The Vancouver Skytrain and West Coast Express trains, as well as the public buses (Coast Mountain Bus) and Sea Bus are the major forms of Public transportation in Vancouver, British Columbia.
This travel tips page would focus mainly on the Vancouver Sky train as doing buses and trains (public bus, seabus and West coast Express) have different angles in commuting. So, let's begin ourskytrain travels now...
Vancouver Skytrain Checklist and Travel Notes
Here's a travel checklist (including safety ) so you may be aware earlier of what's needed before you hop and while you're onboard the Vancouver Skytrain:
- Travel fares or tickets are required - you may purchase fares from convenience stores (such as 711), supermarkets (TNT, Superstore, Safeway) and other Translink-accredited outlets.Make sure you validate these tickets from validating machines also located within stations.
Tickets are also available on ATM-like fare dispensers, which are located in all Skytrain stations (sometimes located on Concourses) payable with major credit cards, coins and paper bills.
- Check the Zone maps or routes - you would need to definitely ask around some Skytrain attendants for instructions on how to use the fare dispensers to be able to know exactly which zone or route you're heading. You may also try to experiment by yourself, but consider spending some time and money on the first place, just like spending a small amount of "Skytrain tuition fee" for errors.
- Keep your fares for surprise inspections - most tickets purchased from dispensers, expire after around one and a half hours. Commuters who don't have valid tickets get fined (ticketed) for such violation. So, make sure you got an updated or validated ticket.
- Skytrains have access for wheelchairs - look for signs within the train. Most of these seats (folding) are located at both "nose and tail" train cars.
- Strollers, kids, toddlers and infants allowed - no special place to stow them strollers, but if you're looking for more convenience and wanted to seat as well as "park" your stroller at the same time while seating, you may use the special access seats, but make sure people with special needs get their seats, in case they drop by.
- There are no luggage compartments within the trains (but Canada Line, newer, blue trains have wider accommodations )- there are no restrictions seen, yet on this, but better bring something light-weight with wheels, as elevators and escalators are sometimes out of service if not, most of the time serviced or maintained.
- No washrooms in the train.
- Trains are crowded at regular peak times (before and just after office and school hours. Be prepared to stand at these busy times.
- Take note of directions (which way is East or West?)- it might be confusing at first considering the crowd and the routes but try to experiment if you have the time and money to spend (see our Experimentation tip below).
- Do not share or sell your un-expired tickets. It is against the law - you'll get fined. Forget the temptation, even if it's money for nothing!
- No smoking onboard.
- Don't forget that the Vancouver skytrains don't have a physical driver onboard. It's virtual, well, somewhere, somehow, controlled by a computer, still probably, by a live Transllink person.
- Remember to check maps.google.ca before your trips, it works for us most of the time.
- Remember that drivers are not robots or travel experts in and around Vancouver, as well as around the Tri-Cities, be confident, research before commuting, ask around and check maps.google.ca always, this is really an investment map - throw away your paper maps! Fortunately, Google chose Vancouver BC as one of the first cities in Canada, to be included in this travel database, so make use of it right now - save time and sanity.
- Check signs or better yet, check with a Skytrain attendant first, before bringing in your bikes within the trains, as there are some restrictions - time and places allowed.
- There are bike lockers available just below some Skytrain stations, at this time of writing, we saw bike lockers at the Rupert and Lougheed Skytrain stations. These lockers are not free, though. Again, check with the Vancouver Skytrain attendants.
- We actually experienced people fighting, smashing each other onboard the Vancouver Skytrain. It was a holiday and the train was almost full - imagine tons of toddlers and baby boomers onboard on their holiday being spoiled by such surprise! So, make sure you know how to press the Security buttons on the train. There are 2 locations ( at this time of writing ) - one yellow strip just seated on the windows, and the others, which are large buttons, located on the trains' walls, just close to the doors. Be alert and smart to seek a Vancouver Skytrain attendant for help. Better yet, find a Skytrain police, usually onboard or in the stations, in these times of risks.
Vancouver Skytrain Travel Experimentations
Note: Only do this if you have the time and budget. This is only intended as a quick guide for the routings.
Please visit Translink'swebsite for accurate travel scheduling and info.
Also, please note that it is a "must"to check your tickets or fares before embarking on the Skytrain as there are surprise checks by both police and skytrain personnel on and off board.
We've heard stories that some violators even go to court - what a "kill joy" and waste of time investment.
The Vancouver Skytrain Travel Experiment - Mastering Skytrain Travels within the Tri-Cities
Remember this first:
"Surrey is East, while Waterfront is West".
Update!: YVR or the Vancouver International Airport, can be reached easily, now, through the Canada Line (also a Vancouver skytrain ), via the Waterfront station. You may also take the West Coast Express train, as well as the Sea-Bus (going towards North Vancouver ) again, from this popular and beautiful, Waterfront station.
Now, let's begin the experimentation...
Departure: Lougheed Town Centre station
Target:VCC Clark station (VCC Community College East Broadway ) and downtown Vancouver
Train Lines:VCC Clark and Millenium Train Lines
Estimated Time:100 minutesInstructions:
Lougheed Town Centre is in Burnaby, BC and is just a few minutes (around 5-8 minutes) walk from the Burnaby and Coquitlam boundarywhich is sometimes called "Burquitlam".
Landmarks close to the Lougheed Town Centre are the Bay, Safeway, and Walmart.
As soon as you get your tickets, start off from the Lougheed Town Centre. Look for signs stating "VCC Clark". Signs are usually on posts, but to be sure, look at the red LED displays (somewhat like tickers or score boards) hanging in the terminals, they usually report which in-coming train is bound to which destination, for now, focus on VCC Clark, as that is our experiment, destination.
Now you're on board, just sit tight, enjoy the views. The best seat to take is the only seat located just at the end of the train or at its head. No seatbelts required.
Voice recordings on the Vancouver skytrain mention station names or stops and most station names are written on the walls.
Just hang on to your sit until you reach the end of the road - VCC Clark station. The trip is straight ahead, no transits just let your bottom, stay.
As soon as the voice recording says, VCC Clark, you're there.(take note sometimes there are no recordings or announcements of which station has been reached, so be alert for visual signs, instead, don't be shy to ask the person next to you)
So you've reached your VCC Clark station, well, that's about it. You've landed on the "moon" and it's now high time to take your first big Vancouver skytrain step - out of the Van couver sky train and back again inside.
Time to get back in after some fresh air outside. Time to go back to the Lougheed Town Centre station and have a feel of how it is to journey back. It's a travel exercise so, be patient, just make sure your fare card hasn't expired, as you will now go towards West, coming from East. Earlier was East to West as well, but to the VCC Clark line, through Commercial Drive.
You've taken notes on different station stops, didn't you?Well, if you did, did you notice that while doing a stop at the Commercial Drive station (on your way to VCC Clark) that most of the crowd went upstairs? Yes! that's going towards downtown Vancouver, ask for Waterfront, follow the crowd, and you'll be fine for your downtown destinations.
Now it's time to go back East and head towards downtown's other way around - back to your seat, tap your warm butt, and head towards Lougheed Town Centre, remember it's the same train - you just did a round trip, probably change seats and find the seat closest to the train's head (earlier was a tail now is its head, as the train would now start off from the opposite part and direction ).
As soon as you reach Lougheed Town Centre station, don't panic, just sit tight again, tap your warmer butt, and listen or take note of station signs and narrations; your target station is Waterfront via the Columbia station. You don't need to change lanes or trains, just sit and enjoy the views and rides in and out of tunnels.
As soon as the Commercial Drive station is broadcasted or as soon as you see signs of Commercial Drive, then, you're almost there! Remember those folks with you earlier on the train towards VCC Clark, they went up to this station!
Now you're just close by Waterfront, ask, and take note of signs and the crowd. As soon as you reach the last station, that's your Waterfront. End of the trip? Hope it's a good one?
You may try these Vancouver Skytrain experiments on your own, but don't forget your safety and health, as well, and enjoy your Vancouver skytrain travel adventures.
Notes:There are a variety of fares for the Skytrain. Make sure you use the correct assigned zones for the ticket, otherwise, there might be a violation.
If you're an employee and are applying for an Employee Pass, make sure you do your homework first and see which zones apply to your travels, going to work and vice versa, through the Vancouver skytrain and if you are a student, take note that most full-time students can acquire the U-Pass fares or purchase a Fast Track ( Fast Trax )sticker which works with a 1 zone fare. The Fast Track should be on the student ID and be always shown during inspection times, together with a 1 zone fare, and this is very handy as a Fast Track + 1 zone fare could be used in any zone! Make sure to note down expiration dates, though.
Other Vancouver skytrain travel notes:
- If you paid via Visa or any major credit card in purchasing fares, don't forget to get your receipts.
There are some small benefits if you purchase your fares by credit card - you have a hard and soft copy of your receipts. When taxation or assessments come, you sure have a copy of those spendings, offline and online ( through your banks ), if CRA or a specific tax bureau would require them in the future.
- Some schools or institutions use the Fast Trax or Fast Track stickers (1 for all zones), while other institutions / schools use the UPass, which is the equivalent of Fast Trax. One example of this is: If Fast Trax is for BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology, then UPass is for UBC ( University of British Columbia ). Please consult the school's affiliated Student Association or Translink.
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