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How Do You Ride the Skytrain in Vancouver?

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How Do You Ride the Skytrain in Vancouver?

The Skytrain is a rapid transit system that primarily serves Vancouver and Burnaby. Riding the Skytrain from one location to another is quick, convenient, and comfortable.

To ride the Skytrain in Vancouver, you must purchase a train ticket from the station or obtain a "compass card," as well as know which Skytrain station you're boarding and exiting at.

By doing this, you'll be sure to get the most out of your time in the city by using this convenient, fast, fully-automated public transportation system that gives you beautiful views of the city.

How to Travel by Skytrain in Vancouver

If you're new to the Skytrain system or want to learn how to make the most of your trip using this convenient public transit system, keep reading for a handy guide on how to ride the Skytrain in Vancouver.

  • Find the Nearest Skytrain Station to Your Start and End Points
  • Determine Which Way You Need to Travel
  • Buy a Ticket or Pass
  • Validate Your Ticket at the Fare Gate
  • Get off the Train and Tap Your Card
  • Listen for Announcements about Stops and Transfer Stations

1. Find the Nearest Skytrain Station to Your Start and End Points

Find the Nearest Skytrain Station to Your Start and End Points
Image by Translink via https://www.translink.ca/

The best way to find the nearest Skytrain station to your start and end points is by using the TransLink Trip Planner

Simply enter your starting point and destination, and the Trip Planner will show you the closest Skytrain station to your start and end points. 

You can also use the TransLink Trip Planner to find out which Skytrain stations have connections to other transit services, such as buses or SeaBus.

To use the TransLink Trip Planner, enter your departure and destination addresses in the upper left corner of the platform.

TransLink Trip Planner
Image by Translink via https://www.translink.ca/

The TransLink Trip Planner will then provide you with the necessary routes, including the Skytrain stations at which you will board and exit. You may also add trip options to create a personalized itinerary.

TransLink Trip Planner
Image by Translink via https://www.translink.ca/

For example, if you’re coming from downtown Vancouver and wish to travel to Granville Island,  simply enter both addresses and it will show you numerous suggested itineraries.

TransLink Trip Planner
Image by Translink via https://www.translink.ca/

These itineraries will show you which stations to board and exit, walking distance and instructions, and estimated arrival times.

2. Determine Which Way You Need to Travel

Determine Which Way You Need to Travel
Image by Flickr via https://www.flickr.com/

If you’re coming from the airport, you’ll need to take the Canada Line Skytrain. The Canada Line is an express train that takes you directly from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) to downtown Vancouver in just 26 minutes.

Canada Line Skytrain
Image by The Canada Line via https://thecanadaline.com/

From other parts of the city, you must take the Expo Line or Millennium Line Skytrain. 

Expo Line or Millennium Line Skytrain
Image by Wikipedia via https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_Line

The Expo and Millennium Lines traverse Vancouver from east to west, connecting the city’s major neighborhoods. At the Commercial-Broadway Station, you can transfer between the lines.

After determining which Skytrain line you must take, consult a map to determine the direction you must travel. Vancouver’s Skytrain stations are clearly marked on all city maps.

Skytrain Lines Routes

3. Buy a Ticket or Pass

Buy a Ticket or Pass
Image by Flickr via https://www.flickr.com/

In order to ride the Skytrain in Vancouver, you need to purchase a ticket or pass. Tickets can be purchased at the fare machines located at Skytrain stations.

Buy a Ticket or Pass
Image by Wikimedia via https://commons.wikimedia.org/

You can also buy a compass card, which is a reloadable fare card that works on public transit everywhere in Metro Vancouver. These cards can be loaded with a wide variety of fares such as day passes, monthly passes, and stored value.

If you’re a tourist exploring the city all day, it’s best to purchase a day pass, as it allows unlimited travel within all three zones for the duration of the day.

However, if you’re going to be in Vancouver for a while, the best option is to purchase a monthly pass, which allows you to purchase up to three zones and travel by bus, Skytrain, and SeaBus.

Compass Ticket
Image by Translink via https://www.translink.ca/

Lastly, you have the option of stored value, which is ideal if you don’t intend to utilize public transportation frequently. It is a pay-as-you-go system that is ideal for single trips and occasional use.

Compass cards can be purchased from Compass Vending Machines, compass retailers, online, or by phone (888-207-4055). 

Take note that Concession Compass Cards cannot be purchased from vending machines and must be purchased in person at London Drugs, a Compass retailer, or Customer Service.

Compass Card Note

4. Validate Your Ticket at the Fare Gate

Validate Your Ticket at the Fare Gate
Image by CBC via https://www.cbc.ca/

In order to ride the Skytrain in Vancouver, you must first validate your ticket at the fare gate. 

To do this, insert your ticket into the fare gate machine and wait for it to print out a validation sticker. Once you have your validation sticker, proceed through the fare gate and onto the platform.

5. Listen for Announcements about Stops and Transfer Stations

Listen for Announcements about Stops and Transfer Stations
Image by CTV News Vancouver via https://bc.ctvnews.ca/

The Vancouver Skytrain is a great way to get around the city, but it’s important to listen to announcements about stops and transfer stations. This will help ensure that you disembark at the correct stop.

6. Get off the Train and Tap Your Card

Get off the Train and Tap Your Card
Image by CBC via https://www.cbc.ca/

*Once you get off the Skytrain in Vancouver, make sure to pay attention to exit signs to make sure you are headed in the right direction. 

Get off the Train and Tap Your Card
Image by The Global News via https://globalnews.ca/

You can spot exit signs by their bright yellow color and the direction arrows pointing to your destination. These signs are located throughout the Skytrain station and can help guide you in the right direction. 

Get off the Train and Tap Your Card
Image by the Vancouver Public Space Network via https://vancouverpublicspace.ca/

Also, make sure that you’re entering the correct turnstiles to exit the station by following the arrows and watching out for signs that read “Exit Here.” 

If you have any questions, there are always customer service staff members located around the station who will be more than happy to assist you.

Skytrain Etiquette and Safety Tips

Skytrain Etiquette and Safety Tips
Image by Translink via https://buzzer.translink.ca/
  • Prioritize senior citizens and people with disabilities – When boarding or exiting the Skytrain, all passengers should prioritize senior citizens and people with disabilities.
  • Avoid loud conversations –  Talking too loudly can be distracting and annoying to other passengers, so keep conversations at a low volume.
  • Hold onto handrails – Especially when you’re standing, it’s safer to hold onto the Skytrain’s bars to keep your balance in case of sudden stops or jerks.
  • Keep your proof of payment – Make sure to keep your train tickets or compass cards on hand in case an employee requests them.
  • Place your bags on the floor – When using the Skytrain, it is important to remember to place your bags on the floor and keep them out of the way of other passengers.
  • Learn exit routes and emergency exits –  Skytrain etiquette and safety tips include learning all of the exit routes in the station, as well as where the emergency exits are located.
  • Don’t eat or drink on board –  Eating and drinking on Skytrain can be annoying and unsafe if food or drink spills.

FAQs about the Skytrain in Vancouver


Getting around with the Skytrain is easy once you get the hang of it. It’s extremely efficient, fast, and convenient. It makes it incredibly easy to access your favorite destinations without having to drive.

Now that you know how to use the Skytrain, check out our article on the things to do in Vancouver.

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