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Whether you are in the office everyday or you have a hybrid option that allows you to work from home, your potential commute is a major factor when considering a move to Hamilton. This is especially true if your employment is based in the GTA. In fact, Kellye (our resident Hamiltonian) makes sure she discusses the realities of commuting during her initial consultation with each new buyer who needs her help with a move to Hamilton.
Commuting to downtown Toronto from anywhere within the larger GTA is not exactly a fun activity but a commute from Hamilton can seem extra daunting when you’re completely unfamiliar with your options. Let us demystify the process so you can determine what works best for you, your family, and the demands of your job.
Option 1: You can drive
Driving into Toronto during rush hour is not ideal (is that the biggest understatement we have ever seen on this site?) but it may be your only option if your home and/or place of employment are not well served by public transportation and the GO System.
Things to consider:
- Get a transponder for the 407 regardless of whether or not you intend to use it on a regular basis. Taking the 407 may not be your “Plan A” but it is likely that you will encounter a situation where it is the best option – why pay any more than you already have to?
- Do the math before you rule out the 407. The money saved by the lower housing prices (when compared to similar properties in the GTA) may balance out the cost of the tolls.
- Be sure to consider your time to drive in town when you calculate your commute time – in short, how long will it take you to get to any of the highways? Do you need to do a daycare drop off en route? Quick, easy access to the 403 or the QEW is the most advantageous but being close to the Red Hill Valley Expressway, Lincoln Alexander Parkway or Nikola Tesla Blvd/Burlington Street also helps reduce commute time
- A transponder for the 407 will cost you $24.50/year – it pays for itself in savings (video charges etc) after 3 round trips
- Estimated one-way tolls (starting at the QEW/403 in Hamilton):
- $16.32 to the 401
- $22.59 to the 410
- $28.15 to the 427
- $39.78 to the 404
- Wear and tear on your vehicle
Areas/Neighbourhoods that are particularly friendly to commuters via car:
- Westdale, Kirkendall, Ainslie Woods, the Meadowlands (Ancaster), Strathcona, and Waterdown all offer quick access to the 403
- Stipley, Crown Point, Normanhurst, Bartonville, Parkview and the Industrial Areas all have easy access to Nikola Tesla/Burlington Street. The neighbourhoods around Gage Park can also get there quite quickly via Sherman Avenue or Gage Street
- Rosedale, Kentley, Nashdale, Mcquesten, Glenview, Corman and Albion Falls have easy access to the Red Hill Valley Parkway
- Most neighbourhoods on the mountain are within a short drive to the Lincoln Alexander Parkway
- Stoney Creek residents have the quickest route to the QEW
Option 2: Your Car + the GO System
A second, very popular option is to drive your vehicle and park it at the nearest GO Station with free parking. You have a few choices depending on your location and the routes available.
Things to Consider:
- Aldershot GO ( 1199 Waterdown Road, Burlington, ON) – parking is free but it can fill up early especially in the winter. (Kellye our aforementioned Hamiltonian) is very familiar with this option as her husband used to commute daily into Union Station via the Lakeshore West Train. Aldershot GO is approximately 15 minutes via car from their home near Gage Park.
- Burlington GO (2101 Fairview Street, Burlington, ON) may be a better option if you’re in the East End or Stoney Creek (there is also more parking available at this station as compared to Aldershot).
- Confederation GO Bus Loop at Centennial Pkwy N @ QEW ( Confederation Park) in Stoney Creek – this location will be part of the expanded GO Train system in the future but it is limited to bus service at the moment. There is a bus to train connection that will take you to Burlington GO Station.
- Parking is free but you can also purchase a reserved spot for $98/mo (subject to availability). This can give you more freedom around your timing (especially at Aldershot) but it’s expensive. Bonus: it’s always your spot so you can use it on evenings and weekends to go to Jays’ games
- Current fares to Union Station (one-way):
- From Aldershot $13.15
- From Burlington $12.30
- From Confederation (Bus/Train) $13.60
- Gas plus wear and tear (but it’s less than if you have to drive the entire way)
Areas that are particularly friendly to hybrid commuters:
- Waterdown and Stoney Creek have the biggest advantages with their proximity to Aldershot and Confederation respectively but any neighbourhood within a 15 minute drive to one of the stations is well set up for hybrid commuters
Option 3: No Cars. All Systems GO! (plus maybe a little help from an HSR bus)
- The GO Train service to Hamilton has significantly improved in the last few years as the city has benefitted from the overall expansion of the GO Train Network. There are two stations in Central Hamilton that offer regular, daily train service via the Lakeshore West Line. Unfortunately, free parking is very limited but reserve spots may be available (at an additional cost).
- West Harbour GO Station (at 353 James St N, Hamilton, ON) is located in the North End near Bayfront Park. Trains run hourly starting shortly after 5:00am with additional trains during rush hour.
- Hamilton GO Centre (36 Hunter St E, Hamilton ON) is located downtown near City Hall. Trains run hourly starting shortly after 5:30am with additional trains during rush hour.
- Both locations offer additional routes to other areas of the GTA and Golden Horseshoe Region via GO Bus
- McMaster University in the city’s west end has its own GO Bus Terminal and it offers hourly service to Union Station via a transfer to the GO Train at Aldershot (along with service to other areas in the region)
- The Hamilton GO Express Bus is another great option if you live in the lower city and want to avoid driving altogether. This route offers multiple stops along both King Street and Main Street and offers riders the option to transfer to GO trains at Aldershot. Buses to Richmond Hill, Waterloo, the 407 and more also stop along this route. This is great news for anyone within walking distance of the two main arteries in the lower city. The stops line up with HSR bus stops along the route for those who live a bit further from downtown.
- The HRS accepts Presto for payment so you can use one card for your entire commute.
- The fare for your trip, coffee from one of the great shops near your stop plus bus fare if you need to to get to your stop
Areas that are particularly friendly to GO only commuters:
- The lucky ones living in the North End, Central Hamilton, Beasley, and Keith can all walk to West Harbour GO Station. HSR Routes 02, 04, and 20 all drop riders nearby.
- Corktown, Durand, Kirkendall, and Central Hamilton residents can walk to Hamilton GO Centre. HSR Routes 01, 02, 03, and 51 all stop at the station.
- Hamilton GO Centre is also accessible via bike lanes
- People living in Dundas, Westdale, and Ainslie Wood are close to the McMaster GO Bus Terminal. HSR buses 01, 05, 15, and 51 all service this terminal.
- Anyone living in Corktown, Central Hamilton, Strathcona, Beasley, Lansdale, Kirkendall or Durand who is within a reasonable walk to either King Street or Main Street can easily get to one of the GO Bus Stops in the area
See the map below for all the locations of the Go Stations within the Hamilton area.
We hope this helps you wrap your head around what is available to you if you live in Hamilton but work in the GTA (or if you like to go to Blue Jays’ games but don’t want to worry about driving home). Check out our Hamilton Neighbourhood Guides to learn more about many of the commuter friendly areas that we highlighted. Questions? Get in touch with Kellye. She loves to talk all things Hamilton.