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Transit 101: tips on how to board the bus

Transit 101: tips on how to board the bus

People waiting at the bus stop, about to board

As mentioned in episode four of our podcast What’s the T¸ we’ve learned each transit system has its own quirks. One of ours is we like to say thanks to the bus operator when disembarking.

Riding the bus for the first time can be a daunting task. That’s why we have pulled together a step-by-step guide to help you along.

1. Arrive early!

Know before you go! Check Transit Alerts at for any changes to your route. You can also track the real-time location of your bus using Next Bus at You should plan to arrive at your bus stop about five minutes before its scheduled arrival time.

2. Have fare payment ready

When you arrive at the bus stop, have your fare payment ready! Our buses accept the Compass Card, contactless credit (American Express, Mastercard, and Visa), contactless Interac Debit, and exact cash (both coins and bills). Having it ready will help save valuable time on your journey.

3. When the bus is approaching, signal to the operator you want to board

The goal here is simple: make yourself seen! One of the ways you can do this is by standing at the pole in advance of the bus arriving at the stop. Make eye contact with or wave at the operator to let them know you want to board their bus.

If the operator can’t see you or it doesn’t look like you intend to board (for example, if you’re by the bus bench on your phone), they may assume you’re waiting for another bus!

4. Wait for others to disembark

There may be others on the bus who are disembarking at your stop. If that’s the case, wait for them to disembark first, and then board the bus.

5. Pay your fare and find a spot!

Once on board, tap your Compass Card, contactless credit (American Express, Mastercard, Visa), or contactless Interac debit on the Compass reader to pay your fare.

If you’re paying by cash, deposit it into the farebox located at the front of the bus. The operator will then provide you with a bus transfer, be sure to hold on to it as it is also your proof of payment! Note that bus transfers are only valid aboard bus services. You can pay with both coins and bills, but no change is given.

And that’s it! Find an open spot and you’re ready to continue with your journey.


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