Toronto transit logistics: plane to bus, wifi, lunch
September 26, 2012 6:10 PM   Subscribe

Help me get from Billy Bishop airport to the Toronto bus station, with wifi and (hopefully) tasty food in between. I've got about 2 hours.

On Friday, I'm landing at Billy Bishop in TO at 12:40. I need to catch a Greyhound at the bus station at 3:30. I'd like to spend as much of the intervening time with wifi access, so I can check in at work. If it's possible to simultaneously eat a decent lunch, that would be great. Worst comes to worst, I can hang out in the Porter lounge, munch peanuts, and take a cab at the last minute...but is there a better plan you can help me map out?
posted by neroli to Travel & Transportation around Toronto, ON (10 answers total)
You can't actually access the Porter lounge on inbound flights; you're whisked through a maze of twisty passages until you get past security. Best bet would be to take the (awesome, free) shuttle bus that dumps you at the Royal York (York St at Front).

Wifi and good food don't really mix; maybe one of the places on Dundas Street between University and the bus station might have it.
posted by scruss at 6:32 PM on September 26, 2012

You won't be able to get into the Porter lounge if you are arriving, and not transferring, at Toronto City Centre airport. The way the arrival flights are set up, you bypass the lounge entirely and go straight to Canadian customs and immigration. It is possible to get wifi in the area after you clear immigration (I was just there, and I was able to get online) but it's just some seats next to the escalator, on the way to the ferry terminal. To get into the lounge, you have to go through security for which I'm 99% sure you need a boarding pass for a departing flight.

In any case, to go anywhere you have to take the ferry to the mainland, which is literally 90 seconds long but can have a wait of up to 15 minutes, if you just happen to miss it as it leaves. Once you get to the other side of the ferry Porter runs a free shuttle to the Fairmont Royal York, which is right next to Union Station. (I think you can also take the 509 Harboufront bus, which is normally a streetcar but is under construction right now. If money is not a concern, there will also be cabs on the mainland ferry terminal as well.) From Union Station, I'd personally just walk from there to the Toronto Coach Terminal if it was a nice day, Google gives times of 18 minutes walking and 10 minutes by subway from Union Station.

There should be no shortage of coffee places (Tim Horton's, Starbucks, etc.) that will have free wifi in that area as it's the financial district and you'll be in on a Friday so it will be busy. I'll leave the lunch recommendations up to others, but I would just get from the airport to Union Station as soon as possible and settle in a coffee shop. Timing the ferry can be tricky -- it's a short ride, but there's one ferry and you could wait a bit, as I mentioned -- so I would take care of that as soon as possible.
posted by andrewesque at 6:33 PM on September 26, 2012

Just east of the terminal, on the north side of Dundas there is a Timothy's that has wifi available. If you're taking the subway north, you will walk by it on your way to the terminal.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 6:38 PM on September 26, 2012

Sleddog_Afterwife suggests she had a pretty good salad at Joey Eatons, which is very close to the bus terminal, though perhaps a bit ...err... slick.

Were I you and feeling adventurous I'd either transit or cab to Spadina and Dundas and have some dim sum or pho. Also in that area is Kensington Market. On Augusta you'll find a number of interesting taco, burger, veggie and other places. Kensington and Chinatown are both essentially on the Dundas streetcar line, so you could get to the station reasonably quickly from there.
posted by Sleddog_Afterburn at 7:13 PM on September 26, 2012

Take the ferry into Toronto and then the free shuttle to the Fairmont Royal York. Walk ~15 mins (or take the subway to Queen station) to the Eaton Centre, where there is a new re-vamped food court (oh, sorry, "Urban Eatery") with a variety of interesting things. I mean, it's not amazing, but for a food court, it's a better-than-average selection. After you're done eating, head to the Aroma Coffee in that food court (it's at one of the ends, can't remember which). Buy a coffee/tea/whatever, and ask for their wifi code. If you're after the lunch rush, they shouldn't mind you sitting there for an hour or so. (Aroma also serves sandwiches, soups, salads, etc. and I've heard good things, though I've never tried.) The McD's in the food court should also have wifi.

For something nicer, I like Mercatto, a local upscale casual Italian chain with a location inside the Eaton Centre (in a different part of the mall than the food court). They have a really nice patio, if it's not too cool out for you, but the inside is nice too. No wifi there though, I don't think.

If you'd prefer to not eat in a mall, my favourites in the area happen to both be Japanese: Japango for sushi, and Kenzo Ramen (at 138 Dundas) for ramen. I don't think either has wifi. They're both busy for lunch (and Japango is tiny) but if you're arriving around 1pm, it might not be too bad. Both these restaurants and the Eaton Centre are like a 5 min walk from the Greyhound station.
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 7:40 PM on September 26, 2012

Be warned you'll want to line up for your bus a half hour early. Some destinations are less busy than others but Friday afternoon at that bus station there are a lot of people trying to get somewhere. It's an ugly place with scores of buses spewing exhaust and a lot of tired people standing in lines. Once you're on a bus there might be wifi, but don't depend on it.
posted by wdenton at 7:46 PM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

You don't need to fall back on the food court or trek to Spadina and Dundas for asian noodles: Salad King is right on Yonge at Elm, and that's a short walk from the bus station.

Don't know about Wifi, but it's good, happy Thai. And cheap.
posted by jrochest at 7:59 PM on September 26, 2012

I understand you to be saying you'd like to camp out in a minimum number of locations between airplane and bus.

Given that, I suggest the Music Garden cafe, which is a 5 minute walk from the airport ferry. They have decent food and ambiance, as well as the interwebz.

When you are ready or need to move on, take the TTC* ($3 exact change) or a cab from the south side of the street to Dundas and Bay / the bus depot**. Figure out exactly where your bus will leave from, and then walk down to Dundas and choose a viable 2nd resting point fom among the options west of Bay (incl Starbucks) or in the Atrium.

If you want tasty interesting food near the bus depot, Salad King or Commensal are both delicious. Salad King is too loud to work in and probably doesn't have wifi. Commensal is super quiet and rarely busy, and has the most delicious buffet. You could easily spend 2 hours there, but I'm not sure about wifi.

The Eaton Centre's urban eatery is loud and in the basement but absolutely the 2nd nicest food court I've ever been in but the mall's website doesn't indicate it has wifi.

The Royal Bank Plaza is immediately connected to the Royal York Hotel (which can be reached by Porter shuttle) and it has the nicest food court I've ever experienced. AND I THINK IT HAS WIFI. You can probably set down there for the duration without getting hassled. It's then an easy walk to Union Station (Royal York, Royal Bank & Union are all at the same intersection), to take the subway to Dundas and walk the block to the bus depot**.

* From the Music Garden cafe, you'll take a 509 bus eastbound to Union Stn (the streetcars are out of service right now), then transfer at street level either:
A) on to a 6 Bay St bus northbound which will drop you at Bay & Dundas, or
B) onto a subway northbound to Dundas Stn, whereupon you will have to walk a block west to the bus terminal.

** you say bus depot, but aren't specific about what kind of bus you're taking. Greyhound, Megabuses and their ilk leave from Dundas & Bay (well, really, Edward & Bay), but GO buses leave from Union Stn. All of the preceding has been premised on Dundas & Bay. You should leave yourself 20 minutes to travel from Union to the bus depot, or 45 minutes from the ferry, just in case of transit ick.

Happy travels!
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 6:50 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Go up Spadina on the 509 streetcar / bus to Adelaide, and walk a couple blocks east to Khao San Road. Best Thai in the city, bar none. No wifi but you won't care.
posted by sixswitch at 7:02 AM on September 27, 2012

Thanks all for great answers! Really glad to know that about the Porter lounge -- I've been through the airport before but didn't realize it was a one-way deal. Not sure of how I'll work it, but all these options are super-helpful.

Oh Canada!
posted by neroli at 2:53 PM on September 27, 2012

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