Vancouver has a well-rounded transit system serving both Metro Vancouver and the Lower Mainland areas. TransLink, Metro Vancouver’s regional transportation authority, runs an accessible network of rapid transit, and other services. Both locals and visitors praise the convenience of public transit in Vancouver.
What is a compass card?
In Vancouver, passengers use “compass card” to pay fares for their public transit rides. Compass card makes automated fare collection possible through “readers”.
To use any public transit in Vancouver, you need to tap your card to the designated reader and pay your fare. For some, like the SkyTrain, you may also need to tap your card when exiting the station.
As of 2022, Compass Cards cost $6; this is a refundable deposit that can be taken back when you return your card.
Getting Your Card from the Compass Card Vending Machine
Getting Your Compass Card Online
What is U-Pass?
U-Pass refers to the partnership program between TransLink and the province of BC. The purpose of the U-Pass is to make transportation affordable for students in the region.
Most institutions in BC make it mandatory for their students to pay for a U-Pass through their tuition. Unless you are exclusively distance learning, you will be required to get a U-Pass to use public transit in Vancouver as a student.
For example, U-Pass costs $173.40 per academic term or $43.35 per month for UBC students (subject to change). (source)
Vancouver SkyTrain is a fully automated rapid transit system. The SkyTrain gets its name from the way it travels— above the ground! It is supported by tracks underground and elevated guideways above.
As of 2016, SkyTrain is the longest rapid transit system in Canada and the longest fully automated system in the world. (source)
There are 3 SkyTrain zones, each covering different areas of the city and beyond. (Read more: First Time in Vancouver)
Depending on where you want to go, you will have to travel between SkyTrain zones. You can determine the zones of your travel and estimate the cost based on the following chart:
|CASH FARES // CASH|
|CONTACTLESS PAYMENT FARES // TAP TO PAY|
|STORED VALUE // COMPASS CARD|
|MONTHLY PASSES // COMPASS CARD|
|DAY PASS // COMPASS CARD/TICKET|
|PASS TYPE||ALL ZONES – ALL-DAY|
According to the TransLink website, you can expect more frequent trains during peak hours, and lesser during regular hours.
To plan your trip, using public transit in Vancouver, and view schedules:
SkyTrain frequency is based on the following factors:
The wide net of public transit in Vancouver includes busses, trolleys, and community shuttles take passengers to Vancouver attractions, SkyTrain stations, and other common meeting areas easily and frequently.
Bikes are permitted in all public transit services in Vancouver with some restrictions.
Buses allow bikes on board:
Vancouver has a ride-share service for those who are unable to use conventional public transit; Translink’s HandyDART is a door-to-door service that assists its passengers.
HandyDART has two types of services:
According to TransLink, “If you have a physical, sensory, or cognitive disability and cannot use conventional public transit without assistance, you may be eligible to use HandyDART.” You can check out TransLink’s website and fill out an application form to use HandyDART services.
HandyDART trips are considered 1-Zone trips. You can use your Compass Card, credit card, cash or FareSavers (discontinued) to pay.
|Adult (19-64)||1-Zone Cash||$3.05|
Sales to be discontinued after Nov. 15, 2021
|1-Zone Monthly Pass on Compass Card||$100.25|
|1-Zone Stored Value on Compass Card||$2.45|
|Concession (13 to 18 and 65+)||1-Zone Cash||$2.00|
|1-Zone Stored Value on Compass Card||$2.00|
|Monthly Pass on Compass Cards*||$57.30|
Vancouver SeaBus is a passenger-only ferry, serving passengers between Downtown Vancouver and North Vancouver. The ferry departs every 15 mins in the daytime, running 7 days a week. The SeaBus rides take only 12 minutes!
Travelling on the SeaBus includes 2 fare zones, which means a ticket for the SeaBus is $4.25.
A day pass costs $10, which includes travelling with all the other public transit options in Vancouver. Similarly, you can also purchase a monthly pass for your compass card and use all transit options including the SeaBus.
The below chart was taken from TransLink’s website.
Departing from Waterfront
|DAY(S)||FIRST SEABUS||LAST SEABUS|
|Monday to Friday||6:16 a.m.||1:22 a.m.|
|Saturday||6:16 a.m.||1:22 a.m.|
|Sunday/Holidays||8:16 a.m.||11:16 p.m.|
Departing from Lonsdale Quay
|DAY(S)||FIRST SEABUS||LAST SEABUS|
|Monday to Friday||6:02 a.m.||1:00 a.m.|
|Saturday||6:02 a.m.||1:00 a.m.|
|Sunday/Holidays||8:02 a.m.||11:00 p.m.|
The West Coast Express (WCE) is a rail service between Downtown Vancouver and Mission City. Moreover, the service is provided during morning and evening rush hours. In the morning, the trains operate from Downtown Vancouver to Mission, and Mission to Downtown Vancouver. The WCE supports large commuter traffic of the public transit in Vancouver.
Morning departures start as early as 5:25 am and evening schedules end at 7:35 p.m.
Fares change depending on where you get on and off the train. You can use this link to get an estimate on your trip.
Is there space on the transit?
TransLink has a pilot program to assess bus capacity based on historical trends. You can check bus capacity beforehand to ensure you plan for your trip and arrive on time on the TransLink app. This pilot program runs until May 2022.
Read more about Room to Ride and other mobile programs
Download the Transit app
There are several apps and websites available to help you plan your next trip using public transit in Vancouver. You can use your computer, phone, or mobile device to find out when to leave, and arrive at your destination.