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Using the street cars

Glasgow, United...
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Using the street cars

Hi

We will be staying in The Beach at the end of the month - first time in Toronto, visiting from Scotland.

I believe the best way into the city centre is to use the street cars. Are these easy to use? Do I need to buy tickets before we board, and how will we know which stop is which if we don't know the area?

Any tips on which street car to get and best stops to get off at for attractions/shopping/eating out would be appreciated. We'll be getting on the street car on Queen Street East.

Thanks!

Sheffield, United...
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1. Re: Using the street cars

Toronto has the easiest public transport system I have used.

If you are going to be using any form of public transport a couple of times a day it is worth getting a weekly pass they run from Monday to Sunday, you can get day passes as well and on weekends and public holidays you only need one day pass for a family.

You can get a free transit map at the subway stations. If you look up the TTC website the maps are also on there and you can use their journey planner.

Toronto
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2. Re: Using the street cars

Street cars are relatively easy to use. You pay exact fair in cash or in transit tokens that you can buy at all subway stations and at many convenience stores around the city. Or you can buy a weekly pass that you would show to the driver when you get on to the street car.

To figure out which stop to get off, find out the name of the major street that crosses Queen St and listen to the announcement. All street cars will announce the major crossing street that it is approaching before it comes to a stop. Or, simply ask a fellow passenger or the driver if you are standing at the front of the car.

If you are going to the downtown area from Beaches, you would be getting off at either Young, York or Bay streets or at University Av.

Edited: 14 August 2014, 13:25
Toronto
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3. Re: Using the street cars

In most ways it's not much different from using a bus.

Any westbound streetcar along Queen will get you downtown from the Beaches. For the most part they're route 501, but at certain times of day you may see differently-numbered streetcars that still go downtown. As long as it's heading west on Queen.

If you don't buy tokens or passes in advance, you'll have to pay your fare on boarding in exact change ($3 for adults). Tokens bought in bunches of 3 or more cost about $2.65 each, and a day pass costs around $10.75 for one person; on weekends and holidays, a day pass can be shared by two adults and up to 4 kids travelling together, so it's far more economical. (Those prices may be off by a few cents, I don't have the current rates in front of me.)

Stop names are announced as the streetcar approaches them. If you're feeling unsure, sit near the driver and ask him/her to let you know.

In general on the TTC, if your trip is going to involve transferring between vehicles, you must take a transfer (physically a little slip of paper) from the driver of the vehicle you first board when you pay your fare. On the Queen streetcar, there's a "proof of payment" system in effect on weekdays during the day, whereby all passengers (other than those with a pass) must take a transfer. The purpose is to let those who aren't paying upon boarding (i.e. those with a pass or transferring from another route) to board through the back doors; everyone therefore needs a transfer or pass as proof of payment so that spot checks can be used for enforcement. This system is going to be implemented on other TTC streetcar routes soon. I'd say just take a transfer when you pay, unless you're using a pass.

Edit: sorry for the repetition, a couple of people posted while I was writing.

Edited: 14 August 2014, 13:30
Toronto, Canada
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4. Re: Using the street cars

Dont' hesitate to ask the TTC streetcar drivers to help you...just tell the driver where you're going to and they'll let you know what stop you want...............the 501 Queen streetcar travels through some of the city's diverse neighbourhoods.............stay on the car for awhile just to sight see as well.............

Sheffield, United...
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5. Re: Using the street cars

The original poster like me is from the UK the hardest thing I found to get used to on the transit system was how helpful the drivers are :)

Toronto, Canada
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6. Re: Using the street cars

Just to add to tweedwolfscream's post:

You should always take a transfer from the driver when you get on the streetcar (unless you buy a weekly pass). The streetcars on the 501 line often 'short turn', which means everyone will have to get off the streetcar, and wait for the next one, while the streetcar turns back the other way. You will need the transfer to get on the next one that comes along, so that you don't have to pay twice.

Toronto, Canada
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7. Re: Using the street cars

Note that the TTC has a fully integrated fare system, you pay once for your trip, this covers all transfers and vehicles required for a one-way journey. So, for example if your trip involves a streetcar connecting to the subway then connecting to a bus, only payment of 1 fare is required at the start of the journey (where you collect the paper transfer) and proof of payment is shown with the transfer to the driver or collector when boarding the next vehicle.

Toronto
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8. Re: Using the street cars

Some additional comments:

1) Note what was said above about the weekly passes, might be a good deal. There are a few pass options to consider.

2) Also note what was said about having proof-of-payment: Some streetcars allow "all-door" boarding and, in theory, an inspector might challenge you to prove that you've paid a fare. You do this by showing a transfer (obtained from the driver when you board) or your pass. They are (allegedly) stepping up inspections.

3) It's a fairly long streetcar ride from the Beaches to the downtown. Just so you know.

4) In the last 5 years or so they added automated stop announcements to the streetcars. So the stops are all announced over the speaker, as well as being displayed on a pixel board at the front of the car.

5) Notwithstanding #4, as others have suggested you can always ask the drivers or (if the car is full) ask anyone standing near you and they'll help. Happens all the time.

6) While I'm at it, you should be warned that the Queen Streetcar gets REALLY busy (jam packed) during weekday rush. Just so you know - you won't always be able to get to the driver to ask a question...not something to worry about.

Some extra tricks: You should know the route # you want to take (i.e., 501) because that is reliably displayed on the car as it approaches. Not all streetcars will travel the whole route - so a 501 might only make half the trip (which will also be indicated) or it might short-turn (which is always a surprise). If this happens, it's no big deal either (just annoying) as you just get off with everyone else and wait for the next car to come along.

9. Re: Using the street cars

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