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Vancouver’s public transit system is managed by TransLink, Metro Vancouver's regional transportation authority. The publkic transit system includes public bus and rapid transit services and a cross harbour ferry. SkyTrain is the city's Automated Rapid Transit system with 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 between Vancouver's Waterfront Station and Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver. Buses are operated by Coast Mountain Bus in all areas of Metro Vancouver other than West Vancouver which operates its own bus system (Blue Buses). The Blue Bus system includes an express service between Vancouver and BC Ferry's Horseshoe Bay terminal. Trip planning, schedules, maps and details of fares are available on the Translink's website. One fare structure applies for all buses, Skytrain, and the SeaBus.
Besides Translink, other transportation options in Metro Vancouver include passenger boats (or water taxis, or harbour ferries,) to/from Granville Island, and the SkyRide at the base of Grouse Mountain, which is an aerial tram that offers transit up the mountain (and one of the best views of the city and metro area). Longer distance regional transportation is provided by floatplanes at the Vancouver Harbour Water Aerodrome at the foot of the Coal Harbour neighbourhood, helicopters from Waterfront Station, BCFerries services for vehicles and foot passengers from terminals at Horseshoe Bay and Tsawwassen, and intercity coach services from bus depots in Vancouver and Coquitlam.
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 Burnaby, then loops back into Vancouver city currently terminating at VCC/Clark Station (with plans for an eastward extension under the central Broadway corridor to terminate at Arbutus, part way to 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 line trains both stop at Main Street Station, where there is an easy 4 minute walk to Pacific Central Station (Intercity bus, VIA Rail, and Amtrak).
Coast Mountain Bus operates Translink bus services, with a few exceptions as noted
*BC Ferries Tsawwassen and Horseshoe Bay Terminals
*The North Shore: North Vancouver, West Vancouver (West Vancouver Blue Bus)
*To the East: Burnaby, New Westminster, Port Moody, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, Mission (BC Transit).
*To the Southeast: Surrey, Langley
*To the South: Richmond, Delta, Tsawwassen, White Rock
The TransLink SeaBusplies Burrard Inlet from the downtown Vancouver 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.
WCE offers Commuter Rail service between downtown Vancouver and suburban Mission, BC in the far eastern section of the metropolitan area. Between Vanouver's Waterfront Station and Mission City, the train stops at Port Moody, Coquitlam Central, Port Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows, Maple Meadows, and Port Haney. Trains make 5 trips westbound from Mission to Vancouver in the morning and return eastbound to Mission in the afternoon. In addition, a bus service called the "Train-Bus" provides a slower service to the same stations, with two trips westbound after the morning trains and and 5 trips eastbound before and after the afternoon trains.
EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 5, 2015: bus users, on buses only, will be able to travel across all zones on a one-zone fare ticket all day every day. This is to get around the inability to tap out when getting off the buses. Regular fares will apply if taking Canada Line, Skytrain and Seabus and will tranfer to the buses. This is a temporary measure with no idea at this time how long temporary will be.
Compass Card - a preloaded fare card is coming. Compass Cards were issued to certain pass holders in 2014, are being rolled out to university and college students in 2015, and will eventually replace all older-style passes and faresaver tickets. Single use Compass tickets will be still available but such tickets purchased on the bus will not allow for transfers to Skytrain. For more Information see this TA Article.
TransLink uses a 3-zone fare system with each ticket or pass valid for 90 minutes on all bus, Skytrain and Seabus services within the puchased zone, with no restrictions on transfers. After 6:30 pm and on weekends and holidays, a one zone ticket or pass is good for all zones. You should keep your transfer as proof of payment. Additional fares apply on the West Coast Express service,
Single fares. Regular adult fares are $2.75 for one zone, $4.00 for two, or $5.50 for three zones. Regular fares apply on weekdays before 6:30 pm. “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. After 6:30 pm weekdays, and all day on weekends and holidays, the adult fare throughout the whole system is $2.75 and the concession fare is $1.75.
Bus drivers have no change - exact fare in coins is required for a single fare bought on the bus. Ticket vending machines at the stations accept credit cards, and give change if you use bills or coins.
No extra fare is payable for bicycles on transit. Bicycles are allowed on buses and skytrains subject to time-of-day and space limitations
How to avoid the $5 Surcharge. A $5 airport departure surcharge is applied to
single tickets at the Airport Station. Buying prepaid tickets such as
Faresavers and Day Passes at the 7-Eleven in the Domestic Terminal will
avoid paying the $5 surcharge.
Day Passes and Faresavers. 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 $7.75 for concession fares, effective 7 days a week. Adult Faresaver tickets, in a book of 10 tickets, cost $21, $31.50 and $42 (1, 2, 3 zones respectively). A book of Concession 1-zone Faresavers costs $17.50. Concession faresaver users travelling beyond 1 zone during the regular fare period shoudl purchase an addfare.
At the airport, Day Passes and Faresavers must be purchased in the Domestic Terminal Arrivals level 1 at 7-Eleven or Pharmacare. Remember to validate your paper ticket (single ride or day
pass looks the same) in the small, short validation machine located
next to the ticket vending machines on the platform before boarding. Day Passes can also be purchased at other train stations and at vendors throughout
the 3 zone system. Faresavers at vendors throughout the 3 zone system.
For services not provided by Translink, please refer to them for their fare and scheduling options.
Translink options (Bus, Skytrain, Seabus and Westcoast Express) are very close to 100% 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".
Other Public Transportation in Metro Vancouver
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 Ferriesand Aquabus Ferries, and both provide numerous runs from the island to various stops on the False Creek side of the downtown peninsula.
Transportation to regional destinations beyond Metro Vancouver
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
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.
BC Ferries (Vehicles and foot passengers):
Separate BC Ferries' routes link Horseshoe Bay (West Vancouver) with Departure Bay for Nanaimo, Bowen Island, and Langdale for the Sunshine Coast. Ferry routes from Tsawwassen include Swartz Bay for Victoria, Duke Point for Nanaimo, and various Southern Gulf Islands. Tsawwassen is accessible from downtown Vancouver via the Canada line and a bus. Horseshoe Bay is linked to downtown Vancouver by a West Vancouver Blue Bus service. There is public bus service between Swartz Bay and downtown Victoria. Between Vancouver and Victoria separate fares must be paid for the ferry and the transit at each end. Alternatively, for a faster trip between downtown Vancouver and downtown Victoria, you can take the Pacific Coach Lines through bus that travels on the ferry. In Vancouver do not board trolleybus #20 with the destination sign "Victoria" as this goes to Victoria Drive in Vancouver, not to Victoria on Vancouver Island.
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