Vancouver's public transit is an integrated system of buses, rapid transit (SkyTrain) and passenger ferries (SeaBus) run by the regional transportation authority, TransLink (http://www.translink.ca). The transit system connects Vancouver with its neighboring municipalities, stretching as far north as Lions Bay, south to the U.S. border and east to Langley and Maple Ridge.
Adult fares for travel within the city of Vancouver cost $2.50. Travel from Vancouver to nearby places like North Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond costs a little bit more -- $3.75 to $5.00 -- depending on the time of day and number of transit zones you cross. Travel on weekends and weekdays after 6:30PM is always $2.50 regardless of the destination. The ticket you receive is valid for 1.5 hours from the time of purchase and can be used to transfer to any bus, SkyTrain or the SeaBus during that time. TransLink's website and customer information line (604-953-3333) both offer complete trip planning. A regional system map is widely available at convenience stores and on TransLink's website.
A more convenient option for the traveller may be the Daypass, which offers unlimited travel for a single day at the cost of $9.00. It is available from fare machines at SkyTrain stations. Books of 10 prepaid tickets (FareSaver tickets) are available at a discount from many convenience stores. Concession fares are available for Vancouver grade-school students and BC seniors and cost between $1.75 and $3.50. If you're a student or a senior you must be carrying a TransLink GoCard or BC Gold CareCard to receive the reduced concession fare. Monthly passes are also available, which can cost $73-$136, depending on how many zones they cover.
The bus service covers the widest area and travels along most major streets in the city. Passengers must either buy a ticket or present their ticket immediately upon entering a TransLink bus. Buses accept coins only and will not give change. Tickets can also be purchased from vending machines in SkyTrain stations that accept coins, bills, debit and credit cards. In addition, several bus rapid transit lines named B Lines crisscross the city.
SkyTrain is the mostly elevated rapid transit system that connects Vancouver's City Center with some of its eastern suburbs. There are two lines Expo and Millennium. The Expo line runs out through Burnaby and New Westminster to King George station in Surrey. The Millennium line follows the Expo line to New Westminster and then loops back through Burnaby and into Vancouver again ending at VCC/Clark. Notable SkyTrain stations in Vancouver include:
- Broadway/Commercial Drive - Accesses the restaurants of Commercial Drive in East Vancouver
- Burrard and Granville - Most convenient for accessing the shopping areas in the City Center
- Waterfront Station - Meeting point of the SkyTrain, SeaBus, numerous commuter and rapid bus routes and the commuter rail West Coast Express. It is also at the entrance to Gastown and is right next to the Canada Place Convention Centre/Cruise Ship Terminal facilities.
The SeaBus is a passenger ferry that connects Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver to Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver. It generally runs every 15 minutes except in the evening and on Sundays. The exact schedule is available on TransLink's website.
Purchasing tickets for the SkyTrain and the SeaBus operates on the honor system, with ticket checks occuring at random, often rare times. It is not difficult to ride without paying, especially during rush hour, but those who do so ride at their own risk. If caught, the passenger has to pay a fine of $173. Tickets are easily available through vending machines at SkyTrain stations and either SeaBus terminal.
SkyTrain and SeaBus service ends before last call at night clubs and bars, so if you'll be partying downtown, be sure you figure out a ride home.
Here is a very nice interactive map of Vancouver:
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