Visitors have a new way to explore the city following the launch of the Richmond Discovery Shuttle. The friendly shuttle service—running on weekends and holidays until September 2, 2019—is entirely free for passengers and includes 5 stops.

You can jump off at any of these stops and explore the surrounding area before hopping back on the shuttle later on. Apart from being free, the big lure for many is the service’s simplicity: its single-loop route makes it very easy to navigate.

Richmond Discovery Shuttle
The Richmond Discovery Shuttle. | Photo: Tourism Richmond

But what are the stops and where can they lead you to? The shuttle’s 3 city centre stops include Lansdowne Station (near Lansdowne Centre shopping mall and dine-out hot spots including Food Street); Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel (not far from CF Richmond Centre, Minoru Park, the Richmond Museum, and the Richmond Art Gallery); and the landmark Richmond Olympic Oval (with its high-tech sport simulator rides and cool Olympic museum).

The next 2 stops—in popular Steveston Village—are at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site and Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site. The village itself, of course, is well-worth an hour or two on its own. After that, the bus loops back to Lansdowne Station.

With time to spare on a recent weekend, I hopped on the new shuttle service to do some exploring.

Steveston Boardwalk & Wharf
The Steveston waterfront and boardwalk. | Photo: Tourism Richmond

All aboard

Perfect for out-of-towners visiting Richmond, many start and end their shuttle jaunt at the Canada Line’s Lansdowne Station. The well-marked bus stop here is just steps from the station’s exit, on the edge of the Lansdowne Centre parking lot. There was no line-up at the stop when I arrived; but this might change as news of the free shuttle service spreads, so consider arriving 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time.

It was easy to find a seat on board the Richmond Discovery Shuttle. And as soon as we set off, a smiling, green-jacketed Richmond Ambassador stood up to ask where everyone was from. There were passengers from Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines and, of course, Vancouver—and most had never been to Richmond before.

These volunteer Ambassadors are on board many of the shuttle runs, and they’re a great source of information and advice. On my bus, Ambassador Sandy had lots of local facts to share between introducing us to each upcoming stop.

Ideal route

After departing from the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel and then pulling up to the Richmond Olympic Oval (where two passengers hopped off and another hopped on), I learned from Sandy that a popular passenger itinerary was already emerging on the shuttle.

Richmond Olympic Experience
Try simulators at the Richmond Olympic Experience museum. | Photo: Tourism Richmond

Some passengers, it seems, stay on the bus for the first couple of stops and see a little of the city from their comfortable seat. Then they hop off at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, walk around Steveston Village and then hop back on at Britannia Shipyards. More adventurous passengers, though—especially those using the shuttle a second time—tend to try the other stops and explore a little further afield.

Steveston arrival

After the Oval, the bus travelled alongside the Middle Arm of the Fraser River, where there were views of birds buzzing the grassy shoreline and floatplanes arriving and departing on the opposite bank. Then, 40 minutes after leaving Lansdowne Station, we pulled up alongside the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site. Most passengers got off at this stop, including us.

I spent the next two hours exploring the Cannery—including its new exhibition on colourful salmon can labels—and walking around the colourful streets of Steveston Village. I focused my explorations around Moncton Street, nipping into the Steveston Museum, climbing aboard the charming Steveston Interurban Tram, and stopping for coffee with the locals at Rocanini Coffee Roasters.

Steveston Museum
The Steveston Museum. | Photo: John Lee

Then I walked to the riverfront, perused the seafood offerings on the boats at Fisherman’s Wharf, and then weaved alongside the shimmering shoreline to Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site. I love poking around the preserved boat-builders’ homes and workshops on the boardwalk here. And although I was tempted to return to the village for fish and chips at Dave’s, it was time for me to get back on the shuttle again.

Britannia Shipyards
Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site. | Photo: Tourism Richmond

Back on the bus to Lansdowne Station, several passengers were chatting about Steveston—including a couple of starry-eyed Once Upon a Time fans who had explored the village’s many filming locations. Many were also discussing their evening dinner options back in the city centre area (Food Street and its endless smorgasbord of tempting options is a great place to start).

If you go:

The Richmond Discovery Shuttle runs on weekends and public holidays until September 2, 2019. Click here for more details on the service—including stop information and a timetable.

Richmond Discovery Shuttle
The Richmond Discovery Shuttle. | Photo: John Lee