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The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), which operates the buses, streetcars, and subways, is safe, clean, and reliable. There are three subway lines, with 65 stations along the way: the Bloor–Danforth line, which crosses Toronto about 5 km (3 miles) north of the lakefront, from east to west; the Yonge–University line, which loops north and south like a giant "U," with the bottom of the "U" at Union Station; and the Sheppard line, which covers the northeastern section of the city. A light rapid transit (LRT) line extends service to Harbourfront along Queen's Quay.
From Union Station you can walk underground (or via the Skywalk) to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and to many hotels, including the InterContinental Toronto Centre, the Fairmont Royal York, Toronto Hilton, and Sheraton Centre—a real boon in inclement weather.
Buses and streetcars link with every subway station to cover all points of the city. Service is generally excellent, with buses and streetcars covering major city thoroughfares about every 10 minutes; suburban service is less frequent.
The single fare for subways, buses, and streetcars is C$3. An all-day unlimited-use pass (valid from the start of service until 5:30 am the next day) is C$10:75; three tickets or tokens are available for C$7.95; and seven tickets or tokens cost $18.55. On weekends and holidays, up to two adults and four children can use the C$10.75 day pass—an excellent savings.
Tokens and tickets are sold in each subway station and many convenience stores. All vehicles accept tickets, tokens, or exact change, but you must buy tickets and tokens before you board. With tickets or exact change on the subway, you must use the turnstile closest to the station agent window and drop the ticket or money into the clear receptacle, whereas a token or swipecard can be used at any turnstile. Paper transfers are free; pick one up from the driver when you pay your fare on the bus or streetcar or get one from the transfer machines just past the turnstiles in the subway, then give the driver or station agent the transfer on the next leg of your journey. Note that transfers are time-sensitive from your start point, and TTC staff knows how long it takes to get to your transfer point to prevent misuse.
If you plan to stay in Toronto for a month or longer, consider the Metropass, a pre-paid card (C$128.50) that allows unlimited rides during one calendar month.
Subway trains run from approximately 6 am to 1:30 am Monday through Saturday and from 9 am to 1:30 am Sunday; holiday schedules vary. Subway service is frequent, with trains arriving every two to five minutes. Most buses and streetcars operate on the same hours as the subway. On weekdays, subway trains get very crowded (especially on the Yonge–University line northbound and the Bloor–Danforth line eastbound) from 8 to 10 am and 4 to 7 pm.
Late-night buses along Bloor and Yonge streets, and as far north on Yonge as Steeles Avenue, run from 1 am to 5:30 am. Streetcars that run 24 hours include those on King Street, Queen Street, and College Street. Late-night service is slower, with buses or streetcars arriving every 30 minutes or so. All-night transit-stop signs are marked with reflective blue bands.
Streetcar lines, especially the King line, are interesting rides with frequent service. Riding the streetcars is a great way to capture the flavor of the city as you pass through many neighborhoods.
Streetcar stops have a red pole with a picture of a streetcar on it. Bus stops usually have shelters and gray poles with bus numbers and route maps posted. Both buses and streetcars have their final destination and their number on both the front and back and side windows. The drivers are friendly and will be able to help you with your questions.
The free Ride Guide, published annually by the TTC, is available in most subways. It shows nearly every major place of interest in the city and how to reach it by public transit. The TTC's telephone information line provides directions in 20 languages.
Smoking is prohibited on all subway trains, buses, and streetcars, a rule that is strictly enforced.
Toronto Transit Commission or TTC (416/393–4636 recorded message; 416/393–4100 for lost and found; 416/393–4000 switchboard. www.ttc.ca.)