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Translink Buzzer Blog

GoCard update for students


Students on the system

Students out and about

Are you a returning secondary student in Grade 9 to 12 aged 14 to 19? Then your GoCard from the 2013/14 school year is now valid until November 30 while you wait for your 2014/15 GoCards to be issued.

Your GoCard gets you concession fares on all TransLink services in Metro Vancouver, so you can travel for a reduced price.  Just make sure you have your GoCard with you when travelling on the system.

2014/15 GoCards will be issued to new and returning public school students in the coming weeks.

For more information about GoCards, visit

Links and Tidbits – October 24, 2014

Links and tidbits is our semi-regular roundup of interesting fodder about transportation from the last few weeks or so. If you have links to contribute, put them in the comments, or email us.

» Transit buses in North America are built to last about 17 years and after that they hit the scrapper. Check out this photo from the Amix Group of our old buses:

» BREAKING NEWS – TransLink is unveiling a tiny bus program! “Where will these buses go at night? How will we keep them safe?”

» Transit Police’s surveillance footage of a thief losing his pants after breaking into a SkyTrain station has made it onto CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes (starts at approximately 17:40).

» What are you doing on Halloween night? Why not get together with other ghosts and goblins and ride the Canada Line?! The Vancouver Public Space Network is organizing the ninth instalment of their Halloween SkyTrain Party.

» This video will warm your heart as dozens of train riders came together to help a man that was trapped between the platform and train.

» Can’t miss this bus stop! This “obvious bus stop” in Baltimore, designed by an art collective Mmmm, is a typography sculpture that spells out the word ‘bus.’

» Instagram recently introduced Hyperlapse – an app that allows users to create their own time lapse videos right from their phone. Check out these Hyperlapse videos on Miss 604 of SkyTrain, SeaBus, and much more!

» The economic benefits of being linked to rapid transit means developers are stepping up to pay for stations, reports Business in Vancouver.

» The Globe and Mail’s Ian Bailey tweets, “Montreal’s #STM lays down law on fiddling with #Metro doors.”

» Illustrated Vancouver and TransLinked’s Jason Vanderhill has a new book. Titled, Vancouver Confidential, this book is a fresh look at the rare urban culture of a port city in the mid-twentieth century.

» Who can resist a discussion of how to improve online trip planning?  Transport for London’s Digital Blog has had some interesting posts lately about how they’re upgrading their online trip planner.  Things like crowdsourcing points of interest (identifying POIs must be a major task in a megacity) and planning appropriate transit journeys to large sporting venues with multiple access points.

» We love some cool SkyTrain photos! Check these out from Céline Ramoni on Flickr.

» What were you doing in eighth grade? Ivan Specht is designing subway maps for cities that don’t have subways!

» This will  surely brighten up your Monday morning commute. A dance partay onboard this train in Perth, Western Australia.

»  The Associated Press takes a look back at how Japan’s bullet train has revolutionized rail travel in the world as it turns 50 years old.

» Honolulu is building the United States’ first “wide-scale” driverless transit system! It is scheduled to be in operation in 2017  and will operate for 20 hours a day. (Thanks Sheba and Stefan)

» Check it out – London Underground’s new planned subway trains designed by PriestmanGoode! They will replace trains on the Piccadilly, Central, Bakerloo, and Waterloo & City lines.

TransLink 101: What’s interlining?

TransLink 101 blog feature series banner

We’re going back to basics again with TransLink 101—explaining TransLink and its operations!

This is our biggest service improvement yet: 14.7 million extra trips were added to the Metro Vancouver region!

What’s interlining?

Interlining combines two or more independent routes into one operational schedule. By doing so, we eliminate extended periods of down time where a bus would just be parked and out of service.

Katherine McCune, Manager of Service Planning at Coast Mountain Bus Company, tells us bus routes are interlined for several reasons, but one of the main reasons is scheduling efficiencies.

“It helps us minimize the footprint we use in the downtown core, for example,” she says. “A bus can arrive downtown as one route and sit very just a very few minutes and then leave as the next scheduled trip on another route.

Examples of interlined routes around the region include the 110, 144 and 116; the 403 and 480; and 601, 602, 603 and 604.

Wouldn’t it be most efficient if the buses ran nonstop – an operator drives his route and immediately goes back the opposite direction? Katherine tells us that is not the case.

“If you run buses nonstop you would no longer have a fixed schedule,” she says. “Customers require a schedule so they can make transfers to other services and have some idea of bus arrival at their stop. Without a schedule customers would not know when to expect the buses.”

One of the challenges of interlining is incidents on one leg of the bus’s journey can impact the service on the other end, Katherine notes.

“An accident on Hastings Street slowing the 135 could result in a delay in service on the 145, for example. However, with any serious incident our Transit Communications centre gets involved and makes adjustments on the road to ensure that service interruptions are minimal.”

Interlining also gives our operators some variety in their work, so they are not constantly driving the same roadways all the time!

Customers in West Vancouver can expect onboard announcements

West Van Blue Bus

A key benefit of TMAC is GPS technology.

Today TransLink introduces the Transit Management and Communications system or “TMAC”, to the 57 vehicle strong West Vancouver Blue Bus fleet. This onboard communications system provides a more predictable and consistent service and delivers increased dispatch support and monitoring to ensure safe and efficient travel for customers and operators.

TMAC benefits include:

  • Onboard speakers and public information displays provide next stop announcements to help customers on new routes, riders experiencing the system for the first time, and customers with seeing or hearing challenges.
  • GPS technology provides customers real-time access to real-time transit information on the Next Bus mobile site.
  • GPS technology is on every bus, providing added security.
  • A fully monitored service, providing operators with real-time information on traffic congestion, road detours and adherence to the published service schedule.

Do you remember this post? Although the system has improved over time, here is a more detailed look at the system and how it operates.

If you are a customer in West Vancouver, let us know what you think of the new system.

The October 2014 issue of the Buzzer is on the system

October 2014 BuzzerCan you believe it’s October already? Another month means another issue of your favourite newsletter!

In this issue – Transit Police has some fall safety tips for commuters as the days get shorter and chillier! Burrrr! Taking transit on Remembrance Day on Tuesday, November 11? Our services will be operating on a Sunday/holiday schedule.

Poetry in Transit is back for an 18th year and in partnership with the ABPBC, we are bringing you 20 poems over the next year. Many of you spend your time on transit by reading. We want to know in this Buzzer poll – what do you read on transit? Is it the Poetry in Transit poems?

TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis, TransLink executives Fred Cummings and Colleen Brennan, and Transit Police Chief Neil Dubord all braved the rain to support Raise-a-Reader on September 24. TransLink has also supported the United Way for over 40 years and this September, our Sapperton office employees helped raise over $70,000 for the organization!

And of course, we have the usual Buzzer favourites – the Contest Corner, Coming Events, and Back Issues.

We hope you enjoy this month’s issue! Pick yours up on the bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus, and West Coast Express or by downloading it here.

As always, let us know what you think of it. Good reading to you all!

Fun poll: What do you read on transit?

Do you read in transit?

What do you read on transit? Let us know in this poll!

Today, we are spending less time reading recreationally as we spend more of our leisure watching television, streaming video, and checking our social media accounts. The transit system might be the only exception—where reading, perhaps out of necessity, is still quite popular.

In a past Buzzer blog poll, we asked how you spend most of your time on transit. Most of you said you look out the window, listen to music, or read. In another poll, over 77 per cent of you admitted you’ve peered over somebody else’s shoulder to read what they were reading before.

Now we want to know what you read on transit in this fun poll! Is it the Buzzer, a newspaper, your textbooks, or is it a novel?

Let us know by voting for your top-five below, leaving a comment, tweeting us @TheBuzzer, or emailing us at!

What do you read on transit? (Select your top-five!)

View Results

Fall Bike to Work Week is Oct 27 to Nov 2, 2014!

Bike to Work Week is Oct 27 to Nov 2!

Bike to Work Week is Oct 27 to Nov 2!

Join thousands around Metro Vancouver and bike to work this fall! Bike to Work Week encourages both new and experienced riders to try cycling as part of their daily commute.

Cycling can be the fastest way of getting around, especially in more urban areas of Metro Vancouver. It’s also one of the healthiest and most enjoyable ways to travel.

HUB will be setting up over 30 celebration stations across the city offering free bike repairs, coffee, snacks and prize draws! Register and track your commute at and be eligible to win prizes.

Each day that you log a trip you’ll be entered to win a new bike and you’ll help your organization win an organizational award.

And as always, our friends at TravelSmart will join in the fun and help out at the Celebration Station at King George Station on October 30. Swing by and visit their booth, and perhaps pick up some great bike goodies to take home!

First timer?

Planning to hit the road with your two-wheeler for the first time? It can be a little daunting, but we’re here to give you a few tips on how you can get to work safely, on time and ready for work!

  • Plan your route. Check out TransLink’s cycling maps, plan your trip using, or login and create maps of the routes you plan to take on HUB’s website.
  • Park your bike. Find out where at your destination or workplace you can lock your bicycle.
  • Be prepared. Dress accordingly, have a spare tube, pump, and tools, and plan ahead for showers, extra clothes, or extra time for a leisurely ride.
  • Ride safe. Wear a helmet and always follow the rules of the road.

Let’s reach back into the Buzzer blog archives and grab some of our existing pointers for biking to work too!

Do you plan to bike to work during Bike to Work Week or are you always biking? Let us know in the comments section below, tweeting us at @TheBuzzer, or emailing us at!

Thankgiving holiday service on Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! (Photo: John/Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Happy Thanksgiving! (Photo by John, CC BY-NC 2.0)

A reminder to our customers that Monday, October 13 is Thanksgiving!

Bus, SkyTrain, and SeaBus will all be operating on a Sunday/Holiday schedule. The West Coast Express and TrainBus will not be operating.

Remember, since it’s a holiday, you only need a single-zone fare to travel across all zones all day!

Service returns to regular weekday schedules for all modes on Tuesday, October 14, 2014.

Need service and trip planning information? Our Customer Information team is here to help! You can reach them at 604.953.3333 and on Twitter (@TransLink), 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., seven days a week.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

TransLink 101: What is short turning?

TransLink 101 blog feature series banner

We’re going back to basics again with TransLink 101—explaining TransLink and its operations!

A 6 Davie bus on Graville Street

A 6 Davie bus on Graville Street

Sometimes situations beyond our control, such as weather, road conditions or heavy traffic affect how reliable our service can be.

In the rare event that a bus is regrettably significantly behind schedule, Transit Supervisors and Transit Communications (T-Comm), the traffic control centre so-to-speak for our bus operations, use “short turning” as a way to get buses back into the schedule.

“When a bus falls behind schedule, the bus can be ‘short turned’ – meaning the operator is directed to drop any passengers off and then go directly to another location on the route,” explains Fergie Beadle, Supervisor of Surrey Transit Center Operations. “This puts the bus back on schedule and then back into service.”

Often this means a bus ending its trip short of the terminus to begin the return trip in order to get back on schedule.

On the SeaBus, short turning exists too – although its done a little differently since you can’t really shorten the route of the SeaBus! At the direction of the bridge, the SeaBus will simultaneously load and discharge passengers in order to regain schedule.

Poetry in Transit interview with Jane Munro

Poetry in Transit: Jane Munro

Jane Munro (Photo: Imaging by Marlis)

Poetry in Transit, now in its 18th year, aims to profile talented British Columbian and Canadian poets and provide our customers with poetry to read on their commutes. This year, there are a total of 20 poems on the system – 10 poetry car cards on buses and 10 transit shelter ads.

One of them is “Old Man Vacanas, 11″ by Jane Munro. I had the opportunity to chat with Jane about the poem and her work:

Who is Jane Munro?

I’m a Vancouver-based writer and poet.

Would you be able to tell us a bit more about “Old Man Vacanas, 11?” What were the inspirations behind it?

My husband had Alzheimer’s disease. We lived in an isolated area on the “wild coast” of Vancouver Island. I was his caregiver until he had to move into a nursing home. He died in 2013. This is the final poem in a sequence called “Old Man Vacanas.” You can find the whole set in my new book, Blue Sonoma.

How would you classify your style of poetry and writing? What inspires you?

In form, this poem is inspired by vacanas, ancient South Indian prayer-poems. Vacana means “saying” or “thing said” in Kannada, the language in which the 12th Century poems were written. They use colloquial diction and imagery drawn from village life to deal with philosophical questions. Unlike those original vacanas, my poem is not addressed to Siva.

What’s a ‘great’ poem for you?

One that moves me and sticks in my mind – a poem I’ll read again. Jane Hirshfield says, “A good poem is a bit like a volcanic island. It creates new terrain for the soul.” In a volcano, the stuff coming up was previously hidden. Poems can make visible—and invite us to pay attention to—individual and social shadows. If Jung’s right and we need to agree to the whole experience to get a full life, then incorporating what was molten and unformed into a concentrated pattern of words gives us new ground—a place to explore, camp out, maybe even plant a garden. Oddly, though it may at first strike us as “new terrain,” we recognize and trust its reliability and its continuity with the rest of our experience: now that it’s there, it’s there.

Who’s your favourite poet and/or somebody that has heavily influenced your work?

I’ve loved poetry since my mother sang nursery rhymes to me. A wide variety of poetry delights me and enriches my life. I can’t begin to list my favourite poets. Many poems have influenced my work. Even nursery rhymes!

What does Poetry of Transit mean for you?

I love having a poem riding around on transit, catching the eyes of passengers. It’s a wonderful outing for a poem. Too many poems stay closeted in slender volumes. It’s great to have one out and about. I hope lots of people read it.

Do you take transit? If so, what’s your favourite mode?

Yes, I take transit. I often ride the 99 bus to UBC and back. It’s wonderfully convenient to take SkyTrain to and from the airport. Crossing the harbour on SeaBus feels like an adventure.

Peer into your crystal ball, and tell us what you see for yourself in the future.

More writing – more books – more poetry readings – more yoga, and more travel. My next big trip will be to study yoga in India.

Is there anything you’d like to add or share?

I’m a member of Yoko’s Dogs. We write collaborative poetry.

Thanks your time Jane! “Old Man Vacanas, 11″ is from her book, Blue Sonoma, and you can visit her website at Join the conversation using the hashtag #PoetryInTransit!

The Meniscus Series – Marpole bus shelter fun by the Emily Carr University of Art + Design

One of the seven bus shelters part of the Meniscus Series commissioned by commissioned by chART: Public Art Marpole (Photo: Emily Carr University of Art + Design)

One of the seven bus shelters part of the Meniscus Series commissioned by commissioned by chART: Public Art Marpole (Photo: Emily Carr University of Art + Design)

In the past, we have shared with you neat and cool bus shelters from around the world in our Links & Tidbits. I’m here to tell you we have ‘em here in Vancouver too!

The Meniscus Series, commissioned by chART: Public Art Marpole, an Emily Carr University of Art + Design research project, has transformed seven Marpole bus shelters along Granville Street between West 63rd Avenue to SW Marine Drive.

The bus shelters, managed by the City of Vancouver and CBS/JCDecaux, have been wrapped with vinyl inspired by a photograph series from Emily Carr alumna Nathalie Lavoie!

The Meniscus Series … depicts two bodies of water merging: fresh water from the Mackenzie River as it is dropped into the salty waters of the Pacific Ocean. By mixing these specific waters, the artist is referencing her own experience of moving back and forth between her home along the river in the Northwest Territories and Emily Carr University on Granville Island. This movement between the two waters challenged her sense of place, her understanding of site, and what it means to carry history from one location to another.

The scientific term “meniscus” refers to the curved surface of a liquid in a container. In this series of macroscopic photographs, one type of water is dropped into a container of another type, thus disrupting the meniscus and making it impossible to accurately read the measurement. As the two waters mix, the transformation alters the solutions in a process that is simultaneously creative and destructive. These photographs makes visible the transformation, capturing the moment at which it is most noticeable but not measurable.

» Click here to learn more and see more pictures of The Meniscus Series

chART is a research partnership between the Marpole Business Association and Dr. Cameron Cartiere of Emily Carr University of Art + Design, and is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

More cool bus shelters!

* Note: Most bus shelters, including this one, are managed by the municipality they’re found in and not TransLink. The majority of TransLink managed bus shelters are found in or around exchanges and stations.

Know some yourself? Share them with us in the comments section, tweet them to @TheBuzzer, or email it to! We’d love to see them.

Missed it? Markus Moos and Gil Peñalosa’s Rethinking Transportation talks are now online!


Rethinking Transportation: New Voices, New Ideas, brought to you by TransLink in collaboration with the SFU City Program, was back at Simon Fraser University on Tuesday, September 16 and Wednesday, September 17!

Gil Peñalosa

Gil Peñalosa

Dr. Markus Moos

Dr. Markus Moos

Markus Moos, Assistant Professor, School of Planning at the University of Waterloo, spoke on The New Generation: Are Millennials Changing the Game? His talk looked at how Millennials’ values, preferences and priorities could affect your work, commute, home and community — now and in the future.

Internationally acclaimed “healthy cities” expert Gil Peñalosa‘s talk, Future Livability: Boast or Bust?, explored whether Metro Vancouver can maintain its “Livability Credibility” for the next 30 years

SFU Continuing Studies now has both talks archived on YouTube! Click here for more information about the talks and the speakers.


Psst….psst…do you use the BC Parkway?

BC PArkway

Accessibility and safety improvements are coming to the BC Parkway.


I’ve got good news if you cycle or walk along this 26-kilometre, multi-use path. We are making safety and accessibility improvements along the BC Parkway which connects Surrey, New Westminster, South Burnaby and Vancouver.

These improvements include:

  • Realignment of the BC Parkway, away from darker areas and bushes and closer to the road at Nanaimo Station, and along Slocan and Rupert streets.
  • New lighting on parts of the parkway in Vancouver, New Westminster and Surrey for increased visibility for BC Parkway users.
  • A new designated route at Nanaimo and Patterson SkyTrain stations to separate cyclists from vehicles and pedestrians.
  • Widened and paved paths, with new ramps replacing steps at Slocan and Rupert Streets. This improves accessibility for parents with strollers, people in wheelchairs and scooters, and cyclists.

Minor detours will be in place at specific sections of the BC Parkway during construction. Cyclists should watch for signs along the corridor.

For more details on the BC Parkway, check out our previous posts here and here or visit our website.


TransLink 101: What are detours and why do they happen?

TransLink 101 blog feature series banner

We’re going back to basics again with TransLink 101—explaining TransLink and its operations!

One of our buses travelling on Broadway!

One of our buses travelling on Broadway!

Detours happen when our service has to take a different route than normal for reasons such as construction, parades, and city events. Whenever possible, these are always communicated to our bus operators and customers well ahead of time so you can plan ahead!

“It is primarily communicated to the Operators via an Operator’s Bulletin posted in the Transit Centre and by email to those Operators on our email list,” Fergie Beadle, Operations Supervisor at Surrey Transit Centre, tells us.

TransLink’s Mobile Transit Alerts!

For our customers, the detour information is posted on the bus stops along the affected route. Our Customer Information team also shares it on’s Transit Alerts page (click here if our mobile-friendly site) and tweet it out on our @TransLink Twitter account as soon as they receive them.

Customers can also give them a call at 604.953.3333 and our agents will be happy to let you know where the bus is going and help you plan an alternative route if you like.

What goes into determining a detour route? It’s actually not as simple as finding a way to get around the obstacle! A number of considerations and factors have to be weighted.

“First and foremost, we try to have our buses miss as few stops as possible when we have to divert our service,” Lance A., a Work Leader from Customer Information says. “But many things can affect where we can actually send a bus.“

Fergie says the primary consideration is to ensure our buses can travel along the streets safety. Is the street wide enough? Can the bus make any turns required?

Having trolley wires can affect which streets we can use when our trolley buses have to detour and if they need to travel long distances. For shorter detours, they are equipped with a battery that allows them to travel about eight blocks with the poles off the wire.

View of T-Comm from Duty Manager’s desk.

A glimpse inside T-Comm from 2010

Transit Communication (T-Comm) tries to stick to main roads because it has to be able to corner and navigate on a street that we don’t normally use,” Lance adds.

“We can only turn down a street that our buses are actually able to use, that’s why we often try to detour buses onto roads where we already have regular bus service, whenever possible.”

Detours can sometimes mean missed stops along a route, but operators at their discretion and when safe to do so, will provide service along a detour route. A good idea for riders is to let the driver know where you would like to go.

“I’d always recommend waving a bus down when it’s not on its normal route, especially on those unexpected detours. The driver may not be aware of where all these new stops are, and you don’t want to miss your bus!,” says Lance.

In the rare event of an unplanned detour, such as due to heavy congestion, a police incident, or a motor vehicle accident, T-Comm and Transit Supervisors use TMAC (Transit Management and Communications System) to deliver the detour information to affected operators.

Reroute messages can be delivered solely to drivers of affected routes via TMAC.

A reroute message delivered to 341 drivers on TMAC

Operators get a text message on their screen letting them know about the specific detour. The system is smart enough to only alert operators on the affected routes.

At Customer Information, they publish text/email alerts as soon as they receive them. These notifications can involve planned detours, which they often know of weeks in advance through internal bulletins.

These service-related updates could also be related to unplanned detours. The information in the text message that is sent to drivers is seen by Customer Information in a report form as soon as that report is received. At that point, Customer Information will send it out as an alert to riders.

“Detours are a huge part of this job, we need to update the public as quickly as possible when our service is on detour,” says Lance. “Subscribe for text andemail alerts for your route, and follow @TransLink on Twitter so you’re never be out of the loop!”

Kids and high school students ride free for International Walk to School Week, Oct 6-10, 2014

International Walk to School Week (IWALK) is October 6 to 10!

International Walk to School Week (iWalk) is October 6 to 10!

Once again, TransLink is inviting children and high school students to ride for free during International Walk to School Week (iWalk) from October 6 to 10!

Note: Regular fares apply to adults accompanying children and high school students on the system. 

Did you know?

  • Two of three Canadian children are not getting enough exercise each day.
  • Active school travel can increase a child’s ability to concentrate.

TransLink has been supporting iWalk for the past seven years. It is part of the TravelSmart for Schools initiative for children, educating them about all of their travel options and building a future generation of transit riders.

Both walking and taking transit promotes good health and independence, while keeping greenhouse gases to a minimum. Our transit system is fully accessible to riders of all abilities.

This year we’re adding something new. TravelSmart is launching Walktober – a month long campaign to encourage walking to school, walking to work and walking for pleasure!

To make walking even more fun, TravelSmart is hosting a geocache challenge for the month of October! Find out how you can win prizes by hunting down one of the nine TravelSmart caches hidden throughout Metro Vancouver. Start now!

Plan a field trip!

If you’re a teacher, it’s a perfect time to take advantage of this offer by organizing a field trip during iWalk. Here are some tips:

  • Travel off peak hours: Try planning trips during “off-peak” hours – between 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
  • Plan ahead: Use TransLink’s online resources including the Trip Planneror Translink’s mobile website with real-time Next Bus. Planning the trip could be a fun class project in itself!
  • Play: TravelSmart’s online interactive game, Tripsters, is a fun way for kids to learn about walking, cycling, carpooling and public transit as well as a great way to engage children about transportation issues in the region.