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Turning the Tides on Temperature: Buses and SkyTrains

Winter is gone, and summer is coming! Aside from the season and unpredictable Vancity weather, the temperatures are changing too. We’re here to explain the variance of heat and AC you’ll encounter on your commutes and give tips on how you can make it a more comfortable experience too.

Temperature on the Bus

Buses that have joined the TransLink fleet since 2012 are climate controlled, so that means there’s air conditioning onboard! As we renew and expand our fleet, they’re making up a larger portion of our fleet. If you’re onboard a bus that has air conditioning, let’s keep those windows shut so the air conditioning can do its job.

As well, climate control means there are times when it seems that both the heating and cooling is on simultaneously. This is so the system can “dry” or dehumidify the air on a cold or humid day.

Temperature on SkyTrain

Over on SkyTrain, our Mark II and III trains both have cooling and heating systems.

Each car has a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) unit on its roof. It uses sensors that determine the outside air temperature versus the air inside the car, then that will follow an algorithm that helps maintain an optimal temperature for passengers.

Our Mark I trains only has a heating system, so over summer, pop those windows open to keep cool. There are also overhead fans that help with cooling too.

The SkyTrain operates admirably with a 95 per cent on-time performance, but from time to time, there are delays. It’s important to note that if your train is stopped in between stations or just outside a station, that you listen to the onboard announcements and check Transit Alerts. If you need to, open a window for ventilation and use the intercom to speak with SkyTrain Control. Not only is forcing doors open dangerous because the tracks carry live power, it can lengthen delays as a SkyTrain Attendant will need to respond to that individual train.


How to make your commute more comfortable

  • Plan ahead

Planning ahead with Trip Planner is super helpful to know how much to bring with you and time that you take to commute. Do you have some breather room to take a break from the heat? Or wanting to explore cafes close by SkyTrain stations? (PS: we have another article coming up on that shortly.)

  • Be courteous on the transit to other passengers

Everyone shares the public space on transit, so we can help each other make it a better commute together. When many people are on the bus at once during a hot day, please be mindful of personal hygiene and refrain from wearing scented products.

  • Keep yourself hydrated

Water is always the best option to keep hydrated. While food and drink aren’t allowed on transit for cleanliness purposes and courtesy of others who may not tolerate food smells, water is an exception (if it has a lid). We’d like to provide caution about drinking on a moving vehicle, so it might be best to wait until you reach a bus stop for a quick drink.

  • Dress according to weather

If you are going to be transiting for most of the day, it’s best to plan your outfit that will be convenient for your commute. Wear clothing that is comfortable and an outer layer that will be easy to take off due to changing temperatures.

Lastly, we want to make sure that everyone will have a safe commute no matter where your destination is this summer. Let us know if you have any suggestions on how you keep yourself comfortable during your trip also in the comments below!


  • By Sue Parras, May 17, 2019 @ 4:54 am

    Coffee like timmies or wherever fine just no beer please, you know who you are but I wish that the drivers would say something to people eating takeout on board!! Some of it smells gross!!

  • By Helen, May 17, 2019 @ 1:34 pm

    Hi Sue, while you can let the bus operator know of the situation, they carry a heavy responsibility of getting people to where they need to go safely. We do have announcements to kindly remind people of common courtesy on transit. Here is a post from the time we had Seth Rogan’s voice our Skytrain announcements (check out the one he did on food of transit).

  • By Baron Taylor, May 20, 2019 @ 10:52 am

    They need to lock the bus windows in the summer because people always open them when the air conditioner is running

  • By TwilightReader, May 20, 2019 @ 6:13 pm

    They need to come up with some sort of locking system that only the driver can unlock and tell the drivers to only unlock them when the ventilation system isn’t working or they need to shut the bus off or something. People open them when they shouldn’t in the middle of winter, too. It doesn’t need to be open when it’s only 5 degrees outside.

  • By Tegir Varu, May 28, 2019 @ 8:11 pm

    I have commented several times about the lack of a/c on the a/c busses. if the fan isn’t on (even if the heat/cool isn’t), there is no air circulation since we can’t open the windows. the back gets so gross and hot but up front might be ok. operators should be aware that they have to keep the system on or we can’t breathe, even if the temp is perfect.

  • By Helen, May 30, 2019 @ 8:51 am

    Hi Tegir. There were two things in the article mentioning how the AC works.

    You are right about how it feels different between the front and the back of your bus. The older buses don’t have AC. However, this article is regarding the newer bus models and we like to remind our passengers to not open the windows because the AC system operates as a form of climate control.

    This means that the system on these newer buses will adjust according to how hot or cold it is throughout the entire bus. This also means the temperature won’t be consistent as the bus’s environment is constantly changing due to doors opening for passengers to board or exit. By opening a window, it throws the system off balance and it can’t provide the right level of AC to make it comfortable for everyone.

    If you are not sure whether the system is on, you are welcome to ask your bus operator to check. If it happens to be on, please leave some time for the system to adjust to what is optimal.

  • By Jasmina, August 12, 2020 @ 4:44 pm

    Just wanted to comment on the heating system in sky-train. As soon as the outside temp. is below 15 Celsius (overnight), the heat is on during the day and it gets to hot even if the train is half full. It’s August! Why are we having a heat on during the summer? In time when wearing a mask is becoming a mandatory, it is going to be very uncomfortable and hard to breath. Personally, I don’t thing we need heat till temp. is below zero, as mostly people are dressed for the occasion. Thanks! Jasmina

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