Imagine you're in an English-speaking city, and you're trying to find new places. You have Google Maps to help, but you're still not 100% confident. The language barrier makes it hard to ask for help.

Is this a problem for you?

We'll use Canada's biggest city, Toronto, as an example to learn words and phrases for taking public transit. We'll take a "fake" trip together between two places in that city.

Downtown Toronto Photo by Rachael Annabelle on Unsplash

We will study these words and phrases:

  • station

  • platform

  • take the bus/train

  • bus stop

  • fare

  • transfer

  • free transfer

  • ticket

Step One: Starting the Trip

The CN Tower in front of a partially cloudy sky. Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

You start the day by seeing Toronto's famous CN Tower, and you want to visit an old friend who studies at Humber College.

Google Maps shows you this:

A map from the CN Tower to Humber College. Image created by the author using Google Maps

Simple enough, right? But you might need to ask for help getting started.

The Weeknd wanders through a maze.

Read the steps below and look at the pictures. See if you can guess what the words in bold mean.

From the street, you'll want to ask where the subway station is.

The entrance of a subway station. Photo by K HOWARD on Unsplash

To get to the trains, you should ask a subway employee how much the fare is.

Money Photo by PiggyBank on Unsplash

Lastly, to take the train, you'll need to find the train's platform.

A platform at High Park subway station. Photo by Csaba Pap on Unsplash


What is the difference between a platform and a station? Select all correct answers:

Step Two: Making Transfers

Be sure to listen to the announcements so you don't miss your station. You'll have to transfer from this subway line, the yellow one, to the green one.

A map showing a transfer point at St. George station. Image created by the author using Google Maps

Ask for directions to the platform for the green subway line.

Take that train until you have to transfer to the bus.

A map showing a train to bus transfer point at Kipling station. Image created by the author using Google Maps

Ask someone where the bus stop is.

People sitting at a bus stop. Photo by Sandy Ravaloniaina on Unsplash

You should ask the driver if you can make a free transfer between the subway and the bus by showing your ticket or other proof of payment. If not, you may need to pay extra fare.

Get on the bus!


Which is the most natural way to ask for directions to the bus stop?

Step Three: The Last Stop

You're almost there!

A map showing the Humber College stop on the bus line. Image created by the author using Google Maps

Tell the bus driver the name of your stop so you don't miss it.

A bus driving quickly past a bus stop.

Some stops don't have a shelter,so they're easy to miss, such as this one:

People waiting at a bus stop with no shelter. Photo by Lumi W on Unsplash

If you miss your stop, you'll have to wait until the next stopbefore you can get off.


When talking about buses, the term "stop" has which two meanings?

Take Action

Congratulations, you made it!

You successfully finished your fake trip. Imagine the next real trip you want to take!

Two tourists on a trip. Photo by Michel Stockman on Unsplash


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