How To Get From Toronto’s Pearson International Airport to Downtown
Congratulations, you’ve made it to Toronto! But now you’re probably wondering what the easiest/cheapest/most efficient way to get downtown where all the action is. Fear not, this post has all of the detailed info you need to make your trip downtown a breeze.
Easiest to Cheapest (and on second thought, least favourite to favourite):
1. Hop in a taxi cab
There’s nothing quite as simple as walking outside and getting straight into a taxi. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your views of the taxi industry), only licensed taxis sanctioned by the GTAA are able to pick you up at the airport and they have a flat rate.
Here’s Pearson’s incredibly hi-def map detailing flat rate taxi tariffs. Don’t be fooled by anyone trying to tell you it’s $54 no matter where you’re heading downtown – if you’re staying west of Bathurst and south of Bloor, the trip is only $45.
Taxis are incredibly easy to find – in Terminal 1 they’re on the first floor by doors C and D and at Terminal 3 they’re on the arrivals level at door B (domestic arrivals) and F (international arrivals). You can pay with cash, debit, or credit card. Cars are generally quite clean and drivers are professional. Depending on traffic (which can add an extra 30 minutes if you’re travelling during rush hour), a taxi ride downtown is about 35-40 minutes.
2. Get on the UP Express Train
The UP Express Train from Pearson to Union Station has finally opened! Trains depart from from Terminal 1 on the top floor (near the terminal link train) every 15 minutes and make stops at Weston and Bloor GO Train stations before pulling into Union. It’s only a 25 minute ride downtown which is great if you’d like to beat rush hour. An adult fare is $27.50 one way and tickets can be purchased online (upexpress.com), on your mobile, or at any UP Express station including Pearson.
Some of you might be doing some math right now and think “hey, that’s pretty high, I might as well just take a cab” and honestly, you’re not wrong. Despite that fact that it will always be only a 25 minute trip on the train to downtown, if you have four adults, it’s over $50 cheaper to just share a taxi. Pricing issues aside, the UP Express has gotten generally favourable reviews and is very easy to use.
3. Rental Car
The option of using a rental car is going straight in the middle of my list because it’s not really easy, but it’s not really cheap either. To be honest, I don’t even drive and I’ve lived downtown for most of my life (which shows you how easy it is to get around downtown without a car!).Unless you’re going to be driving around the Greater Toronto Area, you really don’t need one – parking downtown can be hard to find and is expensive, and it’s so easy to walk or take transit. If you absolutely must rent a car, all car rental companies can be found on the first floors of the Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 parking lots.
Toronto has a needlessly complicated relationship with UBER, which is unfortunate because residents love to use it (significantly more than taxis it would seem, but that’s a story for another day). Sadly for travellers, Pearson has made it illegal for anyone to be picked up by an UberX, UberXL, or UberTaxi car at the airport. This leaves you with the options of UberSelect or UberBlack which can both end up being fairly pricey if you’re going downtown.
Naturally, many people have found a loophole to this rule. The closest and most convenient place you can be picked up by an UberX car is 8 Network Rd. which is located right outside Viscount Parking Lot (by the #8 set of stairs). Getting to Viscount is easy from either Terminal 1 or 3, simply hop on the terminal link train (on the top floor of either terminal) going to Viscount Station. It shouldn’t take you longer than eight minutes. Is is worth all this trouble just to get an UberX car? Well, it’ll only cost around $30 to get downtown (even better if you’re using Uber’s split fare option). Plus I like to show my support for Uber whenever possible because Toronto’s bureaucracy seems hellbent on shutting it down (with no thanks to the taxi industry).
5. TTC (Toronto Transit Commission)
I love the TTC. Honestly. You’ll hear some Torontonians complain “oh, hurr durr, it stands for Take The Car, get it? Because it sucks”, but don’t let them fool you. Getting downtown from Pearson Airport is very easy and it only costs $3 one way for adults. $3! That’s the same price as 18 adults sharing a Pearson flat rate taxi like some sort of clown car. Not only that, but kids under 12 ride for free and students and seniors pay only $2. It even has luggage racks to store your bags and a bike rack if you’re travelling with your bike.
You’re probably thinking “c’mon Mel, what’s the catch?”, but other than the fact that it’ll take you a bit longer to get downtown than the other options I’ve listed, there isn’t one. I take this route every day and barring any major weather disaster, it runs like clockwork. It will realistically take you about 60 to 75 minutes to get to Union Station.
If you decide to use the TTC, the first thing you’re going to do is locate the bus stop. At Terminal 1 it’s on the ground floor outside door D, and at Terminal 3 it’s also on the ground floor outside by pillar C18. You will need exact change to get on the bus as the driver will not have any change, so make sure you do that in the terminal. You’re going to get on the 192 Airport Rocket bus which arrives every 10 minutes or so. Don’t worry about getting a transfer for the subway because the bus pulls right into the station. Be kind to your fellow passengers and store your luggage on the racks provided instead of in the middle of the bus. The 192 bus is a 15 to 20 minute ride to Kipling Station. When you get into Kipling, take the stairs or escalator down to the tracks and get on any subway (Kipling is as far west as you can go, so no matter which subway you get on, it’s going to be heading east). Hopefully by this point, you know where exactly you’re headed downtown and know what station to get off at. If not, here’s a helpful subway map courtesy of the TTC:
And that’s it! Super easy. Now you stop worrying about how to get downtown and spend more timing planning what you’re going to do once you’re there!
Categories: Travelling Tips