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A few basic questions for October Trip to Vancouver

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A few basic questions for October Trip to Vancouver

Planning a Seattle/Vancouver trip in early October. Wanted to get a few opinions/suggestions. We are planning to rent a car from Seattle and can drive up. But how good is the Vancouver public transport? I've read that Vancouver has a decent public transport system, so am thinking about using that and avoid parking/car rental needs (assuming Parking can be problematic?). Assuming I don't need the car to see major sites, I am also thinking taking the BoltBus to/from Vancouver. I haven't been back in Vancouver for over 20+ years, so we may end up doing all the touristy stuff.

That said:

1. Do you think I should rent the car and use in Vancouver?

2. Am I going to miss much on the drive to/from Vancouver (i.e., scenic drive)?

3. How bad is parking in Vancouver?

Thanks!

SE Ontario
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1. Re: A few basic questions for October Trip to Vancouver

1) & 2) No need for a car in Vancouver ... downtown is compact and easily walkable or by bus. Parking is expensive (as in most major NA cities), and driving can be frustrating. See info on transit and other options under Top Questions - to right of this page.

Vancouver, Canada
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2. Re: A few basic questions for October Trip to Vancouver

Bolt Bus, a division of Greyhound is an excellent way to get to/from Vancouver. I use it all the time. Fares are very reasonable, be sure and check their web site a few times each week, as fares are posted around 4 to 6 weeks from your departure date, for October I would start looking in late Aug, early Sept. Buses are clean and comfortable, free wifi, clean washroom on board. Only one stop in Bellingham for drop off and pick up. I use the 630am bus from/to Vancouver/Seattle, usually not to crowded so customs goes pretty quick, usually arrive in either Vancouver or Seattle ahead of schedule, 15 minutes to 30 minutes. Much better than other bus services.

Edited: 16 June 2014, 14:32
Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: A few basic questions for October Trip to Vancouver

How many days do you have in Vancouver and what sorts of things are you planning to do? I completely agree that the public transit system for getting around downtown is better than a car and I usually avoid using my car in the city. So much easier to just jump on a bus.

However, I think you will more or less exhaust your downtown and easily accessible north shore options in 3 days. If you want to get to some of the outlying areas (Fort Langley + wineries, Steveston, Whistler, etc) then I think you will have an easier time with a car, but you can rent one for the day if you decide you need one.

Vancouver BC
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4. Re: A few basic questions for October Trip to Vancouver

Train if schedule fits. Car in Vancouver is an expensive nuisance for a visitor.

Port Moody, Canada
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5. Re: A few basic questions for October Trip to Vancouver

Ditto for the train rather than the bus. Train is scenic along the water..bus uses I5. I figure you can easily spend 4-5 days IN Vancouver without a car..and rent for one day to do a Whistler trip or a trip out to Steveston area.

You also avoid the border hassle by taking the train or bus as the crossing can be very time consuming .

As for traffic Vancouver just won the distinction of having the worst traffic in Canada and last year we beat even LA for worst congestion!

New York City, New...
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6. Re: A few basic questions for October Trip to Vancouver

Thanks all for the quick feedback. Yes, I am thinking about a weekend and a 1-2 days in Vancouver, including Victoria Island). Will definitely look into Trains as well.

More importantly, need to work out logistics. Was originally going to fly into Seattle, then Vancouver, then back down to Seattle and swing to Portland (optional). But maybe it is worth flying one way to Vancouver and one way back from Seattle, just to avoid unnecessary transports.

Vancouver, Canada
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7. Re: A few basic questions for October Trip to Vancouver

I vote for the train, and no need for a car in Vancouver. As for parking, yes expensive. Driving…well it like most cities. The distinction traveller47 mentions has really made the rounds, but take it in context. It was a study done by the GPS company Tom Tom. They only measured people that had their GPS. Their methods were deeply flawed and the survey has been criticized as practically meaningless. Take it with a grain of salt.

Sorry Traveller47, I hope I didn't offend, but having driven in LA for many years, Vancouver's traffic is nothing like the congestion in LA.

Port Moody, Canada
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8. Re: A few basic questions for October Trip to Vancouver

No offence Rustproof..I drove for many years in the SF Bay area and people here have no idea what is real congestion LOL..but I think for tourists the traffic here can be a hassle.

To forknbeans..how much time overall do you have? You might consider a circle tour from Seattle to Victoria by Clipper then by Pacific Coach to Vancouver then by train back to Seattle. Usually cheaper to fly in/out of Seattle. Victoria is the capital and it's on Vancouver Island btw Victoria Island is in the high arctic. There's an article about doing the circle tour on both the Seattle and Vancouver forums

Vancouver, Canada
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9. Re: A few basic questions for October Trip to Vancouver

You mean Vancouver Island, specifically visiting the city of Victoria on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. :) It takes 4 hours to get to Victoria from Vancouver via bus and ferry (Pacific Coach Lines), or 35 minutes if you fly with Harbour Air. Once in Victoria, you can get back to Seattle with the Victoria Clipper, which is a 3 hour journey.

Yes, LA has freeways - Vancouver purposefully didn't build freeways in the city limits, which is partially why some people complain - to get anywhere you end up driving slower speeds and need to stop for traffic lights. As somebody who has also driven through LA, Vancouver traffic isn't anything like that at all, but for a tourist, there's no need for a car. Parking's expensive, and downtown driving is a drag. Walking downtown can often be faster than driving, and public transit is excellent to get in and around the city.

Edited: 16 June 2014, 17:20
New York City, New...
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10. Re: A few basic questions for October Trip to Vancouver

LOL, sorry for adding confusion. I meant to say Victoria and also Queen E Park!

Guess I'll have more to look at regarding the Clipper and the circle tour.

Thanks again for all the amazing help. Will do more digging before coming back.