Metros in Canada: The Vancouver Metro (SkyTrain)

Vancouver is a city in the region of British Columbia in Canada. It has a population of approximately 600,000 people, which makes Vancouver the most populous city of British Columbia, and the 8th most populous city in Canada. Many people consider this city as one of the best places to live in the world. If you want to go to Vancouver, you could go to any of the following airports: Vancouver International Airport, which is the biggest airport, Bellingham International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and Abbotsford International Airport.

Public transportation in Vancouver consists of buses, ferries, trains, and the metro. The metro service is called SkyTrain. Most of the transportation services in Vancouver are owned by TransLink.

History

The metro was inaugurated on December 11th, 1985. The first plans to have a train system in Vancouver were the construction of a monorail during the 1950s, but the idea was scrapped. However, the government of Vancouver wanted once again to build a train service since the city was elected to host Expo 86.

The first line to be inaugurated was the Expo Line, in 1985. The next line to be inaugurated was the Millennium Line, which opened in 2002. The final line to be inaugurated was the Canada Line, which was inaugurated on August 17th, 2009.

TransLink SkyTrain departs Stadium-Chinatown station in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Lines and stations

The metro has 53 stations and three lines: the Expo Line, the Millennium Line, and the Canada Line.

Expo Line

It has the following 24 stations: 22nd Street , Braid, 29th Avenue, Columbia, Burrard, Edmonds, Commercial-Broadway, Columbia, Granville, Gateway, King George, Joyce-Collingwood, Main Street-Science World, Lougheed Town Centre, Metrotown, Surrey Central, New Westminster, Nanaimo, Production Way-University, Patterson, Sapperton, Royal Oak, Stadium-Chinatown, Waterfront.

Millennium Line

It has the following 17 stations: Brentwood Town Centre, Commercial-Broadway, Burquitlam, Gilmore, Coquitlam Central, Inlet Centre, Holdon , Lake City Way, Lafarge Lake-Douglas, Moody Centre, Lincoln, Lougheed Town Centre, Renfrew, Production Way-University, Sperling-Burnbaby Lake, Rupert, VCC-Clark

Canada Line

It has the following 16 stations: Aberdeen, Broadway-City Hall, Bridgeport, Langara-49th Avenue, King Edward, Marine Drive, Lansdowne, Olympic Village, Oakridge-41st Avenue, Sea Island Centre, Richmond-Brighouse, Vancouver City Centre, Templeton, Yaletown-Roundhouse, Waterfront, YVR-Airport.

Connections

The metro makes connections with other means of transportation belonging to TransLink. In other words, with a metro ticket, you can transfer to ferries from the SeaBus service, and buses. The metro also makes connections to transportation services from other companies, such as buses from the B-Line service (owned by Coast Mountain Bus Company,) the commuter railway of West Coast Express (owned by West Coast Express Ltd.), and the trains from Via Rail (owned by the Canadian government). Some of the connections available at each station are the following:

  • 1) Burrard: Bus 95 from B-Line.
  • 2) Broadway-City Hall: Bus 99 from B-Line.
  • 3) Coquitlam Central: West Coast Express.
  • 4) Commercial-Broadway: Bus 99 from B-Line.
  • 5) Main Street-Science World: Trains from Via Rail.
  • 6) King George: Bus 96 from B-Line.
  • 7) Surrey Central: Bus 96 from B-Line.
  • 8) Moody Centre: Trains from the West Coast Express.
  • 9) Waterfront: Bus 95 from B-Line, the ferries from SeaBus, and the trains from the West Coast Express.

Connection to the airport

The closest airport to Vancouver is the Vancouver International Airport. The metro goes directly to this airport via YVR-Airport station. The trip between downtown Vancouver and this airport lasts around 30 minutes via the metro.

Schedule, calendar, and timetables

Each line has their own departure frequency and opening and closing times for their stations.

- Expo Line: This line has three routes, which are the King George to Waterfront route, the Production Way-University to Waterfront route, and the Columbia to Waterfront route.

    a) Departure frequencies:
  • a.1) King George to Waterfront route: four minutes during peak hours, five minutes during the day, 7 minutes during nights, 9 minutes during late nights, 9 minutes during weekend mornings, and 7 minutes during weekends and holidays.
  • a.2) Production Way to Waterfront route: six minutes during peak hours, five minutes during the day, 7 minutes during nights, 9 minutes during late nights, 9 minutes during weekend mornings, and 7 minutes during weekends and holidays.
  • a.3) Columbia to Waterfront route: two minutes during peak hours, three minutes during the day, four minutes during nights, four minutes during late nights, five minutes during weekend mornings, and three minutes during weekends and holidays.
    b) Opening and closing times for stations:
  • b.1) King George to Waterfront route: during weekdays, they open at 5:32 am, and they close at 1:16 am. During Saturdays, they open at 6:48 am, and they close at 1:16 am. Finally, during Sundays and holidays, they open at 7:48 am and close at 12:16 am.
  • b.2) Production Way to Waterfront route: from Monday through Thursday, they open at 5:10 am and close at 12:31 am. On Fridays, they open at 5:10 am and close at 12:30 am. On Saturdays, they open at 6:11 am and close at 12:30 am. Finally, on Sundays and holidays, they open at 7:11 am, and close at 11:31 pm.

- Canada Line: This line has four routes, which are the YVR-Airport to Waterfront, Richmond-Brighouse to Waterfront, Bridgeport to Waterfront, and Waterfront to YVR-Airport.

    a) Departure frequencies:
  • a.1) YVR-Airport to Waterfront: eleven minutes during mornings, five minutes during peak hours, 7 minutes during the day, 11 minutes during nights, 19 minutes during late nights, and 13 minutes during weekends and holidays.
  • a.2) Richmond-Brighouse to Waterfront: eleven minutes during mornings, five minutes during peak hours, six minutes during the day, 11 minutes during nights, 19 minutes during late nights, and 13 minutes during weekends and holidays.
  • a.3) Bridgeport-Waterfront: five minutes during mornings, four minutes during peak hours, three minutes during the day, five minutes during nights, 9 minutes during late nights, and 7 minutes during weekends and holidays.
    b) Opening and closing times for stations:
  • b.1) YVR-Airport to Waterfront: they open at 5:07 am and close at 12:56 am.
  • b.2) Richmond-Brighouse to Waterfront: they open at 5:02 am and close at 12:46 am.
  • b.3) Waterfront to YVR-Airport: they open at 4:48 am and close at 1:05 am.
  • b.4) Waterfront to Richmond-Brighouse: they open at 5:30 am and close at 1:15 am.

- Millennium Line: It has only one route.

a) Departure frequencies: three minutes during peak hours, five minutes during the day, 7 minutes during nights, 9 minutes during late nights, 7 minutes on weekend mornings, and five minutes during weekends and holidays.

b) Opening and closing times for stations: during weekdays, they open at 5:30 am and close at 1:22 am. During Saturdays, they open at 6:30 am and close at 1:22 am. On Sundays and holidays, they open at 7:30 am and close at 12:22 am.

SkyTrain Vancouver Image via PoYang_博仰.

Prices, tickets, and cards

You can pay for your ride with tickets or with the Compass Card.

- Tickets: They are called Compass Tickets, and they are divided into the following categories: Weekdays before 6:30 pm, weekdays after 6:30 pm and weekends ($2.75 for adults, and $1.75 at a discounted rate,) and HandyDart ($2.75.) The tickets for weekdays before 6:30 pm have the following prices: one zone ($2.75 for adults, $1.75 at a discounted rate,) two zones ($4 for adults, $2.75 at a discounted rate), and three zones ($5.50 for adults, $3.75 at a discounted rate.)

- Cards: The main card is the Compass Card. Other cards available are the Handy Cards, and the Concession Cards. You will have to pay $6 to get a Compass Card, which will be refunded if you decide to return the card. To use the Compass Card, you need to load passes or cash into it.

- Passes: You need a Compass Card to use them. Passes are divided into the following categories: Day Passes, and Monthly Passes. Day Passes are divided into the following prices: Adults ($9.80,) and Concession ($7.60.) Monthly Passes are divided into the following prices: one zone ($90,) two zones ($125,) three zones ($165,) and Concession ($50.)

Tips in SkyTrain

  • 1) Buy a two zone ticket if you are travelling from YVR-Airport station. This way, you will not need to buy an additional ticket to make a connection.
  • 2) If you are in Vancouver International Airport, and you are located at international arrivals, you have two ways to go to YVR-Airport station. The first choice is to go to level 3 in the airport, go outside and go through the walkway to reach YVR-Airport station. The second choice is to walk to the Link Building, and then go to the YVR-Airport station. The latter choice may be the slowest option, but this choice is recommended during rainy weather since you could reach the metro while staying indoors.
  • 3) The ticket vending machines accept cash, debit cards, and credit cards. Additionally, if you are located in YVR-Airport station, you could also buy tickets at a 7-Eleven shop.

Rules

- General:

  • 1) Avoid blocking the metro's doors. The trains will stop working if the doors are kept open for too long. This would cause delays on the metro.
  • 2) Do not listen to loud music.
  • 3) Do not sit on seats reserved for pregnant women, people with disabilities, and the elderly. Also, give up your seat if someone who really needs it asks you to.
  • 4) Do not talk loudly while using your cell phone.
  • 5) Do not drink nor eat in the metro.
  • 6) Put your belongings on the floor and in front of you so it does not obstruct other people. It is especially important that you do not put your belongings on a seat.
  • 7) Let other people exit the train before boarding it.
  • 8) If you use the escalator, walk on the left side or stand on the right side.
  • 9) It is recommended that you use deodorant. However, do not use colognes or perfumes excessively.

- Bicycles:

You can bring bicycles for free. You can bring folding and electric bicycles as well. The maximum number of bicycles allowed per train is two in the Millennium and Expo lines, and one in the Canada line. Bicycles are allowed 24/7 in the Canada Line. However, during the following times at the following stations, bicycles will not be allowed in the Millennium and Expo lines.

  • a) Weekdays, 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm: If travelling from Waterfront station or VCC-Clark Station.
  • b) Weekdays, from 7:00 am to 9:00 am: If travelling from King George Station, Columbia station, and Lafarge Lake-Douglas station.

You can bring bicycles to elevators or the stairs, but not to the escalators. You cannot bring bicycles to the Metrotown Station due to the poor conditions of the facilities. The maximum length allowed for the bicycles is 73 inches (185 cm) long. You cannot bring scooters. In the Expo line, you can bring bicycles 24/7 between Sapperton station and Production Way-University station, unless the operators impose a time restriction for bikes.

- Safety with bicycles

Let the other passengers exit the train before you exit with your bicycle. Do not bump into other passengers with your bicycle. Do not ride your bicycle in neither the stations nor the metro. Keep your bicycle with you at all times. Give space to people with guide dogs, people on wheelchairs, and people with strollers. You cannot enter the metro with a dirty bicycle. You need to remain near the metro’s doors. Finally, store your folding bicycle inside a bike cover.

- Lost and Found

The lost and found office is located at the following address: Stadium-Chinatown SkyTrain Station, 590 Beatty Street, Vancouver, V6B 2L3. Their phone number is 001 604 953 3334. Their offices hours are: a) Weekdays: 8:30 am - 5:00 pm. b) Saturdays: From noon until 4:00 pm. No phone calls are answered during Saturdays.

If you want to retrieve a bicycle, you need to talk to the lost and found staff beforehand to choose a day when you can retrieve it. In case that you find a lost Compass Card, give it to the metro staff, so they send it to the lost and found office. The metro staff will only accept lost items that were found inside the trains. You can report your lost item at www.translink.ca, in the “lost and found” tab.

- Safety

Security in the metro is offered by the Transit Police. You can call them at 001 604 515 8300. Dial 911 in case of an emergency. If you call 911, provide the mode of transit (SkyTrain in this case,) the direction where you are travelling, and the city or the last station that you were located. You also need to provide the train’s vehicle number, which is located both inside and outside of the train, both in the front and the back of the train.

The metro is monitored at all times by the metro staff.

There are many ways in which you can report emergencies in the metro. Each train has a speakerphone that allows you to talk to the operators of the metro. Next is the Silent Alarm, which is an alarm located above the train's windows that silently calls the train operators in case of an emergency. The third emergency feature is the emergency cabinets at the stations, which contain buttons that stop the metro, an emergency phone, and a fire extinguisher. The fourth feature is the Designated Waiting Area, which are waiting areas monitored by cameras that have emergency phones. The security cameras monitor the escalators, elevators, stations, and ticket booths.

The metro staff know how to give first aid. Besides that, they can help you with any issue at the metro or at the stations. The metro staff will ask anybody at any time to show their tickets.

Fun facts

  • 1) There are no turnstiles at the stations.
  • 2) Trains have air conditioning.
  • 3) The SkyTrain is the longest driverless metro service in the world.
  • 4) The metro's tracks are 1.4 meters wide.
  • 5) The metro uses 600 volts of electricity, which come from a third rail.
  • 6) Some scenes from the movie Minority Report were filmed in the metro.
  • 7) The metro is driverless because it uses a technology called Linear Induction Motor (LIM,) which uses magnets to move the steel wheels.
  • 8) The Millennium Line and the Expo Line offer beautiful panoramic views.
  • 9) The trains belong to the US Bombardier ART models. These train models are the same models used in trains in Detroit, Beijing, Miami, Kuala Lumpur, Toronto, New York, and Yongin.
  • 10) Some stations have a unique architectural design. They are made using a combination of wood, glass, and metal.
  • 11) The metro is called SkyTrain because most of the tracks are elevated.

Future expansions

TransLink will expand the Expo Line and will build a new line, called the UBC Line. The Expo Line will have two types of expansion: its trains will be able to carry more passengers, and the line will have a longer railway. First, in order to carry more passengers, TransLink will make the following three modifications to the metro:

  • a) The trains will run faster during peak hours, therefore, more trains will be available for passengers.
  • b) The platforms will be expanded to allow longer trains to be used.
  • c) Longer trains will be bought for the stations.

Next, Expo Line's railway will be expanded. This line will have approximately 3.6 miles (six kilometers) of new railway. This new railway will allow rides from King George Station to 168 Street, 152 Street, the Fraser Highway, and Guilford.

The UBC Line will be made by 2020. It will cost almost $3 billion. The UBC line will offer rides throughout Broadway Corridor. The UBC Line will allow connections from the VCC-Clark station to new stations in University of British Columbia and Arbus Street. The 99 B-Line bus service will be replaced by this line.

Nearby attractions

The YVR-Airport station will be used as a reference point. To go from this station to the closest touristic attractions by using the metro, follow these instructions:

1) Grouse Mountain: The trip lasts one hour and 20 minutes, and costs 9$. From YVR station, board the metro in the Canada line, and travel for 25 minutes towards Waterfront. Get off at Vancouver City Centre station. Next, walk to Westbound West Georgia Street at Granville Street. Board bus 246, and travel for 20 minutes towards Highland. Get off at Northbound Highland Boulevard at Woodbine Drive. Then, board bus 232, and travel to Grouse Mountain for 15 minutes. Get off at Mountain Skyride. Finally, walk towards 6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver.

2) Kitsilano Beach: The trip lasts 40 minutes, and costs 9$. From YVR station, board the metro in the Canada line, and travel for 20 minutes towards Waterfront. Get off at Olympic Village station. Walk to Westbound West 2 Avenue at Cambie Street. Board bus 84, and travel for 10 minutes towards UBC. Get off at Westbound West 4 Avenue at Vine Street. Finally, walk towards 2305 Cornwall Avenue, Vancouver.

3) Gastown: The trip lasts 35 minutes, and costs 9$. From YVR station, board the metro in the Canada line, and travel for 25 minutes towards Waterfront. Get off at Waterfront Station Canada Line. Walk to Eastbound West Hastings Street at Granville Street. Board bus 95, and travel for three minutes towards SFU B-Line. Get off at Eastbound West Hastings Street at Cambie Street. Finally, walk towards Gastown.

4) Stanley Park: The trip lasts 45 minutes, and costs 9$. From YVR station, board the metro in the Canada Line, and travel for 25 minutes towards Waterfront. Get off at Waterfront Station Canada Line. Walk to Westbound West Pender Street at Granville Street. Board bus 19, and travel for 10 minutes towards Stanley Park. Finally, get off at Stanley Park Loop Bay 1.

5) Granville Island: The trip lasts 30 minutes, and costs 9$. From YVR, board the metro in the Canada Line, and travel for 20 minutes towards Waterfront. Get off at Olympic Village station. Walk to Westbound West 2 Avenue at Cambie Street. Transfer to Bus 50, and travel for five minutes towards Waterfront Station. Get off at Westbound West 2 Avenue at Anderson Street. Finally, walk to Granville Island, Anderson Street at Johnston Street, Vancouver.

Metro map of Vancouver

Metro map of Vancouver Full resolution
Map via infomaps.translink.ca
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Vancouver SkyTrain map

  • Also Known As: SkyTrain
  • Passengers/Day 344800
  • Fares: honour system
  • 24h operation: No
  • Air Conditioning: Yes
  • Walk between platforms: Yes
  • Driverless trains: Skytrain, LIM technology, currently the worlds longest automated system (since 1986)
  • Screen Doors Platforms: No
  • Average Speed: 45km/h
  • Max. Speed: 90km/h
  • Operator: British Columbia Rapid Transit Company
  •  $ 2.75
  • Vancouver Metro Official Website

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