TTC transfer

How to read a TTC transfer

We all know the different kinds of transfers on the TTC: there’s the time stamped ones you get from the subway stations machines, and a similar transfer you get from the new streetcars.

But no transfer is more enigmatic and more flimsy than the classic bus and old streetcar transfers, which have long intrigued riders with their patterns of seemingly arbitrary numbers, letters, and colour schemes.

Luckily for you it’s really not that complicated (how else would bus drivers be able to call BS on faulty transfers at a glance), and the features are pretty easy to decipher once you've learned them.


From purple to green and everything in between, the colour of these transfers changes daily, varying randomly but staying consistent across the entire TTC system.

Removable “Night” Strip

At the top of the transfer is a flap of paper that says “Night”. This flap of paper can be removed or kept on, depending on the time it was issued: anytime between 5 p.m. and 5 a.m. constitutes as an evening trip.

Bus Route

Whether you’re taking the 505, the 511, or just got off the 504, the bus route on which you received the transfer will be clearly stated directly below the “Night” strip.

Day of Year

Centrally located on the transfer, the bolded three-digit number is really the focal point of this whole thing and is actually the most confusing.

It indicates which day of the year it is (out of 365 days) and actually represents which TTC service day it is as opposed to real calendar date.

Serial Number

Below the cheerful statement of appreciation from the TTC is the serial number, which differs per individual transfer. While its unknown whether or not anyone has ever had to track down a specific transfer, this series of five digit numbers is just a security measure.

Bus Route

This list of stops is pretty explanatory, but the small numbers to the right of them are kind of neat.

You’ll notice the first stop will always have the number 00 next to it, right? Meanwhile the stop below might say something like 15, and the one after that 30.

These numbers indicate the average amount of time it takes to get to that stop from the main station, meaning in this case, it would take an average of 15 minutes to get to that second stop and 30 minutes to the one after that from the station - pretty handy.

Up or Down

If you move to the side of the transfer, you’ll see the letters “U” and “D” alternating along its edge. These indicate whether the bus is travelling towards the station (“up”) or away from it (“down”).


Just above the line where the date is printed for a second time, you’ll see the letter “E” embedded on the right. Used during emergencies where riders have to disembark the bus, drivers can punch a hole here or in the "SPC" square, though I’ve never seen anyone do it before.

Time of issue

Moving to the bottom half of the transfer, you’ll see numbers extending from 5 to 5. Your driver will rip along the time which your transfer was issued, making another small rip further along the edge to indicate how many minutes past the hour exactly: 10, 20, 30, etc.

Fare zones

Running along the right side of the transfer are squares that say “paid to” or “zone 3”. Ignore these: they're just relics from when the TTC was Metro Toronto and the system had different fares for different areas of the city.

Lead photo by

Jason Cook

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