Transportation in Kingston
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How can I get around Kingston?
Walking and biking are the easiest and least expensive modes of transportation in Kingston. The Queen’s University Main Campus, West Campus, the downtown area, student residences and homes are all quite close together (see the Kingston Map and Queen’s Maps).
The most important thing is to dress for the season. Be sure to dress for the weather when you set out on a long walk. The best thing to do is to wear a lot of layers so that if you get too hot, you can take off a coat or sweater. Then, if it becomes colder before you get home, you can put that coat back on. It is also important to wear proper boots or shoes for walking.
Walking is the best way to learn where things are in the city. Take a map with you to help you find the places you need to go to. Do not hesitate to ask for directions. Most people are happy to help you.
Make use of the free Walkhome Service by calling 613-533-9255. A team of one male and one female will walk or bike with you to your destination. You need not be on campus or heading home – Walkhome will pick you up and drop you off anywhere within their boundaries (East to Ontario St., West to West Campus, North to York St., and South to Lake Ontario). It is a good idea to keep the Walkhome phone number in your cell phone contact list.
Regular Hours (extended hours during exams):
Fall and Winter – Dusk (Sunset) to 2am, until 3am Thursday, Friday and Saturday, until 4am during exams
Spring and Summer – Monday to Friday, 9pm to 1am
Campus Security provides escorts from one point on campus to another for staff, faculty and students when Walkhome is off duty. This service is provided at any time day or night, all year round. Anyone who wishes to escorted may phone Security at 613-533-6080 and request an escort.
As with walking, you should dress for the season.
Here are some rules to remember when bike-riding:
- Ride your bike on the right-hand side of the road. Do not ride bicycles on the sidewalk.
- Obey the rules of the road. Cyclists are considered vehicles under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act and local by-laws. Stop for red lights and stop signs, and use hand signals.
- Bikes should be ridden only when there is no snow or ice on the street as slippery conditions make riding very dangerous.
- Wearing a helmet is strongly recommended for all cyclists and is required by law for children under 18 years of age.
- Further guides for how to ride safely on the roads of Ontario are available from the City of Kingston, the Ministry of Transportation or Cycle Kingston.
Bike theft is common on Queen’s Campus. Do not bring expensive bicycles to campus. Make sure to lock any bike you do bring to campus securely. There are bike racks outside of most buildings on campus. Bike locks can be purchased anywhere you buy bikes and at Canadian Tire, located at 59 Bath Road. Campus Security offers advice about bicycles.
If you are looking for an inexpensive bicycles you can try:
- Kingston Yellow Bike Action The Yellow Bike Action Centre (Memorial Centre, 613-545-0404) repairs old bikes, paints them yellow and makes them available for extremely reasonable prices. When you leave Kingston you can return the bike and get a portion of the cost refunded. If they do not have any complete bikes available, you may even be able to put together your own bike with the guidance of a trained bicycle mechanic.
- AMS Bikes and Boards There is an on-campus Bike Shop located in the lower level of the JDUC. They offer bike and skateboard repair and some used bike sales.
- Other students There are often signs up advertising used bikes for sale. Check the notice boards around the Queen’s University Main and West Campuses, at laundromats and grocery stores or use the Free and For Sale Facebook group.
- Local Newspapers The Kingston Whig Standard and Kingston This Week are the two local newspapers. Both have ‘classified ad’ sections where people advertise items available for purchase.
- B.B.s Cycle Located at 154 Division Street, B.Bs sells repaired, used bicycles starting at around $50.
- Online ‘classified ad’ sites Craigslist and Kijiji are the two main sites of this type. They are used by people to advertise items for sale.
- Police Bicycle Auctions Usually held in April and September, these auctions sell bicycles that were seized by the police but not claimed by their original owners. Dates and locations may be noted on the Kingston Police website, and in local newspapers. You can also call 613-549-4660.
Students can ride the bus free of charge between during the academic year by showing their validated student cards.
All others interested in buying a bus pass can visit the City of Kingston’s Transit website for a list of locations that sell them.
Kingston bus routes cover many parts of the city. To get information on when and where the bus stops, and the current bus fare for adults and children, phone Kingston Area Transit at 613-544-5289 or visit the Routes and Schedules page of the City of Kingston’s Transit website. Kingston Transit’s Trip Planner can be used to help figure out schedules and routes.
Guidance about use of the buses is available from the City of Kingston’s Transit website, or you can ask the driver for assistance. Further information is available through the City of Kingston’s Transit website.
Taking a taxi or calling a cab can be expensive. The price of a taxi ride is determined by a computer meter and not by the driver. Therefore, the amount of money the driver asks for cannot be negotiated and is the price you must pay. The fare will be displayed on the electronic meter beside the driver. You can ask for an estimate of the price when you first call the taxi office for a ride. Taking a taxi can be a safe alternative to walking late at night, after buses do not run. It is a good idea to keep the taxi phone numbers in your cell phone contact list.
There are two main taxi companies in Kingston:
The Queen’s University International Centre does not recommend driving in Canada due to the risks associated with driving under laws different from those that you are used to.
Those that choose to drive while in Canada should note that automobile insurance coverage is mandatory.
Car rental information for longer trips is available on the Travel Beyond Kingston page of our site.
For short-term rentals (hours), car share services could offer a less complicated process. Vrtucar has vehicles available in Kingston. These services require a membership fee in addition to their hourly rental fees, but are not too expensive for short trips in and around Kingston.
Do I need to get an Ontario driver’s licence?
According to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, a student who is a non-resident of Ontario is allowed to use the driver’s licence from their home jurisdiction for no more than 6 months (though many automobile rental companies will expect an International Driver’s Permit after 3 months).
For non-students, a newcomer to Ontario is required to apply for an Ontario driver’s licence within 60 days of taking up residence in the province. If you are already licenced to drive in a jurisdiction that has an agreement with the Ontario government to recognize your experience, you may be able to exchange your existing licence for one from Ontario. If you are licenced to drive somewhere else, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation offers general information and details on the recognition of foreign driving experience. Additional details are also available through DriveTest.
The Kingston DriveTest Centre is at 381 Select Drive.
Do I need to get an International Driver’s Permit?
Even though the Ontario Ministry of Transportation may allow someone to drive legally with the licence from their home jurisdiction, most automobile rental companies will require drivers to have the International Driver’s Permit (IDP). For people who will not be in Canada long enough to need an Ontario driver’s licence but are considering renting a vehicle, it may be a good idea to get the IDP.
The International Driver’s Permit is issued ONLY in the driver’s home country.
How do I import a vehicle into Canada?
If you intend to bring a vehicle with you to Canada for an extended period you should contact the Registrar of Imported Vehicles. They can assist you in determining admissibility, fees required, and give you information on how to proceed.
When you bring a vehicle into Canada you will, in most cases have to pay duty and taxes. For information on taxes, please contact the Canada Border Services Agency. Please note that the imported vehicles must meet all federal government requirements prior to registration.
How can I travel outside of Kingston?
See our “Travel Beyond Kingston” page for more information.
If you have further questions, after reviewing the information above, advising is available (without an appointment) from the International Student Advisers at the Queen’s University International Centre from Monday to Friday between 1:00pm and 4:30pm.