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Translink Buzzer Blog

Track changes to SkyTrain’s Expo Line this weekend, Sept. 23–24

Crews install a 60-foot section of curved rail near Main Street–Science World Station back in May 2017.

Are you planning to take the SkyTrain’s Expo Line between 11:30 p.m.  10:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 23 through 3 p.m. on Sunday, September 24? Please plan for an additional 15–20 minutes of travel time as service will be modified for rail replacement work.

During these times, trains will use a single track in both directions near Commercial–Broadway and Main Street–Science World stations. As well, all Expo Line trains will operate between Waterfront and King George. If you are travelling to Production Way–University, Lougheed Town Centre, Braid or Sapperton, you’ll need transfer to the Special SkyTrain Service (see map) at New Westminster, Columbia or Commercial–Broadway stations.

Please watch for destination displays and listen for announcements. The Millennium Line will operate at normal frequency and the Canada Line is unaffected by this work. Read more »

New community shuttle buses arrive for Bowen Island

The first of three brand-new community shuttles for Bowen Island entered service this week.

Hey Bowen Island! Exciting news—the first of three brand-new community shuttles has arrived.

Vehicle number 17549 entered service this past Wednesday on the C10 Bluewater and C11 Eagle Cliff routes after First Transit operators and management received a thorough operating orientation.

Over the next several weeks, the other two buses (vehicle numbers 17550 and 17551) will be commissioned and delivered.

These new 2017 Girardin G5 buses, manufactured in Quebec and built on a GM G4500 chassis, accommodates 20 seated passengers plus four standees and has space for two wheelchairs. They replace the existing 2012 models that have reached the end of their service life.

What’s new?

  • Improved interior, rear-mounted air conditioning unit and passenger heating system, upgraded front-mounted bike rack and an improved electronic destination sign
  • Larger passenger windows and upgraded emergency exits
  • A fold-up passenger seat, located immediately behind the operator, for storing strollers and large items
  • Improved seat covers that are more comfortable and easier to clean (identical to conventional buses)
  • An interior and exterior LED light package
  • A 6.0-litre Vortec fuel efficient, low-emission gas engine

What do you think about the new community shuttle buses? Let us know at translink.ca/feedback.

Author: Allen Tung

Join us September 28, 2017 for the next TransLink Open Board Meeting

TransLink Open Board Meeting

All of TransLink’s board meetings are open to the general public. Are you interested in getting to know the ins and outs of how TransLink works?

Attend our September meeting and get a behind-the-scenes look at TransLink’s mandate,  responsibilities, budget and more!

Details:

When: Thursday, September 28 , 2017
What: Quarterly Open Board Meeting
Where: TransLink Head Office  400-287 Nelson’s Court, New Westminster

Apply to speak or find the agenda for the upcoming meeting at translink.ca/boardmeetings.

Can’t make the meeting in person? No problem!
You can always watch our live streams on Periscope and Facebook.

Author: Sarah Kertcher

Improved Transit Alerts are here!

We’re making it faster and easier for our customers to find transit information with a redesigned Alerts & Advisories page, and improved GTFS data feed and SMS.

In November 2016, we asked our customers how they use and access Transit Alerts. Today, we’re excited to begin rolling out improvements to Transit Alerts to make it easier for you to plan ahead!

Redesigned Alerts & Advisories

The Alerts & Advisories page at translink.ca/alerts has been redesigned for both mobile and desktop to make it faster and easier for our customers to find the information they’re looking for. (You may need to refresh your cache.)

Alerts are now categorized under Bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus, West Coast Express, HandyDART, Station Access and Information Systems. The page layout is also cleaner, effective dates are clearer and alert types are visible at a glance.

What do you think of these changes? Tell us what you think about our new Transit Alerts page by taking our brief survey at translink.ca/alertsurvey. This is just the beginning as more enhancements are coming!

TransLink branding in Google Maps

Do you use Google Maps to plan your trip? There’s now TransLink colours and naming! This means there are no longer codes such as “992” for the Expo Line —it’s simply a blue tag labelled with “Expo Line.”

This is all possible through improvements to our General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) file, which allows third parties such as Google to access our transit data.

Improved SMS

Customers can now sign up to receive email and/or SMS alerts to their devices with any mobile carrier (standard carrier rates apply). You will also see faster and more consistent alert messaging. Sign up to receive transit alerts!

Take the brief survey at translink.ca/alertsurvey and let us know what you think about the new Alerts & Advisories page. What about the Google Maps improvements? Leave a comment below.

Author: Allen Tung

Where do our transit vehicles sleep at night?

Buses all settled and snuggled in for the night!

Our transit vehicles spend their days moving many people around Metro Vancouver, but have you ever wondered what happens to them after a long day of work? Each night, our SkyTrain vehicles, SeaBus vessels, buses and West Coast Express trains return to their homes for a well-deserved rest before they gear up for another busy day.

SkyTrain

From 2009: two generations of SkyTrain car inside our operations and maintenance centre near Edmonds.

For our Expo and Millennium Line vehicles, the end of the day means heading over to our Operations and Maintenance Centre (OMC) near Edmonds SkyTrain station. Eighteen vehicles stay on the line overnight, some along the Millennium Line and near King George Station.

With the opening of the Evergreen Extension, we now have a new OMC located between Inlet Centre and Coquitlam Central stations where we store and clean an additional 15 trains every night! As for our Canada Line vehicles, they return to the OMC near Bridgeport Station.

Trains start coming off the line in the evening reduced service times so cleaning can start at 7:30 p.m. and finish by 4 a.m. Crews work through the night cleaning, changing light bulbs, replacing seat covers and doing other maintenance as needed.

And, depending on the temperatures outside, some of the SkyTrains might even head over to our automated train wash (how fun is that?!?). It’s just like a car wash, but for SkyTrains!

Buses

A bus in the car wash at Surrey Transit Centre.

There are also washing stations for the buses in our transit centres across the region, where our buses go home at night. There are seven bus transit centres all over the region: one in Burnaby, West Vancouver, Vancouver, Surrey and Port Coquitlam, and two in Richmond.

Wim Beuk, maintenance director, says that the length of the nightly routine varies at locations, depending number of buses. “Surrey, for example, with 197 buses, will have approximately 13 service people each work night that work from 8 p.m. through to 5:30 a.m., fueling and cleaning the buses,” he says. “Maintenance trades staff for afternoons and night shifts will average approximately 18 people.”

West Coast Express

From 2010: the 6 a.m. West Coast Express train parked at Mission City Station.

Kyla Daman-Willems, Marketing and Customer Service Supervisor at West Coast Express, says their trains retire in Mission for the evening. There is a full yard there and a crew works on the trains over night. “They have them all clean and fueled up for 5 a.m.!” she says.

SeaBus

From 2010: the Burrard Pacific Breeze, sitting in one of the maintenance docks in Lonsdale Quay.

As for the SeaBuses, they head over to a couple of docks next to the Lonsdale Quay terminal for their nightly TLC.

One of the boats takes off early at 9:30 p.m. when the evening rush is over and gets a head start on maintenance and cleaning. Chris Bhardwaj, Supervisor, SeaBus Operations, says that head start also lets crews do major work if needed.

“Many times they even do an engine change over night,” he says, explaining that when needed, crews will take the whole engine out, replace it with a new one, and have the boat ready to go the next day.

All this means that by the time morning comes around, our vehicles are well-rested, fixed up, and ready to head out on the system to get back to work!

Have a question? Make sure to leave a comment below!

Author: Christina Jakopin

9 and 99 bus stops at Commercial–Broadway Station temporarily relocate, Sept. 15 – Oct. 1

Structural steel trusses will be installed at this location and across Broadway at Commercial–Broadway SkyTrain Station for the new pedestrian walkway.

An exciting milestone for the Commercial–Broadway Station Upgrades! Starting on September 15, construction begins for the new overhead pedestrian walkway across Broadway.

During the construction period, from September 15 through October 1, access to the station and platforms will not change. However, the 9 and 99 bus stops will be temporarily relocated along Broadway. 

Be on the lookout for signs like these telling you where to board your bus! Passengers may be required to cross the street to catch their bus.

Signs like these will help you find the 99 B-Line during the construction period for the Commercial–Broadway Station overhead walkway.

This phase of work includes using two, 270-tonne cranes to lift and place 30,000-pound steel trusses into place to support the new overhead walkway – whoa!

There will be periodic westbound lane closures on Broadway to position cranes and stage vehicles, equipment and materials, resulting in minor detours for 9 and 99 and delays for vehicles using Broadway. As well, SkyTrain passengers can expect trains to use one track in both directions around the area where work is happening during key times.

A full road closure on Broadway is planned for Saturday, September 30 and Sunday, October 1. We encourage vehicle traffic to avoid this area as detours will be in effect and will result in delays.

We thank everyone for their patience as we complete these much-needed upgrades to Commercial–Broadway Station.

An update on construction in photos

Want to learn more about the Commercial–Broadway Station Upgrades? Visit translink.ca/commercialbroadway.

Author: Allen Tung

Thank you for raising more than $2,100 for the Red Cross wildfire relief fund!

Since April 11, 1,249 wildfires have burned across the province leading to a state of emergency where many people were evacuated from their homes and more than one-million hectares of land was burned.

Last month, we partnered with NEXTEXT and Ivrnet by providing donation opportunities for anyone who texted BCFIRES to 30333. When customers texted their stop ID number to get the next bus departure times, they often saw the following message:

The text messages let riders who were interested to simply click on the links provided and either donate immediately or learn more about the Red Cross’s work.

From July 21 to August 21, the link in the text messages received almost 2,500,000 hits and more than $2,100 was raised directly through the dedicated code (30333). These messages appeared in unsold advertising space — valued at $360,000 — and were made possible through our partnership with NEXTEXT and Ivrnet.

We are pleased to support the Red Cross’s relief fundraising efforts and would like to say thank you to all of our customers who made a donation!

How can I still help?

Unfortunately, wildfires continue to burn across the province. If you’d like to make a donation to Red Cross wildfire relief, visit their donation page and select “British Columbia Fires Appeal.”

Author: Christina Jakopin

Once upon a chime

Have you ever wondered where the iconic SkyTrain chime came from? Well, today is your lucky day because we’ve got an answer for you!

Once upon a chime…

Our story dates back to 1984, a few years before SkyTrain was operational. As a driverless automated system with no train operator on-board to remind passengers that doors were about to close and the train was ready to depart, we realized the need for some kind of automated on-board message.

FYI: SkyTrain opened in January 1986, on schedule and on budget ($854 million) with an initial 21.4 kms (13.3 miles) of guideway, 15 stations and 114 SkyTrain cars!

Once the decision was made to create an automated message, the next step was to determine what the message would sound like. We tested out many different ideas and even experimented with real bells, but nothing seemed to sound just right.  Since SkyTrain is an automated, high-tech system, the feeling was that a reasonably conventional sounding chime was needed.

Fun fact! The SkyTrain chime isn’t just for SkyTrain! The same chime can also be heard on-board our buses!

We decided to test out some different versions of the chime using a digital synthesizer at Little Mountain Sound Studio. It took some time to come up with a tone that would be usable and would catch people’s attention. After many trials and errors, we decided that the chime would have three tones going up and would serve it’s purpose to draw passengers attention to the train departing and the doors closing.

Did you know that the SkyTrain chime was recorded in the same studio that AC/DC, Bryan Adams, Aerosmith and many other talented musicians recorded in?!

Listen to the SkyTrain chime

This post originally appeared as a podcast on The Buzzer Blog on December 1, 2008.

Author: Christina Jakopin

Rail replacement work moves to Main Street–Science World area

During rail replacement on select days, all Expo Line trains will operate between Waterfront and King George, and will use one track in both directions at Main Street–Science World and Commercial–Broadway stations.

As part of keeping our system in a state of good repair, we are replacing 5,000 linear metres of running rail at four main locations close to Metrotown, Main Street–Science World, Stadium–Chinatown and Waterfront stations.

Replacement work is currently taking place in the Main Street–Science World area, resulting in modified evening SkyTrain service. Read more »

Buzzer illustrator interview: Honeylyn Amaga

Illustration and illustrator, Honeylyn Amaga

This September edition of the print Buzzer illustration was done by Honeylyn Amaga.

Celebrating the largest bus service increase as part of the 10-Year Vision, Honelyn features a smiling happy bus eager to help move Metro Vancouver!

We asked Honeylyn a few questions to learn a little more about her as an illustrator!

Tell us about yourself?

I was born and raised in Cebu, Philippines where I worked as a Registered Nurse. I recently became a Licensed Practical Nurse in B.C., however my real love is art! I’ve been interested in art since high school, and competed in many art competitions. A few months ago, I rekindled my love of the arts through picking up my some canvas to craft portrait and landscape paintings.

What gets you inspired when you’re creating?

As an artist, I’m inspired by many things. Internally, I’m driven by the emotions and passion that I feel towards a piece. Family in Cebu and Canada are also very inspirational to me. Lastly, I’m inspired by other famous artists such as French impressionist Claude Monet, and Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh.

What are your favourite subjects to illustrate?

I really love nature and portraits. I typically work with traditional mediums like paint and canvas, however I love new challenges and am continually learning about illustrating in the digital and graphic space.

Tell us about your illustration for the latest print Buzzer.

Fall Service Changes were the biggest in nearly a decade, so this illustration focused on the bus as the main subject. The smiling bus represents the staff at Translink who are happy to serve bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express passengers. The colourful lines underneath the bus depict “more moving, less waiting” as part of the 10 year Vision.

What are your artistic tools of choice?

Generally I prefer painting with acrylics, canvas boards and brushes, however when working digitally I love using Adobe Illustrator.

What have been some of your favourite projects you’ve created?

The print Buzzer of course! This has so far been the biggest leap of my career as an artist. I love painting portraits of people as it is very rewarding to see their satisfaction with the finished works I create.

What is your favourite mode of transit?

As you can probably tell from my illustration, I love taking the SkyTrain and the bus. When riding the SkyTrain I often find myself deep in thought especially if there’s an eye catching view of nature out the window!

What are some of the fun projects you’re working on now?

I’m currently working on some canvas portraits, and will be participating in the Vancouver Art Battle on September 21, 2017.

Do you have any fun plans this fall?

Aside from the upcoming Vancouver Art Battle, each September my husband, my son and I celebrate our wedding anniversary with a getaway to Tofino!

Thank you Honeylyn for creating such a great illustration for our print Buzzer! We wish you well in your future art projects, and of course, Happy Anniversary!

Grab your copy of the Buzzer on SkyTrain, SeaBus, West Coast Express and buses before they’re gone or download it here.

Author: Sarah Kertcher

#AskDenisThePlanner your questions, September 8, on Twitter @TransLink!

#AskDenisThePlanner

Just under a year ago, one of Metro Vancouver’s favourite transit planners made his twitter debut responding to an unhappy customer’s video message about bus service in her area. A star was born – and ever since  #DenisThePlanner has been responding to your tweets, posting videos here and on Facebook and sharing information about Service Changes through lighthearted and fun informational videos.

Read more »

Teachers! Send your class on a behind-the-scenes look at TransLink’s operating facilities

I Love Transit Week is back this year, October 2-6, and our theme is Beyond—the future of transportation in Metro Vancouver. Teachers, unleash your inner explorer and take learning beyond the classroom! We have two exciting contests for you and free bus travel for your students:

I Love Transit Camp contest (Grades 3–12)

I Love Transit Camp is a unique opportunity for kids (and their teachers and chaperones!), grades 3 through 12, to get a behind-the-scenes look at TransLink operating companies’ facilities, tour the bus and SkyTrain yards, and much more!

One winning class will get the opportunity to attend I Love Transit Camp on October 19 to learn about how transit works and have some fun at the same time. Check out all the fun that was had in 20142015 and 2016.

To enter, visit translink.ca/ilovetransit, fill out the form and tell us in 150 words or less what your class envisions to be the future of transportation to be in Metro Vancouver! Photos, videos, drawings, recordings, poems and whatever else you can dream up that best represents your vision can accompany the submission. Let your imagination go wild. There are no wrong answers. Wanna put your class’ application over the top? Send us a video/drawings/poetry/song or whatever to thebuzzer@translink.ca with the subject, “I Love Transit Application” or drop it in the mail to The Buzzer, c/o Social Media Team, 400 – 287 Nelson’s Court, New Westminster, BC, V3L 0E7. See below for some ideas of winning submissions.

Contest closes at 4 p.m. on Friday, September 29, 2017 and you’ll want to read the terms and conditions.

Need some help to get started? Here’s the rubric our judges will be using and some prompts for your class:

  • Its 2027, describe your trip to work using public transportation of the future.
    (What’s new and changed? What’s stayed the same? What’s surprising about public transit 20 years from today?)
  • You are riding on a bus, reading with your head down. The bus stops to pick up some passengers and you look up. The view out the window is not what you expected! You’ve been fast forwarded to the future! What do notice? How has transit changed for the better?
  • Use all of the following words in your essay about the future of transit: New, Faster, Fun, Moving, Sustainable, Future, More, Less, Happy.

The day will start at 9 a.m. and wrap up around 4 p.m. It will include snacks, a pizza lunch, prizes, t-shirts and a chance meet some of the key people (and the Transit Police dog!) that help TransLink move close to a half-a-million people a day and plan for the future.

Here’s the tentative itinerary:

Depending on the school of the winning class, we will pick up the winning team at their school and take a ride to the Burnaby Transit Centre (BTC)!

BTC is home to little known transit operations such as fleet overhaul, where they fix and update almost everything on a bus, including bus painting and seat reupholstering. We’ll also tour the bus yard where we’ll see both articulated and 40-foot buses! After that, we’ll have a little lunch then say goodbye to BTC.

Next, we’ll hop on the SkyTrain to head down to Edmonds Station where we’ll walk down to SkyTrain’s Operations and Maintenance Centre. There, campers will get a behind the scenes look at the facility where SkyTrain cars are maintained and cleaned, and visit SkyTrain Control! They will also get to try the SkyTrain simulator and SkyTrain staff will be on hand to answer questions.

A visit with Transit Police and Transit Security to tell us all about everything they do will cap off the day. I’m told they’ll be bringing their vehicles and a special guest if we are lucky!

Throughout the day we’ll be taking breaks for fun games and more! We’ll wrap the day up around 4 p.m.

Questions? Email thebuzzer@translink.ca and we’ll be happy to answer them!

Want an idea of what we’re looking for? Check out these submissions from the past that impressed us!

An I Love Transit poem!

A transit-themed crossword puzzle

A SkyTrain painting

DayPass contest (K-12)

K-12 students can ride the bus for free during I Love Transit Week (Oct. 2–6), so it will be a perfect time for teachers to plan a field trip on transit! You may have taken advantage of this in previous years during iWALK.

Want to take your class on transit another time? Enter for a chance to win up to 35 Compass Cards with a DayPass loaded for your class, including teachers and chaperones, to use for your next field trip! DayPasses provides unlimited transit use on all buses, SkyTrain and SeaBus for one day from the first tap in until the end of the service day.

Contest closes at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, September 29, 2017 and you’ll want to read the terms and conditions.

Free bus travel for students (K-12)

Students in kindergarten through grade 12 will eligible for free bus travel during I Love Transit Week (you may have taken advantage of this in previous years at TransLink as iWALK ).

We ask teachers who are planning to take advantage of free bus travel for field trips to plan the transit portion during off-peak hours, between 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

*Please note that this does not include SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express. As well, regular fares apply to adults accompanying children and high school students on the system. 

You’ll want to visit translink.ca/ilovetransit to learn more and enter our contests!

Hamilton Transit Centre turns 1 today!

One year ago today, Hamilton Transit Centre (HTC) opened its doors in Richmond and started operations! Transit centres are the hubs of our transit system and are one of the most important factors in sustaining the livability of Metro Vancouver. Transit centres also keep buses on the road and help keep you moving daily, all 400,000 of you!

HTC has helped take pressure off our other bus depots and allowed us to increase efficiency and capacity as Metro Vancouver continues to grow. Today, HTC represents an important and sustainable advance in the modernization of our infrastructure.

What makes Hamilton Transit Centre so great?

HTC has the capacity to accommodate 300 forty-foot buses and features a maintenance building, service delivery building, waste water treatment building, bus washing building and fueling building. HTC is a unique and innovative facility that was built to LEED Silver standards and has many sustainable features including salvaged, pine beetle wood ceilings and roofs which helps to support B.C’s timber industry, LED lighting, a heat-reflective roof and much more. These initiatives allow us to be greener while reducing operating and maintenance costs. Lighting design at the Hamilton Transit Centre has been developed to keep as much light as possible directed to the facility and not to the surrounding residential sites.

So what?

The addition of HTC has allowed us to increase efficiency and capacity which allows us to deliver new, annual service hours across the region as part of  the 10-Year Vision.

Did you know that as of September 4, we’ve added 105,000 new annual service hours across the region? To learn more, visit translink.ca/servicechanges to see the full list of improvements.

Author: Christina Jakopin

Holiday Service for Labour Day – September 4, 2017

Monday, September 4 is Labour Day, the last long weekend of the summer, and the final hurrah before many Metro Vancouverites head back to work and school. As such, we will be operating on a holiday schedule.

Here’s what you need to know about upcoming holiday service:

  • BusSkyTrain, and SeaBus services will operate on a Sunday/holiday schedule.
  • West Coast Express will not operate.
  • The Compass Customer Service Centre and Lost Property Office will be closed.

Holiday fares will be in effect, which means you can travel across all zones on a one-zone fare all day long!

And don’t forget! Fall Service changes, our single largest bus service increase as part of the 10-Year Vision, also begin on Labour Day, September 4!

For more information on our fall service change visit our Transit Service Changes page.

Service returns to regular weekday schedules for all modes on Tuesday, September 5, 2017. Don’t forget to check out our post on how to survive the Post-Labour Day Crunch!

Know before you go!

Use our handy Trip Planner to check your route and schedule times prior to leaving. The information here is subject to change. For the latest and most up-to-date information, bookmark translink.ca on your mobile device so you can know on the go!

For the latest transit information, follow us on twitter at @TransLink or contact our Customer Information by phone at 604.953.3333

Author: Sarah Kertcher

The September 2017 issue of the Buzzer is now on the system!

Fall is upon us! This means kids are gearing up to back-to-school, fall service changes are coming (make sure to follow our Bus Route Buzz series to get full details!) and of course, the September edition of the Buzzer is now on the system!

Read more »