How to Use the SkyTrain: SkyTrain Zones, Pricing & Service Areas in Metro Vancouver

How to Use the SkyTrain

The SkyTrain in the Vancouver Metro area is the longest fully-automated transit system in the world and is considered one of the best systems in all of North America. The carefully designed system has 53 convenient stations along nearly 80 kilometres of tracks, stretching from the heart of downtown to many of Vancouver's best suburbs. Stations are located in urban-density areas to make it possible for many people living in Vancouver to commute without a car. The rapid transit system also makes it a faster way to get to work, especially for those who live in the outer zones. Ready to get on board with the easiest way to get around the city of Vancouver? Here's a closer look at how to use the SkyTrain.

How Do I Pay for the SkyTrain?

The SkyTrain establishes prices based on the three zones within the Vancouver Metro area, plus the Airport Zone. Zone 1 covers Vancouver. Zone 2 covers the city of Burnaby, New Westminster, and Redmond. Zone 3 covers the outer suburbs like Coquitlam, Port Moody, and the city of Surrey. Fares are based on the number of zones a rider travels through and are divided into Adult Fares and Concession Fares. Concession Fares cover school-aged children, college students, seniors and the disabled. Adult Fares apply to everyone else.

If a rider stays within the zone their trip originates in, they only pay to cross one zone. Crossing two or three zones costs more. There is also an additional $5 surcharge for travelling to the airport from any zone.

Adult SkyTrain Fares:

  • One Zone: $3.10
  • Two Zones: $4.45
  • Three Zones: $6.05

Concession SkyTrain Fares:

  • One Zone: $2.05
  • Two Zones: $3.05
  • Three Zones: $4.15

Purchasing a Compass Card from the Vancouver TransLink system and loading cash on it is the easiest and most convenient way to pay for the SkyTrain. Debit/credit cards can also be used to pay fares, but there is a slightly higher surcharge.

What Areas Does the SkyTrain Service?

SkyTrain Has Three Lines

The SkyTrain services three lines. The Canada Line runs between Downtown West Vancouver, the Vancouver International Airport (YVR), and Richmond. The Expo Line runs from Downtown Vancouver and connects to Burnaby, New Westminster, and Surrey. The Millennium Line runs from Downtown East Vancouver to Port Moody and Coquitlam. Since the system is automated, the lines stop at stations every two to six minutes during peak travel times. The lines run from around 5:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. daily on the weekdays and from 6:15 a.m. to 1:15 a.m. on the weekends.

The Canada Line originates from the Richmond-Brigmore Station in Richmond, travels north through South Vancouver with stops along the way, and terminates at the Waterfront Station in Downtown Vancouver. The total travel time between the two points is 25 minutes using the SkyTrain.

The Expo Line runs between Downtown Vancouver at the Waterfront Station to two endpoints: Burnaby at the Production Way Station and Surrey at the King George Station. The total travel time is about 40 minutes for both of those lines, making it one of the best options for public transportation in Surrey.

The Millennium Line originates at the VCC-Clark Station in East Vancouver and terminates at the Lafarge-Lake Douglas Station in the city of Coquitlam—near the Douglas College Coquitlam Campus. The total travel time for this route is 36 minutes from end to end.

Can I Ride the SkyTrain to YVR Airport?

The Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is located on Sea Island in the city of Richmond, which makes the SkyTrain one of the most convenient transit options for getting to and from the airport. As noted above, there is a $5.00 add-on fee for every fare that travels to or from YVR on the SkyTrain, regardless of whether it is an Adult or Concession Fair.

The Canada Line runs between the Waterfront Station in Downtown Vancouver and the Richmond-Brighouse Station. This line splits at the Bridgeport Station in north Richmond. Riders travelling north from Richmond have to switch trains at the stop in the Bridgeport neighbourhood. Commuters can also take the Millennium or Expo Lines to YVR, but there are more stops to make the trip.

Riders coming from Port Moody or Coquitlam on the Millennium Line have to switch trains at the Commercial-Broadway Station, then ride the Expo Line to the Waterfront Station and switch to the YVR/Canada Line. Expo Line riders can take the SkyTrain to Downtown Vancouver and switch to the YVR/Canada Line.

What Other Public Transit Options Are in Vancouver?

The Vancouver public transit system has an extensive system of buses that includes RapidBuses, trolleys and shuttles. Most homes in the Vancouver Metro area are estimated to be within 400 meters of a public bus stop. Most of the Vancouver bus routes have stops at SkyTrain stations, which gives commuters access to the entire Metro area within an hour of their home in many cases.

A secondary rail service called the West Coast Express runs between Downtown Vancouver and the town of Mission, about 70 kilometres east of the city. This commuter rail service only runs Monday through Friday, mainly geared toward commuters who need to get downtown from some communities that SkyTrain does not service. It has stops in Port Haney, Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam Central, Moody Centre, and the Waterfront Station.

BC Ferries is another option for travelling offshore from Vancouver to some of the island communities or North Vancouver across Burrard Inlet. The SeaBus runs a regular ferry service between Downtown Vancouver and Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver. Travelling from YVR via the SkyTrain to the Waterfront Station and hopping on a ferry to many different BC island communities is possible.

SkyTrain Makes Commuting Easy in the Vancouver Metro Area

The SkyTrain is so efficient that it truly is the envy of many of the other mass transit systems in North America. It has been carefully planned with rail lines connecting the best neighbourhoods in Vancouver and outlying areas to downtown. This makes it easy for students who need to travel to the University of British Columbia for school or daily commuters who work in the downtown area.

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