Whether you're a new resident of Vancouver or just visiting, figuring out the ins-and-outs of getting around the city can be confusing at first. Should you take Vancouver public transportation or drive? Do you need your own car or can you use a car-share? What about cycling around the city?
Use this guide to answer each of these questions, as well as learn all the tips, tricks, and strategies you will need to start navigating Vancouver like a pro.
When it comes to getting around Vancouver quickly, public transit can often be the fastest option. Residents and visitors have a number of public transit options—including Canada Line and SkyTrain rapid transit, buses, SeaBuses, and light rail—all operated by TransLink, the Metro Vancouver transportation authority.
Getting around Vancouver by car can be easy or extremely frustrating, depending on the time of day. Like all cities, Vancouver rush hour means bad traffic and long wait times. Avoid driving in downtown Vancouver during rush hours, if possible; traffic along W Georgia St toward the Lions Gate Bridge (one of the primary routes to North Vancouver via car) is particularly awful at afternoon rush. Try to avoid entering Vancouver via 99 North during the afternoon rush, too, as traffic can be especially bad just south of the Massey Tunnel.
Despite traffic at rush hour, getting around Vancouver by car is sometimes the best option; no one likes to haul their groceries on public transit! But you don't need to own your own car to use one in Vancouver. Instead, you can pay "by-the-minute" rates to use car2go Vancouver cars for as long as you like.
With car2go Vancouver, you can use cars on-demand or reserve them 24 hours in advance and you can take one-way trips, leaving your rental in any permit only residential on-street parking spot or dedicated car2go parkspot within the operating area. Vancouver's other car-share, Zipcar, operates in a similar way, as does the grass-roots cooperative car-share Modo.
When it comes to getting around Vancouver by car, traffic isn't the only issue—there's also parking to consider. Parking in Vancouver can be very expensive and, while there is free street parking in Vancouver, it can be hard to find. Residential areas that abut commercial zones will usually have "permit only" street parking—i.e., street parking only for residents with official parking permits.
Some of the best tools for getting around Vancouver are iPhone and Smart Phone apps. One great tool for finding free parking and comparing parking rates is the free Park 'in' Spot App for iPhone.
New residents who live in areas with "permit only" street parking can get their own permit via the City of Vancouver.
Visitors and new residents are often surprised by the popularity of biking in Vancouver. Many people use bikes to commute to work and school; downtown Vancouver even has separated bike lanes over bridges and major thoroughfares. (You can also combine biking with Vancouver Public Transportation since all buses and rapid transit trains can carry bikes.)
Getting to and From the Vancouver Airport (YVR)
There are many options for getting to and from the Vancouver Airport, including the Canada Line, buses, shuttles, and by car.