Bus and Rapid-Transit Travel

TransLink, Metro Vancouver's public transport system, includes bus service, a rapid transit system called SkyTrain, and a 400-passenger commuter ferry (SeaBus) that connects Downtown to the North Shore.

TransLink offers an electronic Compass Card system for single-fare tickets or stored-value cards, to be purchased at station vending machines before boarding. You "tap in" your ticket or card to the electronic reader when you board the SkyTrain or SeaBus; you "tap out" when you exit, which subtracts the fare from your card (you only have to "tap in" on buses). Cash fares (exact change required) can only be used for bus travel (single-fare tickets and stored-value cards are good for bus travel as well); SkyTrain and SeaBus fares must be purchased from machines (correct change isn't necessary). All fares are valid for 90 minutes and allow travel in any direction on the buses, SkyTrain, or SeaBus. Your Compass Card or single fare ticket must be carried with you as proof of payment. SkyTrain and SeaBus fares are based on zones (bus travel is considered one zone) and whether you have a stored-value Compass Card or single fare ticket: one zone (C$2.75 single fare, C$2.10 stored-value), two zones (C$4 single fare, C$3.15 stored-value), or three zones (C$5.50 single fare, C$4.20 stored-value). Fares go down in zones two and three in off-peak hours. Travel within the Vancouver city limits is a one-zone trip; traveling between Vancouver and the North Shore or from Vancouver to Richmond is two zones. You can also buy a day pass (on a Compass Card or single fare ticket) if you're planning to use the system frequently in one day (C$11 single/cash fare, C$9.75 stored-value, good all day across all zones).

A stored-value Compass Card does have its price: a C$6 refundable deposit. However, at a savings of 65 cents per ride in zone one (versus the single fare ticket), it'll pay off in just 10 rides. You can also get your deposit back if you return your card to the Customer Service Centre at Stadium-Chinatown Station. Also, note: all SkyTrain rides leaving YVR airport add a $5 fee to your fare. If you're traveling to the airport, the same fee does not apply.

SkyTrain is convenient for transit between Downtown, BC Place Stadium, Pacific Central Station, Science World, and Vancouver International Airport. SeaBus is the fastest way to travel between Downtown and the North Shore (there are bus connections to Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain). There is also a free shuttle from Canada Place to Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain in the summer.


TransLink. 604/953–3333; www.translink.ca.

Previous Travel Tip

What to Bring Home

Next Travel Tip

Ferry Travel


Book A Trip



  • CARS

Trip Finder

Fodor's Pacific Northwest

View Details