Vancouver Transit Made Easy: The joys of TransLink’s Trip Planner

Vancouver has a reputation as a transit-friendly city.   We’ve got the SkyTrain, whose fully automated cars can zip you across the city in no time. There’s the extensive bus system, the West Coast Express commuter rail and even the SeaBus linking downtown with North Vancouver.

But despite all of those options, taking mass transit can sometimes be intimidating, even for lifelong residents of the city.  I find that it’s generally  buses that present the biggest challenge.   There are literally hundreds of routes in Vancouver’s bus system.  Unless you’ve spent a lot of time studying transit maps, it’s hard to always know which bus to take, where to get on and how often the bus runs.  And if you need to make a connection somewhere, things get even more complicated.

Of course, there is a really easy solution to all of that: the Trip Planner feature on the TransLink homepage.   The Trip Planner isn’t new, but I wonder how many people really take advantage of it.  I’m embarrassed to say that after riding Vancouver transit for years, I used the Trip Planner for the first time only recently.  And I was really blown away by how easy and convenient it is.


All you do is type in where you’re leaving from and where you’re going to, as well as the estimated departure time and date.  Then the Trip Planner takes care of the rest.  You’re given a detailed list of transit options – which might include buses, trains and even walking based on your particular destination – to get you from point A to point B.    The Trip Planner estimates the duration of the trip, tells you the number of transfers and gives you the total fare.

For example, say you want to get from the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park all the way out to Aberdeen Centre, the fascinating Asian-style mall in Richmond.  This is a long trip and could easily intimidate even the most experienced of transit riders.  But not with Trip Planner.  Punch in the start and end points and a list of five transit options immediately comes up.  The most direct requires just one transfer and takes only 48 minutes, which is not a whole lot longer than it takes driving  (In case you’re wondering, Trip Planner recommends you hop on the 19 Metrotown Station bus in Stanley Park, then get out at downtown’s Waterfront Station and take the Canada Line SkyTrain to Aberdeen Station).

Is anyone else a fan of the Trip Planner feature on the TransLink website?   If you’ve got a Trip Planner story, please share any comments below.  And if you use other apps to navigate Vancouver’s transit system, let us know.

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11 Responses to Vancouver Transit Made Easy: The joys of TransLink’s Trip Planner

  1. T

    I love the cities that in including wifi on their public transportation. Always nice to see at a glance when the buss or skytrain is arriving and a sense of safety

    I would love to see Vancouver go to this type of system

  2. Sarah

    Used it 5 minutes ago, it’s a great system.

    I use transit for work every day and sometimes in the evenings, cheaper than a taxi when you have a few glasses of wine on board! (not onboard the bus, I should re-phrase that, when you have consumed a few glasses of wine!!). Another good tool is the Text your stop # to 33333, it tells you when the next bus is expected.

  3. markus

    The trip planner has been a gre*t tool for yrs. Also, each stop has a 5 number ID number, just text it to the transit txt site and in seconds you receive all the next scheduled arrival for each bus at that stop….great tool.

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  5. Neil

    Is there an app (web or otherwise) where I click/tap on my start and end points and it shows me the various transit and bike routes that roughly connect those, as well as hills?

    For example, I might prefer to cycle to a transit stop downhill, lock up the bike and get transit direct to the destination; or I might prefer to get transit to roughly the neighbourhood I’m heading to, and walk the rest.

    All the numbers on current bus maps are impossible to interpret. A mapapp that showed only the relevant lines, but without dictating which ones I should use, would be very useful.

  6. Rosie

    Absolutely LOVE the Trip Planner! I use it all the time. I love all the details that are included and that I can choose to look at the arrival times only for the stops I need!!

  7. Michele

    I like using the Trip Planner but have found on the last few uses, it has been incorrect. I called Translink about this and they apologized, however, its not much fun when you are already standing at the bus stop only to learn from the bus driver that the bus will not be stopping at the ‘stop’ that the Trip Planner has advised. Thankfully, I had a nice bus driver and he stopped the bus to let me off. :-)

  8. The trip planner is a cumbersome, slow and useless tool. I like to plan my trips using Google Map’s transit feature, which gets its data from Translink, but has better features we expect from Google Maps

  9. Peter

    I have been using this feature for as long as I can remember. It’s not only helpful when you want to know what buses to get on or how long it will take, but also when to leave if you want to be somewhere by a certain time. Just type in your desired ARRIVAL time at destination and it spews out 3 or 4 different options. Very helpfull if you’re planning an early morning commute, especially on a Sunday, when the buses don’t run as frequently.

  10. Steph

    Translink is awesome, but it doesn’t allow many addresses to be inserted into the “to” and “from” sections for trip planner. Every time I enter my own address in where I “start” my trip, it doesn’t recognize the address, so I have to enter the closest intersection, which isn’t always recognized either. Bizarre.

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