Seabus in orange livery, taken 31/05/1981

On June 17, 1977, the SeaBus made its maiden voyage through Burrard Inlet, becoming the first passenger ferry service in Metro Vancouver’s transit system.

This means he turns 45e anniversary!

The SeaBus has provided millions of trips for over 45 years, serving as a vital link between Vancouver and the North Shore. But like the SkyTrain, it’s an icon that’s uniquely Metro Vancouver – there’s only one SeaBus in the world. It’s also a popular tourist attraction that offers stunning views of the Vancouver skyline and North Shore mountains and everything in between, including the occasional killer whale!

Here are 45 facts about SeaBus at its 45e anniversary:

1 | The SeaBus is a ferry that takes passengers from Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver to Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver.

2 | It takes about 12 minutes per crossing and only three minutes to load/unload passengers, making the entire crossing take 15 minutes.

3 | Each of our SeaBus vessels is operated with a crew of four: the captain, a mate and two attendants.

4 | Each SeaBus can carry around 385 people at a time.

5 | SeaBus cruises at a speed of 11.5 knots or 21.3 kilometers per hour.

6 | The crossing is 1.75 nautical miles or 3.24 kilometers.

7 | A SeaBus trip is a two-zone fare.

8 | The SeaBus began operating with two ships on June 17, 1977: the Burrard Otter and the Burrard Beaver.

A SeaBus advertisement from 35 years ago.

9 | The Burrard Beaver is still in service today as a reserve vessel.

10 | The SeaBus was orange and operated by BC Hydro Transit at launch.

11 | The SeaBus is currently operated by Coast Mountain Bus Company, which took over the helm in 1999 after the creation of TransLink.

12 | SeaBus was operated by the Transit Division of BC Hydro between 1977 and 1979, then Urban Transit Authority between 1979 and 1982, and BC Transit between 1982 and 1999.

13 | The name SeaBus was spelled as “Sea-Bus” at launch.

14 | The first SeaBus ticket machines were the first ticket machines ever used on our public transport system.

The old ticket machine from 1977.

15 | The machines were essentially a photocopier: the printed ticket was a cash register-sized length of paper with an image of all the coins you had deposited.

Special thanks to Derek Cheung for sharing this fun fact!

16 | Eventually, fares were paid using a token that featured the provincial coat of arms on one side and the SeaBus on the other.

Front of the SeaBus token
Back side of the SeaBus token

17 | Four vessels are currently in service: Burrard Beaver, Burrard Pacific Breeze, Burrard Otter II and Burrard Chinook.

18 | SeaBus ships are double-ended, which means there is no need to turn around when leaving the dock. The captain just changes stations and off we go.

19 | The SeaBus vessel has four propellers, each powered by its own engine. This offers 360 degree operation for great maneuverability.

20 | The SeaBus can operate with only three of the four engines, if required.

21 | The ships use a catamaran hull design, which provides stability with varying weight as passengers disembark on one side and then board on the other.

22 | The vases are made of aluminum.

23 | The newest SeaBus vessel in our fleet is the Burrard Chinook.

He is named for the largest and most iconic species of Pacific salmon. The name “Chinook” is translated into hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓, the traditional language of the Musqueam Indian Band and Tsleil-Waututh Nation, and the traditional language of the Squamish Nation, and displayed on the ship.

24 | Artists Kelly Cannell, Siobhan Joseph and Angela George designed the artistic wrap around the exterior of the Burrard Chinook.

The art illustrates the life cycle of Chinook Salmon, as well as the historical importance of Chinook Salmon to its ecosystem.

25 | The Burrard Chinook name was chosen to meet Transport Canada regulations for seagoing vessels and to be consistent with the marine life theme.

It should also be easy to say and understand over radio transmission and be of an appropriate length to display on the SeaBus and emergency equipment like life jackets.

26 | The SeaBus navigates the unceded shared territories of xʷməθkʷəyə̓m (Musqueam Indian Band), Sḵwxw̱ ú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation).

27 | The SeaBus joined the frequent transit network on May 19, 2017.

This meant earlier crossings by 15 minutes on weekends and until 9 p.m. every day. The Frequent public transport network (FTN) is a network of corridors where transit service runs at least every 15 minutes in both directions throughout the day and evening, every day of the week.

28 | The SeaBus began operating a 10-minute rush hour service on September 3, 2019.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in transit service adjustments across the network. The ten-minute service returned on September 6, 2021.

29 | SeaBus fleet and infrastructure projects are underway to improve the quality of our service.

As part of TransLink’s maintenance and upgrade program, we recently completed seismic and accessibility upgrades to the SeaBus terminal at Waterfront Station. Currently we are replacement of aging operational equipment at the two SeaBus terminals to ensure their safety and reliability for years to come.

30 | The Burrard Otter II and the Burrard Chinook both arrived on a HGV and took approximately four hours to unload.

31 | When the Burrard Chinook traveled from the Netherlands to Vancouver, it took five weeks and included a trip through the Panama Canal.

32 | In a typical year, the SeaBus makes over 49,000 trips through Burrard Inlet.

33 | We are undertaking a SeaBus propulsion feasibility study to see how an electric SeaBus could reduce GHG emissions by more than 85% compared to a diesel SeaBus.

It’s part of our Climate Action Strategy and a commitment to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. An electric SeaBus could save more than 500,000 liters of diesel fuel per year.

34 | In fall 2021, the SeaBus averaged 9,000 daily boardings Monday through Saturday and 6,000 boardings on Sundays and holidays.

35 | SeaBus terminals are the only place in the transit network that uses the Spanish Solutionwhere passengers disembark on one side and passengers board on the other.

36 | SeaBus has a high punctuality of 99.9%.

37 | SeaBus terminals and ships were among the first places to receive Wi-Fi as part of a partnership with Shaw.

Shaw Go Wi-Fi went live at the Waterfront Station and Lonsdale Quay SeaBus terminals in late 2015 and in mid-2016 Wi-Fi also became available on SeaBus ships. We are currently in the midst of a network-wide rollout of Shaw Go Wi-Fi.

38 | The Burrard Chinook was built in the Netherlands, the Burrard Otter II was built in Singapore, the Burrard Pacific Breeze was built in Victoria/Vancouver and the Burrard Beaver was built in Victoria.

39 | For Expo 86, BC Transit changed the SeaBus livery to white with a red stripe and blue stripe along with a British Columbia flag tag, matching the SeaBus with the newly built SkyTrain and new controls for bus.

Burrard Beaver SeaBus in BC Transit livery

40 | When the SeaBus travels with a full load of 385 passengers, the crew speaks of a “lockout”.

41 | The SeaBus must comply with Transport Canada regulations.

42 | Captain Joe Lutz is the only original SeaBus crew member who still works for the Coast Mountain Bus Company. Naturally, he will celebrate his 45th birthdaye anniversary with the company when SeaBus turns 45!

43 | The first known passage of passengers through Burrard Inlet dates back to the mid-1860s.

It was delivered on a private boat.

44 | Prior to the SeaBus, the North Vancouver Ferry and Power Company operated a ferry service through Burrard Inlet for 50 years between 1908 and 1958.

45 | Burrard Chinook was the first SeaBus vessel to make a round trip to Victoria Harbor under her own power.

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Do you have any fun facts about SeaBus? Share them with everyone by leaving them in the comments below.