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Back to transit: Everything you need to know about returning to class

Back to transit: Everything you need to know about returning to class

A young man sits on the bus wearing a mask.
A student headed to class.

That first day back in class is always nerve-racking. Will you like your classmates? Is your instructor going to be fair? How will you find your classroom? Never mind getting to campus. You haven’t been there in seemingly forever and now you have to figure out how to be there for 8:30 am! Well, as a BCIT grad turned transit enthusiast, I’m in a rare position to provide you with everything you need to know about getting to class. This guide is designed to allow a seamless transition back into classroom life while utilizing our public transit system.

Keep in mind TransLink’s dedicated team is doing all they can to keep our system clean and safe. From improved ventilation to pit-stop cleaning crews, we have the bases covered.

1. Know your class schedule

This sounds obvious but, it can’t be overlooked. Post-secondary schools often have schedules that vary daily and weekly. Understanding when you have to be on campus is essential. It’ll help plan your commute and, ensure you’re on time and ready to take on the days challenges.

2. Know where your classes are

Post-secondary institutions often have large, sprawling campuses that can be difficult to navigate. Just because you arrive on campus for the start of class, doesn’t mean you’ll arrive at class for the start of class. Consider how far away your class is from where the bus will drop you off. It’s good practice to aim to be outside class 10 to 15 minutes before it starts. Not only will this earn good standing with your professor or instructor, but it will allow you to meet your classmates and compare notes.

3. Plan your route

Now that you know where and when you have to be, it’s time to figure out how to get there. The best resource for planning any trip on the TransLink system is our Trip Planner. This tool allows you to enter in your starting point and destination. Next,  it plans out a route taking you from A to B. It provides bus stop locations, route information, connections to make and tells you how long it will take.

4. Load your U-Pass BC

U-Pass BC is a discounted transit pass provided to eligible post-secondary students across Metro Vancouver. In order to claim your U-Pass BC, you’ll need your own Compass Card. Compass Cards can be purchased at Compass Vending Machines across our system or at the Compass Customer Service Centre at Stadium–Chinatown Station. Once you have a Compass Card you can load your U-Pass BC at upassbc.translink.ca. U-Pass BC can take up to 24 hours to load onto your Compass Card, so plan accordingly. Additionally, U-Pass BC must be loaded at the start of every month; you can setup reminders via text or email.

5. Use our transit tools

We have tools for our customers to take advantage of. Next Bus allows riders to enter their bus route and stop number to determine exactly when the next bus is set to arrive. Next Bus uses real-time information from all of our buses to determine exactly where they are using GPS. If you’re waiting at your stop and your bus isn’t arriving, simply check Next Bus to see where it is.

We’ve partnered with Transit app to trial exclusive capacity predictions on buses so you can ride with confidence and comfort. With capacity predictions in Transit app, you can see if the bus is full or empty before you ride. You can also set Transit app’s trip planner to prioritize trip plans that have plenty of space.

6. Etiquette on transit

It’s important to remember your fellow passengers on transit. As the old saying goes, “Treat others how you want to be treated.” If you consider others comfort just as much as your own, everyone will enjoy their transit more. Give others space, give up your seat to those who need it and be kind. Read our guide to etiquette on transit to learn how to be a conscientious passenger.

7. Bus fareboxes have changed

Don’t have a U-Pass BC loaded onto a Compass Card and will be paying for your transit fare using cash on buses? Our fareboxes have been updated and now issue paper bus transfers instead of a magnetic strip ticket.

There’s no change for customers who are paying with a Compass Card or Tap to Pay.  Like before, we encourage customers who are planning to transfer from bus to SkyTrain or SeaBus to use a Compass Card or Tap to Pay as they open the faregates.

8. Travel outside of peak hours

If you’re not a fan of busy bus and SkyTrain rides, consider planning your schedule to allow for you to travel outside of peak hours. The busiest buses and SkyTrain rides are the ones that arrive just before the start of classes. Peak hours in the mornings is from 8:15 to 9:00 a.m. If you travel before that window, there’s about 35 per cent fewer people on the system. If you travel after peak service, there’s about 70 per cent fewer people on the bus!

9. Follow us on Twitter for service updates

@TransLink  on Twitter is the best way to stay up-to-date on changes to service and to have your questions answered. Our Customer Service team answers your questions 5:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. Monday to Friday, and 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. If Twitter isn’t your thing but you want to check on Transit Alerts — go to translink.ca/alerts

10. Familiarize yourself with frequent routes to campus

TransLink offers frequent bus or SkyTrain service to all major post-secondary institutions across Metro Vancouver. Familiarize yourself with each route to your campus. Not every bus route is included here, so you’ll want to checkout the complete list — schedules and maps.

  • BCIT Burnaby – 123 (New Westminster Station/Brentwood Station), 130 (Metrotown/Pender/Kootenay), 222 (Willingdon Express)
  • Capilano – 245 (Phibbs/Capilano)
  • Douglas College Coquitlam – SkyTrain via Lafarge Lake-Douglas station
  • Douglas College New West – SkyTrain via New Westminster Station, 123 (New Westminster Station/Brentwood Station)
  • Emily Carr University – 84 (UBC/VCC-Clark Station)
  • Kwantlen Langley – 503 (Aldergrove/Surrey Central Station)
  • Kwantlen Richmond – 430 (Metrotown/Brighouse Station)
  • Kwantlen Surrey – 301 (Newton Exchange/Brighouse Station), 319 (Scott Road Station/Newton Exchange/Scottsdale)
  • Langara – SkyTrain via Langara-49th Avenue Station, 3 (Main/Downtown), 49 (Metrotown/Dunbar Loop/UBC)
  • SFU Burnaby – R5 Hastings St. RapidBus, SkyTrain via Production Way-University Station then 145 (SFU/Production Station)
  • SFU Surrey – SkyTrain via Surrey Central Station
  • Trinity Western – 562 (Langley Centre/Walnut Grove)
  • UBC – 99 B-Line, R4 41st Ave RapidBus, 14(Hastings UBC), 84 (VCC-Clark Station/UBC), 125 (Brentwood Station/UBC),
  • Vancouver Community College – SkyTrain via VCC-Clark Station, 84 (VCC-Clark Station/UBC)