Vancouver’s public transportation is comprehensive and most services are managed by TransLink , the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority; which offers bus, metro, and marine services. SkyTrain is the city's Automated Rapid Transit which has three lines, Expo, Millennium, Canada, that radiate from the downtown peninsula. A fourth line, Evergreen, is under construction and expected to be in service by 2016.  West Coast Express is the city's commuter rail service, running mostly during commuter rush hour periods. SeaBus is the city's passenger ferry service from Waterfront Station to Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver.  West Vancouver operates its own bus sytem commonly called Blue Buses.  They travel between Vancouver and West Vancouver destinations such as Horseshoe Bay.  Their bus schedules are included in the Translink website, same fare structure, for seamless travel planning.

In addition to Translink services, Vancouver hosts a variety of other transit options including passenger boats (or water taxis, or harbour ferries,) to/from Granville Island, floatplane service at the Vancouver Harbour Water Aerodrome at the foot of the Coal Harbour neighbourhood, and helicopter service from Waterfront StationSkyRide, at the base of Grouse Mountain, is an aerial tram that offers transit up the mountain (and one of the best views of the city and metro area).

The SkyTrain system:

Canada Line (North-South)

This metro line has two routes from downtown, to Richmond Centre and Airport. Signage on the cars will be either "Richmond/Brighouse - Waterfront" or "YVR/Airport - Waterfront".

The line travels north-south from Waterfront Station to Bridgeport Station, then forks to either Richmond/Brighouse Station or YVR/Airport Station. The trains alternate between the two destinations.  Travel time for either route is 26 minutes. All downtown stations and all but one Vancouver city stations are underground while all Richmond and Airport stations are elevated.

The Canada Line platform at Waterfront Station is linked to the other SkyTrain lines (Expo and Millennium), West Coast Express commuter rail, and Seabus and helicopter platforms by a 100 m underground tunnel into the large hall of the old CPR Station.  Continue through the north side doors in the direction the train arrives. 

The most popular stop on Canada Line is the central downtown Vancouver Entertainment District (Vancouver City Centre Station) at the heart of Georgia Street and Granville/Robson Street. Other popular destinations are Vancouver City Hall (Broadway-City Hall Station), Oakridge Centre (Oakridge Station), and Aberdeen Centre (Aberdeen Station). This line is popularly called Canada Line. Expo, Millenium and Evergreen are popularly called Skytrain. 

Expo Line (East-West)

Expo Line is the original metro route and is where the name SkyTrain was conceived - "a metro train in the sky". The line travels east-west from downtown to the suburb of Surrey in the south east central section of the region. Signage on the trains will be "Waterfront - King George". Travel time from Waterfront Station to King George Station is 40 minutes.

Traveling east from Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver, the Expo and Millenium lines follow the same track to the Columbia Station in New Westminster, where the lines separate and Expo Line crosses SkyBridge at the Fraser River into Surrey.

** If you are traveling to any destinations along the stretch until Columbia, you do not need to worry about which line you get on. If you are heading to Coquitlam or Surrey, then you need to make sure you are on the correct train, or switch trains at Columbia Station.

All stations in downtown Vancouver are underground (or ground, depending on your elevation) and all other stations (except Columbia Station) are elevated.

Expo Line provides easy access to popular areas like The Drive in Vancouver city (Broadway/Commercial Drive Station), Chinatown (Stadium-Chinatown Station), Metrotown (Metrotown Station), Pacific Central Station [bus, rail] and Science World (Main Street Station) and downtown New Westminster (New Westminster Station).

Millenium Line (Loop, East-West)

Millennium Line travels east-west from downtown to the suburb of Burnaby, then loops back into Vancouver city currently terminating at VCC/Clark Station (eventually to be extended east under the central Broadway corridor to terminate at UBC). Signage on the trains will be "Waterfront - VCC/Clark" via "Columbia Station".

The current routing of the Millennium Line is in the shape of a reclining number 6 with an elongated loop, in an east-west direction from downtown.  It shares stops with the Expo Line eastbound from Waterfront Station to Columbia Station in suburban New Westminster at which point Millennium Line curls into the northern side of its loop at the Coquitlam/Burnaby boundary at Lougheed Mall Station, then travels westbound past Brentwood Mall Station to meet up with the Expo Line back at the "stem" of the 6 at Commercial Drive/Broadway Station then continues to the terminus at VCC/Clark Station.  A transfer to the Expo Line is necessary at Broadway Station to reach downtown Vancouver when traveling the Millennium Line's VCC/Clark Station routing.  Broadway and Commercial Drive stations are side by side. Hence mostly known as Broadway/Commercial Drive Station.

The travel time from Waterfront Station to Columbia Station is 30 minutes and from Broadway/Commercial Drive Station to Columbia Station is 25 minutes.  Millennium Line trains travel in both directions, it's not a one way loop. All Millennium Line stations (aside from the aformentioned downtown and Columbia Street stations) are elevated.

Millenium and Expo lines both stop at Main Street Station, where there is an easy 4 minute walk to  Pacific Central Station (Intercity bus, VIA Rail, and Amtrak).

Bus:

Coast Mountain Bus is the bus component of the TransLink service.  It serves: 

*Vancouver International Airport

*BC Ferries: both Tsawwassen Terminal and Horseshoe Bay Terminal

*Vancouver City

*The North Shore:  North Vancouver, West Vancouver

*To the East:  Burnaby, New Westminster, Port Moody, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, Mission.

*To the Southeast:  Surrey, Langley

*To the South:  Richmond, Delta, Tsawwassen, White Rock

SeaBus:

The TransLink SeaBus plies Burrard Inlet from the downtown core’s to North Vancouver.  SeaBus is a passenger-only catamaran with a seating capacity of 400.  The spectacular crossing from Waterfront Station to Lonsdale Quay takes 12 minutes.

SeaBus is on a proof-of-payment ("honour") system; you should pay for your fare before entering the SeaBus terminal, and you may be asked to show your ticket to a fare inspector before boarding. Large electronic displays inside and outside the terminal count down the time until the arrival of the next SeaBus. The North Vancouver SeaBus terminal is right next to the popular Lonsdale Quay public market.

Fares

Compass Card - a preloaded fare card is coming in the summer/fall of 2014.  Information about it can be found in this TA Article.

TransLink uses a fare zone system, so fares may differ depending on how many zones you plan to traverse as well as the time at which you travel. You can travel for up to 90 minutes in the zone you have purchased on one fare, and all transfers between SkyTrain, bus, and SeaBus are covered by that fare for the allotted time. You should keep your transfer as proof of payment.

Adult fares run at $2.75 for one zone, $4.00 for two, or $5.50 for three during regular weekday hours. “Concession” fares, including children between 5 and 13 and seniors over 65 years of age, cost $1.75, $2.75 and $3.75 for one, two and three zones respectively. On weekdays after 6:30 pm or all day on weekends and statutory holidays, the discount fare for all three zones cost adults $2.75 and concession fares $1.75. If you are planning to ride for longer than 90 minutes or make multiple trips in a day between zones, it may be worth your money to purchase a day pass, which costs $9.75 for adults and $7.50 for concession fares.  You cannot buy a day pass at the airport station, but you can buy one at the other train stations (which you can do even if you plan to take the bus).  When using the train, be sure to run your paper ticket (single ride or day pass looks the same) through the validation machine, which is a small, short machine located next to the ticket vending machines.

A single ticket purchased on a bus needs exact fare in coins.  At the ticket vending machines at the stations, you can use your credit card.   In 2013, the Compass Card, a loadable plastic card, will be inaugurated.  Details to come.

Faresaver tickets, in a book of 10 tickets, are available at many stores in the Vancouver area. A book costs $21, $31.50 and $42 (1, 2, 3 zones respectively). Riders over 65 can buy faresavers for $17.50. Canada Line passengers departing the airport at YVR-Airport Station will need to pay a $5 surcharge when buying a single ticket, unless they buy Faresavers or Day Passes available at the Pharmasave or 7-Eleven in the Domestic Terminal.

For services not provided by Translink, please refer to them for their fare and scheduling options.

Accessibility

All Translink options (bus, skytrain and seabus) are fully accessible for those with disabilities. 

Go the TransLink website, at www.translink.bc.ca, and use the "Trip Planner" function to plan out your route.  Enter a "from" and "to" address to get specific information for your trip.  Landmarks can also be used instead of addresses.  Or print out one of the detailed downloadable maps to get a sense of how you'll get from here to there.  Google Maps can also give transit directions for Vancouver; go to www.maps.google.com, select "Get directions", and make sure to specify "by public transit" (at the bottom of the "get directions" box) rather than the default "by car".

Transportation other than Public Transit

West Coast Express:

WCE offers Commuter Rail service from downtown to suburban Mission, BC in the far eastern section of the metropolitan area. The Waterfront Station rail platform is currently the only stop in the city of Vancouver, but there are stops at suburbs along the way to the Mission terminus including Coquitlam, Port Moody, Port Coquitlam , Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, and Port Haney. WCE runs mostly during commuter rush hour periods.

Passenger (Foot) Ferries

The two ferry services that connect Granville Island with downtown are outside of TransLink’s fee structure.  They are known as False Creek Ferries and Aquabus Ferries, and both provide numerous runs from the island to various stops on the False Creek side of the downtown peninsula.  

Floatplanes:

Floatplanes land in downtown Vancouver's harbour at the Vancouver Harbour Water Aerodrome, at the foot of the Coal Harbour neighbourhood. There are two airlines (or more?) providing service to Victoria, Nanaimo, Tofino, and other popular destinations. Floatplanes are not affiliated with Translink and have their own fare systems but are nevertheless integral to Vancouver's transit and transportation options.

Heliport:

HeliJet offers helicopter service from downtown Vancouver to Victoria and YVR/Vancouver International Airport. Passengers can enter either from Waterfront Station or can drive up to the helipad on Waterfront Boulevard. This service is not affiliated with Translink and has its own fare system.

2Vancouver also has transportation info.