Vancouver Transit Tips

Tips and advice for trouble free trips on Vancouver transit while sightseeing and visiting attractions

  • Dress for the weather. While all SkyTrain stations and many Vancouver bus shelters are undercover, when travelling by transit you will be doing some walking and waiting for connections. You wont want to be uncomfortable, so check the weather forecast and wear or bring appropriate clothing. A compact umbrella is always a good idea in Vancouver although our summer months are usually quite dry, the rest of the year Vancouver has its share of rainy days.

  • Always double check where you sat just before exiting any transit vehicle to make sure you've left nothing behind. We often find wallets, purses, cellphones, umbrellas, jewellery, or bus passes left on seats of buses. Losing something like this can really spoil your day, so double check that you have all your belongings with you before getting off. If you do loose something try to remember the bus route, direction of travel and time of day when it was lost and contact Lost Property at 604-682-7887. The Lost Property office is located at Stadium SkyTrain Station.

  • If your trip is originating on a bus and you haven't already purchased a Compass Card or Compass Ticket and loaded it with a Day pass or stored value at at SkyTrain Station or Vending Machine, you must have the exact coin fare ready. Unlike SkyTrain or SeaBus ticket vending machines, fare boxes on buses do not accept paper money, charge cards or debit cards. You cannot purchase a day pass on a bus, however you can use a day pass purchased SkyTrain ticket vending machine for boarding a bus. See Fares for more info.

  • Be sure you are standing at the correct bus stop. Many Vancouver buses do not stop at all stops. They may be express or they may have a designated stop in the next block. In the downtown core suburban routes and city routes usually have stops in alternating blocks, as there are too many buses to have them all stopping in every block. Most stops served by more than one route have the route numbers and names listed on the bus stop sign. Only the buses listed will stop there. If you have a cell phone you can text the 5 digit number on the bus stop sign to "33333" on your mobile phone and you will immediately receive a text of when the next 5 buses are scheduled to arrive at that stop. Do not remain sitting on the bus shelter bench as your bus approaches - it must be clear to the driver that you want the bus or he/she may pass by. Indicate to the driver that you would like his or her bus by making eye contact and taking a step toward the bus stop sign. During rush hour buses sometimes fill up, but service is very frequent and another bus will be along within a few minutes.

  • If you see a yellow and white cardboard sign attached to the bus stop you are waiting at be sure to read it. It is likely advising you of a re-route or bus stop closure that will require you to wait for the bus in a different location.

  • Make sure you catch your bus going in the right direction. Don't just go by the route number. At some Vancouver SkyTrain stations buses use the same loading bay for both directions of travel so if you just go by the route number you may end up on a bus taking you in the opposite direction from your destination. To avoid going out of your way it is important to pay attention to the both the route number and the destination. If you have any doubt at all when boarding the bus just ask the driver to confirm it is going to your destination or transfer point.

  • The destination on the sign of a bus does not mean that particular bus is the quickest way to that location, rather it simply refers to terminus where the bus will end its trip. The route may be direct, but it can also be very circuitous going many miles out of your way. A different bus may be more direct. Again be sure to ask the driver if you are not 100% sure.

  • Many bus routes are express, having limited stops through all or a portion of their route. This is good for getting you somewhere quickly, but not so good if the bus doesn't stop where you are going. The word express is not always indicated on the bus destination sign, so again it's always a good idea to confirm that the bus stops at or near your intended destination.

  • All buses have an automated system which announces all upcoming stops over the PA system as well as displaying the name of the upcoming stop on an overhead lighted LED display.

  • If you are trying to orient yourself in Vancouver, just remember North is where the mountains are - in fact they are often referred to as the North Shore Mountains. Of course, if the weather is bad you may not be able to see the mountains, so hopefully you can ask a local who has a good sense of direction!

  • When travelling later at night be sure not to miss the last bus or SkyTrain. Generally SkyTrain service ends near 1:00am on weekdays and Saturdays and near midnight on Sundays and Holidays. To be safe I would suggest you be at a station at least 30 minutes prior to these times. There are night buses on designated routes in Metro Vancouver which offer limited service through the night, but waits can be up to one hour. To see when the last train or bus serves a specific station check Translink's website.

  • Drinking and eating on transit is sort of against policy however it is not strictly enforced. Generally speaking you can bring a drink onto transit vehicles as long as it has a lid on it. Please don't expect to board on a hot day with an ice cream cone in your hand and please do your part by taking your empty cups etc off when are you leaving.

  • Much of the above pertains to travel on buses as SkyTrain is easier to figure out than the many bus routes and stopping procedures. All SkyTrain cars have route diagrams on the overhead panels where you can monitor your progress towards your destination as you travel. There are many uniformed attendants that move around the SkyTrain system so don't hesitate to approach them for assistance.

  • Take advantage of Tranlink's Trip Planner to help plan your trip.

  • Bottom line is if in doubt ask questions at the start of your trip, not later when you may have to backtrack.

More Info for Getting Around Vancouver on Public Transportation

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