Toronto: The Commute

If you have ever taken a spin on the 401 near Toronto at nearly any time the sun is up, you would have noticed the masses of cars and trucks seemingly sitting still in the oncoming lanes of traffic. Sometimes you're lucky enough to actually be in that endless line of pollution, waiting for your turn to roll forwards a few feet before stopping again. This, my friends, is the reality we as drivers face and accept. Statcan says 66 percent of us endure a daily commute of at least 60 minutes. Canada-wide, we're looking at 25 percent with a daily commute over 90 minutes. Like a quarter of everybody in Canada, my daily commute is over 90 minutes- you can see where I'm coming from now.

Okay, since driving is still the preferred way of getting to work, one wonders why people put themselves through the torture of driving in gridlock every morning. Let's not forget that the commute is among the worst in the world. I'm glad we all agree now! But what can we do about this? Since solutions like walking and cycling are not an option for most of us, we have to consider public transit. GOTransit is the only way to get from the 'burbs to the core (somewhat) on schedule.

A comparison is in order! I'll be using the outskirts of Brampton as a starting location and Queen & Spadina as the endpoint. Here we go!


Let's look at three options here; driving the entire distance, driving to Yorkdale then subway, and driving to Bramalea Go Station, train to Union Station, then walking- phewf. Keep in mind I'll be doing this comparison for the month of July containing 21 work days.


Using the distance of driving (50.9 km), consumption rate of 1L/10km, and a price of $1.30/L, we're looking at $13.00 towards gas per day- don't forget to add $10.00 each day to park downtown! Driving to and from Yorkdale costs $11.10 then we have to add the price of the subway. Turns out buying tokens at $2.50 per trip is more cost effective than a metropass ($121.00 vs $105.00)! Add $5.00 to our $11.10 gas and we're looking at $16.10 daily. Our third route is a little more complicated. With gas to and from Bramalea Go Station costing $4.62, we learn the GO fare will be the bulk of this price. Using a GO monthly pass, we add $10.00 per day totalling $14.62. Wrapping up the price comparison, the GO Transit route costs $14.62 per day which is $1.48 cheaper than taking the subway and $8.38 cheaper than driving and parking downtown. The preferred method of commuting isn't looking too good!


Google Maps says driving the entire way only takes 38 minutes. This is not the case, typically we're looking at somewhere near 1 hour 20 minutes including finding parking. Getting to Yorkdale takes 40 minutes while the subway ride takes about 30 minutes totalling 1 hour 10 minutes. Driving to Bramalea GO takes 18 minutes, the train takes 32 minutes, and the walk is about 15 minutes- getting us to 1 hour 5 minutes. The bottom line? Although the subway route takes nearly the same time as the GO Train, the GO route is by far more reliable and will regularly get you to your destination in the schedule time.

In the End

You might be asking yourself why do people continue driving? I mean, it's more expensive, takes longer, and requires your complete attention. Taking transit lets you read, work, and even sleep during travel. Sorry to break it to you, but driving (at least the majority of a trip) is the most comfortable and flexible way to get somewhere. I am not the only one that thinks this way! Imagine if you missed a train because you were running late, there's no way you'd get there on time. If you're 10 minutes late to your car, you're 10 minutes late to your destination- it's as simple as that!

Advice from Experience

Drive then take the subway. With no fixed entry/exit position in the city apart from Yorkdale, the reasonable price, and nearly the shortest commute, there is no better way. I can grab dinner after work and catch the subway to my car that runs every few minutes rather than the train running on the hour. 401 commuters unite (: