going in the same direction.

There are a few unspoken rules while on the TTC.

  • Let people off before you try and board
  • Stairs and escalators are like the highway, the left side is the “fast lane”
  • Red seats are general use, blue are priority seating

And of course a few safety tips.

  • Stay back from subway tracks until you are boarding
  • Look like you know where you are going even if you don’t. Be scanning ahead for directional signage, or just follow the crowds
  • Always look right when leaving a street car
  • Real-time service disruptions can be found on the TTC website and will also be announced on subways or displayed on signage in stations

You may or may not get a cell signal in a subway tunnel, it all depends on your provider. So until you are there and find out for sure, don’t count on having a signal.

For anyone with kids who may not have had any exposure to the homeless or people with mental health concerns, I would recommend at least having a quick talk about those topics with them. You will come across both pretty regularly, but for they will usually just move on if you show a bit of courtesy or just go on with your day.

Happy exploring.

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