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Public Transit in Toronto GTA : Problems and solutions!

Updated: Feb 16, 2022

After coming to Canada; there are basically three major issues which are finding a rental, transport, and finding a job. All three things are interrelated to each other. Initially buying a car is difficult as well as costly. It is difficult because you have to go through multiple tests which are taken at specific time intervals. For example, after passing the theory test, you have to practice car driving and take driving lessons before giving the practical test. That might take a considerable time before you buy the first car. In case, you have a driving experience record from your home country, the time between tests can be reduced. But still, things are not easy as it costs a lot like buying a car (especially a new one), paying for the tests, the driving lessons, and paying for monthly car insurance (which is too high). After considering all these factors, you might end up using public transit which has its own characteristic problems. So, before renting a house or finding a job consider these factors:

  1. Try to find a house which is near to the job but that might not be possible considering the location of the job and family issues.

  2. or try to find a rental which is near to the major bus stops or main roads where bus stops are nearby. Always check on google maps that how much walking is required to reach the bus stop. As per my suggestions, it should not be more than 5 minutes on one side. Otherwise, in the long term, you will be tired and exhausted as you have to walk back home after a tiring day at your job.

Now, I would like to share some points that should be considered before starting using public transport because as a newcomer, you could also find that difficult to use:

  1. First of all, you should be having a presto card that is more convenient for going here and there, the presto card costs 6 $ to be issued, and then you have to recharge it with whatever amount you want. All the adult family members should have separate cards or you can opt for the monthly individual and family passes as well.

  2. One time of charge costs 3.20 $ which is valid for 2 hours; you can travel as much as you can in that two hours (which is practically not possible). If 2 hours are crossed another 3.20 $ will be deducted on your next transit.

  3. Always download the presto application on the phone; it will keep you updated that how much money is left on your card so you should always check before traveling. The best practice is to keep your card on autoload settings in the application by attaching it with your credit or debit card. So that when it reaches the minimum amount, it would recharge automatically which is very important to avoid last-minute stress and embarrassment.

  4. Now, before going to the bus stop, always search on google maps for the bus number and direction as here buses with the same number will have different directions like 17 N and 17 S. You should know beforehand which side of the bus stop you have to go as there might be four different bus stops on each side of the road. This is the most difficult part to analyze on google maps and you might be late to catch the bus because you might be waiting on the opposite side of the road. It is advisable initially to go early and observe the things, pinch zoom the maps to see the exact location of the bus stop. This is a critical step in my opinion. Sometimes you have to change one or two buses and the same rules apply.

  5. Whenever you choose the directions on google maps, always choose with less walking rather than less time as google will give you multiple options.

  6. Another very important point is which normally newcomers do not know that all the different kinds of bus services have different bus stops. Even on the same route, the different bus services may not stop at all the bus stops and would stop at only designated stops. The bus stops of different bus services can be identified by different colors of the bus stops, for example, Mississauga bus stops have orange color whereas Brampton bus service like Zum have red color bus stops and Brampton transit buses have blue color bus stops.

Now after sorting out everything, you have to take care of the following steps which are important especially when you are new to all this:

  1. The first step after hopping onto the bus, scan the presto card on the scanner that is attached near the driver seat, it will beep and you can go to the seat. Sometimes drivers might ask you to tap again to confirm it.

2. Always keep an eye on google maps or try to remember one stop before your destination stop, when the bus announces you should be ready to come out of the bus. To stop the bus you have to pull a string attached alongside the bus seat or press the yellow strip-like button or there are red color buttons on the handles. Sometimes there is no announcement so keep an eye on the stops otherwise you miss the stop and might go very far from the destination. Keep checking your google map live location and displays inside the bus.

3. Always remember, the bus will never stop other than the designated bus stops, the doors will open only at the proper exit. Sometimes, what happens is that the bus will stop at the red traffic light which may be just 10 meters from your bus stop; some people consider it like a bus stop and struggle with the doors. The best way is to check whether the light is green on the exit door(rear door).

4. There are different mechanisms for opening the door when exiting the bus that will be written on the bus door. Some doors will be opened by pushing, some by waving, and some by pulling. Don't keep struggling with the door, read the instructions carefully.

5. Now when you get out of the bus, you are in the middle of the four roads, if you have come from the north you might have to go to the east side bus so carefully read the directions of the road to find the exact location of the next bus stop.

6. Occassionaly, a bus might miss its schedule, so always reach one bus early so that you are not late to the work. In extreme weather like recently happened in the GTA Toronto, no buses were available, in those cases, it is better to take rest at home relying on the transit only.

7. Initially, you might miss the bus, go in the wrong direction, or be late to the work. Always remember to prepare yourself beforehand, keep your google maps ready, and if nothing works hire a taxi for the best.

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