things more convenient last decade

10 things that made life in Toronto more convenient over the last decade

Living in Toronto can be quite difficult when it comes to issues of affordability and population density — a fact that makes it all too easy to forget the many improvements that have made life in this city just a little bit easier over the past 10 years.  

Looking back, it's plain to see we've come quite a long way over the years and a variety of new apps, infrastructure improvements and technological advances have certainly made daily life less difficult.

Here are some things that made life in Toronto more convenient over the last decade. 

Technology on the TTC

The TTC may be constantly plagued with delays and difficulties, but there's no denying that new technology has improved its efficiency as a transit system over the years.

Presto didn't exactly have the smoothest roll-out in Toronto, but it's definitely made paying your fare easier in the long run. New wait time indicators on screens in subway stations have made waiting for the next train far less frustrating, and the TTC app lets commuters access important information all in once place. 

New vehicles such as subway cars on Line 1 and new streetcars on some routes have also made getting around the city that much more pleasant. 

presto ttc

Presto totally changed the way we pay on public transit. Photo via Metrolinx.

Easier access to airports

When thinking of things that have made living in Toronto more convenient throughout the last decade, it's also important to reflect on what has helped us get out of it. 

When the UP Express began operation in 2015, just in time for the Pan Am Games, it made getting to and from Pearson Airport much less of a schlep. Transporting about 2,500 passengers per day between Union Station and Pearson Airport when it first launched, the UPX undoubtedly made travel more convenient in Toronto. 

The pedestrian tunnel at Billy Bishop Airport also opened to the public in 2015, allowing travellers to finally stop wasting time waiting for the ferry. 

things more convenient last decade

The UP Express made getting to and from Pearson far more convenient when it began operation in 2015. Photo by Jason Cook

Better bike infrastructure

While Toronto still has a long way to go before becoming a bike-friendly city, multiple improvements have undoubtedly made life easier for those who choose to pedal around this city. 

New bike lanes have popped up over the years, providing cyclists with designated areas and making it easier for vehicles and bikes to safely share the road. Successful pilot projects led to temporary bike lanes becoming permanent and the city finally began to recognize the need for better and safer infrastructure. 

Toronto also got a new Bike Share program, allowing hard-core bikers as well as casual cyclists to utilize the public bike network in a wide array of neighbourhoods throughout the city. The network now offers access to 5000 bikes and 465 stations across Toronto.

things more convenient last decade

Bike Share offers access to 5000 bikes and 465 stations across Toronto. Photo by Jeremy Gilbert

Food ordering apps

Before food ordering apps like Uber Eats, Foodora, Ritual and more arrived in Toronto, buying a meal from a restaurant often meant waiting in line for a table or standing around while your take-out order was being prepared.

With the introduction of these new apps, overspending on food has never been easier. You can have anything you want delivered right to your door or have it ready to be picked up once you get there. 

Sadly, it hasn't been all fun and games. The surge of the gig economy in the 2010s brought with it major discussions of workers' rights and the need for unions. 

things more convenient last decade

Uber Eats delivery people bike in all weather conditions throughout the city. Photo by Paul Flynn

Ride sharing apps

Getting around in Toronto changed entirely when ride sharing apps like Uber and Lyft were introduced in Toronto earlier in the decade. While hailing a cab used to be the go-to, it was more expensive and far less practical.

Now you can call an Uber from anywhere in Toronto and it's likely to arrive in under five minutes. Who even needs to own a car anymore? 

Unfortunately, like food ordering apps, there have been downsides. The taxi industry has struggled immensely since its largest competitor came on the scene, controversies surrounding treatment of drivers as well as passengers have arisen and increasing use of ride sharing apps has been blamed for brutal traffic in the city. 

things more convenient last decade

Uber became legal in Toronto back in 2016, making it much easier to get around the city. Photo by Stock Catalogue

Legal access to cannabis 

Cannabis legalization has definitely made life simpler for the pot smokers among us, though accessing marijuana was arguably already easier in Toronto than other Canadian cities considering the number of illegal dispensaries we had scattered around the city.

Still, legalizion meant those who weren't quite comfortable calling up a dealer or walking into a sketchy storefront could access cannabis without legal ramifications.

And while the OCS website had its fair share of glitches upon launching and it took months for the first brick and mortar cannabis shop to open in Toronto, legal cannabis is now readily available and decently accessible in the 6ix. 

10 things more convenient last decade

Nova Cannabis opened as one of the city's first legal cannabis stores about eight months ago. Photo by Hector Vasquez

Craft beer stores open on holidays

The trend of craft brewers and beer stores emerged with gusto in the 2010s in Toronto, making buying your favourite cold one easier and more accessible than ever. 

Craft beer first became available in grocery stores back in 2015, and the opening of local bottle shops, breweries and brewpubs meant you could actually buy beer after hours and on holidays. 

So while The Beer Store and LCBO often remain closed during late-night hours and on statutory holidays, buying beer is far more convenient now that we have a long list of craft brewers with physical retail stores and late operating hours. 

things more convenient last decade

Craft beer stores make it much easier to buy beer after 9 p.m. and on holidays. Photo by Hector Vasquez

Easy payment

Technological advancements in the area of payment methods have made being a consumer in this big city far too easy. To think that you used to have to pay for things with physical money or even using a PIN seems practically unimaginable at this point. 

Now you can pay for parking using the Green P app, you can tap your phone on a machine to pay for your dinner and you can even run your own business without a cash register using Square Payments.

Toronto stores also began accepting WeChat Pay and AliPay in recent years, two Chinese mobile payment apps, in order to accommodate the city's growing population of Chinese immigrants and tourists

things more convenient last decade

Toronto stores and restaurants began accepting Chinese mobile payment apps. Photo by Hector Vasquez

Online reservation systems

Remember the days when you had to actually pick up a phone in order to make any kind of reservation? Me neither, but it wasn't actually that long ago. Thankfully, the arrival of online reservation systems in Toronto over the past decade has made life way easier.

Back in 2012, a Toronto startup created a website called Resurva which allows residents to book appointments at a variety of barbershops around the city using their phone, tablet or computer.

And of course, websites and applications like DINROpenTable and YP Dine have made it so much easier to book a table at the restaurant of your choice with just the tap of a finger. 

things more convenient last decade

Online reservation systems completely change the restaurant game in Toronto. Photo by Robert Scoble

Subscription boxes

Nowadays you can have practically anything you want delivered to your door within a couple days of ordering it, but that wasn't always the case.

The arrival of subscription boxes in Toronto for everything from clothes, to food to coffee has made it possible to dress like a model and eat like a king without ever stepping foot in a store. 

Frank and Oak's clothing subscription boxes completely changed the fashion game in Toronto, making it easy to keep up with fashion trends while shopping sustainably without wasting any time in a mall.

Meal kit delivery services such as HelloFresh and Goodfood have made it easier than ever to cook healthy meals without grocery shopping.

And that's barely scratching the surface of available subscription boxes in Toronto in 2019.

things more convenient last decade

You can buy a monthly subscription box for just about anything in Toronto. Photo by Hector Vasquez

Lead photo by

Vik Pawha

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