Public transportation (public transit)
All cities and most major towns in Canada have a public transportation system with one or more modes of transportation (bus, subway, train, etc.). Routes generally reach most parts of a city or town, but service is usually more frequent in central areas. If you plan to use public transportation to move around every day, you should research transportation options before deciding where you will live.
The bus is the most common form of urban transportation in Canada. In addition to bus networks, some cities also have streetcars (trams), light-rail trains or subways. In most cases, you can easily transfer from one mode of transportation to another.
To use public transportation, you must purchase a ticket or a transit pass. Transit passes allow you unlimited use of public transportation for a specific period (one month or more). They are usually cheaper than buying many tickets if you plan to use public transportation often.
You can get more information about public transportation in your city or town by visiting an information kiosk at a main transit station, calling a transit information line (see the Blue Pages under “Transit”) or visiting the website of your municipal government. In most cities, you can buy tickets at major transit stations, convenience stores or directly from the bus driver (you will need to provide the exact amount).
Transportation for people with physical disabilities
Public transportation often has features to assist people with physical disabilities. In many cities and towns, there are also transportation services available specifically for people with limited mobility, such as specially equipped buses. You can find out about these services in the same way you would learn more about other public transportation options (see above).
All cities and towns have one or more companies that offer taxi service. Taxis have automatic meters that use set rates to calculate the cost of your trip. This cost is based on a combination of travel distance and travel time. The rates are fixed and cannot be negotiated. You simply pay the amount indicated on the meter at the end of your trip. If you want to have an idea of how much your trip will cost, ask the driver before the trip starts. Many drivers will also hope for a tip, especially if they help you with lots of bags. Taxis are quite expensive, so most people only use them when they do not have another option. Taxi drivers have an official identification card to indicate that they are licensed by the city. This card should be displayed on the dashboard of the taxi.
There are two ways of catching a taxi:
- Call for a taxi to pick you up. You can find the telephone numbers of taxi companies in the Yellow Pages (look under “Taxi Companies”). When you call for a taxi, the operator will ask you to provide the pick-up address, your name and possibly the destination address as well.
- Catch a taxi at a taxi stand or “hail” a taxi on the street by standing on the sidewalk and waving your hand at an empty taxi driving past.
Walking and cycling
Walking and cycling are healthy and cheap ways of getting around Canadian cities and towns. Cycling is permitted on most streets. However, many cities also have specific lanes and paths for cyclists. When you leave your bicycle unattended, make sure to lock it to a bike rack on the sidewalk in order to prevent it from being stolen.
You can generally get a map of bicycle networks from local bike shops or from the municipal government (at information kiosks or online). Bikes are available new and used. To buy one, consult the Yellow Pages or search the Internet for bicycle shops in your area. Cyclists can usually get information on the rules of the road from the same provincial or territorial government department that regulates cars and driving.
Source: Welcome to Canada: What you should know
www.cic.gc.ca, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Reproduced with the permission of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2013.