Transportation

British Columbia’s prime location on the West Coast of North America and our reliable transportation systems make it efficient and cost-competitive to ship products and travel to leading global markets. Our integrated system is cost effective for developing and delivering natural resources in North America and around the world.

A Reliable Integrated System

Our air, marine, and ground transportation systems are among the world’s most advanced and we continue to expand highways, rail, and road infrastructure. 

All levels of governments work with port services and national rail companies to create an integrated, efficient and reliable supply chain. 
 

Air Travel and Cargo Transport

British Columbia is well-positioned to access markets in North America Asia and Europe. A system of 36 certified airports provides fast transportation options for passengers and freight in every corner of British Columbia to destinations around the world. B.C.'s aviation sector also includes many heliports, airstrips and water aerodromes that connect passengers and freight to their destinations and provide important community services such as medevac and forest fire protection.

Vancouver International Airport is British Columbia's primary facility for international passenger travel and cargo movement. Several other B.C. airports, including Prince George, Kelowna, Kamloops, Victoria, Nanaimo, Comox, Abbotsford, and Cranbrook, have completed infrastructure investments to grow their international traffic as market opportunities develop. Canada was ranked #1 in air transport infrastructure in the World Economic Forum 2017 report on Travel and Tourism Competitiveness, for the second year in a row.

Prince George International Airport (YXS) is located on trans-Pacific flight paths, providing a convenient alternative to Anchorage, Alaska for refuelling and cargo handling. This airport has the fourth longest commercial runway in Canada and can accommodate the wide-body cargo carriers that travel between Asia and North America.

Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is Canada’s busiest passenger and freight air link to Asia. YVR will invest $5.6 billion on expanded terminals, new taxiways and improved roads and bridges to attract new carriers, improve the travel experience and more effectively move cargo over the next twenty years.

Vancouver International Airport: Key Facts

  • YVR services 125 non-stop destinations around the world.
  • 55 airlines serve YVR.
  • More than 671 flights fly directly to U.S. destinations weekly.
  • Each week there are 160 flights to the Asia-Pacific region, 101 to Europe, and 83 to Mexico.
  • More than 25 million passengers travelled through YVR in 2018.
  • U.K.-based Skytrax ranked YVR the top airport in North America in 2019 for a record ten years in a row.
  • YVR is a growing freight distribution hub moving more than 338,000 tonnes of cargo in 2018.

North American Network of Roads & Railway

Our marine and air terminals ensure efficient access to global markets. Natural resources can be shipped by truck to a transload facility or driven directly to a port. The extensive rail network in British Columbia provides other options for the mining, forestry, and agriculture sectors. Many industries have started to use containers for shipping, which provides greater flexibility in transportation options. Our ports can efficiently move containers from rail to ship, or ship to rail or truck, depending on the destination.

Truck and rail systems are integrated with air and water transportation, ensuring that cargo can be efficiently transported to U.S. and Canadian markets efficiently, quickly and affordably.
  • Truck freight from Vancouver reaches the San Francisco Bay area in 24 hours.
  • Train freight from Vancouver or Price Rupert reaches Toronto or Chicago in four days. 
 

Port Connections

Vancouver, Prince Rupert, Kitimat, Stewart, Nanaimo and Port Alberni are Asia’s closest ports of entry on the West Coast of North America. A full list of ports in British Columbia can be found here.
 

Port of Vancouver

Port of Vancouver is Canada’s largest port and the gateway to the Asia Pacific. It has 27 major marine cargo terminals, Super Post-Panamax capacity (for vessels of about 22 or more containers wide), extensive on-dock rail facilities, and a full range of services to support shippers. It also has service from three Class 1 railroads.


Containers

The port offers four container terminals with extensive on-dock rail and facilities. Three inter-continental rail lines offer service to North America's east coast and south to Mexico. Trucks have direct access to the Trans-Canada Highway and direct routes to the United States. The Integrated Cargo Security Strategy is a cooperative program between Canada Border Services and the United States that efficiently clears cargo for entry into the United States.


Break bulk

Break bulk cargo, such as forest products, steel, machinery, and project cargo are handled by two marine terminals. British Columbia has developed specific routes for overweight and over dimensional cargo to facilitate mining operations, and pipeline and manufacturing plant construction.


Bulk

The Port of Vancouver handles a wide range of dry and liquid bulk cargoes, including coal, grain, sulphur, potash, canola oil and petroleum products.

 

Port of Prince Rupert

The Port of Prince Rupert is the closest bulk and container facility linking Asia and North America. It is one of the deepest natural harbours in the world and with a channel depth of 35 metres and terminal berths of 17 metres, it can handle the largest vessels deployed in transpacific trade.

Terminals at the Port of Prince Rupert connect directly to major roads and to the transcontinental Canadian National (CN) rail line. CN provides service to ports on the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. The port has also welcomed a new roll-on roll-off facility that is designed to handle project cargo needed for building power projects, wind farms, and mines.

At the Port of Prince Rupert, Canada and the United States have developed a harmonized approach to screening inbound cargo. This has resulted in increased security and expedited movement of secure cargo across the Canada-United States border, under the principle “cleared once, accepted twice.”