Park and Ride for Cheapskates
June 7, 2012 5:48 AM   Subscribe

How can I avoid driving and/or paying (too much) for parking while visiting Toronto?

My wife and I will be driving from Michigan to Toronto, probably via Sarnia as opposed to Windsor. Parking at the hotel looks to be ~$40 dollars a day (we're staying 3 nights downtown), and we plan on only using public transportation while in the city. Plus, I like to avoid driving in strange cities as a rule. I've been looking into taking a VIA Rail train into Toronto and leaving the car at a station, but the VIA trains are pricey and most stations charge for parking as well. Is there another option for free to low cost parking outside of the city from which one could get into the city for a low cost? Maybe like a commuter train/subway from the suburbs that has available over night parking? Alternatively, are there cheaper parking options downtown?

Thanks, hive.
posted by Dr. Lurker to Travel & Transportation around Toronto, ON (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't have an answer for you, but definitely try to avoid bringing a car into Toronto. You won't need one downtown, and traffic is a mess. Toronto has yet to discover timed traffic lights, as far as I can tell, or one way thoroughfares.

There are cheaper parking lots all over Toronto downtown; $40 a day is ridiculous.
posted by musofire at 5:51 AM on June 7, 2012

This is doable by the commuter train, which is GO Transit. The GO is considerably cheaper -- so you could park at a station and head in. But I think many of the lots, which are generally free, have 48-hour limits. Unless nobody bothers checking, or somebody knows of somewhere you can just park and not have to worry.
posted by randomination at 5:59 AM on June 7, 2012

Look for a Go transit station (i.e. the commuter train system) with a space you can use free for 48 hours. Move to another station before your time is up. It's first come, first served, and no guarantees. Station list here -- click the map tab to get an idea of suitable stations. A west end station like Long Branch may work. The downtown Exhibition station has no free public parking.

Put an ad in Craigslist to see if someone in the city core can rent their garage or parking pad to you for a much lower rate for three days. (I have a small garage in the Junction, but that's probably too far out of the way for you.)
posted by maudlin at 6:03 AM on June 7, 2012

Feel free to post here with questions about the suitability of any given station re getting into the city core. For example, the Long Branch station I mentioned is a very short walk to the terminal stop for the Queen streetcar, which will bring you to Queen and Yonge downtown for $3 instead of using the Go train from Long Branch to Union Station (near Yonge and Front street, by the lake) for $4.60.
posted by maudlin at 6:06 AM on June 7, 2012

Response by poster: Maudlin et al, what is the likelihood of scoring one of the free spaces at the commuter stations for GO Transit? We'll be arriving early/mid afternoon on a Friday. Are there any that tend to be less crowded, particularly on a weekend? Also, is it generally safe? It looks like any of the stops on the green, orange, or purple lines would be feasible.
posted by Dr. Lurker at 6:21 AM on June 7, 2012

Is there any way you can get to the GO for 7:00a.m or so? The GO trains don't usually run into the city after 8:30a.m., except on a couple of lines, and the lots may be pretty full during the day.
posted by randomination at 6:27 AM on June 7, 2012

(Though there are pretty nice coaches instead of trains to replace them).

If you were going to go for this, I'd suggest Meadowvale, which is close to the 401, generally has spots, and a half-hour express bus downtown during the day.
posted by randomination at 6:30 AM on June 7, 2012

Best answer: If I were you I would look for a lot that's walking distance to your hotel. Green P is the city-managed service. Here's one that's $12 per 24 hour period. I kind of doubt you will find something close to transit and easy to get to and inexpensive, because commuters will want to park where you want to park, which means there will be high demand. The added stress of finding this place and then commuting in would not be worth it for me. Plus don't forget the cost of transit there and back for two people. Expect GO transit lots to be very full during the workday (between 8am and 4pm).
posted by PercussivePaul at 6:40 AM on June 7, 2012

Best answer: You will be coming along the 401, the line you are look at taking is 31 Kitchener Line (Green Line). It is a rush hour line (so trains go into the city in the morning and return in the afternoon) but during the day there are GO Buses (fancy greyhound-type buses with soft cloth seats - not like typical public transportation) they go back and forth). On the Green line you would be taking a GO Bus on a Friday evening. Since two of your days are on the weekend I wouldn't worry about the 48 hour restriction, in my experience they do not police it at the less crowded lots and never on weekends. I would recommend the Georgetown Go Station as the very first station still operating on a Friday night and least likely to police their lot (lots of parking even during peak hours), the next choice would be Bramalea (exit 401 at Steeles). The GO Bus ride will be about $4.50 one way per person.

I agree though that the added time/expense may not make this worth your while. Have you considered taking the 401 to Yorkdale Mall (pretty nice upscale mall if you guys are into that kind of thing), parking there for free and taking the TTC Subway right from the Yorkdale Station (University Line)? Look into using the TTC day pass if you are going to be hopping on and off the TTC a lot. I tend to walk everywhere in Toronto because it is pretty small.

Have fun! I hope you enjoy my city!
posted by saucysault at 6:48 AM on June 7, 2012

Response by poster: City Hall is well within walking distance of the hotel, and, though I'd prefer not to have to drive into the center at all, the commuter lots seem a bit too much of a hassle. Saucysault has a good suggestion too. Now, here's a follow up. We're going to see Radiohead on Sat. night in Downsview Park. Would it be best to take the subway from downtown? Anything else to know about concerts at Downsview Park, the website is pretty sparse.
posted by Dr. Lurker at 6:53 AM on June 7, 2012

Yes, take the subway to Downsview via the University Line but allow a LOT of extra time. That will be a huge crowd of people to move into and out of that space. Enjoy the show!
posted by saucysault at 7:04 AM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

This may have changed, but when I worked at Yorkdale (3 or 4 years ago now) if you were parked there when the mall was closed (usually after the theatre had closed, so by around 2 AM) they would ticket any cars left there. Folks at my workplace who drove would have to get passes to be allowed into the lot during official "closed" hours. Maybe check into this before using that (otherwise fabulous) option.
posted by AmandaA at 7:56 AM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Driving in downtown Toronto isn't that bad and I wouldn't be too worried about it. That said if you browse the Green P map you can probably find a closer lot to the highway and likely cheaper.

Seconding the suggestion to give yourself plenty of extra time for the trip to Downsview. Downsview station is close but not in the park, there's a small airport in the way. You'll end up on a crowded bus or a long walk for the last leg of the trip.
posted by samhyland at 9:16 AM on June 7, 2012

Response by poster: Yeah. Checked twitter right before we were going to leave the hotel and saw the terrible news. Went to see Flaming Lips instead then to Bovine Sex Club for some great rock and roll. What an amazing city. We're ready to move there.
posted by Dr. Lurker at 9:08 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: And also blown away by how helpful mefi was yet again. Best community on the web.
posted by Dr. Lurker at 9:11 PM on June 18, 2012

« Older Element themed songs   |   How do you get to Eye of the Tiger mode? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.