Eco-Friendly Ways to Get Around Vancouver

The Aquabus; Photo: Destination Vancouver/Tanya Goehrin

Not only is Vancouver known for its stunning natural beauty, but it’s been ranked as one of the most sustainable cities in the world. Vancouver features vibrant urban forestry, one of the lowest carbon footprints per capita, and innovative green architecture. Due to this commitment to green urban living and lowering carbon emissions, there are many convenient eco-friendly modes of transportation.

Here are some green ways to explore Vancouver’s many sights, attractions, and scenic neighbourhoods:


The Canada Line SkyTrain crossing a bridge with views of the North Shore Mountains in Vancouver; Destination BC/Albert Normandin

Metro Vancouver’s transit authority, Translink, offers a multitude of different ways for getting around the region. The Trip Planner is a handy tool for planning your route; as well, consulting the Translink schedules and maps and using the Next Bus feature—which lets you look up bus departure times, real time statuses, and scheduled times for bus stops along a given route—can be very helpful. You can pay by cash or tap to pay; otherwise, you can purchase a Compass Card with stored value. The Compass Card gives a slight discount for each ride. Finally, it’s possible to buy a day pass via a ticket or Compass Card, or even a monthly pass via a Compass Card. Except for when you pay cash on a bus, all other methods of payment allow you to transfer to other transit for up to 90 minutes (up to 120 minutes if this includes travel on the West Coast Express).

Translink’s buses has the most extensive transportation network, connecting you to all major tourist sites, SkyTrain stations, and hubs/exchanges. Translink also offers RapidBus routes and express buses, which come more frequently and get where you want to go faster due to fewer stops. There’s also a NightBus service that runs from 2am onwards to get you home safely late at night.

Vancouver’s SkyTrain has three lines currently and is in the process of expanding along Broadway. The original line, the Expo Line, runs from Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver, going through Burnaby and New Westminster before ending at King George Station in Surrey. Meanwhile, the Millennium Line goes through East Vancouver (e.g., Commercial-Broadway Station), Burnaby, and Port Moody, with its terminus at Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station in Coquitlam. Finally, the newest addition, the Canada Line, is a very efficient ride along two routes: Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver to YVR-Airport Station in Richmond; and Waterfront Station to Richmond-Brighouse Station. As a result, it’s the preferred way to get to the YVR Airport and back.

The SeaBus is the loveliest way to travel from downtown Vancouver to North Vancouver. It leaves from Waterfront Station and takes you right across Burrard Inlet to Lonsdale Quay (The Shipyards District/Lower Lonsdale). The scenic ride is only 12 minutes and leaves every 10-15 minutes during peak times.

Finally, the West Coast Express operates during rush hour times and transports passengers by rail from Waterfront Station to Mission City Station in Mission. It goes through Burnaby, Port Moody, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows, and Maple Ridge.

The Aquabus

Aquabus Ferry in False Creek in Vancouver

Photo credit: Destination Vancouver / Tanya Goehring

For a picturesque means of getting around False Creek, the Aquabus is a wonderful option. This ferry company offers 8 stops along False Creek, starting downtown at the foot of Hornby Street and then going to Granville Island, David Lam Park, Stamps Landing, Spyglass Place, Yaletown, Plaza of Nations, and The Village (in Olympic Village). The ferry runs every 5 to 15 minutes. You can buy single tickets or purchase a day pass. Many of the ferries are pet friendly, bike friendly, and wheelchair accessible.

Cycling and E-Scooter Options

Cyclists on the Seawall in Vancouver

Photo: Destination Vancouver / Destination Canada

Vancouver is a cycling city—and has become increasingly so in recent years with substantial expansion of bike lanes, routes, and greenways. If you don’t come with a bike, there are multiple ways to rent one. A really easy way to get access to a bike is through the Vancouver Bike Share (Mobi by Shaw Go!). You register on-line or via the app, use a fob or code to unlock a bike at any one of the bike stations around town, ride your bike to your destination, and then return it to any of the bike docks. In addition to a Pay Per Ride option, Vancouver Bike Share offers a variety of passes: 24 hours, 30 days, and 365 days, which charge based on the number of minutes of use. They have classic and e-bikes available.

Vancouver also has numerous companies that specialize in bike rentals. Cycle BC rents a variety of bicycles, such as the Brodie Sterling for seawall rides, flat bar road bikes, drop bar gravel bikes, e-bikes, and bikes for kids. Trailers and trail-a-bikes are also for rent. Rentals come with helmets, maps, locks, pumps, patch kits, and advice when it comes to riding and routes (e.g., UBC Seawall Bike Ride). Cycle BC also rents single and double seater scooters and motorcycles.

Spokes Bicycle Rental, conveniently located near Stanley Park, has all sorts of bicycles for rental, including step-over cruisers, city hybrids, mountain bikes, road bikes, e cruisers, tandems, and junior mountain bikes. Child trailers, seats, and trail-a-bikes, as well as dog baskets can be rented.

EzeeRiders Bike Rentals has two locations, both close to the Seawall. They offer small, road, and comfort bikes, in addition to electric scooters.

Yes Cycle Adventures rents a variety of bikes, including city bikes, hybrid bikes, and e-bikes, in addition to e-scooters. They feature a few bike tours: Vancouver Highlights, Stanley Park Bike Tour, and a Tour of Granville Island and Gastown,

Cycle City Rentals and Tours has a wide selection of bikes for adults and children. All rentals come with a helmet, a basket or handlebar bag, and a lock. Options include adult city bike-roadsters, city cross bikes, e-bikes, and tandems. They feature a variety of fun and scenic guided tours, such as a Stanley Park Bike Tour, an Epic Electric Bike Tour, and a Sunset Bike Tour.

And, Access Rent-a-Car rents beach cruisers, city cruisers, and city bikes in addition to e-scooters.

Car Sharing

If you need a vehicle, there are Vancouver rental companies for electric vehicles and/or hybrid cars (e.g., Avis); you can also take advantage of car sharing in the city. The largest car sharing program is Evo, which gives you access to Toyoto Prius Hybrids and electric Kia Niros. The vehicles come with bike and ski racks for all your adventuring needs. Basically, you have to register on-line and then have your licensing authority send your driving record for the past two years to Evo (allow time for processing if you’re from out of province/country). You’ll get an Evo card in the mail after you’re approved or you can use the app. After that, you’ll use the app to locate and/or reserve a car, pay for how long you drive it, and then park the car when you’re done in an approved spot.


Photo: Mount Pleasant BIA

Finally, Vancouver is an incredible walking city. The downtown core has lots to see and do while also being compact enough to tour its various neighbourhoods (e.g., West End, Robson Street, Yaletown, Coal Harbour, Gastown, Chinatown) on foot. As well, other popular neighbourhoods outside the downtown core (e.g., Mount Pleasant, Kitsilano, The Shipyards District, Granville Island) are made for walking, with shops and restaurants along the way for browsing and grabbing a bite. Plenty of benches and outdoor seating areas make for leisurely strolling and stopping.

If you’re looking for scenic walks that will take you from one neighbourhood/area of the city to another, consider Vancouver’s seawall, which starts at Kitsilano Beach, goes through Vanier Park and Granville Island, before going along False Creek past Science World. From there, it wends past David Lam Park, Sunset Beach Park, English Bay Park, all around Stanley Park, and then concludes at the Convention Centre.

The Arbutus Greenway is also another great options. This repurposing of an old railway route takes you from Fir and 6th all the way south to the foot of Granville Street. Along the way, you’ll pass community gardens, a lot of friendly people on foot and bike, and retail areas of the city, such as Kerrisdale.

With so many eco-friendly options in Vancouver, it’s easy to enjoy the city while staying green!

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