By Bike or Bus: My North Toronto Commute


Recently, a cyclist in Brisbane put together a fun cartoon to compare the time, effort and money spent on commuting by bicycle versus bus.

After recording times he discovers there is little difference in the time taken cycling versus taking the bus. He saves more than $600.00 a year on bus fare. And he gains the fitness of cycling 2,100 km.

Now, without the cartoon (which makes his version far more readable) I want to compare my own commute in this way.

Here’s the details of my commute:

I live at Yonge and Davisville in Toronto.

I work just south of Canada’s Wonderland in Vaughan.

That’s a distance of 23.3 km (according to Google maps tracing my bike route)

To get to work by TTC I have to take the subway from Davisville station to Finch station, transfer to the Steeles bus, and then transfer again to the Jane bus.

I can do this by spending $47 per week on a GTA pass, or by forking over $9 a day should I choose not to buy the pass and pay as I go.

Since I have yet to bike to work in the winter, I’ll take 20 summer weeks as my example.

My average bus commute is typically 1 hour and 30 mins each way. I commute to work 4 days a week.

That’s 12 hours on transit each week. 240 hours over 20 weeks spent sitting on a bus or train. And, should I buy a GTA pass, this will cost me $940.00

240 hours and $940.00!

Since I started biking in to work I tend to average 1 hour and 10 mins each way. But, by the time I get home I need a shower. So, tack on another 10 mins showering and another 10 minutes changing at work (morning and afternoon combined) and my bus and bicycle commute times balance out.

However, my bicycle cost me just under $600. So, right off the bat I’m saving $340 this year alone. And by cycling 23.3 km, each way, I gain the physical fitness benefits of cycling 3,728 km over 20 weeks.

So far so good. But, let’s look at this a little further. My transit route by bus and train is relatively safe. The TTC isn’t known for losing passengers on a regular basis, so I can assume that aside from not getting any physical activity, my health will remain as is while taking the bus (the odd cold aside).

On my bicycle, it is a whole other game. My route takes me along major arterial routes for the majority of my trip. These routes have posted speed limits of 60 and 70 km/h. On long stretches between stop lights it is not uncommon for motorists to greatly exceed these postings. There are no bike lanes and there is barely enough room in the existing lanes to fit a mid-sized car and my bicycle safely. So, when the pickup trucks, cube vans, dump trucks, garbage trucks and transports try to share a lane with me, well my life flashes before my eyes.

My safety is greatly reduced by taking my bicycle. So, is the trade off worth it? My safety on the bus without any health benefits or the health benefits gained by placing myself in countless dangerous situations a day?

I keep riding, so I’m certainly not turned off by the dangers. That story could change any day though, but I’m hoping it won’t.

Share your own bicycle and bus commuting stories in the Biking Toronto Commuting Group.

Bicycle v Bus in Brisbane via Copenhagenize
Photo from flickr user gbalogh


  1. Very interesting points you have remarked, thanks for posting . “My work is a game, a very serious game.” by M. C. Escher.

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