It’s not breaking news that Vancouver is surrounded by water, mountains and plenty of bridges, but when navigating this fab city it’s best to understand how the various methods of transportation work so that you can maximize efficiency in getting to your destination. Here in Vancouver we use your standard city bus, along with a monorail system (called the Skytrain and Canada Line), along with water ferries.
Translink is the public transportation company and they have a great trip planning tool on their website that will give you travel options, with maps to boot!
Let’s start with buses, they run rampant around the city and it’s fairly easy to rely on major bus routes to get you where you need to go in a timely manner. If you’re just travelling one zone, it’s $2.50 to ride the bus to any destination within that zone. Make sure you have exact change, they cannot give you change and they do not take bills. Your ticket is good for about two hours, so if you’re hopping off and on, it’s great value for money. It’s not until you get outside of Vancouver that you will be looking at paying different zoning fees. Many corner stores and grocery stores sell bus pass booklets, which is great as it lets you avoid having to carry around exact change. If you have your bicycle with you, most buses are equipped with racks on the front of the bus for you to strap your bike onto. For those in wheelchairs, buses will accommodate your set of wheels with ramps and roomy areas for you to buckle into on the bus.
One of the most efficient and fastest ways to get around the city and suburbs is using the Skytrain; it has two separate lines that start at Waterfront and go all the way out to Surrey. The Canada Line is the newest edition to Vancouver’s public transportation and it travels from Waterfront all the way out to Richmond and Vancouver International Airport. The fares remain the same for one zone and you can use your bus ticket to transfer onto either of these lines, along with the Seabus to North Vancouver. The great thing about these lines is that the trains run every few minutes, so you’re never waiting long. You don’t have to pay a person (like on the bus) when using this method of transportation. Instead, you can insert your debit, credit card or cash (bills accepted, no exact change needed as it gives you change) into these handy machines, which are located in the terminals.
And, signs for the Skytrain just so happen to look like this:
Waterfront Station in Gastown is the main hub for transportation. Many buses stop there, both the Canada Line and Skytrain have stops there and the Seabus departs from there and makes its way over to Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver. The Seabus is $2.50 and it runs direct from Waterfron Station to Lonsdale Quay. It’s a great way to avoid traffic over the Lionsgate Bridge, and who doesn’t love a boat ride? There are the same handy machines there to purchase your ticket from.
The Aquabus and False Creek Ferries are a great way to get from Yaletown to Science World, Granville Island, the base of Howe Street (the West End) and Kitsilano. These little ferries are not only enjoyable, but a great way to see Vancouver from the water. During the summer, there are plenty of boats running and you never have to wait long to hitch a ride. You can purchase a row of tickets for $20 from your captain, or you can pay them cash when you board. If you purchase the pack of tickets, you will save some money and if you’re planning on making multiple trips or you’re travelling with others, it’s probably your best bet. Pricing varies depending on the route that you’re taking, but exact cash is not necessary and they will be able to provide you with change.
If you’re travelling to one of Vancouver’s beaches, your best bet is to jump on a bus if you don’t have a bike to ride along the Seawall. If you’re going to Granville Island, take one of the water ferries or the bus. If you’re going to West Van to shop, the bus is your friend, but if you’re going to North Van, you should take the Seabus. If you’re going to the suburbs or airport, you will definitely want to take the Canada Line or Skytrain. Vancouver is an easy city to get around, so you will have no trouble getting to your destination.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts
Do have exact change for the bus
Do give up your seat at the front of the bus for elderly riders, people with disabilities and pregnant women
Do feel free to stand on buses and trains if there are no seats left, just make sure to move to the back of the bus
Don’t eat food that is overwhelming in smell on the bus, you may lose a few friends
Don’t listen to your music so loud that the rest of the bus can hear it
Do enjoy getting around Vancouver and seeing as much as you can!