Visiting New York City from the Greater Toronto Area is simply something everyone should do. New York is a magical city and among the top four or five cities in the world. It is a doable one day drive from Toronto that takes about the equivalent of a regular work day in time. However, driving in the New York City area can be more than a little intimidating for Canadians. Other factors to consider are just how much energy you’ll have after an 8 to 10 hour drive and what do you do with your vehicle once you get there anyway?
So, what are the alternate options? Every mode of transportation can get you between the two major North American cities. Air, rail and coach are the most effective. Below, we’ll compare the three options. Arbitrarily, we’re using example dates for a very short round trip, leaving Toronto Tuesday, December 3, 2013 and departing New York City on Thursday, December 5, 2013. The pricing given for these dates is as of October 30, 2013, just over a month away. Pricing is used for example only and is subject to change without notice. All pricing noted is for a round trip with taxes included.
Comfortable but expensive and long. Our sample round trip leaves Toronto Union Station at 8:20 in the morning and arrives at Grand Central Station in Manhattan at 9:50 in the late evening for a total travel time of 13 and a half hours. The return trip is a little better and a whole hour less, completely due to connection times between Amtrak and VIA Rail at the Canada / United States border.
The price of our round trip is $254. For just $6 more, you could simply fly and complete the journey in an hour and a half. However, there’s really something awesome and overlooked about rail travel. If you have the time and enjoy the scenery, this is still the best mode of transportation.
Options. Options. Options. Toronto has two airports sending airplanes to New York City and the NYC area has three airports sending those airplanes right back. Combinations between airports all range closely between $260 and $269 for a round trip.
From Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), you can get flights to all three major New York airports. The lowest priced is via Westjet to LaGuardia Airport (LGA) at $260. Flight time is 1:30. American Airlines will take you to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) for $264. Flight time is a little longer at 1:45. If Newark, New Jersey is a better destination, United Airlines will take you to Newark Liberty International Airport for $269.
Is it more convenient to leave from downtown Toronto? No problem. Porter Airlines has several flights from the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ) on Toronto Island to Newark Liberty for $264. Flight time is stated at an hour and a half.
Since around 2009, there are now two motor coach options between Toronto and New York City. The traditional method via Greyhound can be had for as low as $86 for a round trip. This is their online advanced purchase fare and is about half the regular fare. Taking Greyhound is tedious at best. Not nearly the comfort and safety of the train, the bus will take anywhere from 10 to 13 hours and will make around eleven stops, including the border crossing between Canada and the United States.
The newer, better option is via Megabus Canada. For our sample dates, a round trip can be had for $58.50 ($29 each way plus a $.50 reservation fee). Megabus leaves from the same Toronto Coach Terminal as Greyhound and travel time is set at ten hours and fifty minutes each way. At the Manhattan end, it’s a bit confusing with the drop-off point located at 7th avenue and 28th street, while the pickup location is on 34th street between 11th avenue and 12th avenue.
It’s pretty cut and dry if you know what you want. If time is of the essence, there is no other option but air travel. If the scenic journey is more your speed, take the train. If you’re short on cash, it’s Megabus all the way. I honestly see no reason to take the Greyhound bus.