Many people get around the city of Vancouver on foot, and don't even own cars. In Downtown, the West End, Coal Harbour, and Yaletown, services and amenities are readily accessible by walking or a quick taxi ride. The same is true in surrounding communities, and although there is still traffic congestion it isn't as serious a problem as in other major metropolitan cities in North America.
Vancouver has a very active bike community and cycling is a popular choice to get around the city. There's a community organization called Better Environmentally Sound Transportation (BEST) that promotes sustainable use of cycling, walking and public transportation. Their website offers maps of bike routes.
The Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority (GVTA), a.k.a. TransLink, operates a comprehensive transportation system throughout the Lower Mainland. An excellent online trip planner is useful to find the most direct route information to get to your destination. System maps are also available for orientation.
Community transport buses are white with red and blue stripes. They operate throughout the city, including three 'B-Line' routes that provide express service between Vancouver-Airport-Richmond, UBC-Broadway-Lougheed and Coquitlam-Lougheed. Many buses are wheelchair-accessible.
SkyTrain rapid-transit service is provided daily every three to five minutes. The trains connect with buses at several stations and stop at Waterfront station to access the SeaBus.
SeaBus provides two ferries that run between downtown Vancouver at Waterfront Station and North Vancouver at Lonsdale Quay. The ride takes about 15 minutes and bikes are welcome.
Transit fares are calculated by the distance you are traveling, and are marked by zones. One-zone fare for an adult costs $2; two-zone fare is $3; three-zone fare is $4. With each fare payment on a bus, ask the driver for a transfer which is valid for 90 minutes in any direction. On weekends and holidays you may travel through all zones for an adult fare of $2. If you want to obtain a day pass or monthly pass, check TransLink for pricing information.
Bus service to West Vancouver is available from Downtown Vancouver. These buses are blue and depart from Georgia Street stops. See schedule information.
There are plenty of companies offering taxi service throughout the Lower Mainland, and it is relatively easy to hail a cab on foot in densely populated areas. There is a queue at the Vancouver International Airport where wait times are usually no more than a few minutes. A fare from the airport to downtown costs $25-30.
Drivers are friendly for the most part, and take payments of cash or credit card.
Top cab companies in Vancouver:
Black Top & Checker Cabs - 604-731-1111
Yellow Cabs - 604-681-1111
Maclure's Cabs - 604-683-6666
To operate an automobile in Vancouver you are required to have a valid drivers license. If you are licensed outside of the province of BC, or in the US, you are eligible to drive with your current license for up to six months. New drivers are required to enter a graduated licensing program which has restrictions. A new drivers license is valid for five years and costs $75. Renewals are $31. For more licensing information or to find a licensing office see ICBC.
All motor vehicles must be legally insured. Autoplan Insurance is offered through the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) and provides drivers with some of the lowest premium rates available in Canada.
In addition to insurance, your vehicle must pass an AirCare emissions inspection to be deemed roadworthy. In fact, you will be unable to obtain insurance coverage without prior AirCare certification. If your vehicle does not pass the testing process, you will need to have it appropriately repaired and re-tested before getting back on the road.
Rental vehicles start at about $35 per day and are available from several businesses and locations around Vancouver. Contact Budget Car and Truck Rental at 1-800-268-8900, or Enterprise Rent-a-car at 1-800-rent-a-car.
The main airport servicing the Lower Mainland is the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) located in Richmond. Arriving at the airport, you will likely be surprised by its seemingly excessive design and abundance of Northwest Native art installations. These are recent additions have been paid for by passengers departing YVR.
Be aware that prior to departure you will be required to pay an Airport Improvement Fee (AIF), unless you are connecting to another flight through Vancouver Airport on the same day. The cost is $5 for passengers traveling within BC or to the Yukon; $10 for passengers traveling to North American destinations, including Hawaii and Mexico; $15 for passengers traveling to destinations outside North America.
The Abbotsford International Airport (YXX) is about an hour's drive from Vancouver, charges no AIF for departures and offers free parking to passengers.
Air travel flights departing from Vancouver can be booked through the following airlines:
Air Canada - Currently Canada's only international carrier.
Alaska Air - Affordable fares for travel to the following U.S. states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Mexico.
Harmony Airways - Offers discounted fares from Vancouver to Victoria, Toronto, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Hawaii.
WestJet - Offers discounted fares to several destinations throughout Canada.
Airporter operates between Vancouver International Airport and Downtown hotels. Cost is $12 for an adult one-way trip.
Greyhound Bus Lines travels from Vancouver to hundreds of destinations throughout North America.
Pacific Coach Lines offers bus service between Vancouver and Victoria, including ferry travel. Also has airport service and Vancouver sightseeing tours.
Quick Shuttle has an express bus service between Vancouver to Seattle, including SeaTac Airport. One-way adult fare is about $58.
Amtrak offers service between Vancouver and Seattle.
West Coast Express is a commuter rail service that links downtown Vancouver (at Waterfront Station) with suburbs Mission, Port Haney, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam and Port Moody with downtown Vancouver. Adult one-way fares range from $5.50 to $9.25.
ViaRail is a national passenger railroad. There are trains departing year-round from Vancouver to major Canadian cities. Departs from Pacific Central Station at 1150 Station Street (at Main Street SkyTrain station).
AquaBus offers small and comfortable boat service to and from Granville Island, Hornby Street, David Lam Park, Yaletown, Science World and Stamp's Landing. Cost is $2-5 for an adult one-way trip.
Harbour Air Seaplanes provides affordable seaplane travel from Vancouver to Victoria, Nanaimo and Gulf Islands. Departs from Coal Harbour.
Vancouver Trolley Company offers relaxed transportation to tour parks and attractions. Rides start at $26 for an adult ticket.
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