How to get around Metro Vancouver during the SkyTrain strike this week

Dec 8 2019, 11:47 am

Employees staffing the SkyTrain Expo and Millennium lines plan to strike Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday next week.

The strike would mean a full shutdown of the two SkyTrain lines for three days, crippling Metro Vancouver’s transit network. The union says the strike will go ahead unless it reaches a deal with employer BC Rapid Transit Company (BCRTC).

So what should commuters do?

Use alternate transit routes

The Canada Line will be running as usual because it’s privately operated by ProTransBC. Buses throughout Metro Vancouver and the SeaBus will also run as normal.

TransLink recommends using an online trip planner and excluding the Expo and Millennium lines to figure out alternate routes.

Here’s how to avoid the SkyTrain using TransLink’s in-house trip planner:

  • From the Trip Planner, select the “Options” (Gear Icon)TransLink
  • Scroll down to the “Plan My Trip Using” heading, and select the “Exclude SkyTrain” button.

    TransLink

    TransLink

You can also tell Google Maps you prefer buses to subways.

  • Tap the three dots next do your location:
  • Tap “route options” to toggle which ways you prefer

These methods aren’t perfect though, because they’ll also exclude the Canada Line which will still be running.

Bike

If you have your own bike, cycling can be a great option if you live close enough to work or school. Of course, rain gear helps in December.

You could also rent a bike from a bike share program, although their geographic ranges can be limited. Downtown Vancouver has Mobi by Shaw; UBC has HOPR; and U-bicycle operates in Richmond, Port Moody, and Port Coquitlam.

Mobi bike share

Map of Mobi bike share stations in Vancouver. (Mobi by Shaw)

Drive or carpool

Traffic could be heavier during the transit strike, but for many it could be the only option when biking, walking, or alternate transit routes take too much time. To find someone to carpool with, try apps like Poparide or location-specific groups on social media, like this Facebook group for carpooling to Simon Fraser University.

Car share

Have a driving licence? It might be a good time to get a car share membership.

Metro Vancouver has about 3,500 car share vehicles, although they’re concentrated within Vancouver’s city boundaries. Evo and ShareNow (formerly Car2Go) have large free-floating fleets, and sometimes offer incentives to post-secondary students.

Evo Car Share service map in Vancouver. (Evo)

Zones covered by ShareNow: 

Share Now Car2Go

Share Now (Car2Go) service map in Vancouver. (Share Now)

Modo and Zipcar are two other operators that have users pick up and return the vehicles at designated stations.

Taxi

Metro Vancouver has about 2,100 taxi vehicles, but they’re constrained by city boundaries regarding where they can pick up customers. For example, only 900 cabs registered with the City of Vancouver can pick up passengers in the city.

BC still doesn’t have popular ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, so opening one of those apps won’t get you far.