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Archive for the ‘commuters’


all we do is drive

Hi! I’m going to start my first year at uoft in the fall and I will have to unfortunately commute to uoft everyday [?]  I’m about to move to erin mills, mississauga with my parents (they just can’t let me go ugh) and I was wondering if you have any commuting tips? I was thinking that I could drive to union station and then take the ttc to uoft but parking is hella expensive and I’m hella broke. Then again I could just take the bus/train/ttc but that’s like a 1 hour and 40 mins commute which I would looove to avoid if possible. I was hoping you knew of a few places near union station or uoft where parking is free and if not do you have any other advice?

And one more thing…. I don’t know if I want to attend my faculty’s orientation (Daniels) or my college’s orientation (UC). Do you know if one is more fun the the other or where I’ll have a better chance of making friends?

Thanks for your help!!

hey there,

generally speaking, the city of Toronto is waaaay too greedy to offer free parking. we’re probably only a couple of years away from being charged to walk in front of a business’ storefront or something…or maybe that’s just my inner grump coming out.

this website seems to indicate that there are quite a few free parking options in the downtown core (though none right at Union Station). i’m thinking there’s gonna be a catch – i doubt any of them are free all day, and i wonder how quickly they fill up. however, it’s worth looking into.

this is ultimately gonna be your decision, but i’d like to put in a humble plug for commuting via the train or bus. for one thing, with a train at least, you avoid the horrendous traffic issue. for another, you can read or do work on the train, which becomes harder to do in the car (unless you’re an audio learner, in which case listening to notes on a car radio might be really helpful).

to be honest, most people don’t commute using their cars. the city isn’t very car-friendly. that said, with a rocking car playlist and a mildly masochistic attitude, it can be done.

give it a trial run, if you can. you’ll be able to see how the commute feels, and how parking your car plays out in reality, because those parking websites can say all they want, but the TTC website says lots of things too, and i can count the number of times they’ve been true on one hand.

as for the frosh question, it’s really up to you. it’s hard to make this decision before you get here, because you don’t know for sure how involved you’re going to be with your college community before you’re actually here. i would say that if there are things at UC that you’re very interested in getting involved in, do UC’s orientation. if you think you’re more likely to be involved in the Daniels community, or see things in the Daniels orientation schedule that really pique your interest, then you should go for that one.

either way, you’ll have a great time shouting obscenities at other colleges/faculties, signing people’s T-shirts, and generally being as obnoxious as legally allowable in a public space, for your first week here.




friends & frosh

I’ve heard from people 2 things about uoft that im not sure are true and I would like them clarified. 1) if you are a commuter on frosh week you won’t enjoy it/make any friends. 2) it is incredibly hard to find friends at uoft as there isn’t the best clubs/groups to meet others.


hey there,

1) listen, any experience can suck – frosh week is no exception. some people go to frosh and it just isn’t fun. also, commuting to frosh is kind of a pain. so that’s a bummer.

BUT i would say that the general attitude towards frosh week at uoft is positive. the great thing about frosh is that all the disparate schools, colleges and offices at the university come together during frosh to explain who the h*ck they are and what the h*ck they do.

here is a list of orientation events put on by student life last year. as you can see, it’s pretty comprehensive. that page also links to the orientation schedules of most of the colleges and faculties last year. peruse those if you want to have a better idea of what you can expect from frosh week.

it’s also important to note that residence and commuter students don’t have a separate frosh, so there’s plenty of opportunity to make friends with people on- and off-rez.

also, commuter students vastly outnumber residence students at this university, so it’s not like you’re going to be in some sort of friendless minority. in fact, most colleges’ frosh weeks have events specifically for commuter students to get together and socialize. if you go in with an open mind and you’re willing to participate, you’ll probably leave with at least a friend or two.

2) friends will not just come to you. you do have to actually talk to people if you want to make friends, and when you spend a significant part of your time sitting silently on a bus/train/subway, that might not come as easily to you once you get to school.

however, if you are willing to talk to people, you’ll find friends cropping up everywhere – in your classes, in clubs that you may be involved with, at jobs you may take on-campus, etc. not every club will be what you’re looking for, but if you look widely and early, you’ll soon find the place or places that are a fit for you.

here is a list of organizations on campus if you want to start exploring now. as well, i’d encourage you to hang out in your college’s commuter lounge and talk with people there (most colleges have one, or equivalent).

all in all: yes it’s hard to make new friends in a new, unfamiliar environment, but i wouldn’t say this is harder to do at uoft than anywhere else. the university has a lot of opportunities for new students to connect with the community on campus, so don’t be afraid to try out different things!




the TTC and i are in a serious relationship

would it be stupid for me to commute 2 hours to school at U of T? i really want to attend the school, but my parents don’t want me to move out. not sure if it would be practical, and i’d be spending a lot of time/money on transport. i plan on studying english though, so i could just read on the train. what do you think?


hey there,

as someone who has both commuted to and lived on residence at uoft, i feel uniquely qualified to answer this question.

firstly, a lot of people commute to uoft. according to this UofT Magzine article, about 85% of uoft students are estimated to commute to school. if you’re going to commute, uoft is a pretty good place to do it. most people know how you feel, and there are lots of resources for commuters, like commuter dons, lockers and lounges for people who don’t have their own room on campus.

that said, commuting isn’t fun, and 2 hours is a bit on the long side.

my travel time was 1.5 hours long when i was commuting. i put it to good use – i did my readings on the train, drafted e-mails, wrote essays that i forgot about the night before. more often than not, i slept through a large portion of my morning commute.*

so yes, you can get stuff done on your commute, you definitely won’t be alone, AND it is much, much cheaper than living in res or renting a house (unless you violate some lease agreement and stuff like eight people into two rooms).

in my opinion, the greatest drawback to commuting – which i never hear anyone talk about – is the drain on your energy. no one ever believes it, because “how can you get tired just by sitting still???” but it’s true. commuting will sap the energy out of you like nothing else, and it just whittles away the time that you actually feel productive enough to do stuff.

as everything, there are pros and cons. if you have some way of avoiding a long commute, i’d always recommend that. but if commuting is the most practical, financially reasonable solution for you and your family, then you will get along just fine. you might even get some work done on the train.

good luck on your travels,


* once you become a Level 500 Train Queen, you receive the power of being able to sleep for the EXACT AMOUNT OF TIME that it takes for your train to get to its destination. then you wake up just as the train is pulling in. you have to train for a long time before you become that skilled, though (get it? train? like sports? but also…train?)


transportation in t-dot – part 3: STREETCARS, COMMUTER DONS, and WALKING

hey all,

welcome to PART 3 of aska’s roller coaster of a series about transportation in the city (here’s part 1 and part 2 in case you missed them).

today, we come to the NAIL-BITING CONCLUSION, which resembles so many TV shows in that it is not so much a coherent resolution than it is a random mish-mash of loose ends that i haven’t had a chance to wrap up yet.



1. streetcars

most people who have to use streetcars to get to school have been using them all their lives, and don’t need a guide. just in case you’re brand new to them, here are the basics:

  • you can use your Presto card on streetcars, but you cannot use Metropasses (EDIT: there has been a lot of discussion on this on twitter/tumblr/facebook/the comments section. it is my experience that i have used Presto, but many are saying that they’ve only ever used metropasses. i think the source of the confusion is that there are some new streetcars being transitioned in which take only Presto. in any case, if you have a Presto and a metropass or change, you should be fine).
  • if you’ve never used one before: streetcars stop in the middle of the road, since they can’t pull over to the side of the road for stops. be prepared to cross half the street in order to board a streetcar. (but do noT WAIT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD).
  • here are all the streetcar routes in Toronto.
  • here is the TTC’s systems map.

2. commuter dons

some colleges within the faculty of arts & science have commuter dons. they provide community in exactly the same way a residence don might – by organizing events, meeting regularly with their residents to help them resolve any issues (and just to hang out), and giving commuter students a home base within the university. they are super helpful and definitely worth your time.

here is some more information about commuter dons/services from colleges who have them:

3. walking

walking sucks, especially when it’s cold and windy outside and deathly icy on the ground. but until we get the funding to build completely enclosed, insulated overhead tunnels to connect all the buildings on campus (my ultimate dream), we will have to continue to brave the elements.

if you’re not familiar with the campus, i’d recommend locating your classes on the uoft map (just type in the building code you see on your personal timetable on ROSI) before classes start. do a practice walk to the buildings, if you can. it’ll help you locate the rooms, and also measure how long it takes to get from one class to another.

if you can’t get to campus before school starts (or if you’re just LAZY), i’d recommend seeing how long Google maps estimates it will take you to walk from one building to another. it’s usually fairly accurate.

that’s it, that’s all, folks. i hope this guide has helped calm the first-time commuter jitters. and remember, if you have any more questions, just send ’em my way. i promise i’ll only complain a little.




transportation in t-dot – part 2: the SUBWAY

hello friends,

in anticipation of the new batch of commuter students who will be arriving on campus soon, i am releasing a series of guides about transportation in the city. hopefully, that will help you navigate the nightmarish variety of different public transit systems that have all been haphazardly stitched together in toronto without any apparent logic (i mean…i’m totally okay with the transit here! what?)

here’s part 1 of the guide. and now, onto part 2 – subways!


once you actually get downtown, you’ll probably have to use the subway to get onto campus you can access the subway using:

1. a Metropass.

if you’re going to be using the subway every day, it’s probably worth your while to get a Metropass. this is a card that gives you unlimited access to Toronto’s subway system. right now, a monthly Metropass costs $108 for students (but who knows how high it’ll climb). to use a discounted card, you will need…

2. a Post-Secondary TTC Student Photo ID.

you can get these for $5.25 (price EDITED) at Sherbourne station.

3. if you’re not going to be using the subway too often, but need to use it occasionally, you can buy tokens at certain subway stations. token———————————————prices are here. you can also use your Presto card (if you have one) at certain stations.


4. important subway stations.

there are a few subway stations in and around campus that you will definitely use at least once this year. they are:

St. George station: St. George opens onto St. George and Bloor, and also a little further East, on Bloor St. you CAN use Presto at this station, but only at the easternmost entrance on Bedford Street. you CAN buy tokens here, at both entrances.

Museum station: Museum station is at the top of Queen’s Park Circle. you CANNOT use Presto here, and you CANNOT buy tokens here. very pretty, though.

Queen’s Park station: Queen’s Park is, appropriately, at the bottom of Queen’s Park Circle. you CAN use Presto here, and you CAN buy tokens.

you’ll probably find your way around all sorts of dusty corners of the TTC at one point or another, but these are the stations on campus.

note: technically, you can buy tokens at any subway station from the TTC employee working the booth, but often there is no one there, so that’s a bit of a hit and miss. again, if you will be using the subway a lot, a metropass is a great investment.

if you want to see a map of campus where these stations are marked, go here.

i also took the liberty of measuring via Google Maps how long it takes to walk between the three on-campus subway stations (wow aska, thank you so much, i will commit this to memory and never be late again <3):

St. George – Eastbound Platform to Museum Station – Northbound Platform: 8 mins

Museum Station – Southbound Platform to Queen’s Park Station – Northbound Platform: 11 mins

St. George – Westbound Platform to Queen’s Park – Northbound Station: 16 mins

also, if you want to see where the on-campus subway stations are in relation to your classes, log onto ROSI, click on ‘Personal Timetable’ on the left-hand menu, click on ‘2014 Fall’ or ‘2015 Winter,’ and then, directly underneath the personal timetable, click on the link where it says ‘You can view a map of your classes located on the UofT Campus.’ that’s a neat tool, eh?


5. the TTC subway map.

helpful stuff. though you’ll likely have it memorized after two weeks of being afraid to look anywhere else on the subway except up at the map/ads.

next week: commuter dons, streetcars, and walking (ew).




transportation in t-dot – part 1: the GO

a lot of the nightmare stories high school students tell about uoft are related to transport. “the campus is so big,” you whisper to each other in lockered hallways, “that people there have to take the subway between classes!”

not true. some of us (including me) are so lazy that we do, in fact, take the subway, but if we (i) weren’t so stubbornly lazy, then we (i) could easily walk.

but people still spread rumours. so i’m here now to GRIND THEM INTO THE DUST.

this crash course for commuters will be divided into three parts because everyone on the internet has the attention span of a goldfish, and none of us want to read anything that’s too long (even this sentence is bordering on challenging for me, and i wrote it).

today: the GO train/bus.


to travel using the GO system, you will need the following:

1. a Presto card.

this baby gets you anywhere (read: mostly anywhere until you really need to use it somewhere and it turns out they don’t take it -.-).

instead of buying a tickets or monthly passes all the time, a Presto card can be reloaded with money for however long you need to use it. you can buy a Presto card at most GO transit terminals or order one online.

to use your card, ‘tap’ it on a Presto machine at your train station or on your GO bus, and voila! you can preset your Presto to a default trip (eg. Oshawa – Union station), or, if you don’t want to do that, just remember to ‘tap off’ (i.e. tap your card at a machine again) when you reach your destination (note: this only applies when you’re using the train, not the bus).

once you get your Presto card, remember to register it online. that’s the only way you can claim it when tax time comes. registering your card also allows you to deactivate it if (let’s be real: when) you lose it.

finally, make sure to ask for a student discount on your Presto. ain’t no sense in getting even more broke than you’re going to be already. and when you do, you’ll need…

2. a GO Student ID card.

you’ll need to show this card along with your Presto any time someone checks your fare. you can get your GO ID at the T-Card office.

3. GO’s fare calculator.

this is a very helpful tool. use it.

that’s all for now. stay tuned for part 2 of this THRILLING series, which will be about the subway system. you’re on the edge of your seat, aren’t you? yeah, i know you are.




Why Drive Yourself Crazy?

I was wondering if U of T had a car pooling group to cities like Montreal and Ottawa. McGill has the same thing called rideshare



Woe is Me Who Cannot Get Drunk

I’m a commuter and I was wondering if any of the residences at UofT offer
something like overnight accomodation(for one night)? I, like many commuters,
always end up missing out on late night campus events and parties, so it would
be awesome if there’s a place on campus where we could stay overnight.

? (more…)


making the innis college commute

hey aska, quick question. bader theatre to innis college, how long will this take walking? i am awful judging times/distances from maps.


rockin it down to the downtown

I live in mississauga and getting downtown is a pain especially with work this summer. Is it possible for me to take my summer school courses at UTM and still have them count for me at St. George?


finding someone to shack up with

which residences offer students who live off campus a room to stay for a night?

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