One of the first things any new UBC student needs to figure out is how to get around the city. Vancouver is a large city, but its immense size and complicated geography can make finding your way around a little challenging, especially if you need to use public transportation.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to get around Vancouver, so whether you live on campus, have an apartment in the city, or are coming in from even further afield, there are plenty of ways to manage your commute — and explore the abundant beauty of the greater Vancouver area.
If you are new to Vancouver and UBC and want to make the most of your time in the area, here are four tips for getting around in Vancouver:
- Take the Bus
One of the major benefits of living and studying at UBC is the extensive transportation networks that exist to serve the metro Vancouver area. Vancouver’s TransLink network provides students with extensive bus, trolley, and community shuttle services that are both affordable and easy to navigate using a UBC U-Pass/Compass Card.
Bus schedules can be found online, and are regularly updated. While there are dozens of routes that run regularly every day, there are also ten night-bus routes that cover most of the city and guarantee that you can get home safely, no matter how late you need to stay up studying at the library.
- Use the SkyTrain
Vancouver’s famous SkyTrain is one of Canada’s longest light rail systems, and one of the oldest automated driverless rapid transit systems in the world. The SkyTrain goes from downtown Vancouver to Burnaby, New Westminster, and Surrey, making it an ideal choice for students commuting from further afield.
Not only is the SkyTrain one of the fastest and easiest ways to travel between cities in the Lower Mainland, it is also included as part of the U-Pass/Compass Card program, which means that UBC students can use it in tandem with the metro bus system at no extra charge.
- Buy a Used Car
Many students will still find that the easiest way to get around the Vancouver and the Lower Mainland is simply to purchase an affordable used car that will give you more freedom of mobility than transit allows.
For those who are new to British Columbia (and even for those who have lived here for years) the best way for students to find their new car is to explore the options available through digital classified sites. Digital classifieds have recently overtaken traditional media outlets in terms of their offerings, and this is how most locals buy and sell used vehicles.
Of course, it is important to remember that Vancouver is an extremely dense city, which means that roadside parking can be difficult to find. Students who use their vehicles regularly may want to download the EasyPark Mobile Parking App to find and pay for parking spots across the city.
- Explore the City by Boat
Vancouver is home to Canada’s largest and busiest port, and the ocean is a major feature in the life of the city and its residents. Students who want to enjoy all that the Vancouver area has to offer during their time at UBC may want to use Vancouver’s SeaBus and BC Ferries for day trips to the North Shore and Vancouver Island.
The SeaBus travels between downtown Vancouver’s Waterfront Station and the North Shore’s Lonsdale Quay, and the breathtaking twelve-minute crossing of Burrard Inlet is worth the trip all on its own. Like the bus and SkyTrain, the SeaBus fares are covered by UBC’s U-Pass/Compass Card program.
BC Ferries operates multiple routes out of Vancouver’s Tsawwassen and Horseshoe Bay terminals, taking passengers as far as Victoria and Nanaimo (on Vancouver Island) as well as the famous Sunshine Coast.
Students come to UBC from all over the world because for the world-class facilities, dedicated teachers, and brilliant research opportunities. But British Columbia’s natural beauty, and the exciting culture and rich diversity of Vancouver, also offer a compelling reason to study here.
If you are coming to UBC for school and want to make sure you can get the most out of your time in one of the world’s best cities, remember to take advantage of the many transportation options that are available to you. Between the extensive bus networks, the ease of finding a good used car, and the SeaBus and SkyTrain, getting around the city is easy once you know how to do it!