Whether you're commuting to UBC across town, hitting one of the many bike trails in the city, or looking for a car or a ride to get you where you want to go, Vancouver has a really great public transit system, it's bike-friendly, and there are several car share and ride-hailing programs to take advantage of.
Vancouver has a reliable public transit system called TransLink, and as a student, your student fees cover what's called a U-Pass. The U-Pass provides unlimited bus, Seabus, Skytrain, and Canada Line services within Metro Vancouver. The U-Pass is covered in a bit more detail below.
The best way to get to UBC's main campus in Point Grey is by bus. The Point Grey campus cannot yet be directly reached by Seabus or SkyTrain. Express buses to the Point Grey campus run on a couple of main corridors, in particular: 4th Avenue, West Broadway, 16th Avenue, and South West Marine Drive. Please take a look at the Translink Transit Systems Maps to orient yourself with the bus routes, geographical features and popular landmarks in relation to the UBC Point Grey campus and other campus sites like UBC Robson Square or any of the hospital-affiliated sites in the city.
There are different types of bus services including regular and express buses within the Translink network. Public transit buses cover a great deal of Vancouver and offer regular service within the city. UBC is a 20-minute bus ride from downtown Vancouver. Depending on the bus route, there are regular buses (buses that make many stops along its route to accommodate as many rider destinations as possible) express buses (which stop less frequently along the route and can help you to cover longer distances quickly) and RapidBus service (a few routes that offer fewer stops and up to 20% faster services than regular buses).
The SkyTrain connects the outer cities of Greater Vancouver, including Richmond, Surrey, New Westminster, and Burnaby, with downtown Vancouver. For a map and information about services, please see the TransLink website.
SeaBus is a passenger ferry that connects downtown Vancouver (Waterfront terminal) with the North Shore (Lonsdale Quay). There are good bus connections in both locations. For more information about the SeaBus service see the TransLink website.
paying your fare
You must pay a fare to ride public transit in Vancouver, whether you have a monthly pass like your student U-Pass, or not. Purchasing a single ticket for your zone covers buses, SkyTrain and the SeaBus for 90 minutes, including transfers between buses, SkyTrain and SeaBus. If you don’t have a U-Pass, you can purchase single tickets on the bus with exact change (no notes or dollar bills are accepted and no change is given) or use a stored-value Compass Card. Day passes are also available, for example if you have family visiting. For information about zones and ticket fares visit the TransLink website.
All UBC students are automatically enrolled in the U-Pass program. It is included in your student fees and at a substantial discount compared to regular passes. The U-Pass is valid on buses, Skytrains and the Seabus. New students must first purchase an adult-class Compass Card (think “bus pass card”) for $6, then link it to the U-Pass via your CWL. Once linked, the U-Pass can and must be loaded monthly, as long as you remain eligible. You must also carry your UBCcard (student ID) when using your U-Pass to avoid possible penalties.
Students who live outside the boundaries of Metro Vancouver can apply of an exemption to the U-Pass program. For more information visit the UPass website.
Biking in the City
Vancouver is a bike-friendly city. There are lots of great bike trails and designated bike routes throughout the city, and protected bike lanes downtown. Cycling is an easy way to get around the city and a popular method of transport in Vancouver. Before getting on your bike in BC, please be aware of the following:
- British Columbia law requires every cyclist to wear a helmet
- Your bicycle must have lights (front and back) if you are cycling after dark
- You must obey the rules of the road
- It is recommended that you use designated cycle routes
If you want to break up your journey (or want to take a break!) bicycles can be taken on public transport too. For more information see the TransLink website.
UBC Campus and Community Planning: cycling tips, bike-share programs, bicycle parking, and other great resources
Cycle Vancouver: bike tours, bike rentals, events, and other great resources.
Translink cycling maps: cycling maps, community cycling resources, and tips for taking your bike on public transit.
Bike Sense BC: safety and operations manual for cycling in BC
Mobi: public bike share program
HUB: a Metro Vancouver-based cycling organization that provides cycling health and safety education, fun community cycling events, cycling advocacy, and more.
BikeRide: website with free bike maintenance guide and other resources for cyclists.
Servicing and Purchasing Used Bikes
- The Bike Kitchen: bike servicing (full services and DIY), bikes, parts, and accessories for sale, and great programs and workshops including Access Nights and P+Y Night, located on campus.
- Standkick: a volunteer-run community bike shop in East Vancouver
- Our Community Bikes: a social enterprise community bike shop
- Sports Junkies: used bikes for sale
- Used bikes are frequently sold online in various online groups, e.g. in Facebook, or on Craigslist.
Apart from these options there are numerous commercial bike stores around town. Major retailers like Walmart, Canadian Tire, or Sportchek sell entry level bikes as well.
Bike theft is common in Vancouver. Help prevent your bike from being stolen by investing in locks and being wary of where you leave it.
Car Sharing and ride-hailing
Vancouver has several car-sharing programs – Modo, Zipcar, and Evo, and you can access all of these cars on campus. Pay special attention to eligibility, especially if you are an out-of-country driver.
Vancouver also has ride-hailing options including Uber and Lyft. Be sure to check their websites for service areas. UBC has dedicated ride-hailing pick-up and drop-off spots, called "ride-hail spots".
Check the Campus + Community Planning website for details on how UBC supports these programs.
Vancouver offers 24-hour taxi service throughout the city, and if you need transportation to and from the airport, be sure to check out the fixed zone fares.