Public Transit in Vancouver


Located on the West Coast of Canada, Vancouver is the most beautiful city in Canada and is among the top destinations for education abroad. It is a multicultural city,  is considered very student friendly, and considered as one of the most livable cities globally. Vancouver is known for its clean, efficient and convenient public transport. The public transportation system is made up of a network of buses, SkyTrain, Sea buses, and the West Coast Express commuter train service. Overall, the transportation system is known to be efficient, reliable and safe.

Compass Card

A Compass card is a card dedicated to transit for all frequent travelers. You can buy the card through many methods, such as online, from the Compass Vending Machines installed at the SkyTrain station, or through a phone call or in-person as well. Blue Compass cards are for adults, while orange cards are for senior citizens and children. These cards can be easily loaded by credit or debit cards, but how you reload your card depends upon how frequently one needs to travel. There are three fare zones across Metro Vancouver, so the exact number of bus or train boundaries you cross during your trip determines your actual fare.

Types of Passes

Day Pass: One can travel all throughout the day in all the zones by purchasing this pass, and it helps save money over buying single fares when you take multiple trips in the same day.

Monthly Pass: Compass Cards can be recharged monthly as well, but make sure to travel within the same zones you selected while loading the card.

Stored Value: It is similar to having cash on your card, meaning you can reload it anytime and can use it whenever you commute.

Autoload: Compass cards also have the autoload facility within which cards get automatically loaded from the associated bank account. It saves time and makes commuting hassle free.

Click here, to know more about the Compass cards. 

Paper tickets VS. Compass card single fare

If you travel once in a while, paper fares are cheaper as compared to single fares from the Compass card. Single paper tickets are valid for 90 minutes of unlimited travel and transfer irrespective of all the zones. 

Bus and SkyTrain

For public buses, you only need to tap your card when entering. . However, SkyTrains require tapping in and out. Please note that bus travel is all one zone, so you don’t have to pay extra for changing the zones. After 6:30 pm on weekdays and weekends (consider holidays as well) everywhere becomes one zone pricing. If you pay with cash for the bus transfer,  you will get a 90 minute valid paper transfer, and can change the bus for free within this 90 minute time frame.

SkyTrain operates in three lines:

  • Expo Line which connects Downtown Vancouver with the cities of Burnaby, New Westminster, and Surrey.
  • Millennium Line connects East Vancouver through  Burnaby, and into Port Moody and Coquitlam.
  • Canada Line travels between Downtown Vancouver, the Vancouver International Airport (YVR), and Richmond.

Make sure to be careful at the Columbia and the bridge port station as the train here splits into different directions.

Rapid Express Bus 

These buses are faster and do not stop frequently like the regular buses.

West Coast Express

It is a rail service that travels between Downtown Vancouver and Mission City. The trains travel to Downtown Vancouver in the mornings, and to Mission in the evenings.


The SeaBus is a passenger ferry that travels between Waterfront Station in Downtown Vancouver and Lonsdale Quay in the suburb of North Vancouver. 

Where do most of the Indian students live in Vancouver?

Most of the Indian students live in Surrey. The main SkyTrain stations in Surrey are Scott Road, Gateway, Surrey Central and King George.

Plan your trip ahead

It is always good to plan your trip ahead to avoid any last minute hassles especially when going to College. For the bus route and time, just Short Message Service (SMS) 33333 with the 5 digit bus stop number, and the bus you want to ride on. By doing this, you will get the timings of the bus. Another way is to check on  Google Maps or the Transit App. These apps are user friendly and make navigation in the city quite easy by giving real-time predictions and easing the process of trip planning.

They guide step-by-step and the information is presented in a clear, bold interface.

Majority of the colleges here provide concessional transit cards for students, so make sure to check with your college regarding how you can sign up..

Happy traveling!

Source –    Transit App Compass Card Translink

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