First Impressions, Part 3: Vancouver’s Transit System


Hello again, Vancouver.

In case you missed the last installment of this series my name is Tom. I’m new in Town.

I just moved here from my hometown of Ottawa. It was a bit of leap of faith because I’d never been to BC before, but it’s all paid off. You see, I’ve already fallen in love with your city.

Vancouver has a lot going for it: solid sports teams, a beautiful harbour, delicious restaurants, and more. But as I clumsily learn my way through its neighbourhoods—all unfamiliar to me—I’m learning that there is so much more to this city than the obvious. As a Vancouver newbie, I’m finding that even the city’s ordinary is excellent. Even the mundane is thrilling. Yes, Vancouver, with my fresh set of eyes, I’m here to remind you to appreciate the little things—the lovely little things—because your city is full of them.

For proof of this, look no further than your transit system.

I can hear the groans now.  “Are you out of your mind?” Yes, it’s true that very few people like the transit system of the city they live in. But as a Vancouver newcomer who is well acquainted with the public transit in other cities, I can assure you that Vancouver’s is seriously solid. Allow me to elaborate.

First off, there’s the SkyTrain. As far as rapid transit goes, few Canadian train systems rival the SkyTrain. Toronto’s and Montreal’s are primarily underground. That means there’s no view. Ottawa’s light rail system is tiny, and its expansion has been debated and disputed for nearly a decade. Halifax doesn’t even have one. But the SkyTrain is fast, clean, and reliable. And best of all, it boasts a breathtaking view from up above the city’s streets. All aboard!

Photo Credit: PoYang on

Photo Credit: PoYang on

Then, there are your buses. The routes are straightforward and reliable. There is an endless convenience to cross-city runs like those of the 9, 7, and 20. Furthermore, the buses are clean, safe, and perhaps best of all, electric. Green is always good.

The perks of Vancouver’s public transit, however, extend far beyond its routing and scheduling. In this city, there is a delightful and distinctive relationship between driver and passenger that I have not encountered anywhere else— not even in the Canadian Maritimes, a place renowned for its friendliness. I’m talking about the simple exchange of hellos and thank yous between riders and drivers. It was one of the first things I noticed after touching down in this magnificent metropolis. Upon disembarking, nearly every passenger throws a thank you down the length of the bus to the driver. Such kindness is rare— if it exists at all— in other Canadian cities, and in many cases, seems to be outgunned by an ugly animosity between bus drivers and bus riders. In Vancouver, however, there is a consistent, mutual courteousness between transit employees and their fare that I have not seen anywhere else in this country. It’s a simple thing, but for Vancouverites it should be a real point of pride. Chivalry is alive and well in this coastal city.

The purpose of my preaching? Remember to enjoy the ride, Vancouver. Appreciate what you have. Not just Canada Place and the Canucks, but all the little things that make your city so wonderfully unique. Every day, I’m overwhelmed by the small, but splendid details of this wonderful city. I may have just arrived, but I’m already thrilled to be able to call Vancouver home.

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