Toronto Commutes. What does it cost?

What does it cost to work in Toronto? The Toronto commute is a rough ride. Fasten your seatbelt for this one!

These days, it’s hard to make a living wage outside of the GTA. With the very rare exception, the only options are to live a pauper’s life or commute.

Estimating the cost of the actual physical effects of commuting are difficult but as a father, I can’t imagine having done this when my kids were younger. I don’t get home until at least 7 most nights and my kids were in bed at 7:30. That’s divorce material.

Imagine only having two hours a night at home to do anything. By the time you have dinner and clear the drive in the winter, there’s not exactly a lot of energy left for spouse and children let alone time for yourself.

Then there’s the financial cost. We can measure that one.

DRIVING (Using Barrie to Toronto as the example.)

401 CommuteLet’s assume you have a reasonably economical car. What is the monthly cost to drive? The time from North Barrie to Queen’s Park can vary from 1 hour and 20 minutes to over 2 hours.

Gas (20 days @ $15 round trip) $300.00

Parking (20 days @ $10/day – good luck with finding that!) 200.00

Maintenance (Conservative estimate: $2,000/year) 165.00

Ammortization or lease 200.00

Monthly cost to drive $865.00

When you drive, you have to stay awake and assume all the responsibility for your vehicle. That means the loss of about four hours a day that can be used for a combination of productivity and/or sleep. There is an increased cost for insurance, which I didn’t even include. That effectively increases the financial cost of driving to over $1,000 per month.

There is no tax deductibility for any travel by car.

GO TRANSIT (Using Barrie to Toronto as the example.)

There are two stations in Barrie. I have used the northern most station for pricing. Scheduled run time is 1 hour, 55 minutes from Barrie North to Union Station. Add another 10-20 minutes for the TTC ride back to Queen’s Park.

GO_Transit_609-aGo Presto Pass for 20 round trips $403.25

TTC Pass (Get back to Queen’s Park) 133.75

Total Go Transit $537.00

Hard, upright and stationary seats. Brightly lit and noisy, although I hear they have the top level designated as a quiet zone now. Generally uncomfortable.

Monthly passes are tax deductible provided you keep all the receipts. CRA will ask.

GREYHOUND (Using Barrie to Toronto as the example.)

Greyhound-compressedThe Greyhound starts from the downtown Barrie terminal and makes one stop before leaving the city (Anne St. & Dunlop St.) before continuing directly to Yorkdale. From there it makes a few stops along University Avenue and ends up downtown. I get off at University and College where I walk a little over a block. The bus will stop at Eglington, St. Clair, Bloor or Wellesley if that works better for you. Travel time is 1 hour and 20 minutes to 2 hours depending on weather and traffic. The good drivers will go around highway issues where possible.

30 Day pass, unlimited travel. $328.03

Total Greyhound Cost $328.03

Having commuted the last four years on the Greyhound, I have learned to sleep on the bus. As a result, this means I can take a little more time for a bit of a personal life during the week!



Choosing to drive will give you more flexibility on your timing. There is a cost though, it doesn’t make any sense to leave during rush hour because you will spend the same time on the road anyway. This leads to a sore back and ongoing anger issues!

Using the Go Train ties you to their schedule which, in some cases, is a little better than the Greyhound. The train actually takes a little longer but has marginally better departure times from Toronto on the homeward trip. The seats are very uncomfortable and the lighting makes it more difficult to snooze. You are literally sitting knee to knee with the person across from you. I’m just not that friendly! Even the train is susceptible to weather. The tracks have been known to freeze from time to time and trains break down just like any other vehicle.

Greyhound has limited runs compared to GO. Buses are an ageing fleet and drivers are not consistent. I have to say, the Barrie drivers that were originally with Northland are by far the best. Seats are far more comfortable and recline. Lights are turned off and there is an expectation that all devices are using headphones and people are keeping discussion to a bare minimum.



Greyhound is by far the most economical choice. The ride is more comfortable and by choosing to sleep on the bus, I recover some personal time. I don’t have to change modes of transportation (other than driving to and from my parking daily parking spot in Barrie) or worry about maintenance, gas, insurance and all the rest that goes with maintaining a vehicle for commuting.

Hands down, Greyhound is the best option!


Thinking out loud…

We need to do something to make it viable for Greyhound to continue these rural routes. I realize Barrie has the GO Train as an option but it’s not a good one and it’s too expensive. Greyhound is letting go of more and more rural routes because GO is “eating their lunch”.

Oh, and the GO Bus? It’s a “milk run” and makes far too many stops. I remember taking the GO Bus to Hamilton with two kids about twenty years ago. That cost me $60 back then and it took me five and a half hours. I’m pretty sure it was over two and half hours just to Toronto. You can bet I never did that again!


Make it a great day!


P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for the opportunities in Toronto. I’m thankful Greyhound can get me there. I’m thankful for the wonderful drivers that risk their lives for us every day.

What are you thankful for today?