Bus (Translink), Vancouver
It is incredibly easy to get around Vancouver using public transportation - most bus routes run along a street or avenue in a straight line, so all you need to do is figure out which intersection you want to get close to. Bus drivers are also good at pointing you in the right direction and letting you know when you should get off. The one thing I found slightly annoying was that buses don't always run on time, especially if there happens to be snow. But if you're not in a rush, this shouldn't be a problem.
If you plan on spending a few days in Vancouver, I'd recommend buying a 10-ticket pack (you can get them at Safeways, corner stores, drugstores, etc.; the 7-11 at the Vancouver airport sells them) to save a bit of money. There are three travel zones: downtown Vancouver is in Zone 1, the airport, Grouse Mountain and Capilano Suspension Bridge are in Zone 2, and the ferry terminal to Victoria is in Zone 3 - the further you go, the more you'll have to pay, except on weekends and in the evening, when travel zones don't apply. You can always get a Zone 1 pack ($21) and pay the difference as you get on the bus. To use your ticket, just stick it in the little machine next to the bus driver - you can also use them on the skytrain and seabus (you'll find validation machines at each station). Once your ticket is validated, you can travel wherever you want during 90 minutes.
It is quite easy to plan your trip using the trip planner available on the TransLink Website so don't bother renting a car, just get on the bus!
Vancouver has the worst transit system of all the cities in Canada (I'm comparing to: Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton and Montreal). The bus drivers are rude and aggressive, they will close the door in front of your face way more frequently than bus drivers anywhere else in Canada, and they are more rude and hostile than bus drivers in other cities where this never happened to me. Since the Olympics, the subways and the area is frequently patrolled and you will pay a fine of close to $200 if you wonder into the area even by mistake. Watch out for those 'paid zone only' lines on the floor or they will get you. They got me once when I got lost in the underground and didn't intend to take the skytrain at all! And yes, despite all the attitude the buses are still late all the time. The skytrain area is not safe and petty crimes, harassment or worse, frequently happens on the skytrain and area. Again, way more than in other major Canadian cities. Big thumbs down for Vancouver in this area.
Vancouver is easy to get around. Many modes of transportation from bus to ferries. Good city for walkers. Never felt threatened while walking the streets even at midnight by myself . I found the citizens, including the police to be very helpful when I needed directions or info.
I bought a round trip ticket from the airport do downtown Vancouver,one every ten minutes the brochure promised,after almost an hour,we moved off,halfway in to the journey,we were dumped in a street,no explanation,just a promise of another bus on its way,after a long wait I caught a cab.On the return journey it got worse,we were dumped off after a couple of streets with the same vague promise,one of our party was a local girl who told us this was a regular occurence,and we would have a wait of at least an hour if a bus were to plck us up,very helpful when you have a plane to catch,we shared a taxi.This service is abomnible.
The bus is the cheapest and one of the most efficient ways of getting around Vancouver. You do not need a car in Vancouver. The bus can take you to all of the city's main attractions. Most visitors to Vancouver find its public transit service to be excellent and highly efficient. As a user myself, I can highly recommend it for getting around town.
Vancouver's bus system uses transfers. When you board a bus, you drop the exact change ($2.50 for adults, 1 zone) into a little machine by the bus driver. The bus driver pushes a button, and out pops a little credit-card sized paper swipe card with a magnetic strip. Instead of showing the bus driver the transfer when you board the bus, now you actually insert the transfer into the machine, and the machine determines if your transfer is still valid or not.
Transfers normally expire 90 minutes after you purchase them. This means that for 2 hours, you could hop on and off any bus, Skytrain, or SeaBus as many times as you'd like. Once the 2 hours run out, your transfer will no longer be valid, and if you want to board another bus, you'll have to pay another $2.50 fare.
Transfers are handy if you're doing a lot of bus transferring within a short period, however, if you're planning to spend all day taking buses, it might be cheaper to purchase an all-day pass at a 7-11. It currently costs $9.00 for a day pass.
With transfers, it doesn't matter what direction you travel in, but it does matter what *zone* you travel in. The Vancouver public transit system is divided into zones. They're kind of like concentric circles. The further out of the city centre you travel, the more you'll have to pay. Basically, Vancouver acts as one zone. Vancouver plus a neighbouring city, such as Burnaby, Richmond, North Vancouver, etc, acts as 2 zones. Vancouver, plus a neighbouring city, plus an even further neighbouring city acts as 3 zones. Basically, if you only pay bus fare for 1 zone, then your transfer is only good in that zone.
We walked the city as often as we could but sometimes you do not have time or the energy to walk back to your hotel. We caught the city metro bus along Robson Street several times, cheap and fast and what a relief on our feet.
We found public transport to be very good, although we were able to walk to many attractions we did use the ferry, bus and train on 3 or 4 days during our stay.
The North Vancouver bus terminal is conveniently located opposite the ferry terminal and on the 2 days we used the bus we waited less than 15 minutes for connection. The drivers are very helpful and if you ask they will tell you what bus to catch and when you arrive at your destination.
We used the North Vancouver buses on 2 separate days, to visit Grouse Mountain and then to visit Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. Both visits using public transport were much cheaper than private bus tours.
Vancouver's transportation includes the Skytrain, Bus and Sea Bus. The Sea Bus runs between Lonsdale Quay in North Vancovuer and Waterfront Station in downtown. The Skytrain is cheap and a great way move around the city, as traffic gets terrible sometimes. The Bus is another excellent option.
You can take the bus going to Capilano Suspension Bridge. It is best to take the bus especially during the peak season which is the summer time. There is not a lot of parking lots close to the park if you decided to drive your car. The time when we went there is September and thus, there is a lot of parking spaces for us across the street. The parking fee is $2.00 at the back of the Bridge House Restaurant.
Even though I had a car, I decided to take the bus into town (I was staying in North Vancouver) one day to avoid dealing with parking in the city.
The bus system is actually quite good and the routes all seem to run frequently and pretty much on time.
The frustration I had was in purchasing a day pass, which itself is quite expensive at $8. I ended up at four different places while trying to buy one, and finally had to come back in the morning to get it since stores close fairly early in suburban Vancouver. It's nice to have one though as it works on the buses, the Sky Train (subway) and the Sea Bus.
You can buy them at 7-11's (all over the place) and Safeways, but just note that a lot of the locations only have a few, if any, and a lot of the staff doesn't even know that they exist. Why they don't sell them at the visitors' centers is beyond me.
Translink operates an extensive system of bus routes throught the Greater Vancouver region. Within the city of Vancouver, many of these are Trolley Busses, which are rubber wheeled vehicles with an overhead electric wire. These wires criss-cross all over downtown Vancouver. Most of the suburban busses are gas powered, many are the Articulated, bendy type.
The busses in Vancouver are very popular. On the local routes in the downtown area, it is standing room only during much of the day. I found most of the bus drivers to be very friendly. I've actually seen some of them greet every passenger with a sincere "Hello". And all the drivers are very helpful and courteous with befuddled tourists.
In Downtown Vancouver, the two best routes for visitors are Route 5 - Robson, and Route 6 - Davie. These are actually the same bus, they just change numbers at Denman and Davie. They basically circle the West End, travelling down Granville Mall, Robson, Denman and Davie. All of these streets have shops and restaurants along them. Robson is the most upscale, Davie the cheapest. Get off at Davie and Denman and you'll be in the heart of English Bay, a very scenic part of the West End. Stanley Park is only a few blocks from here.
The Translink busses are also convenient to many of the sights in Vancouver. Here are a couple of my favorite excursions:
1) Take bus 250 along Georgia Street. It crosses the Lions Gate Bridge, travels through exclusive West Vancouver neighborhoods and winds up at Horseshoe Bay. There is a very scenic marina here, and it is a major BC Ferry terminal.
2) Catch bus 491 Southbound along Burrard Street. It will take you through Vancouver and the city of Richmand to the village of Steveston. Steveston is a neat fishing village, with historic buildings, numerous shops and restaurants, and the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Park.
There are many other places you can go to by bus...such as Queen Elizabeth Park, Grouse Mountain and Lynn Canyon Park. Check the Translink website for more info.
Although we mainly walked during my visit in Vancouver, we used the bus a couple of times when heading into downtown Vancouver. The fare to use the bus in zone 1 is $2.25 each way and the ticket is good for 90 minutes so you can also use it on the SeaBus to get to Grouse Mountain, Lynn Canyon, etc. or the SkyLink which we didn't use.
If you are planning on doing a lot of travel, you can purchase a 10 ticket booklet for $18 so individual rides cost only $1.80 or you can get a day pass for $8 which is also good on the SeaBus.
If you are paying on the bus, you need exact change and I believe that most buses only take coins even if you are paying for more than one person.
We only went outside zone 1 once during my visit, the bus ride to the ferry terminal for Victoria was in zone 3 and it cost $4.50 on the way over, $2.25 on the way back because it was off peak.
Public Transit in Vancouver is tricky business. Here are some helpful hints from somebody who uses public transit to get everywhere.
- Don't believe the bus schedule to be written in stone. They often leave whenever they feel like leaving.
- Pay attention to which skytrain you are getting on. The Expo line goes from Vancouver through Burnaby and New Westminster into Surrey. The Millenium line does a U shaped loop from Vancouver through Burnaby and New West and back.
- If you are inclined to jump transit, watch out for the transit officials and police. The police have almost as much authority as the city police.
- Ask questions if you get lost.
To get from YVR airport to downtown, catch the #424 Translink bus to the Airport Station stop, go to Bay 1 and then catch the #98 B-Line to downtown. Fares are $3.25 peak and $2.25 off-peak. Transfers are free - just remember to pick up the proof-of-payment/transfer ticket when you pay your cash fare. Also, the buses only accept exact coin fares. Duration of journey approx. 45mins.
I dont normally use the bus here in Vancouver, but I would have to say it is inexpensive and efficient, and generally clean.
late night service to the suburbs can be spotty.
Skytrain(above ground subway) is great though limited.and stops running shortlyafter midnight.
for getting around Vancouver the bus is very easy.
ask any bus driver and they are usually most helpful.
in the downtown core it is easy to walk most everywhere.
cabs are also relatively inexpensive. 3 people in a cab usually same price to anywhere downtown.
YOU MUST HAVE EXACT CHANGE ON THE BUS-no paper money
to the north shore ( north and west vancouver)including suspension bridges and grouse mountain- take the SEABUS it is a wonderful mini cruise across burrard inlet
and it is include in your bus ticket!