Vancouver's Transit System

For those of you who may not know, I am apart of an amazing female travelling group on Facebook that helps connect women together for meet-ups and free accommodations. It has been such a marvelous part of our lives and we’ve been so happy to participate in it again now that travelers are back to exploring again. Since the group has been back in action we’ve been given the opportunity to host 3 different, wonderful ladies already, just this month alone! This is exactly what compelled me to write this post as I have come to realize explaining our transit system to travelers is definitely confusing. So here are a few things to know about Vancouver’s Transit system – for the beginners out there.

Know Your Fares

Like most places around the world things in Vancouver are forever changing which means that fares for the bus and skytrains likely have too. Always make sure to check official Translink BC websites in order to see the most up to date information in regards to fares, day pass and monthly pass cost options. If you know you are visiting for a month then going with a monthly pass is your most cost effective option, especially if transit is your main mode of transportation in Vancouver. A day pass is a great option if you are planning on traveling throughout the city (multiple locations all over) for a whole day. This will usually include traveling through multiple zones and if you are going to be using buses AND skytrains a day pass is your perfect option. Single fare is great if you just need to get from A to B in morning then back from B to A at the end of your day.

Vancouver's Transit System

Here Is Where Things Can Get Tricky

Now, in our experience, most travelers coming to visit Vancouver aren’t keen to invest in the plastic Compass Card for their stay or don’t want to tap their Credit. This is where things can get a little complicated for our tourists.

Tickets/Transfers – If you are getting your fair at the skytrain terminal your transfer card will work for both skytrain and buses. BUT if you begin on a bus paying in change, wanting to transfer to the skytrain then the paper transfer the bus driver gives you will not work for the skytrain. This means they will have to repay to get onto the skytrain. Of course all of this is avoidable with the compass card or using credit but if that isn’t preferred this is information that any traveler will need to know to help save them from wasteful spending.

Skytrain Transfer Stations – If you are not familiar with the city, or aren’t comfortable with using transit in general you may find some of our transfer stations confusing. These are the stations where multiple lines converge into one station, some trains running on some tracks are going to different locations than you need so make sure you plan ahead. Know your route, pay attention to signage at the station and on each train arriving/departing, and don’t be afraid to use the maps at the stations and ask for help. Planning ahead and knowing when to ask for clarification help ensure you don’t get on the wrong trains and end up at the wrong end of the city than you planned.

Vancouver's Transit System


I don’t want this to be a section that is all fear mongering so please take all this information with a grain of salt. Generally speaking you are safe on our public transit system but, like with all cities you should always be prepared and aware of your surroundings. Any tourist in our city with the ability to google can see we’ve had our fair share of issues along transit; whether it is on a bus, on the skytrain, or waiting at stops there is an element of danger. So here are a few of my suggestions: always be careful where you wait for your buses, never wear headphones at a volume where you can’t hear your surroundings, use a theft proof bag. Taking these precautions will keep you, and any new visitor to our city, safer and happier while riding and traveling around our city.

IF you do experience an emergency on Vancouver Transit there are several people you can contact:
911 for local authorities (RCMP) if you or someone near you is having an emergency.
Transit Police Call: 604.515.8300 Text: 87.77.77 or Use SeeSay app for Android

Image from Translink BC website

NightBus Options

One of the best parts about being young and traveling in Vancouver is enjoying our night life. Thankfully, to help cut back on costs of Uber rides or Taxis Vancouver has a BUNCH of nightbus options that branch out from the downtown core. Running into the wee hours of every morning you can always get back to your host house, hotel, or airbnb. This makes travelling on a budget a little bit easier if you are already enjoying our expensive night life along Granville. Our skytrain systems so run till about 1am which is great if you don’t plan on being out past midnight – that will also mean most of the main buses will still be running. Nightbuses are usually for the times between 3am and 6am.

Whether you are travelling on Vancouver’s transit system as a local or a tourist I hope this helps you prepare and navigate our amazing city.


  1. What an incredible post, so helpful for those traveling to Vancouver – using our transit system! I have no doubt you will help so many (if you have not already) with this travel-friendly resource.

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