The TTC’s service to Pearson is totally fine, so why doesn’t anybody know?
Over at Spacing, Daniel Rotsztain raises an interesting point: the TTC is way too modest about its service to Pearson Airport. The trip is upwards of $50 by cab (or $42 round trip by private bus). Meanwhile, for the cost of a token, anyone can ride the 192 Airport Rocket bus from Kipling station. It departs roughly every ten minutes. Including the subway ride from downtown, the whole trip takes just about an hour. The route is an express, so it makes just one stop before the airport. There are even luggage racks for passengers. (The Malton 58A also serves the airport, departing from Lawrence West station, but it’s not an express bus, and comes less frequently.)
Other cities actively promote their airport bus services. Montreal’s airport buses have special paint jobs, and the airport has a vending machine that dispenses fare cards in different denominations. Boston has a bus rapid transit line that runs between Logan Airport and the city’s downtown core—and, get this, it’s free to ride. And yet the TTC’s service, convenient and cheap as it is, labours in relative obscurity.
One thing is certain: beefing up the TTC’s bus service to Pearson and promoting it to the populace would be a whole lot cheaper and more accessible than building a luxury rail service to the airport from downtown—but with Metrolinx’s Union Pearson Express already racing to meet its 2015 completion deadline, that train has already left the station. How many riders will be willing to part with an extra $20 or so per direction to shave 20 or 30 minutes off their trips? We’ll find out.
60 thoughts on “The TTC’s service to Pearson is totally fine, so why doesn’t anybody know?”
And now the word is out. Thanks for ruining that gem of a bus route ;)
It is NOT a comfortable ride no matter how you promote it. Who wants to really transfer (and wait) for subway trains, changes at St. George/Bloor/Spadina and huff and puff all the way to Kipling station? Sometimes the extra $47 goes a long way in offering door-to-door service without having to lug around your suitcase(s) and fighting people for seats in the subway.
Toronto’s transit system is a joke, for a city of its size. A BUS to the airport, that leaves from the Westernmost station on the Bloor line – Toronto’s ONLY east-west line in the city (aside from the Sheppard line, which is fairly useless)? Let’s rejoice! People know about it – it’s overcrowded (like most other lines on the TTC), and is also fairly inconsistent with its arrival times. It’s about time we get a shuttle to the airport – and some downtown relief lines, and…..(the list goes on). Anyone who has had to rely on the Queen streetcar for travel to work on a consistent basis would likely agree. Enough is enough Toronto.
exactly! for me its just 1 hour to Kipling only. A cab ride to Pearson from my place is under 30 mins. I think an express from Union makes much more sense
I used to take it but it takes me 1h30 to get downtown,(A bus, subway and streetcar) if I take the airport express bus it takes me 30min! In montreal they have a service for $8 (Bus747) from the airport direct downtown, stopping at a few stops downtown only. (The $8 also include a day pass for the transit) I hate dragging my bags in and out of the bus, then subway then street cars. Let just say I am looking forward to the express train from Union Station.
I agree. The price is right but I think that you get what you pay for. Only took the bus a couple of times to and from Pearson, and that was enough. After a long flight, the last thing you want to do is manoeuvre through the TTC system for another hour or two.
This magazine is so freaking oblivious – take the 192 bus with luggage, on your way to a flight right after work, then revisit.
Sally is correct. Toronto has the worst transit system I’ve ever seen… I’ve been to 3rd world countries with more established and efficient systems.
It needs to be ripped apart (not literally) and planned again, and these money-hoarding a-holes at the top need to be jailed. Someone somewhere is making too much money.
Transit shouldn’t cost 3 dollars a ride to begin with.
Presto card readers should have been implemented at EVERY station and been on EVERY bus/streetcar at inception, and WHY the F did it cost 1 Billion dollars already…
Subways need to be CLEANED, omg seriously, why is no one cleaning them????
Subway station platforms need guide marks for people to line up to, and trains need to stop at the markers. During busy hours, it’s chaos, and WORSE than China. Doors on the platform that open and close with the subway doors would help too, and prevent people from falling on the tracks.
I know this stuff costs money, but where do you think the money you spend on transit and taxes goes right now? To fixing the transit system? Yeah right. It’s going in someones pocket, and you’re NEVER seeing it.
The citizens of Toronto and the GTA need to demand better from our government, so that we can improve the transit system and in the process improve the traffic problem downtown and on the highways.
The Sheppard line isn’t useless if you, y’know, happen to live or work in the area.
Depending on time of day airport rides are worth it…. Now that they’ve told people about it its gonna get uglier
It’s about consumers and users being savvy. I’ve known about it for a long time since I used to take the bus until I went to University. It’s also true that TTC could do better by creating awareness similar to what has been done in Montreal to bring it into focus for all bus riders.
At the end of the day though, consumers/users of services have to be more proactive instead of passive in our navigation of our consumption choices. That’s a personal responsibility we all owe to ourselves.
I like the bus, but the shelter should be better integrated with the terminal. Having to trek outside in the freezing cold at 5 am to wait for a bus is the worst
the TTC as a whole is a joke!!! I’ve lived in Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary, and they have superior systems, for much smaller cities none the less. Maybe extending the subway line to the airport would be a wiser decision. Most people flying out of downtown that I know LOVE the convenience of the PORTER AIRPORT, including myself. I would rather connect to where I have to go from Chicago or NYC than have to make my way to the Person Airport.
I think it would of been better money spent if the government went forward with a express lane light rail system on Eglinton, it would of connected Mississauga, Ectobico, and Scarborough, not to mention all the stops in between. But yet they did one on St.clair which has become a traffic nightmare, all sooooo pointless and money wasted? I take the TTC everyday from Scarborough to Vaughan and its terrible!!! More frequent subway cars in the morning especially during rush hour would seriously help with over crowding, and getting those new subway cars on the Bloor line would be nice. Or even connecting the Sheppard line to the Scarborough RT (which in its own right needs some SERIOUS upgrading) all in all the TTC in a whole has a lot of holes in it that need work.
but to dedicate a whole subway line for the handful of people I see on the Shepard line on any given day or time… Com’on it was a complete waste of money. Maybe if they extended it all the way to Scarborough Town center and connected it to the RT then I could see a 1000X more riders on the Shepard line
I live downtown, and HATE going to the Person Airport, I actually now LOVE using the Porter and transfer flights from NYC or Chicago. Which saves me the headache of getting to Person, and since I’m connecting flights make my airfare slightly cheaper.
Or even extending the Shepard line to Downsview… all in all the Shepard line was poorly planed, and even more poorly executed.
use the Porter Airport and get a connection flight from Chicago or NYC.. better service, its convenient, and wont take ages to get to if you live downtown
to be fair, the TTC owns land across Sheppard both to the east and west of the line for maybe future expansion
The argument is that the TTC doesn’t have anything direct from the central train or bus stations.
Managing luggage up the flight of steps from Union and then transferring at St. George and then transferring again from Kipling to a bus is ridiculous!!!
I’d pay $20 from Union easy!
While I understand some frustrations there are solutions. Honestly, if you can afford a flight you can probably afford an airport car. From downtown it’s about $60 each way, from the west end…and mere $39.
Excerpt about the rail link:
“There’s been no announcement yet about how much it will cost to ride the Union Pearson Express, but in December 2012 the annual report by Ontario’s Auditor General suggested it will likely be in the high end of the $20-$30 range for a one-way ride.”
So for a bit more you have someone drive you there in a Lincoln Town car, help you with your baggage AND they whisk you right to the proper gate. No 12 stops at each airline blah blah blah and you don’t have to cross the traffic islands of doom at the airport.
Mike Harris cut taxes by 50% at a time when Ontario was running a serious deficit. At the same time, the federal government drastically cut their contributions to the provinces in order to reduce their own deficit. Harris said that cutting taxes would stimulate the economy to make up for the massive funding shortfalls. This is a conservative American fantasy that has never worked. That shortfall has never been replaced, and as a result we have not even been paying for our operating costs; the cost of running the city or the province, let alone paying for the cost of improvements or even replacing or repairing infrastructure that needs it. We have been falling apart ever since.
BTW, I needed to get to the airport this winter for a 7 a.m. Sunday morning flight, so of course the subway wasn’t running. I discovered the new Bloor 300A night bus which picked me up at my front door and took me straight to terminal 3. At that hour, the trip was very fast. Hard to beat for a token, and very convenient.
The train from Pearson to Union is going to be a luxury train? Who wants that? I’d be happy with a GO train.
If you’re in a group, it will actually be cheaper to take a taxi than the planned Express train.
I know exactly where it goes, wages, benefits, and track/vehicle repair. The latter being the most expensive part of it all. All of that repair money could have been avoided by simply getting better, stronger, newer vehicles sooner then 2014.
I’ve used the Kipling bus for years, and as long as I plan accordingly, it’s fine, especially for the price. I had no idea the new express train was going to be $20 or so! I might as well take the coach service that stops closer to my house for the same price. Price-wise, I’m not really seeing the advantage of the new train.
Grew up in Toronto, live in Brooklyn now. You can’t beat the price of TTC from the airport. Yes, you have to haul your luggage but try getting to and from JFK – Air Trans is great but you still have to haul the luggage. Newark – trains again, luggage issue the same. Both are more expensive than the TTC to boot. La Guardia – there are painful buses. Having said that Toronto has completely out grown the TTC.
Agree with you on the last part.
However, our money can still be utilised better.
It’s just sad to see other cities/countries handle their transit system so well and offer their citizens affordable and efficient transportation, while we’re stuck here in -20 degree weather with one of the worst in the world.
The airport Taxis and Limos have their own special racket and everyone else stays out of the way. Cheap bus to Pearson? DO NOT ACTIVELY PROMOTE.
After all the TTC is its own special racket with lucrative maintenance and labour contracts – not service to the public – that comes first. The Commission with its archaic streetcar tracks and weak Pearson link is backwards on purpose. Toronto is ruined by back-room deals and abuse of public trust.
Ok lets do some calculation
Case: I live in Davisville
Time to take TTC to airport -> Davisville -> Change to Bloor line -> Kipling -> Bus
It can be more than do 2 hours for the whole trips, and I have to carry my luggage and assume some unexpected delay.
Time to take limo to airport -> Home -> Airport
It can be around 1 hour, and I don’t have to carry my luggage running around. Traffic can be unexpected but better than TTC.
Actually it was executed far worse than planned. The plan was to bring it all the way to the Scarborough Town Center and connect it to the RT.
It’s not useless but ask degree of usefulness VS actual need – that is the question. Many of us would like a nearby subway line, but can we justify it?
The downtown core is gutted for proper service – that’s where there’s a near-term economic payoff in a new line. Get rid of those ass-dragging streetcars blocking autos on Queen St and watch both the TTC and the core economy flourish to support creation other lines. Why does the TTC freak show hate this idea, is it costing them jobs and street rail repair contracts with their personal friends?
When I’m travelling by myself with just carry-on, I don’t mind taking the TTC to Pearson. I use the hour or so to read, listen to a podcast, and just chill out.
Had they run it from York U to the Scarborough Town Centre it would get far more use than it does.
Actually considering it’s only 5 stops and only runs into the Yonge line, it gets a lot of riders for the limited area it services.
Only Toronto would term diesel choo-choo trains “a luxury rail service to the airport” lol
I still cannot believe the ttc doesn’t have machines like in NYC where you can with a visa or a debit card purchase a fair or multiple ones. Tourists must be so frustrated let alone people that live in the city. They just have miserable employees making a ridiculous amount of money when they should be paid exactly what a fast food worker makes- minimum wage. Toronto needs a queen subway as the population grows. The only streets that should have a street car are college, spadina and king (king for tourists) Don’t ask me above dupont because i am a city boy and i don’t care what happens above it. It’s like asking a newyorker what happens in time square. GROW UP TORONTO AND THE CURRUPT TTC
Smaller cities with less density and usage on their public transit… hmm, good comparison.
Porter will only ever be a mostly short-haul airport. The convenience of Porter is a bit limited if you’re going anywhere east of Newfoundland, west of Thunder Bay or south of Myrtle Beach…
The idea was to increase density in the area after the line was built (and potentially have the line extended east/west besides). Having grown up in the area, I can tell you that density has certainly increased, with all sorts of overpriced and ugly condos crowding the area.
Well obviously Toronto is the largest in Canada… but the transit system we have is piss poor in planning and execution. With the amount of money they have and have used, there could of been a million other beneficial things they could of better spent the money on.
And as for the Porter, like I said take connecting flights. Porter actually flies west of Thunder Bay (Winnipeg if im not mistaken) and is looking to do flights east soon. They already do Montreal, which u could connect to a flight further east if necessary.
I do agree the planning/execution here is pretty lame. An important difference, IMO, is that many countries acknowledge the importance (to the wider region) of big regional cities and support them. Canada — and Ontario — gives a big shrug for the most part. It’s taking far too long to get regional transit integration going.
Interesting that the “private” for profit Pearson Airport Authority (that did such a sterling job handling the recent severe weather conditions) makes the TTC service stop at the far ends of their terminals in the outside lane from the terminals and has very poor signage to indicate their presence and location. Could it be that they receive far more income from the taxis, limousines and other competing services. Or is it pure spite for a public service?
You really have to see the crappy transit systems in other cities to appreciate the crowded; but plentiful buses and trains in Toronto. =)
Well density all over the city has increased… But we don’t see improvements to all those areas by the TTC. Sorta a big risk to develop a subway line for “potential growth” when there are so many other places that could of used that money to improve transit in those areas for people that live there now, in the present. Areas that would of had a greater impact on improving TTC service for current riders… like extending subway to the airport per say. Or doing the proposed express Eglinton train line… those would of been better usage to improve the TTC, not for potential growth of more condos in a city already saturated with condos
Who’s wages, and for who’s benefit??? And what repairs?? The continual repair of street car tracks that were repaired maybe 3-5 years before, or because of the “new streetcars” (which i have yet to see) that they forgot to check worked on the current exiting tracks?! All a big waste of money. Unless like you said its for bigger, better, stronger vehicles. .. but where are they??
Can anyone (let alone politicians) ever really agree on who is most deserving of special transit attention? Believe it or not, Sheppard is (and also already was 20 years ago) a large and busy street/area. North York is the second-most populous of the former ‘burbs. It wasn’t a totally insensible place to put the line (Finch would’ve been reasonable too), it just should have been extended for more usefulness. Maybe it will someday. I’m not sure if a subway to the airport is the greatest idea… ever taken the tube into London from Heathrow? A dedicated GO line would be nice (i.e. sharing current infrastructure). The TTC could at least give the busses a slap of unique colouring or something and better promotion at the airport…
St. Clair was a streetcar revision, not LRT. It got a dedicated lane, but no signalling priority, no multiple entry doors, etc.
I would LOVE to see the Crosstown LRT extended to Pearson, though. Too bad the Spadina extension didn’t point there. We got muscled into going to Vaughan if we wanted the money at all for service to York U and environs.
And about Scarborough: the Crosstown will connect to Kennedy, and the superior but shelved LRT line would also. Yes, it would be nice to take some of the extra money being wasted on the Scarborough subway extension to connect the Sheppard LRT with the other lines. That would give my old neighbours out east lots of options for fast transit throughout Scarborough and faster access to downtown and midtown.
Also: I’ve ridden the Calgary and Edmonton LRT and LOVE them.
The bigger streetcars have been tested this winter and they will start on the Spadina route later this year — August, I think.
The reason whjy streetcars (and trains, and other vehicles) break down is because they’re kept long after their reasonable lifespan. The TTC has an extensive repair shop that even includes a blacksmith. It has no back up vehicles because of “efficiencies”.
Things Cost Money. We have to be willing to spend real money to improve service on the current system and to extend it in a way that benefits all of Toronto.
Provide the billions for an underground option that would hold the number of vehicles needed to carry the vast ridership downtown and we’ve got a deal.
We can’t just “get rid of” streetcars. People without cars need to get downtown somehow. Replacing them with buses would be worse. Even putting tunnels under Queen and King for LRT/subway would jam up traffic for a long time as stations were built at appropriate intervals in the downtown core.
Things Cost Money.
Building Transit (Usually) Disrupts Traffic. (The Scarborough LRT wouldn’t, not during construction, not during operation).
If you want better transit, people who see themselves as “drivers” and “taxpayers” first have to get on board.
Sure, and yet we do ‘get rid of’ streetcars every 3-6 years for endless street rail repairs and ‘jam up traffic’ for long periods. At such times the buses replacing the route prove much faster. Kingston Road rail repairs took an unbelievable amount of time this past year – shutting down a crucial artery, and for what? For an intermittent low-capacity line, how quaint. It’s not the 1920’s anymore, and the money’s largely wasted on street rail maintenance (unless you’re the perennial contractor doing the well-paid work.)
Listen. We’re already IN deep doo-doo because we did not initiate underground rail routes we need at least some decades ago. The longer we wait, the more disruptive and more expensive it WILL eventually be, and the more it will delay the economic payoff. It’s stupid of us all to ignore the inevitable surge in demand as Toronto grows. Toronto’s agendas have to be more long-viewed than some politician’s near-term pay day and we’ve all become too complacent at accepting the ‘perpetual excuse machine.’
I took the 192 to the airport two weeks ago when I left on my vacation to Europe. I used the TTC’s trip planner to find out which bus to take and when I should leave my house. Worked like a charm. I continued to use public transit to get to and from the airport in London, UK and in Lisbon, Portugal. In both cities, the subways went directly to the airport and signs in the airport’s arrivals area clearly directed travelers to the subway station. At the entrance to the subway station were bank machines, ticket machines that took cash and credit cards and provided service/clear instructions in a number of languages, system maps, and instructions on how the transit system worked. I was relieved at how easy it was to navigate.
And then I returned to Toronto two days ago and tried to take the TTC home from the airport. And that’s when I realized how ridiculously awful our system is. I’d befriended a family of Britons on the plane who had never been to Canada before and had offered to help them get to their hotel via the TTC, as it would have cost them a fortune to get to their hotel any other way. The airport signs in Arrivals directed travelers to taxis and a train, but there was no mention at all of public transit. The Britons stopped at a bank machine to get some Canadian money: it dispensed only $20 bills, as bank machines do. After following signs in the airport for “ground transportation,” a sign appeared that included a picture of a bus. We followed the sign and went outside, but found ourselves at a loading area for airport and hotel shuttles and no sign of the TTC anywhere. I finally asked someone who worked at the airport where I could find the bus stop and they pointed to one of the exits and told me to cross the road and I’d find the bus stop there. There was no sign in the airport indicating that there was a TTC bus stop there, but when we reached the spot where the person had directed us, lo and behold, there was a TTC post (I recognized it as such, but of course the Britons had no idea what it was) and a small crowd of people waiting at a bus shelter. There were no maps, no information about the TTC, and when the bus arrived, the driver looked at the Britons who were holding out their $20 bill and informed them that he didn’t provide change. While $20 for a family of 5 is still a lot cheaper than taking the airport shuttle, their first experience of Toronto after leaving the airport was getting screwed by the TTC through no fault of their own. They were handed transfers that they didn’t know what to do with, and arrived at Kipling station where I led them to the subway. If they hadn’t had me to chaperone them, it would have been fairly impossible for them to use the TTC to get to the city from the airport. And that’s why our system sucks.
Hey, we can all debate the transit system til the cows come home and I agree our system pales in comparison to those of Europe. That being said I have to agree that there is no cheaper way to get to the airport. I used it in December last year around midnight and got to the airport in under 40 minutes (from Dufferin and Rogers area no less). It was fast, easy to access and I didn’t have to mortgage my house just to get there. Ideally Toronto would expand the subway system out there but until that day comes I will, from here on out, take transit to and from the airport and save the other 37 dollars each way in cab fare to spend doing something so much more worthwhile while on vacation.
WHAT – I have ridden the London tube system likely more often than you have had hot dinners and indeed many times from Heathrow Terminal four, five – need I go on? It is one of the best ways to get into Central London or elsewhere on the tube grid. Don’t even think of slagging it off in any comparison to the absence or a tube to get residents of Toronto to Pearson. Given you are first on at the terminals, the Piccadilly Line carriages are designed to accommodate luggage – and you always get a seat – what could be better. I used to take the Airbus but that made far too many stops and ended up taking about the same length of time. So I fail, fail completely to see why you have dragged London’s tube system in to this discussion. It is lame at best. The millions and millions that use it from Heathrow – each year would squash your objections and observations.
You could’ve saved yourself the little screed if you didn’t look for ‘objections’ where none were even given. It is fine for London, sure, it just takes forever. That is why I ‘dragged’ it in, and why I don’t think a similar duration of ‘forever’ would be ideal for the TTC. I’m slagging Toronto, not London. (Not even getting into the TTC’s glacial pace of general development here!) Though depending where you need to go in London, especially during rush hour, it can get quite crowded and carting luggage around busy underground stations/trains isn’t fun. Dedicated ‘express’ busses, or perhaps a street-level train, are better options under our circumstances… Though one fare to get into the grid (as in London) is sensible and convenient. Good luck with those hot dinners anyway.
Not sure where in “Britain” were you, but dude, the bad taste in this case was possibly provided by you and not the TTC. Oooh the irony! Basic math and a slight understanding of world currencies will have led you to the fact that the British Pound is of more value than the floundering Looney. Assuming that the family of ‘Britons! OMG!! Britons!’ were 4. They all could’ve comfortably squeezed into a nice luxury towncar and taken straight to their hotel. The cost? downtown? $60CDN (33GBP) – I have personally taken the train in London as well (more Britons!) from the airport with my GF at get this: 13GBP per person, ZOMG! total cost? 1+1 = 26GBP *ding* *ding* – Never stopped to think that perhaps they could’ve swung those 33 pounds for comfort and stress-free travel? That taking a taxi from the Airport in London is out of the question, yet it is possible to do so in Canada? where is that bad taste now? – Still, we do agree on the fact that the system sucks: Greetings from Prague :)
Then you better make sure all your future travel plans depart from the airport at midnight. You’ll be singing a very different tune when you reprise your TTC adventure between 8-9am.
Oh I’m sure during rush hours it wouldn’t be at all fun – trying to cram yourself and your bag onto an already crowded subway. It does however offer a low cost option for those of us looking to stretch our pennies (umm nickles — lol). Like everything in life, it’s just an one OPTION. You could also take a GO shuttle from UNION OR YORKDALE about $7-$10 /per way, a taxi or car service. If you have the inclination to spend the money you can. You have to agree though — it is the cheapest way to get to the airport, and maybe just maybe depending on time of day you need to get there and where in the city you are coming from it MAY EVEN be the better way.
There were six of them.
Why don’t we promote it? Because it’s an express bus to nowhere. “Hey business travellers! Come to Toronto and ride a bus then transfer to the subway then transfer again to get downtown. All in an hour and a half!” Or just take a cab for 40 minutes. Anyone who travels on business (the bread and butter of any airport/airline) wouldn’t give it a second thought. Going with the family? Forget it, take a cab or call a friend. That leaves students, some solo travellers and people who work at the airport who would take the bus. But knowing that the city you are travelling to has a direct train from the airport to the downtown core is great.
This city is a joke – there’s no reliable affordable way to get to and from the airport and public transit is useless and people are buying small houses for a million dollars. Why do people want to live here? I can’t wait to find a way out!
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