The Commuter’s Guide to Saving on Trips and Daily Expenses

saving on trips toronto subway
Photo by Justin Main via Unsplash

When navigating downtown Toronto, refrain from spending more money than necessary. It can be tempting to make purchases along your route for lunch or coffee. However, you’re already paying for transportation fees, tuition fees, and living expenses. Therefore, exercise caution when you spend. For example, if you’re on campus five days a week and buy lunch, those $5 – $15 costs add up. It may shock you to see how much you’re spending! Here is a quick guide to saving on trips and money during your Toronto commutes.

1) Walking

If you are about 3 – 5 km away from your destination, you should walk it. This may sound dreadful if you typically rely on other transit methods, but it will get easier. Not only will you get to enjoy the journey throughout the city, but you’ll save a lot of money! A single token for the subway costs three dollars. So if you’re using it at least twice a day, this adds up. If Union Station is a part of your typical weekday, you should try walking to campus from there. Avoid the crowded underground during rush hour to wait for the next train. Walking is perfect for saving on trips!

2) Meal Prep

Prepare your own meals and avoid buying any food or drinks downtown. If it’s a complete emergency, then break this rule once in a while. Meal expenses can be costly, and when walking through downtown Toronto, you will encounter many opportunities that might entice you to buy. Observe the costs of a typical beverage from places like Starbucks or Second Cup. I cannot believe that some people will go there, let alone make it a part of their daily ritual! Paying $5 for hot liquid with sugar, especially from an expensive franchise, is not a good investment for your wallet or your health.

Toronto has a lot of these places that attract students with a hip storefront and cozy social setting. Although these places can be nice for occasional meetups over tea, they can also be a big trap. Don’t fall for this trap! The next thing you know, you’re buying a $7 pastry with your drink order. If you need a morning caffeine fix, the University of Toronto offers plenty of coffee initiatives. They provide delicious coffee for $2 or less, and in some cases, entirely free of charge. Try the Innis Cafe or Diabolos, to name a few. You can also find heartier, healthier food with a larger portion for a good price, right here on campus.

3) Student Discounts

Some University of Toronto commuters will have no option but to take the train or bus, which is usually due to the fact that they live much further away from campus. The GO Train, for example, can cost around twenty dollars for a day pass ticket if you’re travelling from far west or east towards Union Station. This is why it’s so important to sign up for your GO Student Identification, and receive a student discount through your GO Presto Card so you can keep saving on trips! These two important cards will save you a fair amount of money. If you use the Toronto transit methods, you can register for a Metropass and Student Identification for discounted monthly fares.

4) Plan Efficiently

Time is money, so plan your time carefully. This can also help with saving on trips. Your 9 AM classes can be a dreadful thing to plan for, especially if you are commuting from a few cities or towns away from Toronto. Get into the practice of waking up at 5 AM – 6 AM so that you can catch the earlier trains or buses heading into Toronto. If you’re a student commuter, you probably already know that there is always the possibility of public transportation being delayed at the worst of times. This is why it is always better to arrive on campus earlier than having to get stuck somewhere along the way. Usually, train delays are caused by other trains that haven’t cleared the station ahead. Wait times can be upwards of ten minutes.

This can be daunting if you have an exam that morning and are already running out of time to get to class! Buses can be delayed by a lot more factors, such as peak rush hour times in the mornings and evenings, or collisions. Wake up earlier so you can peacefully commute into the city before the 8 AM crowds start scrambling. This is when it becomes difficult. If you ever find yourself in this scenario, you might have to jog to campus from your station. But given the distance, and assuming you’ll have supplies to carry, it’s best to arrive an hour earlier.

5) Driving

If you’re a driver with your full license, you know that the costs of driving can really add up. There’s the cost of your vehicle for one and then there are fuel and maintenance costs. Depending on the type of vehicle you drive, you may end up paying more for these expenses. Let’s look at some examples. Driving from Burlington to Toronto three times a week, round trip, can cost you around $30 per week if you’re fueling a sedan, but can cost $50 or more per week if you’re driving a larger vehicle. That is a lot of km and money.

Although I would not recommend driving to Toronto if you live over 40 km away, others may not mind. Driving comes with a lot of fees, responsibilities, and then, there’s finding a spot to park, which also will cost you a lot in the city of Toronto. A good option for commuters who live far away is to drive to the local GO station and sign up for a student Presto Pass. Also, try to carpool with a friend or family member.

6) Shortcuts

Get familiar with shortcuts or travel routes that will save you money and time. For example, if your train or bus is delayed and you don’t want to sit around waiting, you should know your other options. As a general rule, the city is extremely busy in all downtown districts during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Sometimes, major roads like University Avenue become congested. Therefore, it’s good to learn alternative paths that will allow you to walk or run faster. For example, if you get stuck at St. Patrick’s Station, you can take a shortcut through McCaul Street to get to the central grounds of the University of Toronto. You can look for routes and accessible paths through U of T’s Campus Map website.

Safe travels while saving on trips!

Published on January 12, 2021

About Tashiana Lusterio

Tashiana is an architecture graduate working in the field of architectural design. She enjoys illustrating, translating envisioned projects into built realities, and creating electronic dance music on the piano.