VANCOUVER, B.C.: Getting Around Sans Automobile

Vancouver, British Columbia is one of my favourite destinations any time of year, but is particularly beautiful in the spring and summer. So it is with great pleasure that I share excerpts from a communiqué I received from a colleague who works for TransLink, the city's public transportation system.

As the cherry and plum blossoms re-appear and daylight starts stretching further past quitting time, Metro Vancouver is getting ready to welcome people from other parts of the world. The region was recently named the World’s Most Livable City, and one of the reasons for that (if we may say so ourselves) is the public transportation system.

Once one arrives, it’s remarkably easy to get around without a private vehicle, and with the current high price of gasoline (in the neighborhood of US $5.60 per gallon), that’s a particular “plus”.

Whether your tastes tend towards nightclubs, the theater, sports or enjoying the great outdoors on the fabulous beaches, parks and mountain activities, public transit can get you there. Service runs 21 hours a day (23 on some routes) and iconic elements like SkyTrain and SeaBus make it virtually a “destination transit system”.

SkyTrain Until last summer, this was the longest driverless automated metro rail system in the world (until Dubai opened its most recent line). SkyTrain was inaugurated as part of the 1986 World’s Fair (Expo 86), where the theme was transportation. Today, three SkyTrain lines serve Metro Vancouver.

Canada Line is the first taste of the transit system for many travelers – those arriving at Vancouver International Airport (YVR). You can get downtown in less than half an hour for CAN$8.75 or CAN$7.50 after 6:30pm and on weekends (including a one-time $5 surcharge for arriving travellers) – about a third of the cost of a cab ride.

Expo and Millennium Line These lines run 30 feet above ground (for the most part), giving a magnificent view of the region: the North Shore mountains, Mount Baker in Washington State, a panoramic view of the city of Vancouver and the Fraser River Delta and Gulf of Georgia from SkyBridge – the longest transit-only bridge in the world. It also doesn’t hurt that between them, the three SkyTrain lines take you to no fewer than 10 major shopping malls!

SeaBus SeaBus is particularly popular in the summer.

The trip across Vancouver harbour between downtown Vancouver and the North Shore is a thrill in itself. The 12-minute journey gives you mountain views, a sight of the working harbor, a unique look at Stanley Park. Watch for the occasional harbor seal popping up to check you out!

Get on the bus! With some 200 bus routes – including one of the last remaining fleets of zero-emission electric trolley buses in North America – it’s remarkably easy to get to attractions including:

  • Popular beaches
  • The Grammy-award-winning Vancouver Symphony and other Granville Street nightlife
  • The eclectic circus on Commercial Drive
  • The distinguished UBC Museum of Anthropology
  • Sports, including Whitecaps Major League Soccer and BC Lions football at Empire Field
  • The major league baseball stars of tomorrow at Nat Bailey Stadium
  • Great fishing – and great fish and chips and BC’s oldest brew pub -- at Horseshoe Bay
... and a whole lot more. Take pretty much any destination, plug it into the TransLink Trip Planner on the front page of the website,, and get the directions you need.

Single-ticket fares vary in price and are good for 90 minutes. DayPasses are available for CAN$9 for adults; CAN$7 for seniors and children over 5.

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Photo courtesy TransLink
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