Whether you're a newcomer to Vancouver or just visiting, getting around Vancouver can seem confusing at first. How do you use Vancouver Public Transportation? What are the best options for getting where you need to go? How do you pay for tickets?
This quick guide to Vancouver Public Transportation will answer all your questions and help you find the best way to get where you're going fast. There are also tips and smart phone apps to help you use Vancouver Public Transportation more efficiently, plus information on using public transit to travel around British Columbia.
1. What is Vancouver Public Transportation / TransLink?
All Vancouver Public Transportation is run by TransLink, the Metro Vancouver transportation authority. TransLink operates a variety of public transportation options in Vancouver:
- Canada Line & SkyTrain Rapid Transit - Vancouver rapid transit runs north-south from the Vancouver Airport to Waterfront Station in Downtown Vancouver and west-east/southeast from Waterfront Station to Burnaby and Coquitlam.
- SeaBuses - Seabuses carry passengers to and from Waterfront Station in Downtown Vancouver to North Vancouver's Lonsdale Quay
- West Coast Express - This commuter rail service transports people from Downtown Vancouver to Mission, BC
2. How do I use Vancouver Public Transportation / TransLink?
There are two options for planning your trip on Vancouver Public Transportation:
- Use TransLink's online Trip Planner, a tool that allows you to enter your current location and destination and then provides public transit options for getting you there.
- Use TransLink's free Smart Phone / Mobile App, which gives you easy access to transit schedules, maps, and trip planning on any web-enabled mobile device.
3. Where & how do I pay for Vancouver Public Transportation?
In January 2014, TransLink began transitioning from the pay-as-you-go ticket system to Compass Cards, multiple-use cards that users add money to. (The Compass Cards are designed to be "reloaded" with additional money rather than thrown away and require a $6 "deposit" to activate.)
Compass Cards are available online, by phone and at all SeaBus, West Coast Express and SkyTrain Station Compass Vending Machines. They'll also be available at Compass Vending Machines at 18 London Drugs locations. Go to TransLink Compass Cards for details.
During the 2014 roll-out--when TransLink will roll out the Compass Card in stages--you can still use cash to buy tickets on buses or cash and credit to buy public transit tickets at Canada Line / SkyTrain Stations. Compass Cards will eventually replace all previous monthly passes, student passes, senior discount passes, etc.
4. Can I take my wheelchair or stroller on Vancouver Public Transportation?
The simple answer is "Yes!" All Vancouver public buses, community shuttle minibuses, Canada Line/SkyTrain rapid transit, SeaBus and West Coast Express vehicles are all fully accessible; each bus can accommodate two wheelchairs.
However, not all bus stops are accessible, so please use TransLink's Trip Planner or Mobile App to find accessible stops.
5. Can I take my bike on Vancouver Public Transportation?
Yes! You can bring your bike on all Vancouver Public Transportation options, including buses, Canada Line/SkyTrain rapid transit, and SeaBuses. All buses have bike racks. Learn more about using bike racks on Vancouver buses.
6. How do I use Public Transportation to travel outside Metro Vancouver?
If you want to travel outside Metro Vancouver--for example, if you wanted to take a day trip to Whistler--and still use public transportation, you can plan your trip with BC Transit. BC Transit is the provincial crown agency charged with coordinating public transportation throughout British Columbia (outside the Greater Vancouver Regional District).
Plan your trip outside Metro Vancouver via the BC Transit site.
7. What about B.C. Ferries?
There are many wonderful island destinations near Vancouver, including Vancouver Island / Victoria and Bowen Island. The public ferries that operate between the "Mainland" (i.e., Vancouver) and the various islands and coastal regions of B.C. are operated by B.C. Ferries.
You can find ferry schedules and directions to departure ferry terminals for trips from Vancouver to Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast at the B.C. Ferries site.
Remember: You can use Vancouver Public Transportation / TransLink to reach any ferry terminal. Simply use the name of the ferry terminal as your "destination" in the online TransLink Trip Planner or TransLink Mobile App.