(First off, it should be noted that SkyTrain is not a tram - it is a fully automated, fully grade separated, 3rd-Rail metro rapid transit system for the city and metropolitan area of Vancouver. SkyTrain has crush load capacities in excess of 36,000 pphpd on two lines and 30,000 pphpd on the third. During the 2010 Olympics, SkyTrain recorded a record passenger load of over 660,000 passengers per day - something no tram system could ever hope to match.)

SKYTRAIN

SkyTrain is the city of Vancouver's fully automated metro system. It is designed predominantly as an elevated system from which its name is derived - an elevated design similar in many regards to Chicago's L (underground in downtown) but SkyTrain uses intermediate capacity vehicles (as opposed to heavy rail). Although SkyTrain is fully automated, trains can be operated manually if necessary.

SkyTrain has three lines in operation as of circa 2010: Expo Line, Millennium Line, and Canada Line. SkyTrain is the world's longest automated metro system and contains the world's longest metro bridge, SkyBridge.

- EXPO Line

SkyTrain Expo Line is the oldest line and began operation shortly before the city's World Exposition in 1986 originally running between Waterfront and New Westminster stations. The line was extended to Columbia, Scott Rd and then King George (the current terminus) in the City of Surrey. Today, the line runs from downtown Vancouver through the cities of Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, and Surrey. 

Expo Line is the city's highest capacity metro line and is slated to be expanded even further to increase crush loads above 50,000 pphpd. Expo Line is principally elevated after departing east from Stadium-Chinatown station in downtown Vancouver, and therefore great views of the city and metro area can be had. Expo Line also has the world's longest metro bridge, SkyBridge, which crosses the Fraser River separating New Westminster and Surrey.

Trains on the Expo Line run every 2 minutes in the peak, every 6 minutes during the day and every 8 minutes late at night. Between Waterfront and Columbia, the Expo line and Millenium line services combine to provide trains every 108 seconds in the peak, every 3 minutes in the day and every 4 minutes late at night.

Popular attractions on Expo line include and can be reached from the following stations:

  • WATERFRONT Station*: Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre, Canada Place Cruise Ship terminal, World Trade Centre, Central Waterfront, 2010 Olympic Cauldron, Tourism Vancouver, Tickets Now, Gastown District, terminus
  • BURRARD Station: Financial District, Coal Harbour neighbourhood
  • GRANVILLE Station: Central Downtown, Granville Entertainment District, Central Granville Transit Mall, Robson Square, Vancouver Art Gallery, Pacific Centre
  • STADIUM-CHINATOWN Station: Chinatown, International Village Neighbourhood, Stadium District, Vancouver Public Library Square, Theatre District, Canada Post
  • MAIN STREET Station: <TRANSFER> to PACIFIC CENTRAL Station [Intercity Train, Bus], ScienceWorld, Chinatown - south entry, Downtown Eastside, <TRANSFER> to Downtown Historic Railway (tram to Granville Island and OLYMPIC VILLAGE Station [CANADA Line])
  • BROADWAY/COMMERCIAL DRIVE Station: Commercial Drive District, Little Italy, <TRANSFER> to MILLENNIUM Line, <TRANSFER> to University of British Columbia (via 99 B-Line BRT)
  • METROTOWN Station: Metropolis at Metrotown, Hilton-Crystal Mall, Burnaby Central Business District
  • NEW WESTMINSTER Station: Central New Westminster, Westminster Quay
  • COLUMBIA Station: <TRANSFER> to MILLENNIUM Line

* WATERFRONT Station is the Intermodal transit hub, allowing easy <TRANSFER> from SkyTrain Expo Line to SkyTrain Canada Line, SeaBus (ferry), West Coast Express (commuter rail), Helijet (helicopter transport), and near to the Vancouver Water Aerodrome (sea plane airline service)

- MILLENNIUM Line

SkyTrain Millennium Line is the second line of the metro system and was completed in the early 2000s. It runs from Columbia Station (EXPO Line) through the city of Burnaby then west to East Vancouver. There are transfer stations at Columbia Station and Broadway/Commercial Drive Station with EXPO Line, however today many Millennium Line trains originate in downtown and loop around - so no transfer is really necessary from downtown.

Since Millennium Line is mostly suburban, it is lighter capacity and serves as a feeder line to EXPO. However, Millennium Line is slated to receive a major extension as a subway through the Central Broadway District and would terminate at the University of British Columbia at the western edge of Vancouver City, with a transfer to be made with CANADA Line at Broadway/City Hall Station.

Trains on the Millenium Line run every 3-4 minutes in the peak, every 6 minutes during the day and every 8 minutes late at night. Between Waterfront and Columbia, the Expo line and Millenium line services combine to provide trains every 108 seconds in the peak, every 3 minutes in the day and every 4 minutes late at night. 

Popular attractions on Millennium line include and can be reached from the following stations:

  • COLUMBIA Station: <TRANSFER> to MILLENNIUM Line
  • LOUGHEED TOWN CENTRE Station: Lougheed Town Centre, **FUTURE <TRANSFER> to EVERGREEN Line (under construction)
  • PRODUCTION WAY/UNIVERSITY Station: <TRANSFER> to Simon Fraser University (via bus)
  • BRENTWOOD TOWN CENTRE Station: Brentwood Town Centre
  • BROADWAY/COMMERCIAL DRIVE Station: Commercial Drive District, Little Italy, <TRANSFER> to EXPO Line, <TRANSFER> to University of British Columbia (via 99 B-Line BRT)

- CANADA Line

SkyTrain Canada Line is the third and most recent line of the metro system. It opened prior to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and received its name in honour of the great nation. Canada Line runs North and South, connecting downtown Vancouver with Central Richmond and Vancouver International Airport. It is the first (and as of 2014 the only) metro system in Canada to connect a downtown with its city's International Airport.

Canada Line begins as a subway under downtown Vancouver at Waterfront Station then emerges at the south section of Vancouver City at Marine Drive Station, crossing the North Arm of the Fraser River and then splitting at Bridgeport Station in Richmond City to either Central Richmond (Brighouse Station) or  Vancouver International Airport (Airport Station). One can make a transfer at Bridgeport Station to either route, so it will be necessary to be on the correct train once you reach Bridgeport Station for your final destination. Transfers to EXPO Line take place at Waterfront Station, however the adventurous transit user could transfer between Granville and Vancouver City Centre Stations in Central Downtown as well.

Trains on the Canada Line run every 6 minutes to the Airport and to Richmond Brighouse during the day,every 12 minutes late evening and every 20 minutes after 11pm to last train; the two branches combine between Waterfront and Bridgeport to provide a service every 3 minutes during the day, every 6 minutes late evening and every 10 minutes after 11pm. 

  ** AIRPORT SURCHARGE **  When departing from any station on Sea Island (Vancouver International Airport) there is a $5 surcharge added on to any tickets bought in the stations. You can avoid this surcharge by buying a book of fare-saver tickets or a daypass at the 7 Eleven or Pharmasave stores in the domestic terminal (lower arrivals level).  This is legal and it is advertised on the YVR airport website and notice boards at the station advise you of this too.  

Note that once the new Compass Card is fully rolled out, fare saver tickets will be discontinued. The $5 add-fare will apply to stored value on the compass card and will be extended to day passes purchased on Sea Island (including at the airport). Monthly passes will continue to be exempt as will day passes purchases for areas other than Sea Island. The date of this change is not fixed but likely in fall of 2014.

There is no special Airport Fee assessed for trains departing downtown Vancouver.

Travel between the three stations on Sea Island (YVR-Airport, Sea Island Centre and Templeton) is free.

First train departs the airport at  5:07am (every day) and the last leaves at 12:56am (every day).  First train to the airport in the morning is at 4:48am (every day) and the last is at 1:05am (every day).  Note that after the last train, the N10 bus leaves the airport to downtown Vancouver at 1:34am, 2:04am and 2:34am; after the last bus to Vancouver, you can also get the 3:09am or 3:39am N10bus towards Richmond, transfer at Russ Baker Way and Sea Island Way to the N10 bound for Vancouver -  leaving there at 3:37am or 4:10am respectively (a 10 to 15 minute wait - there are shelters and a safe landscaped waiting area).  The N10 leaves downtown to the airport at 2:09am, 2:39am and 3:09am (note that N10 buses running after 3:09am do not serve the airport).

Popular attractions on Canada Line include and can be reached from the following stations:

  • WATERFRONT Station*: Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre, Canada Place Cruise Ship terminal, World Trade Centre, Central Waterfront, 2010 Olympic Cauldron, Tourism Vancouver, Tickets Now, Heritage District, Gastown District, terminus
  • VANCOUVER CITY CENTRE Station: Central Downtown, Pacific Centre, Robson Square, Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada Post, Granville Entertainment District, Central Granville Transit Mall
  • YALETOWN/ROUNDHOUSE Station: Yaletown District, NE False Creek Waterfront neighbourhood, Downtown South neighbourhood, Davie Street
  • OLYMPIC VILLAGE Station**: Olympic Village, SE False Creek Waterfront, <TRANSFER> to Downtown Historic Railway (tram to Granville Island and MAIN STREET [EXPO Line])
  • BROADWAY/CITY HALL Station: Vancouver City Hall, Central Broadway District
  • BRIDGEPORT Station: <TRANSFER> to Canada Line [AIRPORT terminus], <TRANSFER> to Canada Line [BRIGHOUSE terminus], <TRANSFER> to Canada Line [WATERFRONT terminus], <TRANSFER> to Vancouver Ferry Terminal (Tsawwassen), <TRANSFER> to suburban transit bus (TransLink)
  • AIRPORT Station: Vancouver International Airport DOMESTIC, TRANSBORDER/U.S., and INTERNATIONAL (Main) terminals,  <TRANSFER> to SOUTH terminal (via shuttle bus), terminus
  • ABERDEEN Station: Golden Village/Richmond Chinatown
  • RICHMOND BRIGHOUSE Station: Richmond Centre, Richmond Central Business District, terminus

* WATERFRONT Station is the Intermodal transit hub, allowing easy <TRANSFER> from SkyTrain Expo Line to SkyTrain Canada Line, SeaBus (ferry), West Coast Express (commuter rail), Helijet (helicopter transport), transit bus, and near to the Vancouver Water Aerodrome (sea plane airline service)

- EVERGREEN Line

SkyTrain Evergreen Line is currently under construction and will open in 2016 serving the cities of Burnaby, Port Moody and Coquitlam in the Northeast Section of Metro Vancouver.  The new line will run elevated from Douglas-Lafarge Park Station, through Lincoln Station in Coquitlam to Coquitlam Centre (interchange with the West Coast Express train). It will then run at grade alongside the West Coast Express tracks with a station at Inlet Centre. After Moody Centre Station (another interchange station with West Coast Express trains), the line will go through a 2km single bore tunnel (two tracks in one tunnel) then run elevated along North Rd with a station at Burquitlam to Lougheed Station. When completed it will take over the Millenium line segment from Lougheed to VCC-Clark. Millenium line trains from downtown Vancouver will be terminated at Lougheed. Trains will run on the Evergreen from VCC-Clark to Douglas-Lafarge Park, with trains running every 3 minutes.

 

- Train2Main Line (temporary)

Due to construction, regular length 4-car and 6-car trains are unable to stop at Main Street-Science World Station. Beginning on March 30, 2014, Expo Line and Millenium Line trains will not stop at Main Street- Science World station during any part of the day. The Train2Main is a temporary two-car train that will operatebetween Waterfront and Commercial-Broadway stopping at all stations, including Main street - science World. Trains will run every 8 to 10 minutes from the beginning to the end of regular skytrain service. 

To access Main Street - Science World  Station (and the Amtrak, VIA and national bus station), from any downtown station board the "Train2Main" shuttle. It will be identified on the overhead displays as "Train2Main" and terminating at "Commercial-Broadway".  It will be physically identifiable as it will be a short two-car train. Listen to annoouncements and watch the signs. To access Main Street-Science World from east of Commercial-Broadway Station, take any train to Commercial-Broadway and transfer there to the "Train2Main" shuttle.

This will be in effect March 30, 2014 to fall 2014. Approximately six months to accommodate platform level construction at Main Street - Science World Station without closing the station.