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Understanding the public transportation system as a newcomer to Canada.

As a newcomer to Canada, understanding the public transportation system can be difficult.


However, most major cities in Canada have an efficient public transportation system that makes it easy to get around.


In this blog post, I will provide an overview of Canada's public transit system and explain how it works in the country's major cities and the Greater Toronto Area.


Let's jump right in!


Table of contents





1. Overview


Canada has a comprehensive public transportation system that includes buses, trains, subways, streetcars and light rail. Depending on the city, the system is managed by different agencies, and fares vary from city to city.


One of Canada's most important public transportation systems is the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). The TTC manages the subway, bus and streetcar systems in Toronto, Canada's largest city. Other major cities with extensive public transportation systems include Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa.


Major cities usually have websites for their public transport and generally have a trip planner and fare details. Once you arrive in the city, you can search their websites for the best route for the journey you need—more details of the websites are in the following paragraphs.


2. Public Transportation in Toronto


The TTC manages Toronto's subway, bus and streetcar systems. The subway has four lines, and the bus and streetcar system covers the entire city.


TTC fares vary according to age and the system used to pay. According to information on their website, buying tickets is slightly more expensive than using a Presto Card.


Subway and Streetcar map - Source: https://www.ttc.ca/routes-and-schedules

The Presto card is a rechargeable card used to pay for public transportation in Toronto and other cities. The card can be used on all modes of transportation and offers discounts on some fares.


You can access individual fares depending on how often you use the card, but monthly passes can help you save a little. More information on fares can be found on this page.



Presto card is used in public transportation in Toronto and GTA.


3. Public Transportation in Montreal


The Société de Transport de Montréal (STM) operates the public transportation system in Montreal. The STM operates buses and the metro system, which has four lines and covers the entire city.



Montreal subway map - Source: https://www.stm.info/en/info/networks/metro


In Montreal, the STM also offers a rechargeable card called the OPUS card, which can be used to pay for public transportation tickets.


The card can be used on all modes of transportation and offers discounts on some fares. More information on the OPUS card can be found on this website.


We visited Montreal last year and could easily purchase this card in one of the metro stations at a machine located at the station entrance; the card cost at that time was 6 CAD.


You will find more information about this system on this page.



Opus card is used in public transportation in Montreal.


4. Public Transportation in Vancouver


TransLink operates the public transportation system in Vancouver, which includes buses, trains, and ferries.


SkyTrain is Vancouver's rapid transit system, with three lines covering the entire city. TransLink fares vary according to the zones you travel to; see below for an outline of the zones.



Fare Zones - Source: https://www.translink.ca/transit-fares/pricing-and-fare-zones


In Vancouver, TransLink also offers a rechargeable card called the Compass Card, which can be used to pay for public transportation fares. The card can be used on all modes of transportation, and it offers discounts on some fares.


If you visit Vancouver, you can easily buy a card as soon as you land at the airport, as the YVR Airport station belonging to Canada Line is connected, and you can buy it at a Compass Vending machine (CVM) at the entrance of the station.


Last year we visited Vancouver, bought the card and could ride buses, ferries and subway without any problems.


You will find more information about this system on this page.


Compass card is used in public transportation in Vancouver.


5. Public Transportation in Calgary


The Calgary Transit operates the public transportation system in Calgary, which includes buses and the CTrain.


The CTrain is Calgary's light rail system, with two lines that cover the entire city. The fares for the Calgary Transit vary depending on your age and the mode of transportation used. They also have passes available, as you can check on their website.


The Calgary Transit also offers an App called My Fare, which can be used to buy tickets for public transportation fares.


My Fare App for public transportation in Calgary.

You will find more information about this system on this page:


6. Public Transportation in Ottawa


The Société de Transport de l'Outaouais (STO) operates the public transportation system in Ottawa, which includes buses and trains.


The O-Train is Ottawa's light rail system, with one line that covers the city's downtown area.


In Ottawa, the STO also offers a reloadable card called the Multi card, which can be used to pay public transit fares. The card can be used on all modes of transportation and offers discounts on some fares; according to the website, they also have personalized cards.

You will find more information about this system on this page.



The Société de Transport de l'Outaouais (STO) operates the public transportation system in Ottawa.

7. Public Transportation in Mississauga.


MiWay manages Mississauga's public transit system. The system includes buses that cover the entire city, and fares vary depending on your age and how you pay your fare. For example, if you pay in cash the fare is CAD 4, but if you pay with a Presto card the fare is CAD 3.10.


MiWay also offers a contactless payment system called Presto Card, the same one used in Toronto. They have recently expanded the system to allow you to pay for your ticket by credit card, debit card or mobile wallet.

The transportation system in Mississauga is managed by Miway.

We used to use public transit very frequently, and some transit combinations allow you to save if you travel to surrounding cities; for example, travelling from Mississauga to Brampton, Oakville and Vaughan, there is a transfer time that gives you a free transfer ride. This is not the case when travelling to Toronto.


You will find more information about this system on this page.


8. Public transportation in Brampton.


Brampton Transit operates the public transportation system in Brampton.


The system includes buses covering the entire city, and the fares vary depending on your age and payment method. They also have weekly and monthly passes.


Brampton Transit also offers a contactless payment system, which allows you to pay for fares using your credit card, debit card, or mobile wallet.


You will find more information about this system on this page.



Bus station in Brampton.


9. Public transportation in the York Region


York Region Transit (YRT) operates the public transportation system in Newmarket, Aurora, Vaughan and Richmond Hill.


The system includes buses that cover the entire region, and fares vary depending on your age and payment method.


YRT also offers a contactless payment system, which allows you to pay for fares by credit card, debit card, Presto card or mobile wallet. They also have two apps that allow pedestrians to pay transit fares: YRT/ Viva Pay App and Transit: Bus & Subway Times App.


YRT/ Viva Pay App for public transportation in the York region.

You will find more information about this system on this page.



Transit: Bus & Subway Times App for public transportation in the York Region.


10. Public Transportation in the Durham Region.


Durham Region Transit (DRT) manages the public transit system in Oshawa, Ajax and Whitby.


The system includes buses that cover the entire region, and fares vary depending on the means of payment and the age of the passenger. DRT also offers a contactless payment system, which allows fares to be paid by credit card, debit card, Presto Card or mobile wallet.


You will find more information about this system on this page.


Bus belonging to the Durham region transit system.

12. Public Transportation between cities.


There is another way to move between cities; the one we have used the most is the one operated by Go Transit, which has buses and trains.


The system allows you to pay with a Presto card or buy tickets directly at the stations or online. The fare depends mainly on the distance travelled, and unlike other means of transport, you must scan your card when getting on and off the bus or train to calculate your final fare.


You can travel between cities by train.

You will find more information about this system on this page.


Via Rail is also a train company that allows you to move between cities. We have used the service between Toronto and Montreal, which works well. In this case, we bought the tickets through the website; you can find more information on this site.



 

I hope this post has given you an idea of how the public transportation system works in Canada.


As you can see, generally, the public transportation systems in these cities are managed by different agencies. Still, they all offer bus services that cover the entire city or region.

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