The best transit options for college and university students
Two young women driving in a car

Let’s take the stress out of getting around as a student. If you’re in college or university, you’ve probably got plenty to stress about – like midterms and assignments – without worrying about how you’ll get to class on time, and on budget. The good news is there have never been so many ways to get around for students as there are today – including ones that are affordable, eco-friendly, and accessible.

Here are all the best transit options for college and university students, including one that you may only want to use if you’re really, really late for an exam.

Public transit

Your school might offer free transit passes or discounts that make taking the bus, subway and streetcar even more cost effective. Some public transit services, including GO Transit, for example, also offer discounts to students. Plus, many transit systems also offer accessible services too. The quality of transit varies from city to city. But hey, a long bus ride is a chance to cram in some last-minute studying.


Cycling infrastructure in big cities like Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Halifax and elsewhere keeps getting better, making cycling an even more pleasant way to get around. Dedicated bike lanes – where bicycles are physically separated from cars on the road – are the gold standard, and can make a commute by bicycle faster and more fun than taking a car in the depths of rush-hour. Invest in a good bike lock and take care of your bicycle with regular maintenance, and it’ll take care of you. Yes, winter in Canada can get cold, but, as the old saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.


If the idea of pedalling to school every day doesn’t sound fun, consider an electric bicycle (often called e-bikes). To be clear, we’re talking the type of e-bikes you have to pedal – the ones that look like regular bicycles but have an electric motor to help you cover more distance and fly up the steepest hills without breaking a sweat. You pay for that convenience, though; where a good regular bicycle costs $400-$800, e-bikes typically start at over $1,000. Also, be sure to check the rules of the road for e-bikes where you live because they do vary from city to city.


Compared to cars, motorcycles and scooters are cheaper to buy, and extremely frugal on gas. A full tank might only cost $10, depending on the bike. The downside is that insurance can be pricey – especially for new riders – and there’s the fact winter exists. Motorcycles are best used in warmer months, before the roads get covered in snow and ice. The rest of the year, you might be back on the bus. The requirements vary by province, but in most jurisdictions you’ll need to get licenced by passing a test (or two) before you can ride a motorcycle or most scooters.

Ride hailing

We’re putting ride hailing on this list but be warned: ride-hailing apps and taxis can be expensive. Even a short trip can cost $10 or more - that’s $20 a day, minimum. It’s not an especially cost-effective option for daily commutes, but if you’re really, really late for an exam then, yes, ride-hailing or a taxi might save the day.

Car sharing

There are several car-sharing services operating in Canada, including Zipcar, Evo, Modo and Communauto. The basic idea is that, instead of buying a car that sits unused most of the day, you subscribe to one of these car-sharing services and use their shared fleet of cars parked around the city. For students who can walk or take other transit to class, but still want a car occasionally, car-sharing could be the right solution. Typically, you don’t have to worry about paying for gas or keeping up with maintenance because the company takes care of everything.

Car ownership

Cars give you the ultimate freedom to travel short- or long-distances, whenever and wherever you want. Unfortunately, that freedom can be pricey. Even the cheapest new car on sale in Canada right now costs around $17,000. If you lease or finance a new car, typical monthly payments can run anywhere from $400 to $1,000 or more. You’ll have to budget for additional costs, including maintenance, fuel, and insurance. To help keep costs down, consider a usage-based program like Sonnet Shift, which lets people who drive safely and those who don’t cover much distance save money on their car insurance.

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