The hardest thing about commuting by transit is deciding what to do with all the extra time you have while relaxing on the bus or Skytrain. Will you catch up on your correspondence? Try your hand at character sketches of your fellow commuters? Get back into crocheting? Oh, the possibilities will have you giddy with excitement! So, say “good bye” to taking the wheel in bumper-to-bumper gridlock traffic and “hello” to saving money on gas and parking.
Basics for buses
If you’re new to the exciting world of transit (Don’t mock. Transit can be exciting.), here are a few things to consider:
- Early Bird gets the Bus: Buses are sometimes early so arrive at least five minutes before the published departure time on the Translink website. It also increases your chances of getting a seat on a popular route – score!
- Getting a Seat: Getting a seat on the bus is the holy grail of the transit world. You may find that walking an extra block or so to a less popular stop rather than the closest stop increases your odds.
- Know your Route: Having planned your trip by looking up bus numbers, alternates, and departure times makes the trip much more enjoyable. Translink makes this a breeze with their mobile site.
- Save on Transit Fare: Plan ahead. Monthly passes and FareSaver booklets are just some of the ways planning ahead for your bus commute can save you money.
- How’s the Weather: Not all buses have covered waiting areas and not all covered waiting areas are right next to the stop. If it’s a popular stop, you may be left in the back of the line if you choose to find dry shelter. Have an umbrella and improve your chances of getting on early and grabbing a seat.
- The Line Up: People tend to loiter about rather than line up at smaller stops or stations. You’ll get to know the regulars at the stop who keep mental tabs on who got there first. Go with the flow on this one.
- Save even more time: Did you know that you can bring your bike onto a bus or Skytrain? Cut down on transfers and bike to an Express, B-Line stop or SkyTrain station. The best part—your colleagues will think you biked all the way from home as they see you arrive on campus with your bike.
A few tips on transit etiquette will help ensure a smooth ride for you and your fellow riders:
- Move toward the back of the bus as soon as you board. Don’t be the bottleneck. After getting on a bus, make your way as far back as possible to allow more people to get on.
- Take the initiative to make everyone’s commute more pleasant. Reach over and slide the windows open when the bus is crowded and the air gets stale.
- Take note of preferred seating for riders with special needs. Get up and offer your seat to someone that may need it…like the pregnant woman who looks like she’s about to topple over. She’d be a very good person to offer your seat to. Just sayin’.
- Remove your backpack or bag and place it at your feet. This frees up space for more riders to board the bus or train.
- On crowded buses, start moving to the exit a stop or two early in order to minimize last-minute shoving. No one likes a shover. Translink buses have helpful visual displays at the front of the bus indicating the next stop as well as whether someone has requested a stop.
Basics for rail
- Orientation: Many Skytrain stations have separate platforms depending on which direction or line you are traveling. Look at the signs and make sure you are waiting on the right platform. Larger stations also have multiple exits. There are large area maps usually located by the major exits next to the ticket vending machines to help you figure out which surface street you will be on when exiting. You’ll get the hang of it in no time!
Resources & helpful links
- Translink mobile site (including map view of your next bus in real time)
- Find a FareDealer
- Bikes on Buses (How to video)
- Bikes on SkyTrain
Not quite ready to sign on the dotted line? Buy a booklet of 10 Faresaver tickets and try it for one week at a time. Or do a test run: If you’re on the BCIT Burnaby Campus, take the 130 from Willingdon and Goard Way to Metrotown or Brentwood Town Centre for lunch. Bring a friend and make it an adventure.