While many destinations and attractions in Vancouver are just a short walk from a SkyTrain Station others will require a connection via a Vancouver bus. Vancouver's bus system serves the 2700 square kilometre Metro Vancouver area making it one of the largest unified bus networks in North America. When you purchase a SkyTrain or Seabus fare, you can use it to transfer to a city bus during its validity period. The bus system is easy to use, but be sure to read Transit tips before you go. Navigating the city by bus is the most likely area for visitors to experience problems if they are not prepared. As a former Metro Vancouver transit operator, I interacted with 1000s of tourists, many confused as they try to navigate around the city. I am sharing my experience here to help you have smooth and enjoyable trips.
Metro Vancouver transit buses are operated by Coast Mountain Bus Company except West Vancouver “Blue Buses” which are operated by the District of West Vancouver. Governance and funding for both are through Translink. Much of Vancouver is serviced by electric trolley buses which get their power through overhead wires and switches. Buses travelling into the suburban areas run on diesel, hybrid or compressed natural gas. Most new buses in the system are now Hybrid (diesel and electric combined). All buses have bike racks which accommodate two bikes on the front and almost all buses are wheelchair user accessible.
Purchasing and validating your Vancouver bus fare
When you enter a Vancouver transit bus and are paying with a Faresaver or “bus-only” ticket, simply drop your fare media lightly into the left hand slot on the fare box with the magnetic strip towards you and the arrow pointing down. The electronic fare box will read or validate your fare and eject it again. Be sure to retrieve and retain it for transferring to other buses, or in case there’s a fare inspection. If paying with cash, have the exact coin fare ready. Drop it in the coin slot on the right side of the fare box. Avoid dumping in a large amount of small change at once. It will usually jam the farebox. Tickets purchased on buses are valid on buses for 90 minutes in all 3 Zones. Use on SkyTrain or Seabus is subject to zones, so an add fare may be required. When the new faregates become fully operational, tickets purchased on buses will no longer provide access to the SkyTrain or Seabus.
If you are boarding with a Compass Card or Compass Ticket, tap the card or ticket on the card reader beside the farebox. Fares - how much and where to purchase for more information on purchasing your Vancouver bus fare.
Obtaining a Vancouver Bus Map
Transit system maps showing bus routes can be downloaded from Translink. You can download a complete system map which will give you a good overview of the entire region showing all SkyTrain lines and major connecting bus routes, but you may find the more compact printable Downtown Vancouver Bus Map more helpful for getting around the downtown core where many of the tourist attractions are located. Sometimes, if you are lucky, you will find a Vancouver bus map and schedule booklet on the bus, but their availability is pretty hit and miss.
Best Bus Routes for Sightseeing
Vancouver has some good bus routes for sightseeing on public transit. Between the 5 Robson and the 6 Davie bus you can enjoy a circuitous route through Vancouver's West End passing by English Bay, trendy Robson Street and within walking distance of Stanley Park.
An outstanding route for sightseeing is the #250 Horseshoe Bay Blue Bus which you can catch westbound along West Georgia Street in downtown Vancouver. It makes its way through Stanley Park, crossing the Lions Gate Bridge high above Burrard Inlet, then continues west along Marine Drive where you will see some of the city’s most expensive homes overlooking the water. Eventually you’ll arrive at the little seaside village of Horseshoe Bay, where you’ll enjoy watching the Ferries and boats come and go. There’s also a #257 Express Bus to Horseshoe bay, but its route is less scenic, although it still passes through Stanley Park and over the Lions Gate Bridge.
On the weekend enjoy a ride on the C19 bus which runs from West 10th Avenue and Alma out to the University of British Columbia. Its route follows part of NW Marine Drive passing by Jericho Beach and Locarno Beach Park and many beautiful homes along the way.
We provide easy instructions for getting to every attraction listed in our page about what to see in Vancouver. Review the information on Transit tips too; a little knowledge will go a long way toward making your travel go smoothly.
Official Website: http://www.translink.ca/