The local Victoria Regional Transit System (part of BCTransit) runs the local buses in Victoria.
The entire Victoria Regional Transit System, from Sooke to Sidney, is one fare zone and requires a single fare of CAD 2.50.
Map with Victoria bus routes.
The following routes are available:
-1 RICHARDSON / DOWNTOWN
-2/2A OAK BAY / WILLOWS / DOWNTOWN
-3 GONZALES / BEACON HILL / DOWNTOWN
-4 UVIC / DOWNTOWN VIA HILLSIDE
-6 ROYAL OAK EXCHANGE / ESQUIMALT
-7 UVIC / GONZALES / DOWNTOWN
-8 INTERURBAN / TILLICUM MALL / OAK BAY
-10 ROYAL JUBILEE / DOCKYARD
-11 TILLICUM MALL / UVIC
-12 UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS / UVIC
-13 TEN MILE POINT / UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS
-14 VIC GENERAL / UVIC VIA RICHMOND
-15 UVIC EXPRESS / DOWNTOWN EXPRESS
-16 UVIC/UPTOWN EXPRESS
-17 CEDAR HILL SCHOOL SPECIAL (Christmas Hill)
-18 CEDAR HILL SCHOOL SPECIAL (Cloverdale)
-19 HILLSIDE MALL
-21 INTERURBAN / DOWNTOWN
-22 VIC GENERAL / HILLSIDE MALL
-24 CEDAR HILL / ADMIRALS WALK
-25 MAPLEWOOD / ADMIRALS WALK / WESTERN EXCHANGE
-26 DOCKYARD / UVIC
-27 GORDON HEAD / DOWNTOWN / BEACON HILL
-28 MAJESTIC / DOWNTOWN / BEACON HILL
-30 ROYAL OAK via CAREY / JAMES BAY / BEACON HILL
-31 ROYAL OAK via GLANFORD / JAMES BAY
-32 CORDOVA BAY / ROYAL OAK EXCHANGE / EXPRESS
-33 UVIC (from James Bay)
-39 ROYAL ROADS / CAMOSUN COLLEGE / ROYAL OAK EXCHANGE / UVIC
-49 WESTSHORE TOWN CENTER/DUNFORD
-50 LANGFORD / DOWNTOWN
-51 UVIC / LANGFORD
-52 COLWOOD TO LANGFORD / WESTERN EXCHANGE
-55 HAPPY VALLEY
-58 LANGFORD MEADOWS
-59 TRIANGLE MOUNTAIN
-61 SOOKE / LANGFORD / DOWNTOWN
-63 OTTER POINT
-64 EAST SOOKE
-70 SWARTZ BAY / DOWNTOWN EXPRESS
-72 SWARTZ BAY / DOWNTOWN VIA FIFTH
-75 SAANICHTON / ROYAL OAK / DOWNTOWN
-76 SWARTZ BAY/UVIC
-81 BRENTWOOD / SWARTZ BAY / BUTCHART GARDENS
-83 ROYAL OAK/SIDNEY VIA WEST SAANICH / AIRPORT
-85 NORTH SAANICH
-86 DEEP COVE/McTAVISH EXCHANGE
At 700 Douglas Street (at the rear of the Empress hotel) the coach station (or bus depot) is located.
The following bus companies have their facility/service here:
-Pacific Coach Lines
-Gray Line Victoria
-Victoria Bus Trolley
From April through September the Big Bus company offers a 1.5 hour sightseeing tour with their Trollley- and open bus.
You can hop on and off at 23 stops throughout the city.
The start of the tour is at the Big Bus welcome center at 811 Government Street.
Tickets for a 1 day or 3 days on-hop-off Victoria Sightseeing Tour pass are CAD 27.00 or 37.00.
BC Transit / Victoria Regional Transit offer bus services that cover Victoria and other populated regions of Vancouver Island with bus services. Vehicles range from fairly small van-sized vehicles used on fairly lightly used routes to huge double deck creatures that are almost the biggest thing on the road in Victoria. The BC Transit routes that are "up island" (Nanaimo, Parksville, etc.) are not included in the Victoria regional system (at least not in the timetables), even though when you click on the Vancouver Island region on the BC Transit map on their web site it takes you to the Victoria Regional Transit section of the BC Transit web site.
Most of the buses have a very comfortable interior. See Photo 3: notice that the seats have fairly thick padding, unlike certain transit agencies that only have a bare minimum of cloth covering.
Termination points for the various routes are scattered all over the central downtown area of Victoria, rather than being located at a centralized transit station. To some extent this can be fairly convenient, as some of the routes go through downtown and thus a wide array of destinations on both sides of town are possible.
The $2.50 fare gives you about 1 hour to transfer routes.
One of the items that I found a little confusing at first about trying to learn how to use BC Transit and its web site is that BC Transit operates transit services over the entire province. However, local fares and other features of the transit service are determined locally. Therefore, in order to really get anywhere useful on their web site, it is first necessary to select a region of British Columbia from the map that appears on the right side of the web site.
After you select a region (in this case, the dot at the southern end of Vancouver Island that represents Victoria), then you are able to access useful information such as fare prices, where to buy tickets in that area, and so on. Anything done before you select a region of BC to explore will generally not yield useful results, or so it seemed to me.
Due to this arrangement of their web site, I have attempted to provide a web site link below that goes to the Victoria region directly. That way, you don't have to hunt for it. Please let me know if this particular link stops working so that I can correct it.
Available on the buses are the Victoria Regional Transit Guide, which includes maps and schedules for the bus routes that are offered in the Victoria region. See photo 2 for the September 7, 2010 to June 27, 2011 rider's guide, so that you know what to look for when you see them on the buses. Apparently summer schedules are quite different due to the heavy tourist traffic - which is why there is a two month summer season gap.
Many of the bus stops feature shelters, bus stop symbols, and a complete list of the buses that stop there and the time they stop there. However, other bus stops don't even feature the bus number that stops there, which makes trying to locate the bus route you need in the timetable a rather frustrating process. Are stick-on bus route numbers really that expensive? But, the presence of the arrival time at many of the other bus stops makes up for that lacking to some extent.
I was concerned about trying to find a place to purchase bus tickets once I arrived in BC, as I wouldn't have that much Canadian cash for such a short trip, so I thought I needed to find a ticket machine or other sales office so that I can purchase some bus tickets without having to go too far from the Victoria Clipper. Here are the sales outlets that I found:
Tourism Victoria, Warf Street 812 is listed as a ticket sales office. Getting to it from the Victoria Clipper terminal is completely in the opposite direction from the hotel I booked, but it is at least nearby (about 300 yards or 1500 feet looking at the map). However, according to BC Transit's web site, it only sells the day tickets, which to me seem like it would be better to purchase a book of 10 tickets for the time I will be there. Also, each time I stopped by the Tourism Victoria office they seemed to be closed. Apparently they keep very limited hours during the winter season.
However, in reality I found that I was able to exchange a small amount of USA cash to Canadian cash in the hotel, and therefore got the small amount of cash I would need for my trip to Butchart Garden and return.
The following were other options that seemed promising:
City of Victoria at Centennial Square - about 3x further away than Tourism Victoria. It's towards the Northeast several blocks - not too far, but still a quite a bit further.
7-Eleven at 910 Government Street. This is only one block further than Tourism Victoria, but still further away.
Shoppers Drug Mart at Douglas 1222. This is several blocks past the 7-Eleven on Government Street. So, it looks like if I want to get a book of 10 tickets I'll have to get them at 7-Eleven.
The easier way to get from Vancouver to the Ferry to Victoria now is to take the Skytrain /LRT (Canada Line) from downtown Vancouver as far as Bridgport. There you change to the bus that goes directly to the Tswwassen Ferry Terminal. It is still a long trip, but the Skytrain is not subject to traffic jams. There is a trip planner facility on the Vancouver BC transit site which gives schedules and tells travellers who are not downtown how to get to the Skytrain. Unfortunately, the Victoria transit site does not have this helpful feature, but buses 70 (express), 72 and 73 link the Swartz Bay ferry terninal with downtown Victoria.
If possibly you're using Public Transit to get from the ferry terminal at Schwartz Bay to downtown Victoria there is more than one option...but the "Express" route is Number 70.
Just outside of the passenger terminal at Schwartz Bay there is a public bus stop easily found...and the transit time to the last stop downtown at Government and Superior Street is about 50 minutes...Fares will run you about $ 2.50 for a single adult...a Youth fare for ages 6-18 will cot you$ 1.40...
Yes, BC Transit is the cheapest and, if you choose the right route, fairly direct and fast option. Avoid the route 72 and 73 and stick with the 70. I decided to go to the Sidney night market last Thursday evening and made the mistake of getting on the 73 - it took over an hour to get from downtown Victoria to Sidney (so not even to the ferry).
On the way back I hopped on the 70 and it was much faster - probably about half the time of the other route. Also, I tend very slightly towards motion/car sickness and don't always feel 100% sitting upstairs in the double deckers - has anyone else experienced VERY slight nausea while sitting upstairs in the double deckers? Maybe it's just me but it's something to keep in mind.
A conveniet way to get to/from downtown Vancouver to downtown Victoria is by taking the Pacific Coach Lines buses. Its terminal in Victoria is located at the corner of Douglas and Belleville Street.
If you are in the ferry and want to take it to downtown Victoria, look for the stand selling the tickets, and at the appropiate hour, go to the low decks and take the bus all the way to the bus terminal.
It also offers service from downtown Victoria to the Vancouver Airport and vice versa.
I think the best way to go around Victoria is by its Regional Transit System which covers the entire city. You can ride all day with a day-pass which can be bought in Shoppers drugstores. Some of the busses are double decker. They are safe, clean and very punctual.
When you spot the red double-decker making its way to the bus stop, you know for sure you've made it to Victoria! For $3, bus route 70 will take you from the ferry terminal in Swartz Bay to downtown Victoria. There's a bus every half-hour or so during the day, and every hour on the hour in the evening (check the Website for more info). It takes about an hour to make it downtown and there are two stops located near the hotels around Inner Harbour (Douglas at Hillside, and Fairfield at Blanshard). Make sure to grab a seat on the upper deck near the front of the bus and enjoy the ride!
Pacific Coach Lines is the most hassle-free way of getting to Victoria from Vancouver if you don't plan to drive yourself, you don't want (or can't afford) to fly, and you don't feel like wasting time taking public transit.
They pick up passengers in Vancouver, then they drive them 40 km (25 miles) south to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal to which they drive on board the ferry. While on the ferry you disembark the bus and walk to the upper levels of the ferry for the 1 hour 35 minute crossing through the Gulf Islands. When you get close to the Swartz Bay ferry terminal on Vancouver Island, you get back on the bus. Once at Swartz Bay, the bus drives off the ferry and 22 miles down the highway into downtown Victoria. It then lets you off at the Victoria bus depot which is located behind the Empress Hotel, in the heart of downtown Victoria. (Of course, this is all done in reverse if you're leaving from Victoria).
As of June 2007, it costs $37.50 (before taxes) per adult one way. It's $73 (before taxes) return. Yes, this does include the price of the ferry. You don't need to make reservations, you just show up, but give yourself enough time to do so.
Note: If you purchase the tickets ahead of time from the Tourism Vancouver Tourist Info Centre, you can get a small discount.
Pacific Coach Lines also does pick up and drop offs at individual hotels in Vancouver, but for this you have to reserve at least 45 minutes ahead of time. They also do pick-ups and drop-offs from the Vancouver Airport.
Generally speaking, it takes about 3.5 to 4 hours to get from downtown Vancouver to downtown Victoria by Pacific Coach Lines. So factor this in if you're only going for a day trip. It takes about the same time as driving yourself, although taking public transit would take 4+ hours one way. If there are several of you going together, it's probably cheaper just to rent a car and drive yourselves, but for solo travellers or people who can't drive but have a lot of luggage, Pacific Coach Lines is the way to go.
Getting to Victoria from central Vancouver took a lot more time than I thought it would, if you can do an overnight there and spend a couple of days, I would highly recommend it.
We caught the 601 South Delta bus bus at 7 am from Vancouver, changed to the 620 Tsawwassen ferry bus bus at the Ladner Exchange and got to the ferry docks in time to catch the 9 am ferry. The ferry itself takes 95 minutes and then the double decker bus, which you catch just outside the ferry terminal, takes another hour although there is an express bus which is quicker. On the way back, we changed buses at the Airport Exchange and it took roughly the same amount of time to get back home.
If you have a car, you can bring your car on the ferry but I understand sometimes the car slots get filled up so look into getting an advance reservation. This certainly would cut down on the travel time but add to the expense.
I noticed something in Vancouver which I do not see in Toronto. The buses have a method of carrying bicycles. There is a special hook at the front of the bus. The cyclist attaches the bike to the front and then walks in. When the cylcist climbs off the bus at his/her destination, he/she removes the bike from the nose of the bus.
As much as us BCers complain about BC Transit, it is still the easiest way to get around Victoria if you are unable to walk. Individual trips are $2 for one zone while an all day pass through all zones is $6 (2006). Buses run to both the Butchart Gardens and the Vancouver Ferry Terminal at Sidney. Regular service on the main routes runs daily from 6am to just past midnight.
There are several very reasonable bus lines that transit Vancouver Island. I caught one in Nanaimo and had a pleasant journey to Victoria. I called ahead and even asked if they could make a special stop for me, and they were very helpful, actually stopped right on the side of the highway to pick me up. Visit the link below for a list of bus lines that service Vancouver Island.