Unlike many cities around the world, Toronto’s public transit system is actually accomplished by a bunch of different providers, rather than just one transit authority. The beauty of it, though, is that although that might sound like it gets complicated, the whole web works together pretty smoothly once you’re on the ground and waiting for the bus, subway or streetcar.
Within Toronto proper, the transit system is operated by the TTC, or Toronto Transit Commission. Then there’s GO Transit which connects the communities surrounding Toronto to downtown and several key destinations in between. And if two wasn’t enough, there’s also the YRT/Viva system, aka York Region Transit that focuses on the York area and connects residents there to downtown and to the Peel region.
OK, so to break it down, within the TTC area in Toronto proper, it’s a single-fare system, meaning you’ll just pay one price, no matter how far on the TTC system you’re riding, or how many times you’ll need to transfer to get to your destination.
But, if you need to transfer to a different provider to get somewhere outside of the area served by the TTC, it’s a separate ticket. And you’ll need to scour the maps to figure out where the systems connect so that you can transfer easily.
In a nutshell, GO Transit’s bus routes al depart from Union Station in downtown Toronto, and the TTC’s routes connect there as well. GO also operates on a zone system, where travelling between zones requires a different fare than travelling within one zone.
A ticket for the YRT/Viva system is valid for two hours in all directions, and regardless of how many transfers you’ll take. However, the YRT uses a zone system, and you’ll have to buy a ticket that’s valid for the zones you’ll need to travel through (there are three zones in the YRT system). Its major hubs are at the Finch GO Bus Terminal and at York University.
Probably the easiest way to navigate the web is to get an app that’s got all the details put together into one handy system. A poll on Blog TO rated The Transit App the tool of choice for people who take transit around city. Moovit and Rocketman were runners up in that poll. Transit Now Toronto was rated as the best for Android users by the Toronto Star.