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High Cost of Commuting in Toronto

Updated: Jun 25, 2018

Subway Toronto
Photo by Dax Donnelly

Most Torontonians commute in some form or another, it’s a necessity. Some may be lucky enough to walk to school or work, but most bike, drive, subway, streetcar, or even Uber. And what all these people have in common is typically the frustration of commuting in a city so large that has astronomical transit costs.

Many have asked themselves: Is public transit or personal vehicles the better method of commuting throughout the busy city? Both of these methods incur costs that are similarly high. So what makes a Torontonian choose? Do people choose public transit over private vehicles based on cost, or time or convenience? The answer depends on the individual and their needs.

So what can the average Torontonian afford? According to Statistics Canada, Ontario’s average income for a family household in 2013  is $76,510.00, which includes couples with or without children and lone parent families. From table 1: Commuting Accounting from, we see the annual average transit cost is 1,308.00 per person and an annual average total car cost is 6,127.59 per person. Let’s see two scenarios with couple families, and call them Family A and Family B.

For Family A, let’s assume their average income is $76,510.00. For two people, the total average transit cost is $2,616.00 with 776 hours to commute annually. When their average transit is subtracted from their average household income cost, they are left with $73,894.00 for housing, food and other costs. For Family B, let’s assume their average income is $76,510.00. However they use two different cars to commute, so they would spend $12,255.18 dollars on travel and 710 hours annually.

From this data we can see that a personal vehicle is obviously a more expensive choice of transportation. However, Family B spends approximately 66 fewer hours on commuting than Family A. If we were to calculate the 66 hour wage for someone who earns Ontario’s minimum wage then the 66 hours are worth $726.00. Thus, there would only be an increase of $726.00 per family if the two adults use their time working instead of travelling.

Besides middle class families, students are a main user of transit systems. Toronto has one of the most expensive transit systems in Canada as monthly passes for the TTC are a whopping $141.50 for adults, and $112.00 for students. That means that students are paying $1,300.00 yearly just to get to class. In comparison, Montreals’ metro system sells their monthly passes for just $82.00 for adults and $49.25 for students. That means students in Montreal are saving $709.00 yearly, just think about how much poutine that would buy you. And if you are thinking, you can’t compare Montreal and Toronto in terms of living cost. How about Vancouver? Another city known for high prices, where their monthly passes sell for $91.00 for adults and a reasonable $52.00 for students. Plus you can also change this price based on where you live and what zones you’ll be travelling. Wouldn’t it be nice if the TTC allowed price changes based upon what line you took, or even how far you went on that line?

Overall, its clear that no matter how you choose to get to work in the city, it’s costly. Not only to your wallet but also to your time. My question to the TTC is: Why so expensive?

Posted on September 23, 2015 by Sara Ayub

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