Finland is a country very similar to Canada. Both are affluent winter nations. The most interesting thing about Finland is how different the society is in terms of public transit use and how it is influenced by factors such as affordability.
To start off, let’s compare the price of gasoline. It costs about €1.67 (C$2.50) for litre of gasoline in Finland while it costs about €0.83 (C$1.25) in Toronto. Most of the differential is accounted for by higher taxes in Finland. The price is about double the price in Canada. This makes it expensive to drive in Finland.
The second thing we will look at is the price differential in cars which makes car ownership prohibitively expensive in Finland. A brand new Toyota Corolla is €22,354 (C$33,724) in Finland while the exact same car costs €10,602 (C$15,995) in Canada. This cost is about double the price in Canada. This means it is very difficult for ordinary Finns to own cars. Very few Finn students own cars as opposed to Toronto where many do.
Most people in Toronto use public transit as a choice dictated by convenience rather than necessity. It is often the case that people use public transit to get to work downtown but use cars for other trips outside of the downtown. Much greater percentage of the people of Turku use public transportation as an absolute need. This can be seen in the number of people using public transit to buy groceries.
The quality of service is much superior in Finland. The buses all use an electronic fair system that is only now being rolled out in Toronto. I also like how the buses are always on time. I understand that it is much more difficult to do this in a large city like Toronto where the routes are long and traffic disruptions are more common.
Public transit is run like a business in Toronto where efficiencies are the name of the game. This means that the buses are designed to pack in as many people as possible. There is far more space for standing than there is for sitting down. This contrasts with the Finnish model, which sees almost all the area comprised of seats.
Toronto buses carry about 65 people on average sometimes exceeding that. Buses are put out of service if the ridership is below a certain threshold. This contrasts with Turku buses that sometimes run empty or with very few people using it.
The best part of the Finnish transit system is the cost. It costs €32 (C$48) for a monthly pass in Turku while it costs €72 (C$108) for a monthly pass in Toronto.