Skytrain (Translink), Vancouver
In my opinion, one of the best things to have come out of the 2010 Winter Olympics is the skytrain Canada Line that now connects Vancouver airport to the downtown area. Tickets cost $8.75, or $7.50 if you happen to be traveling on the weekend or after 6:30 pm on weekdays. However, to get back to the airport, you don't have to pay the additional airport fare, which means tickets only cost $3.75 or $2.50. Single tickets can be bought from the station's automatic ticket machines with cash, credit or debit cards, while day passes ($9) and fare savers (10 tickets for $21), which can also be used on buses and sea buses, are sold at the airport's 7/11. Trains run every 5 min or so, and it takes about 20 min to make the trip downtown from the airport.
Although Vancouver doesn't have an underground subway system, it does have an above ground metro system called the Skytrain. The skytrain runs from the waterfront, all the way to the suburb of Surrey. There is also a new line that will take you into Burnaby. Tickets are cheap, and it's relatively fast.
Vancouvers transit system is somewhat in the dark ages compared to other metropolitan cities.This continues to be a major issue come election time and is discussed or argued always among the local politicians.We have what we call a skytrain system, connecting surrey to north vancouver, it is an elevated train so to speak.All communities along the way, have a skytrain station, and connecting buses all the way along.Many people do rely on transit to get around, but with the nuisance of it, so many people continue to use their own transportation.Myself included.A day pass for all transit(buses/skytrain/seabus) is $8 for an adult,a nd just a 2.5hr 3 zone pass is $2, depending on what time of day.
Pacific Central Station is now the terminus for trans-Canada trains and trains south to Seattle. It is also the place where you need to go to board the Pacific Coachlines coach that will take you to Victoria on Vancouver Island. This company offers a good value coach-ferry combination ticket to central Victoria.
The Skytrain will take you from the downtown area out to Main Station, which is right across the road from the grand old Pacific Central Station.
SkyTrain is Vancouver's subway system. It's a fairly small system compaired with say New York or London, but it's a nice modern system that runs frequently. The reason it is called SkyTrain is because the majority of the line is elevated above ground level on concrete slabs. In fact the only true subway stations on the entire system are Granville and Burrard. This makes SkyTrain a good way to sightsee. You can get a nice overview of Vancouver and the suburbs of Burnaby and New Westminster just by taking a ride on Skytrain. In fact, on a clear day, there are some great views of the Coast Mountains to the north, and just before New Westminster, there is a sweeping view southward that extends all the way to Mount Baker in Washington State.
There are two lines currently that make up SkyTrain, the Expo Line, and the Millennium Line. The Expo Line is the original line that opened just before Expo 86. It's been extended into Surrey in recent years. The Millennium Line follows the Expo Line into New Westminster, then branches north and curves back and crosses itself, before ending at Vancouver Community College.
SkyTrain is pointless to take in the Downtown Vancouver core. The city busses are a much better bet for that. However, there a few sights that are perfect for SkyTrain. The best one would have to be New Westminster Quay. It's a very nice waterfront area along the Fraser River. There is a Public Market, a Riverboat casino, and a nice walkway along the river. Get off at New Westminster station, and walk half a block south. The other attraction would be Metrotown. It's a huge indoor mall complex that has hundreds of stores, and numerous restaurants. There are smaller malls at Lougheed Town Centre and Brentwood Town Centre. A ride over the SkyTrain Bridge, which crosses the Fraser River into the city of Surrey is also worth the trip. However, there's nothing of interest at any of the Surrey stations, so just get off at Scott Road, and catch the next train back towards Vancouver.
The Skytrain is Vancouver's mass rail network.
The system seems to primarily service the eastside of Vancouver.
Soon though the there will be a new rail network going to the airport. It's scheduled to be built in time for the 2010 Olympics.
But for the moment Vancouver people will just survive with what they have. A small rail network, which during peak times is jammed to capacity.
If you're here travelling I highly recommend a trip out to both metrotown and commercial ave by the skytrain.
Skytrain tickets only cost just over $2 and are valid for 90 minutes. And you can transfer from bus to train on the same ticket. Neat integrated network.
SkyTrain's Expo Line trains operate from Waterfront to King George Station. The line runs along a scenic 28 kilometer track from Vancouver to Burnaby, New Westminster, and Surrey in just 39 minutes. There are currently 20 stations along this route. Four downtown stations are underground and marked at street level. The other 16 are elevated and visible from the street.
The ticket vending machines that have been installed at SkyTrain stations accept payment from Canadian $5, $10 and $20 bills and coins.
Skytrain is Vancouver's rapid transit system. While some of its tracks are underground, the majority is elevated. This gives you a nice view of the city and its suburbs while riding the train.
Skytrain has two lines: Expo and Millennium. Their routes overlap for some distance. With a little planning, you can completely cover both routes in two hours.
What struck me about the Skytrain is that it is fully automated! That is, there are no engineers or drivers on board! The usual seat of the driver is available to the public on a first come-first served basis (see picture).
AVOID AIRPORT RIP-OFF: Buy book of ten one zone tickets from 7-11 on lower level of Vancouver Int'l Airport down below from where you exit with your domestic luggage. Point of sale ticket price at airport is near $10 rip-off from Skytrain machine to extract money from tourists, versus $2.50 regular ticket fare.
SAFETY: Skytrain line stations are somewhat sketchy at night on stops east of Metrotown shopping mall station in Burnaby, down to New Westminster to North Surrey terminus that is. Thieves and drug dealers outnumber armed Skytrain cops about 70 to 1 ( you rarely see cops but lots of characters), travelling in groups during evening onwards is recommended unless you have a dominating physical presence.
Skytrain lines are few in number to tourist friendly sites, the result of Vancouver being a dull, quaint provincial town with pretensions of grandeur; there's no line to the University of BC or West Side Vancouver, although a short subway tunnel out that way would cost a pittance in this very rich Province which always tends to come out short in infrastructure and public services. Elevated Skytrain was controversial, it's a hideous concrete eyesore in a town that otherwise steers towards enhancing natural beauty of city setting, much cheaper and rough and ready than proper subway tunnels world class cities have which are hidden underground, Skytrain systems by Bombardier Corp. of Quebec have been popular with third world cities too corrupt and/or poor to contemplate a proper subway line.
Best part is actual airport to downtown subway service, a rarity in North America.
The Skytrain is a very efficient way of getting around in Vancouver, and out to the suburbs south of Burrard Inlet. Coupled with the bus network, one can get around Vancouver quite handily without a car. There are two Skytrain lines, the original "Expo" line that went into service in 1986, just in time for the "Expo '86" World's Fair, and the new "Millennium" line which went into service in the last couple of years.
The Skytrain cars are completely automated...there's no one at the wheel, ticket sales are by automated machines, and there are no turnstiles to enter the stations. To keep everyone honest, the "Skytrain cops" occasionally audit the passengers to ensure they've paid, and the fines for non-payment are pretty stiff.
Check out the web site for pricing and station info.
The photo shows a Skytrain train pulling out of a station, circa 1995.
The Sky Train is a modern and comfortable mode of transport. However in Vancouver it is somewhat strange in that the route only goes from the city centre out to Surrey crossing east Vancouver, Burnaby and New Westminster. If you are in the western part of the city you will have to take the bus. Although there are plans for a route to the airport and Richmond.
The transfer can be bought at any of the Sky Train stations and used on the buses too.
Sky train is the region's most popular form of transportation, and is fastest, and easiest way to get to downtown Vancouver. Driving, and finding parking in downtown, can be a real pain in the butt, so it's best to take the sky train, than explore the area on foot, which is what we did. The trip Surrey took about 30 minutes, much faster than by car, and you get some nice views along the way.
We took the train from Surrey, and got off near Chinatown. There is also a station near the Art Gallery. I know the one from Richmond stops in Yaletown. No idea about the other routes.
Anyways, we got off, than set off on foot. We visited Chinatown, Gastown, the waterfront, some cathedrals, and English Bay.
Tickets must be purchased at a machine at the station. Most machines require a card, but there is usually one that takes cash. My cousin said that tickets cost about $5 CAD during the day, and $7 CAD at night, but one weekends, day time tickets cost only $2.50 CAD. Tickets are good for 3 hours, regardless of how many trains you use. Most of the time, the tickets aren't checked, but sometimes they are, so make sure you have a valid ticket, otherwise it’s a $100 fine. If your ticket is only a few minutes past its expiration, they will usually cut you a break, but if your 3 hours had long passed, you need to purchase a new ticket.
Sky Train SkyTrain runs along a scenic 28 kilometer track from Vancouver to Burnaby, New Westminster, and Surrey in just 39 minutes. There are currently 20 stations along the route. Four downtown stations are underground and marked at street level. The other 16 are elevated and visible from the street. SkyTrain links with a network of buses at many stations and with SeaBus at Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver. Daily service is provided every three to five minutes.
The Skytrain is Vancouver's light-rail public transit. It's an unmanned, automatic monorail that travels east-west across Greater Vancouver. The skytrain is the fasted method of travelling around Vancouver because the tracks are above ground (with exception to downtown, where they're below ground). As a result, it flies over the traffic and road systems, and gets you across the city faster than any bus or car could.
Unfortunately, while the skytrain is great, it's also limited. Unlike most cities that understand that a good high-speed transit system needs a north-south route in addition to an east-west route, Vancouver decided that after 15 years of their east-west "Expo Line", they needed to build another east-west line, the "Millenium" line. As a result, if you want to travel north or south out of downtown, you cannot take a skytrain.
Currently there are only four stations located downtown: Waterfront, Burrard, Granville and Stadium. These stations take you east out of downtown, through to East Van, then to Burnaby, New Westminster, Surrey, and even Coquitlam. Major attractions that are easily accessible by skytrain are: Science World, Metrotown, and Commercial Drive.
Skytrain is a part of Vancouver's public transit system, Translink. This means that you can use your bus pases, tickets or transfers to get on the skytrain. It also means that you can use your skytrain ticket to get on a bus. The skytrain ticket is only good for 90 minutes after you purchase it. One zone tickets for adults cost $2.50.
Also note that the skytrain is based on the honour system. Unlike London's Tube, or Boston's T, there are no gates preventing you from entering without paying. That means that, if you feel mischevous, you can walk right onto a skytrain without paying. However - and this is a big however - there are always officers hopping on and off the skytrain checking for tickets. If you don't present a valid ticket, you will be fined about $170.
SkyTrain is the world's longest automated light rapid transit system. The SkyTrain moves Vancouverites quickly and safely along 49 kilometres of rails and through 32 stations.
SkyTrain has two lines. The Expo line opened in the 80's for the Expo that was held in Vancouver. The line stretches from Downtown Vancouver all the way to Surrey. The more recent line, that opened two years ago, called the Millenium line, makes a circle around the city starting in the Downtown area, passing via Lougheed back to Commercial Drive.
SkyTrain is not only fast but it is environment friendly. It runs on electricity and is therefore energy efficient. Since the trains travel on elevated guideways they miss all the traffic and the rush hour. The SkyTrain arrives every 2 to 8 minutes.
Bikes / Wheelchairs / Baby strollers
An added perk of the SkyTrain is that during off-peak hours you are able to take your bike on board (into the end cars only and only one bike per car). SkyTrain is also accessible for people in wheelchairs and baby strollers. All stations except Granville have elevators. An elevator is being currently built at the Granville station but the project won't be completed until 2006.
All SkyTrain stations have bus loops that allow you to connect to the extensive network of buses and at the Watefront station you can connect to the West Coast Express and the SeaBus.
Purchasing a ticket
At all SkyTrain Stations you'll find ticket vending machines. They take Canadian coins, $5, $10 and $20 bills as well as credit and debit cards.
The tickets are valid also for TransLink buses and the SeaBus.