EssentialsMoney Saving

7 Ways to Save on Your Commute in Ontario

Reading Time: 5 minutes

EssentialsMoney Saving

7 Ways to Save on Your Commute in Ontario

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The word “normal” needs to be suspended from our vocabulary, at least for the foreseeable future. There’s nothing normal about this pandemic and its impact on our lives, and waiting for a return to normalcy assumes that everything will go back to the way it was. Hope is never a bad thing, but we have to deal with reality. And the reality is that life is different. The way we work, how we socialize, and how we travel and commute have all been unprecedented.

To that last point, commuting to work has become a necessary evil for front-line workers, essential employees, and others just trying to make a living. And that hasn’t been easy with how unpredictable things have been, which is why you really need to be saving money any way you can. And we wouldn’t be Rocketman if we didn’t provide you with all the info possible about public transit, including how to save on the cost of commuting.

7 ways to save money on your commute

There’s a lot you can do to cut back on your commuting expenses. Some things are simple and don’t require much work. Others are more…complicated. Let’s just say you’ll need an open mind to follow through on some of our suggestions. Let’s get to it.

1. Pack your food and coffee

We told you we’re starting off basic, and we’re sure you’ve heard this before. But being aware of something and actually doing it are two different things. When you’re living through uncertain times, every dollar counts. Literally. If you’re buying Starbucks every day, you’re spending about $1,600/year. The average North American spends about $1,100/year on coffee. Couple that with what you spend on lunch, and those costs start adding up. That’s money that can be put away to help sustain you for whatever unpredictable curveball 2020 and beyond throws your way. All you need to do is take a bit more time in the morning preparing lunch. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Some kind of salad or sandwich should do the trick. And invest in a thermos so you can pack your own coffee. Don’t be afraid to get creative here. Lattes and anything else you can brew up is encouraged.

2. Check out low-income travel passes in your city

There’s a more direct way to save money on your commute. Many cities in Canada offer low-income travel passes for commuters who qualify. It’s basically a discount on your bus, streetcar or subway fare. If you live in Ontario, several cities offer these discounts, including Hamilton, London, Guelph and many more. The process to qualify is different in every jurisdiction, but savings range from 40% to free in some cases. None of the applications are too complicated, but some of them do have deadlines. If you’re looking to save some extra money, it’s worth exploring. We’ve covered many of the cities that low-income travel passes on the Rocketman blog.

3.  Take public transit

If you live in a city with a dynamic and reliable public transportation system, consider yourself lucky. You should also consider using that system instead of driving to and from work every day. Why? Not just because we pride ourselves on being experts on public transit, but a Time Magazine study suggests driving back and forth to work could be negatively impacting your health. But this article is about saving money, so let’s get back to that. CityNews did a study that compared commuting by public transit vs. driving from Brampton or Oshawa into Toronto. In both cases, public transit was considerably less expensive. Not to mention you get to enjoy time reading or listening to music in your headphones when you commute instead of honking and finding ways to avoid traffic.

4. Ask your employer about benefits and look into tax breaks

Most employees look to parking benefits when thinking about commuter benefits. But you’d be surprised how many companies offer incentives or benefits that include some kind of break on public transportation. Some employers will offer reimbursement on your transit passes. Others will give you money to purchase a bike. Some organizations may not have these opportunities clearly stated, but if you ask, managers could be open to coming up with creative solutions to offset the cost of your commute. But closed mouths don’t get fed, so connect with your HR office to find out if there are any present transportation benefits and if there aren’t, ask if you can work something out.

5. Manage your errands

You have to be savvy during these strange times, especially when it comes to saving money. That can mean timing out your errands so you’re not spending extra on transit. In cities like Toronto, you have a two-hour window where you’re allowed to commute without having to pay another fare. With a little bit of planning, you could be using that time to run errands before you head home for the evening. Grab a few groceries, visit your eye doctor, maybe even get a quick haircut. It’s possible to keep things moving—and be back on the bus or train in time to beat the extra fare.

6. Consider moving

OK, wait. Before you tell us how much it costs to move and remind us that you’re not rich, give us a chance to explain. This obviously won’t be your first choice, and you should only consider this if you’re in a job that you feel somewhat secure in (whatever security means in the age of the pandemic). But it is a solution, a possible one if you’re in the right situation. Statistics Canada puts the cost of commuting in 2019 for the average working Canadian at about $273/week. While that figure is more complicated than the number suggests, the fact is that in the long run, living closer to your workplace can save you money and actually be good for your mental health. If you live in a suburb and drive to the city daily for work, take some time to consider the alternative.

7. Sign up for a cash-back credit card

We wouldn’t be giving all this info if there wasn’t a way to help you out. If you’re using the Rocketman app, RBC has launched a Cash Back Mastercard that gives you 10% back on eligible public transit charges. It’s another great way to save and is exclusive to Rocketman users. To access this deal, click on the Discover tab in the Rocketman app. There’s a $0 annual fee, and if you qualify, you can start saving right away.

Rocketman keeps you ahead of your commute

No matter where in Ontario you’re travelling, Rocketman keeps you ahead of your commute. With real-time transit alerts, travel times and our new crowdedness feature, you’ll always be prepared for your daily commute. 

Download the Rocketman app to track Bus and Train times in Ontario:

Rocketman transit app for iOS

Rocketman transit app for Android

Learn more about cities that Rocketman transit app supports in Canada

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.

The word “normal” needs to be suspended from our vocabulary, at least for the foreseeable future. There’s nothing normal about this pandemic and its impact on our lives, and waiting for a return to normalcy assumes that everything will go back to the way it was. Hope is never a bad thing, but we have to deal with reality. And the reality is that life is different. The way we work, how we socialize, and how we travel and commute have all been unprecedented.

To that last point, commuting to work has become a necessary evil for front-line workers, essential employees, and others just trying to make a living. And that hasn’t been easy with how unpredictable things have been, which is why you really need to be saving money any way you can. And we wouldn’t be Rocketman if we didn’t provide you with all the info possible about public transit, including how to save on the cost of commuting.

7 ways to save money on your commute

There’s a lot you can do to cut back on your commuting expenses. Some things are simple and don’t require much work. Others are more…complicated. Let’s just say you’ll need an open mind to follow through on some of our suggestions. Let’s get to it.

1. Pack your food and coffee

We told you we’re starting off basic, and we’re sure you’ve heard this before. But being aware of something and actually doing it are two different things. When you’re living through uncertain times, every dollar counts. Literally. If you’re buying Starbucks every day, you’re spending about $1,600/year. The average North American spends about $1,100/year on coffee. Couple that with what you spend on lunch, and those costs start adding up. That’s money that can be put away to help sustain you for whatever unpredictable curveball 2020 and beyond throws your way. All you need to do is take a bit more time in the morning preparing lunch. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Some kind of salad or sandwich should do the trick. And invest in a thermos so you can pack your own coffee. Don’t be afraid to get creative here. Lattes and anything else you can brew up is encouraged.

2. Check out low-income travel passes in your city

There’s a more direct way to save money on your commute. Many cities in Canada offer low-income travel passes for commuters who qualify. It’s basically a discount on your bus, streetcar or subway fare. If you live in Ontario, several cities offer these discounts, including Hamilton, London, Guelph and many more. The process to qualify is different in every jurisdiction, but savings range from 40% to free in some cases. None of the applications are too complicated, but some of them do have deadlines. If you’re looking to save some extra money, it’s worth exploring. We’ve covered many of the cities that low-income travel passes on the Rocketman blog.

3.  Take public transit

If you live in a city with a dynamic and reliable public transportation system, consider yourself lucky. You should also consider using that system instead of driving to and from work every day. Why? Not just because we pride ourselves on being experts on public transit, but a Time Magazine study suggests driving back and forth to work could be negatively impacting your health. But this article is about saving money, so let’s get back to that. CityNews did a study that compared commuting by public transit vs. driving from Brampton or Oshawa into Toronto. In both cases, public transit was considerably less expensive. Not to mention you get to enjoy time reading or listening to music in your headphones when you commute instead of honking and finding ways to avoid traffic.

4. Ask your employer about benefits and look into tax breaks

Most employees look to parking benefits when thinking about commuter benefits. But you’d be surprised how many companies offer incentives or benefits that include some kind of break on public transportation. Some employers will offer reimbursement on your transit passes. Others will give you money to purchase a bike. Some organizations may not have these opportunities clearly stated, but if you ask, managers could be open to coming up with creative solutions to offset the cost of your commute. But closed mouths don’t get fed, so connect with your HR office to find out if there are any present transportation benefits and if there aren’t, ask if you can work something out.

5. Manage your errands

You have to be savvy during these strange times, especially when it comes to saving money. That can mean timing out your errands so you’re not spending extra on transit. In cities like Toronto, you have a two-hour window where you’re allowed to commute without having to pay another fare. With a little bit of planning, you could be using that time to run errands before you head home for the evening. Grab a few groceries, visit your eye doctor, maybe even get a quick haircut. It’s possible to keep things moving—and be back on the bus or train in time to beat the extra fare.

6. Consider moving

OK, wait. Before you tell us how much it costs to move and remind us that you’re not rich, give us a chance to explain. This obviously won’t be your first choice, and you should only consider this if you’re in a job that you feel somewhat secure in (whatever security means in the age of the pandemic). But it is a solution, a possible one if you’re in the right situation. Statistics Canada puts the cost of commuting in 2019 for the average working Canadian at about $273/week. While that figure is more complicated than the number suggests, the fact is that in the long run, living closer to your workplace can save you money and actually be good for your mental health. If you live in a suburb and drive to the city daily for work, take some time to consider the alternative.

7. Sign up for a cash-back credit card

We wouldn’t be giving all this info if there wasn’t a way to help you out. If you’re using the Rocketman app, RBC has launched a Cash Back Mastercard that gives you 10% back on eligible public transit charges. It’s another great way to save and is exclusive to Rocketman users. To access this deal, click on the Discover tab in the Rocketman app. There’s a $0 annual fee, and if you qualify, you can start saving right away.

Rocketman keeps you ahead of your commute

No matter where in Ontario you’re travelling, Rocketman keeps you ahead of your commute. With real-time transit alerts, travel times and our new crowdedness feature, you’ll always be prepared for your daily commute. 

Download the Rocketman app to track Bus and Train times in Ontario:

Rocketman transit app for iOS

Rocketman transit app for Android

Learn more about cities that Rocketman transit app supports in Canada

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.

Don’t have Rocketman? Stay on top of your commute by downloading it:

Download Rocketman on the App Store
Get Rocketman on Google Play

Not sure if Rocketman works in your area? View our list of supported regions.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.

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