Getting from YYZ to Downtown Toronto – UP vs. The Red Rocket

Up until June of 2015, the only way to get from YYZ to downtown Toronto was by taxi or transit. Today, a cab from the airport to downtown will run you $50$60 and you could get stuck in traffic. Transit involves taking the subway to the end of the line and jumping on a bus affectionately known as the Red Rocket. Neither choice is incredibly efficient. If only there was a better…

Enter the Union Pearson Express (UP), a dedicated rail line taking passengers from YYZ to downtown Toronto in 25 minutes flat. Given the other options, UP is pretty great. That said, there are catches to both transit choices thus this UP vs. The Red Rocket post.

The Red Rocket – Cheap and Flexible

Getting from YYZ to Downtown Toronto - UP vs. The Red Rocket

The Red Rocket is the bus running from YYZ to the Kipling metro station, The northernmost terminus on the Bloor-Danforth metro line in the GTA. From Kipling station, you are free to go pretty much anywhere in the area, including Union Station. That trip will cost you $3 and takes ~53 minutes. This, ultimately, gives you a very cheap and flexible option to get from YYZ to downtown Toronto.

The Red Rocket is located outside of terminal 1 (column R4) and 3 (columns C8-C12) and runs every 8-15 minutes from 5:30 am (8:30 am on Sundays) to 1 am. Fare can be paid on board with exact change only.

UP – Quick and Comfortable

Getting from YYZ to Downtown Toronto - UP vs. The Red Rocket

The UP Express, on the other hand, is fast because it only makes two stops, Weston and Bloor, between the airport and Union Station. UP takes ~25 minutes end to end. This, of course, comes at a cost. A one-way ticket will cost you $12.35.

It also costs you in terms of flexibility. If you are going anywhere other than Union Station or downtown Toronto you will have to take a cab or the subway anyways.

UP is accessed from terminal 1, directly adjacent to the Link Train connecting Terminals 1 and 3. Scattered throughout the terminals there are plenty of signs pointing you in the right direction and kiosks to pay for your tickets. There are also four ticketing machines just outside the platform so lineups should not be a problem. Machines take credit or cash.

UP vs. The Red Rocket?

Getting from YYZ to Downtown Toronto - UP vs. The Red Rocket

Clearly, the choice of getting from YYZ to downtown Toronto comes down to time and cost. Although up is more expensive and less flexible in destinations, if you are going downtown UP is the fastest and most comfortable route. It is cheaper than a cab and you will have plenty of room to stretch out plus you will not run into traffic issues that plague the GTA. For this reason alone, UP Express gets my vote for the best option for travel from YYZ to downtown Toronto.

If you have time to spare and are on a budget, take the Red Rocket, but note the schedule. I missed a charter flight to the Dominican Republic because I missed a bus. I turned it into a great night out in Montreal so no hard feelings.

If you’re still on the fence consider these 5 reasons to pick the UP Express for your  transport from YYZ to downtown Toronto:

  1. UP Express is fast – 25 minutes versus ~53
  2. UP Express is comfortable – plush chairs vs hard (or no) seats
  3. UP Express is connected – Free Wi-Fi onboard!
  4. UP Express is direct – no traffic jams!
  5. UP Express is new – Unless weird stains are your thing…

What say you?
Thoughts on getting from YYZ to downtown Toronto?
Let’s hear it!

For more reviews from Canada and beyond see HERE.

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Getting from YYZ to Downtown Toronto - UP vs. The Red Rocket


This UP vs. The Red Rocket – getting from YYZ to downtown Toronto review was made possible by Toronto Tourism,
the experience, opinions, and the comfy ride was my own.


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