Finally there's a cheap and easy way to get from Toronto to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.
Beginning in the 2013 season, the festival will offer twice-daily direct bus service between Toronto and Stratford. The buses will leave the Intercontinental Hotel on Front (close to Union Station and therefore steps from TTC and GO Transit) at 10 am and 3:30 pm. The return trips leave Stratford at 5 and 11 pm.
Those times are good, allowing you to get to the festival and enjoy lunch/dinner beforehand. Mind you, depending on where the bus leaves from, that 11 pm bus could be tough for some shows that have a three hour running time and begin at 8 pm. (Update: According to Stratford's publicity director Ann Swerdfager, if returning passengers are in a three-hour show, the bus will be held for them.)
These times will be in effect from May 27 to September 29. On rare occasions when there is only one performance happening, the afternoon or evening bus will run.
From May 1 to 25 and October 1 to 20, there will be one return trip daily, and only on performance days, with buses leaving Toronto at 10 am and departing Stratford at 5 pm.
Bus tickets (very reasonable at $10 each way) can be reserved via the festival's box office number (1-800-567-1600) or website.
I've complained a number of times about how difficult it currently is for people who don't own cars - or have access to a ride - to get to the fest. And I know I'm not alone.
"We want to make it as easy and affordable as possible for people to get to Stratford," says executive director designate Anita Gaffney, in Stratford's release.
"We've seen a growing demand for transportation from Toronto, especially as train and bus service has declined over the past two decades, so we've decided to step in to fill the gap."
It can only mean greater accessibility to their shows, especially for city dwellers, who might not have easy access to a car. And the announcement comes at a good time. Tickets to the 2013 season go on sale November 11 (for members) and January 5 (for the general public).
Now let's see if the Shaw Festival follows suit...