How to get from Vancouver to Seattle?
August 27, 2009 3:39 PM   Subscribe

How to get from Vancouver, BC to Seattle without a car?

Looking for suggestions/coupons/tricks for getting from Vancouver to Seattle Airport (Sea Tac) by bus/train/boat/unicycle.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
posted by Cosine to Travel & Transportation (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Amtrak runs trains and buses between Seattle and Vancouver (

It's easy to get from downtown Seattle to the airport. I've taken the bus but now we have a train which I haven't taken yet.

Should be a piece of cake.
posted by Wood at 3:45 PM on August 27, 2009

i always see the quickcoach riding around. they leave from downtown hotels and i believe they have wi-fi.
posted by dobie at 3:55 PM on August 27, 2009

I've taken the bus a number of times (although it's been several years). It's about as easy and uncomplicated as it can get. When you get to the border, you get off the bus, go through customs, get back on the bus, and keep going.

This service is new since I traveled, but looks like exactly what you want - from Vancouver BC direct to Sea-Tac.
posted by rtha at 3:56 PM on August 27, 2009

The Amtrak train is pretty quick and will drop you off near Safeco Field near Pioneer Square. From there, it's s fairly painless bus trip to SeaTac.
posted by rossination at 4:00 PM on August 27, 2009

Amtrak recently increased train service along the Vancouver-Seattle-Portland route. Schedule here (pdf link). You have two options for a train:
Vancouver 6:40am --> 11:00 am Seattle
Vancouver 5:45pm --> 10:05 pm Seattle

Or you can take a bus at other times during the day, operated by Amtrak or by various other carriers. The bus is subject to traffic congestion at the border and you should build in at least an hour, maybe two, of flex time if you are trying to catch a flight. A friend who did this often says it's usually fine, but every now and then they'll have fewer lanes open due to a shift change or something and there ends up being a huge line.
posted by PercussivePaul at 4:04 PM on August 27, 2009

Take Amtrak! The Cascades line is quite nice and non-skeezy. Allow plently of extra time though -- the route is routinely 30 minutes late, and occasionally several hours late.

(Hope you have an evening flight...)

From King St Station, I believe you can now take light rail to the airport. The last mile or so of that light rail line hasn't opened yet so they'll make you transfer to a shuttle bus.
posted by miyabo at 4:05 PM on August 27, 2009

If you're really bored, don't have a lot of money, and are skilled at making public transit bend to your will, you can get from Vancouver, BC to Seattle just by using municipal transit. A UBC student did the trip a couple of years ago, and blogged it: Vancouver, BC to Seattle by Mun. Bus.

The Seattle to Vancouver, BC run was done and blogged just last month by an acquaintance of mine: Seattle to Vancouver, BC by Mun. Bus.

(I plan on doing these same trips next month myself.)
posted by spinifex23 at 4:08 PM on August 27, 2009

If you're not opposed to the idea of cars and you just don't have one, you can always catch a Craigslist ride. Vancouver to Seattle is a pretty common route.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 4:15 PM on August 27, 2009

There's also Greyhound (something like USD25 one way), which our friend in Vancouver usually takes to visit us in Seattle. Her bus was significantly delayed at the border (more than an hour) only once.
posted by halogen at 4:21 PM on August 27, 2009

A friend recently did that exact trip with Greyhound. It was quite inexpensive and he has no complaints.
posted by mulligan at 5:14 PM on August 27, 2009

My wife took the quickcoach last summer. She got on at The Campbell River Store on Eighth Ave, right before the Blaine border truck crossing. She found it pleasant and cheap, but it was half-an-hour late in picking her up and it arrived at the airport at least an hour behind schedule. Give yourself plenty of time. I would suggest at least 3 extra hours, if not more. Traffic through Seattle can be unpredictable.
posted by pantagrool at 6:57 PM on August 27, 2009

I'd recommend the QuickCoach as well, but I haven't taken the Greyhound. Just give yourself time to allow for border lineups - there usually isn't one without reason, but just yesterday there was an hour lineup at the Peace Arch for... no reason.
posted by csjc at 7:30 PM on August 27, 2009

Oh, and traffic, but that goes without saying.
posted by csjc at 7:33 PM on August 27, 2009

I have heard Quickcoach is not as, heh, quick as it used to be. Bus customs will hold you up quite a bit, depending on how bad traffic is. I've waited for more than an hour while they processed everybody AND they make you haul your luggage off to be x-rayed.

If you take the train, they x-ray before you board, stop for 15 minutes at Blaine and do all the checking and questioning on the train. From King St you can walk up the stairs to the light rail station or the airport bus. If you can, try to take the 194 which goes via I-5 and not the 174 which goes via International Blvd and is slooow.
posted by calistasm at 7:43 PM on August 27, 2009

As someone who went to school in Bellingham and relied on Greyhound for trips down to Seattle before I figured out how to, as spinifex put it above, bend municipal bus services to my will, I have to strongly suggest anything but Greyhound. Frequently the buses down from Vancouver would be two or three hours late into Bellingham due to getting stuck at the border -- the only (only!) good thing I can say about Greyhound is that their very awfulness inspired me to look into the city buses solution to the Bellingham to Seattle problem, which turned out to not only be 1/4th the cost, but which also happened to very frequently be faster.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:03 PM on August 27, 2009

Bus/ferry to Victoria
SteamShip to Seattle
Trolly to a bike shop in Pioneer Square
Finagle a one way rental to a bike shop in West Seattle
Bus to the airport

(probably still faster than greyhound)
posted by sammyo at 9:28 PM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

sammyo: It'd be easier to simply walk up the hill from the docks to the new light-rail terminal that takes you near the airport, and take a shuttle bus the rest of the way. But yes, the Victoria Clipper is a perfectly good way to get from Victoria to Seattle.

Alternately, take one of the Kenmore Air flights from Victoria harbor to Lake Union and a shuttle bus from there to SeaTac. Fun, but more expensive.
posted by hattifattener at 1:46 AM on August 28, 2009

I did this exact same trip two weeks ago. It was about $45 to take the train, downtown to downtown (near enough), very pleasant and with an AMAZING view of the sunset over the water. From King Street Station it's a short walk* (depending on how much luggage you have) to the light rail/bus station. The streetcar will bring you to Tukwila Station, where you can catch a free shuttle bus to the airport.

PROTIP: Take the pedestrian bridge from the parking lot of Qwest Field to get to the light rail station.
posted by clorox at 2:47 AM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Fun anecdote: On the train ride up to Vancouver, there was a photographer taking some nudie shots of a large-chested model on the shore just north of Edmonds. The middle-school boys sitting behind me immediately went quiet when she came into view.
posted by clorox at 2:52 AM on August 28, 2009

strongly agreeing with the *anything but greyhound* sentiment. i live in seattle and dated a guy in vancouver for awhile when i had no car so i frequently travelled back and forth... greyhound is the worst option.

i've had nothing but good experiences with craigslist rideshare so i'd go that route first, followed by amtrak if i had no luck. the chinook book has buy one get one free train tickets if you'll be travelling with a friend
posted by groovinkim at 2:47 AM on August 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

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