Life in Vancouver

Public Transit in Vancouver

One of the big things I love about Vancouver is the city’s public transport – it’s amazing. It costs $2.30 for 90 minutes of travel when using a Compass card (like an Oyster card), however many buses or trains you get on in that time, which means in many circumstances you can travel to and from somewhere for less than £1.50. What’s more is the buses and sky trains link all over the city, so there’s nowhere you can’t get to via public transport.

We’ve worked out most of our common routes now, so can get where we need to go without a lot of thought. Google and Apple maps are great for using the “Transport” selection too, giving you the quickest and closest route options to get from A to B, so if you ever find yourself not knowing how to get somewhere, it’s easy to work out.

For all it’s positives we have had one hiccup. Sundays. One Sunday we were going for lunch with friends and waited on a bus for nearly 20 minutes which is quite uncommon for the buses here. Turns out the Sunday service is a little sketchy.

The next time we had a hiccup was the Sunday just gone. Church starts at 10am and it’s 35 minutes away on the bus. It takes two buses to get there which means that it probably takes longer than 35 minutes because the second bus is unlikely to arrive at exactly the time you arrive at the stop. We figured if we left home at 9am we’d get there in plenty of time.

There were two options to get to church, going east and then south, or south and then east. Apple maps told us that east and then south was the best option so that’s the bus stop we chose to wait at. We were there around 15 minutes with no bus arriving that was any good for where we needed to be, so we decided to wait at the other stop and see if that would be quicker as that was what Apple maps was telling me now. We waited there another 10 minutes and still no buses arrived, so we went back around the corner thinking at least there we’d see if the other bus was coming so could go on whichever one arrived first. Still no buses!

At this point a lady came over to us and told us that she’d just spoken to a driver on another bus who said the bus we were waiting for was being redirected for some reason. Helpful. At this point it was about 9.45am, so with another 35 minutes minimum travel time after finding the bus we needed we were probably going to be at least 30 minutes late for church. We decided to give up.

It’s usually really great – you can text a number and input the stop and bus numbers and get a response telling you when the next two buses will arrive. I tried this on Sunday and the reply was that one would arrive in about 2 minutes, the next in about 10, which is why we hung around for so long.

Despite the hiccups I do still love the transit system here. It’s so much easier to use than in the UK, and also so much cheaper.

The other thing that’s popular here is car sharing. There’s several companies that you can sign up to where you download an app which shows you where cars are close to you and you can just get in the car and drive it as long as you want and then return it anywhere within the city. It’s pretty cheap too at around $0.32 per minute. So if you wanted to a big grocery run, or get somewhere that’s out of range of public transport, then you still have reasonable options.

It was a big consideration as to whether we’d get a car whilst we were out here or not. The insurance is quite expensive out here – it costs around $1200 a year, so about £600, but the good thing is that you insure the car not the person, so if we were to get a car it wouldn’t cost more to have us both able to drive it.

Realistically with how great the transit system is and the car share programmes it’s unlikely that we’d need a car. Even if we hire a car for some weekend trips, it’ll still be less than the costs of buying a car, insuring it and paying to park it at our place. We may change our minds but I don’t see it happening yet. I do miss driving though!

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