"Your bag is too heavy! You need to take some things out and carry it." piped a middle-aged lady in a thick European accent.
She pointed to the repacking area, where I somehow managed to rearrange my belongings to meet the threshold precisely.
Gas prices are monstrous and so are car rentals. Should one be travelling in a pack, splitting the costs may prove more efficient than public transit, however it's not entirely necessary for solo adventurers within the Greater Vancouver Area, namely Richmond, Burnaby, and Vancouver. (Though, Coquitlam isn't all that far either given SkyTrain improvements.)
Similar to the GTA's PRESTO system, GVA's equivalent is the Compass card that enables travel on buses, all SkyTrain lines, and West Coast Express rail at an additional fare. Ferries were not ridden during my visit, thus comments cannot be extended in that regard. Compass colours are distinguished by user age: Blue for "Adult" (over 18) and Orange for "Concession" (Child/Senior). Post-secondary students enrolled in UBC are entitled to a U-Pass, a program in which transit fares across all three zones are incorporated into tuition fees.
There are currently three versions of Compass:
- Fare card - the original and also most common option
- Wristband - a recently introduced wearable version
- Compass mini - a recently introduced keychain version
- There is no way to get around the Zones, but more frequent and consistent service has enabled riders to take advantage of the 90-minute transfer window.
- Compass accounts show real-time card usage data with detailed tap on/tap off information. All services require tapping on, though buses do not require tapping off. In this sense, one may be able to sneak into Zone 1 from Zone 2 by bus, though the fare difference is quite minimal at $1.05.
- Busses run along main roads, even along the residential areas, so choose your accommodations wisely. For out-of-towners, it is suggested to look for spaces within close proximity to a SkyTrain station, with suburban residences with access to night-operating bus routes being second choice.
Transit options have undergone signficant improvement over the three-and-a-half year span of my absence. Not only have Uber and Lyft finally landed, Translink has also introduced new features to traversing across the three zones. That said, living along the outskirts of suburbia (ie. residences offering glittering views of the Fraser River) still pose to be a great challenge during off-peak and evening hours. In this very sense, ride-sharing services have proven themselves beneficial to overall ease of travel and quality of life.
To the suburban commuter, Uber and Lyft are true blessings.
I averaged a total of seven rides:
- Uber ride count: 6
- Lyft ride count: 1
Drivers either did not make conversation or provided great insight on the rollout of the ride-share service, inclusive of personal tales. My battery-less last evening acquainted me with Uber's original 2011 introduction, followed by its near-immediate removal due to taxi driver lobbying.
And with stellar walking weather that essentially beckons to be enjoyed, there is essentially no excuse to avoid physical activity, be it a brisk walk or podcast-accompanied jog. This is especially the case should one have the geographical advantage of trails or parks. These takeaways truly begged the question why not-so-outdoorsy folk choose Vancouver as their primary residence (aka majority of my extended kin).
Be warned though: Matcha Lattes and specialty confectioneries are not for the faint of wallet.