Monday, May 19, 2008

GO Bus Square One Mississauga to Toronto Pearson Airport

Mississauga Transit Square One to Pearson International Airport YYZ:
See Schedule. Took this route in June 2011, and mid-day, mid-week, the service was very fast - about 40 minutes. On the return trip a week later, late evening, Sunday, this trip took only 25 minutes, a bargain airport 'shuttle'!

RIP GO to Pearson Airport Route :-( See comments section

Friday, April 2/2010 is the last day that GO operates buses along the route between Terminal 1 at Toronto Pearson International Airport and the Square One Terminal at the Mississauga City Centre.

Update December 2009 What's new on GO: note that the service will be hourly as of Jan 2/2010
Trips will leave Square One at 10 minutes past the hour for Pearson, and trips will leave Pearson at 45 minutes past the hour for Square One.

Update November 2009: We've used the GO bus service from Square One to the airport and back multiple times each year since its inauguration. Each trip has taken 15 minutes each way. Hats Off To GO Transit!
Note: To get to Port Credit in Mississauga using GO service, take the train from Union Station (see this blog post for details).

Now back to our regular programming :-)
Go Transit launched a new airport bus service from Mississauga Square One Shopping Centre to Toronto's Pearson International Airport this month. Today, I sent daughter Jen to try it out, rather than drive her out to the airport to catch her flight this afternoon.

Here's the GO bus leaving for the airport. This view is facing roughly north east.

Although Jen had found the necessary information on the GO Transit site -- the cost ($3.75 CAD one way), the times (every half hour), the travel time (15 minutes) -- we were a little unsure of just where to catch the bus.

The new GO bus terminal is on the north side of Square One, across Rathburn Road from the Mississauga Transit terminal. We drove from Burnhamthorpe Road, north up Duke of York drive (every time a Royal comes to visit, there's a street in this area named for them), turned right (east) on Rathburn, and could see the GO bus sign at the next light about a block away, at a short access road named Station Gate road.

It's perhaps easier to see where to turn (north only; south is buses only into the terminal) if you look for Chapters/Starbucks and Playdium. Take the road that goes between the two.

The photo below shows Station Gate Road at Centre View Drive (Centre View is the road that goes from Mavis Road south of Hwy 403 and north of Rathburn then curves south to intersect with Rathburn).

The Go Bus stop for the airport is Number 6 (six) on the pole. It's the stop furthest from Rathburn (a short block, if that). It's hard to see it beyond the Stop 5 bus shelter, and we missed it. We checked out all the other stops then asked a GO Bus driver where to find it. All the other shelters for all the other stops had posters announcing the new service, but not one of these posters included the Stop number.

When I got home, I went online to check the fares using the Fare Finder page. I entered From information as Mississauga Square One, and TO information as Mississauga: But for the life of me could not find anything in the drop-down station menu for 'airport', Pearson or any variation.

Here's the trick: Do NOT preselect 'Mississauga' as the TO destination -- even though it IS in Mississauga. Select 'All Cities and Towns' as the TO destination. Then the Station drop down menu lets you select 'Pearson Airport Terminal 1'. See screenshot below.

To check the schedule using GO Schedule Finder, also set the TO destination as 'All cities/towns'. Then the TO drop down menu lets you select 'Airport Express' (first item on menu).

The Fare Calculator page has a note telling us how to find bus info for Canada's Wonderland (Maple route); as soon as I am finished posting, I will send a comment to Go Transit suggesting they also put in a bit of information about how to find new Airport bus info.

The nice thing about this bus service is:
  • It operates nearly 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • There's parking access from Centre View Drive on either side of Station Gate Road.
  • Starbucks is right there as a warm meeting place for your ride to meet you or to wait for someone.
  • You can connect from here to other Go buses to Guelph, Hamilton etc.
  • You can connect from here to Mississauga Transit routes across the street.
  • It's inexpensive - $3.75 per person ($1.90 for seniors and children) each way. Cabs cost me $46 each way from Port Credit. Parking at Pearson is $4/half hour. Gas is $$$.
  • It should help ease the traffic at Pearson Airport.

All in all, I for one, applaud Go Transit for this new route, as I have long since grown tired of driving out to the airport especially during rush hours.

Here's the Google Map for the Mississauga Square One Go Bus location. It's Item B at the west end of the Playdium parking lot. Don't be misled by looking for Starbucks, as Google shows it on the opposite side of Square One.

View Larger Map

UPDATE March 14 2009
GO Transit has increased fares by $.25 CAD (25 cents) per fare effective today. The GO Transit site will show new rates.

Update May 26, 2009
Used this service again on May15/09 to the airport and again last night back from the airport to Square One. $4 CAD per person. IMHO this service ROCKS!!!!!!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Rhododendron Garden Tour Mississauga Ontario

Brueckner Rhododendron Garden Tour 2010 May 23, Sunday: See BRG Blog
Rhododendron Garden Tour 2008: David Culham (the Culham Trail, a Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, hiking trail along the Credit River north of Dundas Street) sent this note the other day:
The Stewardship Committee has a "tour walk about" on May 25th at 2 pm at which the head gardener Para Kanp will describe what has been going on of late.

And so I found this sign at the Rhododendron Gardens park entrance. Para Kanp is a Master Gardener assigned to the park and it will be a wonderful opportunity to tour with such an excellent guide.

Rhodo Gardens tour sign
If you live in the area and love rhododendrons, spring flowers, gorgeous trees and lakeshore parks, then please come and join us. There is a Mississauga Transit bus stop (No 23 that runs between the Port Credit and Clarkson GO stations) at the park entrance. There may be parking on Shawnmarr (free) as well. Or bike along the Waterfront Trail.

Brueckner Memorial Plaque Rhodo Gardens
Many of the rhododendrons came from the gardens of Mississauga's own renowned rhododendron expert, the late Dr. Joseph Brueckner, and what a rich gift he left us all.

Pink Rhodo Mississauga
This pink rhododendron was in full glory this afternoon, but I had to step lively as a wedding party was just setting up to take photos, with this plant as a backdrop. Weekends, the park sees many a bridal couple and all their friends and family. It's such a happy place, and pure delight to walk its trails.
Grey (gray) Squirrel
Just over the hill, this squirrel was happily absorbed in peanuts someone had left for him. When he finished one, he came snuffling up to me and my camera, looking for more. The gusty winds were whipping the leaves in the bright sunlight, casting sudden shadows.

I do hope to meet many of you next Sunday afternoon. I'll be one of many, with cameras in hand.

December 20 2008 Update: Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens in Winter Snow

Snow-covered Rhodos in Garden
After yesterday's snow storm here in Ontario, the sun set off diamond sparkles on the snow covering the rhodos that surround the memorial plaque.

See how the gardens looked yesterday during the snow storm on this post.

Update May 17, 2009
Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens May 24 2009 Tour 
NOTE : The Gardens name changed to honor the legacy rhododendrons donated by Dr. Brueckner.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Cherry Trees in Bloom Mississauga Road, Robin Commentary

UPDATE April 27, 2010 : Yesterday, the white trees were in full bloom, and the pink (cherry) were about to pop. The cherry trees are blooming early this year, as are the rhododendrons and azaleas in Port Credit.
Each year, right around the May 2-4 weekend (May 24th), the cherry trees lining Mississauga Road, just north of Eglinton, burst forth in a dazzling display, so I drove up to try to get a picture.

The third weekend in May, in Canada, is a long weekend that traditionally kicks off the summer season. The holiday Monday is in honour of Queen Victoria's birthday, so it's also known as the Victoria Day weekend. It gets its slang name -- the May Two-Four weekend -- from the 2-dozen case size of beer (a 24-pack) that Canadians, especially the younger ones, buy in copious amounts to celebrate Victoria's birthday.

Now, the best way to get the full effect of the cherry trees in bloom (there are also trees that have white blossoms at this same time, but I don't know their name), is to drive along Mississauga Road north from Eglinton into Streetsville, as shown in the photo, then turn around and retrace your route. In early evening, especially, the colors are amazing!

I cannot begin to do them justice here. I parked my car on a side street just south of Eglinton, then walked across. But with steady traffic along Mississauga Road, I could not get a picture from the centre of the road, which is the view you get in a car, and the best way to see them.

Here's a close look at one of the trees. They line the road for several blocks, almost to the railway tracks, and every year I try to get a picture that does them justice. And every year, I miss the mark.

As I walked up to get the close up of the blossoms, I noticed that tent caterpillars had set up camp on one of the lower branches. I hope they are an isolated tribe, and don't spread.

Funny Story: When I parked on a narrow side street, an older gentleman came out from one of the houses, and began spraying window cleaner on his car windows. As I approached, he pointed to the white polka dots covering most of his car.
I said, " Oh -- robins!"
He said, "Yes - and I didn't even park under a tree."

Then he continued talking, spray cleaner in one hand, paper towels in the other gesturing expansively to take in the lovely sunny spring morning on this peaceful, dead-end, side street, where birds were singing, flowers blooming, and we could almost ignore the traffic noise along Mississauga Road.
"I love it here," he said. "It's so peaceful, like being in the country. My back yard (facing Eglinton) is noisy, but I love my front yard. I sit out here and have coffee with my son in the evenings. It's not like being in the city at all."

I agreed it was a very lovely location, explained I was taking pictures and would be back to move my car in a few minutes, and left him happily spraying window cleaner and wiping off robin poop.

As I walked along his side yard, I noticed this sign, below: A proposal for not just ONE mid-rise condo, but TWO! And several existing properties on the north side of this street -- including his -- were ones that the new apartments would replace.

I thought I'd ask the robin-attacked car owner who had waxed rhapsodic about the cottage atmosphere of his home why on earth he'd agreed to sell to a property developer if he loved it so much. But when I got back, he was long gone. That robin had already made a number of comments of its own, in the only way it knew how.

This location is just north of the Church of the Croatian Martyrs and park, and on a GO bus route and only a few blocks from the Streetsville GO train, and a short bus ride from UTM - University of Toronto Mississauga. It's also just over a section of the Culham Trail (See pictures at Canada Streetsville page on my site). It's not hard to see why it's a desirable location for condos. But there's a part of me that agrees with that robin.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

How to Get To Moncton NB from Toronto - Comparing Air Canada, WestJet, and VIA Rail

Update Moncton NB trip -- See Road Trip NB.
I spent an enlightening half hour last night, looking for ways for my mom to get to the Canada Senior Games in Moncton New Brunswick (well, Dieppe, actually, but the same airport).

Mom had thought she would fly, as it's a short flight (about 2 hours) from Toronto (YYZ) to Moncton (YQM). Since I have the computer and the credit card, I checked flight times, availability and rates for her.

Off the top of my head, I thought it would be about $400 to fly, and that WestJet might be cheaper. I added VIA Rail as an afterthought, since I'd heard that travel from Toronto via Montreal to New Brunswick required a stopover in Montreal.

Here's what I found out:

WestJet flights from Toronto to Moncton leave at 7:30 a.m. or 8:20 p,m. The first (early) flight means mom would have to take a cab to the airport (about $45 from her home) as Mississauga Transit would not get her there in time for check-in. The later flight would mean arranging for a late check-in at her hotel in Moncton.

WestJet returns from Moncton to Toronto at similarly unsuitable hours for her: Departing Moncton at 6:30 a..m. or 11:05 p.m. The first is just inconvenient; the second more so, as she'd have to take a cab home after midnight.

Cost: $589.55, return, taxes etc included.

Air Canada Tango has lots of flights to and from Moncton each day, so I checked details on flights leaving around noon. The cost for round trip showed as $652.55, taxes etc. included. (Don't even THINK about getting free food on board! Bring a snack, as those available for sale at inflated prices are suited only to those in advanced stages of hunger.)

I checked for other, regional carriers and found CanJet. Their website shows they do charters only for tours, etc., so that's out.

When I last flew to Moncton about 6 years ago, I paid about $400, taxes in, return. Welcome to the wonderful world of fuel surcharges!

Not liking the prices I was being quoted, I went to VIA Rail's site, and entered the dates for a round trip, ticked the box that said 'Senior' and clicked 'go'.

The train trip from Toronto Union station to Moncton via Montreal takes just under 24 hours, so it's long, but no overnight in Montreal is needed (though if you had time, this would be a nice place to spend a few days sightseeing).

Departing at 11:35 a.m. from Toronto Union Station (an easy GO train ride costing about $3 from her home), it arrives in Montreal mid-afternoon, then leaves for Moncton a few hours later, reaching Moncton just after 6 p.m. the following day.

The return trip has similarly good departure times: Depart Moncton at 6:19 p.m., arriving Toronto Union at 5:30 p.m. the following day.

Cost for the round trip on VIA: Senior - $291.90 (the only tax shown is GST, and it's included in that price). If she upgrades one class, it will cost another $15 or so, but she can make changes to her ticket for a minimal fee.

This is the economy fare, with no sleeper or berth, just the coach seat reclined. Not conducive to the best night's sleep, but Mom, my daughter and I have slept on trains like this before and survived!

And, on a train, it's a ground level tour of the country, and easy to get up and walk around.

Since the train trip takes much longer, Mom would have to leave 2 days earlier than planned and therefore arrive one night earlier at her hotel in Moncton (cost for one night at hotel is about $100 CAD).

So here's her choice : Go slow, and save $300. CAD. Or go fast, and pay a lot more.

Guess which one she's booking? You got it. But Mom's not happy with saving a lot of money -- she wants MORE! She asks me to check out this thing VIA calls a 'Companion Fare', where the person travelling with you travels for free. She thinks she will get another competitor to travel with her, and so halve their costs.

I checked: VIA does have the Companion fare listed, but only for select, more tourist-destination routes, and Moncton isn't one of them.

Another option to get to the Canada Senior Games this August is to drive from Toronto, in a van with her fellow competitors. But relying on the schedule and vagaries of others is simply not reliable. Better to book VIA then cancel with a small penalty than not to have gotten a ticket at all.

Daughter Jen has driven to Saint John NB a number of times. Jen says it takes 4 tanks of gas, and about 16 hours, depending on traffic through Toronto and Montreal. The trip can be made in one long day, but it's best to stay east of Montreal for one night en route.

If you assume a tank of gas costs $100, then gas alone is $400 each way. Assume a hotel is $100 for the night, and the total return costs for driving would be $1,000-$1,200 CAD roundtrip. Divide by the four sharing costs, and it's $300 or so per person.

Makes VIA seem more than reasonable, doesn't it? Of course, gas prices could come in lower, and hotel prices could be slightly higher.

As for meals, you are on your own here. Simply too many variables to generalize. You know what you spend and what and where you like to eat, so budget for food, too.

And do post a comment if you can think of an alternative!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Mississauga Ontario Rhododendron Park, Forsythia, Azaleas

Update BRG Rhododendron Garden Tour May 2010 Info
This year (2008), the rhododendrons are still in bud at Mississauga's (Ontario) Rhododendron Gardens. Yesterday, I took these pictures of the forsythia, and what I believe are azaleas. I know azaleas thrive in similar conditions to, and flower around the same time as rhododendrons, as I grew both shrubs in my garden in New Brunswick.
And although the flowers can appear similar to one another (there are just so many varieties of both shrubs), I heard that the simple way to tell the difference is that azalea blossoms come out before their leaves open. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong. Please! Based on that criteria, the pink blooming shrub - trees in the picture should be azaleas.
Forsythia, too, is in full glory at the Rhododendron Gardens, and with the sun shining full upon it at noon, it was so bright, it almost hurt your eyes to look at it. The picture above is taken up the path from Lakeshore Road in Mississauga, at the park entrance at Shawnmarr Road.
The above picture shows some scale, as daughter Jen stops to let me take a photo. In this view, I am facing towards Lake Ontario, the opposite way as the first photo. Early spring wedding parties looking for photo locations should be aware that, although the spring blooms are lovely, the air is very chilly still here in Port Credit and a brisk wind has been blowing off the lake most days.
I did take a close up of one of the blossoms of this tree - shrub above, but a gust of wind shifted the focus, so it didn't turn out. The rhododendrons are in full bud, and one variety may have been in bloom. Most of them seem to be a few weeks from opening, so I'll check again every few days.

It would be most helpful if the City of Mississauga Parks and Rec put identifying labels on all the plants in the gardens. This park is a fine example of one of the last remnants of Carolinian forest in Ontario, and many of us have not seen Carolinian plants (see Carolinian forestbooks).

For my rhododendron pictures (and links to Mississauga parks) from last spring, see Rhododendron Park in Mississauga.
Learn more about rhododendrons from books about rhododendrons.

UPDATE: Rhododendron Garden Tour