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Translink Buzzer Blog

Vancity Buzz’s Deputy Editor Kenneth Chan tells us why he loves transit

buzzer_header_ilovetransitKenneth Chan is the Deputy Editor and Social Media Manager of Vancity Buzz. He is known for his articles on public transit, urban design, development projects and the local economy. On the side, he is the Co-Founder of the Vancouver New Year’s Eve Celebration Society, the non-profit organization that will be hosting a major public New Year’s Eve bash in downtown Vancouver at the end of this year. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Kenneth on a sunny day in Vancouver and not far from Waterfront Station.

Kenneth on a sunny day in Vancouver and not far from Waterfront Station.

“Always hold onto the hand rail, grandson.” That’s something my grandma would often say during the many times we descended down the famously long and steep escalator at Granville Station. Looking back, there was always an unexplainable childhood fear of falling and creating a domino-like tumble effect.

I was only about four or five years old at the time, but those SkyTrain trips to Chinatown and Metrotown are some of my most vivid early memories of taking public transit in Metro Vancouver. That’s how I started to become familiar with public transit, eventually growing to love it as a teenager, coupled with the endless hours I spent playing Sim City and trying to replicate the New York and Metro Vancouver regions.

I grew up near UBC and eventually studied there as well, so I’ve always understood and appreciated the conveniences of living close to a cluster of public transit services as well as school and work.

But the introduction of the 99 B-Line, which complemented the high number of local bus routes that already serve near my house, was the real game changer in making public transit a truly feasible, quick and cost-effective way to get around. This was compounded by the launch of other routes and services over the years – first the now-defunct 98 B-Line and then the Canada Line – that enabled a speedy transfer to other destinations and connections.

I’ve used public transit in dozens of other major cities, and I can confidently say that our region already enjoys a highly developed transit network that punches above its own weight when considerations are given for our relatively small population and comparisons are made with the systems found at other similarly sized North American urban regions. Is there room for improvement? Of course there is, but some context is always important.

Public transit’s feasibility as a primary mode of transportation depends on a combination of factors such as speed, frequency, convenience and network size. The larger the service area with quick transit services that are competitive with driving times and the associated high costs of car ownership, the greater the ridership haul.

A case in point is how the automobile became such a flexible and attractive mode of transportation in the Post-War years. Road networks grew exponentially in size over decades, making driving an easy way to get around.

The same case can also be made when the network size of other modes grow and improve. Vancouver is now one of the most walkable cities in North America following years of ambitious city-wide pedestrianization prioritization efforts, and a similar level of accessibility is now being attempted for cycling through a number of ambitious bike infrastructure initiatives by both municipal governments and TransLink.

In a similar way, it became exponentially more attractive to use public transit in Metro Vancouver after the opening of the Canada Line. I would even go as far as saying the Canada Line helped spark a ‘transit revolution’ of sorts; this major extension of SkyTrain, the backbone of the public transit network, drastically changed our perception of public transit and its place in the region.

Today, we want more transit and we want it now. Prior to the Canada Line, we were arguably indecisive and uncertain about transit expansion, but it’s now a ‘no brainer’ (apart from the ongoing question of how we’re going to pay for it).

With the opening of the Evergreen Line next year, imagine being able to travel from Lougheed to Coquitlam in about 15 minutes or from VCC-Clark to Coquitlam in about 35 minutes, with trains arriving every three minutes during the day. And with a potential underground extension of SkyTrain to UBC along the Broadway Corridor, imagine being able to travel from UBC to Coquitlam in just under one hour on a transfer-less one-train ride.

Transit expansion opens up so many more possibilities for the region, for where people live, work and play. Furthermore, it should be noted that these macro-level considerations are absolutely vital given just how geographically tiny and constrained the Metro Vancouver region is, to the point that our limited size demands a highly efficient transportation system that simultaneously molds efficient land use and is a catalyst for smart, dense development projects.

At the same time, the economic feasibility of a transit service is dependent on the population and employment density found along and near the route of the service. Roads, parking lots, and urban sprawl take up room that Metro Vancouver does not have – without infringing on our vast areas of agricultural land reserves, protected regional parks and forests, and other sensitive ecosystems. These are all spaces we love and take for granted.

There are negative repercussions to affordability and the economy as well as our social, health and well-being if we do not build our relatively young region in the most efficient manner.

And it all comes back to having an efficient transportation system. This is why I love transit.

I Love Transit 2015: a fun-filled day at I Love Transit Camp (Kids)!


This year’s I Love Transit Camp took campers between the ages of 8 and 12 years on a tour of SkyTrain Operations and Maintenance Centre,  Burnaby Transit Centre and had a visit from Transit Police! The day was jam packed with all things transit and our campers got an exclusive behind the scenes look at our facilities. Here’s a peek of what we got up to!




Everything is awesome when transit meets LEGO!


Translink Bus

There are many ways you can celebrate transit! Over the years, we’ve have transit lovers make videos, paint and even bake in the name of our system.

Tim Tosino shows his affection for transit through LEGO! He’s a member of the Vancouver LEGO Club and has built a number transit vehicles and transit related infrastructure.

He’s behind the LEGO Canada Line Station built for the 2010 opening and recently showed more of his work at the Surrey Musuem’s A Fraser Valley Odyssey running until September 19th!

To hear the story behind his work we caught up with Tim to chat about the exhibition and his LEGO transit pieces.

 1) You recently contributed to the Surrey Museum’s LEGO exhibit. Can you describe your transit pieces? How many are there and how long did it take to build them?

There are two Nova LFS busses and two GMC Community Shuttles. Each bus I worked on for a couple nights, maybe 10-12 hours on each model.

2)  Why did you choose to build transit pieces? Do you have a favourite one?

I have a modest interest in transit. I like the Nova better because I have actually been on one. I’ve never ridden a community shuttle.

3)  I’ve heard that LEGO shapes have evolved over the years to be rounded. How has that affected the types of pieces you can make?

The best curve to come out in recent years is the one that is 2 studs wide and 2/3 bricks high. I used them on top of the regular buses and on hoods of some recent vehicles.

4)  Do you plan out pieces beforehand or just build on the fly?

I might think about how to do a particularly challenging section or  sometimes I look up how other models are build on sites like Flickr, but  it’s mostly on the fly.

5)  Do you have an idea of how many pieces go into each model? Can you give me an example?

Usually I don’t count, but I would estimate at least 300-400 pieces for the GMC and 500 for the Nova.

6) Do you ride transit? If so, what part of the system do you like to ride the most?

I take the Canada Line every day to get to BCIT.

Thanks Tim for bringing our system into the LEGO dimension!


I Love Transit Week 2015 is here! Join the love and get a chance to win a prize!


Like a kid on Christmas morning, I am giddy with excitement to announce the official kick-off of our 7th annual I Love Transit week!

Right on the heels of our 125 anniversary of transit in the region, we’re celebrating all that is transit for Metro Vancouver.

What do we have going on? Well, take a look!

September 1: I Love Transit Camp for kids (ages 8-12) at SkyTrain Operations and Maintenance Centre and Burnaby Transit Centre.

September 3: I Love Transit Camp for adults (age 13 and up) at Burnaby Transit Centre.

September 9: Colouring contest draw – download the drawing from the print Buzzer here.

 Be sure to check out our social media channels for stories, photos, videos and lots of other exciting I Love Transit week content!
TwitterInstagramFacebookBuzzer blog

Feeling lucky?

Why not enter the the I Love Transit contest?!

This is your chance to show the world what you love about riding buses, SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express in Metro Vancouver.

I love transit because it helps me get me where I’m going without worrying things like gas prices or driving in gridlock traffic.

I use my commute for some “me time” whether that be reading, listening to music or enjoying the scenery whizzing past.

So, let’s get creative as you tell us why YOU love transit!

Snap a photo, write a Haiku, draw a picture, perform a song, or however you want to show transit some love then share that on social media with our hashtag.

The Prize!

  • A Monthly FareCard!
  • A cooler tote bag
  • A map
  • Buttons
  • A special secret prize!

How do I enter?


  • Follow @TransLink and send a tweet to us that includes and completes this sentence:

@TransLink #Ilovetransit because…

  • An acceptable entry (on many levels): “@TransLink #ILoveTransit because it allows me to sleep more!”
  • Be sure to include the correct #Ilovetransit hashtag and complete the sentence to be entered
  • Accounts must be public to participate


  • Follow @TransLinkBC and post a selfie on transit or a great photo from anywhere across the system with a caption that includes and completes this sentence:

@TransLinkBC #Ilovetransit because…

  • Please note that we’re @TransLinkBC on Instagram, not @TransLink—that’s somebody else’s account!
  • Remember to use the hashtag and not just tag us in your photo
  • Accounts must be public to participate

The Buzzer blog

  • Leave a comment on this post that completes the sentence:

I love transit because…


Check out the I LOVE TRANSIT 2015 contest terms and conditions, but here’s the lowdown:

  • The Contest will open on August 31, 2015 and all entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. on September 4, 2015. Late entries will not be considered.
  • One entry per person per day for each channel. Yes, you can enter up to three times in total!
  • The FareCard will be for one, two, or three zones, depending on where the winner travels.
  • We’ll announce the winners from a random draw on the blog, Twitter and Instagram!
  • To be fair to everyone, one person cannot win all three draws. So, if we draw your name for one of the channels, you will be excluded from the other two FareCard draws.

Photos may be used in the print Buzzer, the Buzzer blog, tweeted by @TransLink, posted on the TransLink Facebook page and @TransLinkBC Instagram account.

Rail replacement is set to start August 28th!


Riders take note! Work to replace running rail on the Expo Line is set to begin August 28th.

TransLink is replacing major sections of its 30-year-old SkyTrain track while keeping the service open for customers. Keeping the trains running while this critical work is done during non-peak hours will mean delays for customers taking the Millennium and Expo lines this weekend and next.

Where is the rail being replaced?

  • Edmonds Stations’ inbound curve west (outbound has already been completed)
  • S-curve between Commercial-Broadway and Main-Science World Station


  • 11 p.m. Friday Aug. 28 to end of service Sunday, Aug. 30— Inbound curve west of Edmonds Station
  • Labour Day weekend, Sept. 5-7:—S-curve between Commercial-Broadway and Main Street-Science World Station

How will service be impacted?

11 p.m. Friday Aug. 28 to end of service Sunday, Aug. 30:

o   SkyTrain Expo and Millennium Line service will be reduced. Trains will single track at Edmonds and Royal Oak stations.

o   Passengers should allow at least 20 minutes of extra travel time.

o   Millennium Line will operate between VCC-Clark and Columbia stations only.

o   Additional trains will operate from Waterfront to Metrotown stations only. Passengers boarding the Expo Line in Vancouver and travelling to stations east of Metrotown should wait for “King George” trains.

Labour Day weekend, Sept. 5-7

o   SkyTrain Expo and Millennium Line service will be reduced. Trains will single track at Commercial-Broadway and Main Street-Science World stations.

o   Passengers should allow at least 20 minutes of extra travel time.

o   Millennium Line will operate between VCC Clark and Columbia stations only.

o   A frequent bus shuttle will operate between VCC-Clark, Main Street-Science World and Stadium-Chinatown from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. between VCC-Clark, Main Street-Science World and Stadium-Chinatown stations. To minimize delays, Millennium Line customers travelling into or out of downtown Vancouver in the afternoon should consider using this bus service.

To minimize waits, customers are encouraged to consider alternate bus routes to reach their destinations!



Transit in the News – August 27, 2015

A weekly section about transit making headlines around the globe. Have an article you want to share?
Comment below or
email us.


GO Transit adds train trips to Brampton and bolsters bus service to Pearson airport.

Reports of NYC subway assaults soar in the last year.

Grand River Transit miss the mark 20 per cent of the time.

Central Subway dig in San Francisco leaves some downtown shop owners buried.

Downtown Vancouver bus route changes contingent on Robson Street plaza.

New Azur metro trains begin daytime testing in Montreal.

Council greenlights electric buses for St. Albert, Alberta.

British parliament candidate proposes women-only subway trains.

 If you’re looking for interesting facts and fun stories about transit, check out our monthly Links and Tidbits series.

Compass Tickets—Coming Soon to a SkyTrain Station Near You!

Starting this week, Compass Tickets are available at Braid, Lougheed and Sapperton stations. This marks the start of our phased roll out of Compass Tickets.

We know you’re excited about Compass, and now you can start traveling with Compass Tickets as they become available at SkyTrain stations over the next two months. Compass Cards will become available in October. Please note, Compass Tickets need to be tapped in and out, too!

You can purchase Compass Tickets at Compass Vending Machines (CVMs), which are being activated in phases. CVMs will be turned on at several stations each week between now and the end of October.

With the phased roll out of CVMs, we’re giving our customers the time and support they need to adapt to the new system. We’ll have extra staff at each station to assist people and answer questions.

In order to help customers adjust with ease, until December 31, 2015, traditional Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs) will remain in place at all Millennium/Expo stations; and one cash-only TVM will remain at each Canada Line station.

Customers who already have Compass Cards can also use CVMs to load Stored Value and check their balance.

CVM with Compass Ticket dangler 01

Compass Vending Machines are now up and running at some stations!

Fall Service Changes begin September 7th!

september Service changesThe days are getting shorter and fall service changes are in the air.

That’s right, on September 7th bus service changes across the region will come into affect!

Service changes happen four times a year, every April, June, September, Christmas-New Year, and January, to accommodate seasonal shifts in ridership and improve service for more people.

This service change is a bit different. As service changes are set to roll out on the Labour Day Holiday, it means the schedule on September 7th will reflect holiday service schedule and may not show altered bus trips. So, you may not see a change in your route until Tuesday, September 8th.

To get ready for the changes, check Trip Planner before you travel on these dates as many routes across the system have been adjusted.

To get you in the service change spirit, here’s a few highlights:

  •  Weekday trips on routes serving post-secondary institutions are back in service after the summer break, with more frequent peak hour service to UBC, SFU, BCIT and Capilano University.
  •  Increased NightBus service on routes leaving downtown Vancouver, which provides customers better late night service after SkyTrain ends for nightly maintenance.
  • Late-night service increases between downtown Vancouver and UBC.
  • Capilano Road shuttle service will provide service on either side of road closures during regional water main construction. Regular routes are detoured away from Capilano Road.

For all the service change details in your region visit our website!


Transit in the News— August 21, 2015

A weekly section about transit making headlines around the globe. Have an article you want to share?
Comment below or
email us.


Go Hillsborough puts one-cent transportation sales tax back in play.

D.C. students will be riding Metro for free this year.

NJ Transit Bus Terminal Tombstone Mystery Solved.

Edmonton Transit’s ‘Cool Bus’ Video is Hippest Ad for the Bus Ever.

Edmonton Transit Campaign Uses Blunt Posters To Fight Harassment.

Mayor hires transit expert to oversee rail project.

New proposal rule to create Public Transportation Safety Program.

GO Transit to boost train, bus service in September.

Pressure on Access Transit grows in Saskatoon.

 If you’re looking for interesting facts and fun stories about transit, check out our monthly Links and Tidbits series.

You Keep Us Moving— Cheri


Cheri is a Jack-of-all-trades in her role as a SkyTrain attendant.

You may have seen her around the system as she’s been with us for the last 17 years!

Her favourite part is that she gets to help people as a navigator, first aid responder, train operator, counsellor and more!

Cheri is proud to be part of one of the most reliable and cost-efficient transit systems on the continent.

She is all about customer service with a smile that makes you want to smile right back!

You keep us moving. Thank you!

Join in the conversation on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook with the hashtag #Transit125 and #YouMoveUs.


SkyTrain historical video: Rapid Transit, Rapid Transition, a 1984 promotional video


Repost: Written by Jhenifer Pabillano and originally published February 17, 2011 in celebration of 25 years of SkyTrain!

The SkyTrain 25th anniversary celebration continues: here’s another fantastic SkyTrain promotional video from 1984, again shot by local video company JEM Productions!

This one stares into the future with a bit more seriousness than the past few videos, but this time with a killer synth soundtrack. (Seriously: I’ve got to make some ringtones.)

It traces the new SkyTrain route, gives us a glimpse of the SkyTrain attendants’ fabulous uniforms, and has a fairly exhaustive list of all the economic benefits and regional growth that Vancouver can expect.

And of course you can check out some awesome aerial shots of historic 1980s Vancouver!

If you’d like to see more, I’ve posted two other SkyTrain videos in the past, plus scans of photos and memorabilia. Check out the entire Transit History category for all of those and even more history tidbits. Happy 25th, SkyTrain!

What is the plan for the Northeast Sector?


After three phases of planning work and public consultation, we have a plan, a guide if you will, for investment in transit services and infrastructure in the Northeast sector, including Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Anmore and Belcarra. Thank you to everyone who got engaged in the process, both online and in-person!

The Vision:

By 2045, residents regard transit in the Northeast Sector as convenient, comfortable, and easy to use. As a result, transit in the Northeast Sector is well-used, helping to promote healthy people and communities, a healthy economy and a healthy environment.

The Northeast Sector Area Transit Plan outlines a long-term vision for transit in that part of Metro Vancouver, along with recommended investments and service changes needed over the next 10 years to help begin achieving the vision. These include:

  • More direct and simple routes and schedules
  • New service to growing areas that currently have limited or no transit service
  • More frequent bus service during busy times between key destinations, like SkyTrain stations and local centres

We’ll work to implement the recommended changes as resources become available. Some recommended changes may be implemented by reallocating existing buses and resources, while others may require new funding.

The public can expect more opportunities for consultation before all recommended changes are finalized and implemented.

For all the details on how we got here and the specific recommendations in the Northeast Sector Area Transit Plan, see our website.

For anyone who missed our earlier posts on this process, more details can be found here, here and here.

Buzzer illustrator interview: Hiller Goodspeed

Illustration and Hiller!

Illustration and Hiller!

This summer we put out a Special Edition of the Buzzer to celebrate both I Love Transit Week and 125 years of transit in the region!

While one side recounted the history of Metro Vancouver’s transit, the flip side was dedicated to the I Love Transit colouring contest created by illustrator Hiller Goodspeed.

His beautiful illustration depicted many of  Metro Vancouver’s landmarks as well as captured the spirit of our transit system!

To learn more about Hiller and his illustration style, we did a quick interview:

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a 27-year-old who is originally from Florida, but now lives in Vancouver by way of Portland, Oregon. I’m currently pursuing my Masters in Library and Information Studies at UBC and have a background in illustration and design. This time of year I enjoy hanging out around a BBQ and eating popsicles to beat the heat.

How would you describe your illustration style?
My work is filled with lumpy shapes and little faces and cute things, but not too cute— I try to keep it a little weird. I work almost exclusively with pencils because I think they are the best.

What was your inspiration for the I Love Transit illustration? Was it your LOVE of transit?
Yes! I love public transportation and use it every day. Riding the bus gives me time to reflect and process all kinds of things, and I get some of my best ideas while riding public transportation. I like that a few dollars can take you to a place you’ve never been before, isn’t that cool? Sometimes, I wish I could live on the bus.

The colouring page is so detailed! How long did it take you to create?

I drew three different versions of the cityscape, the last of which was an amalgamation of the first two. I also reserve time to daydream before I start working, which is an important and necessary step in my creative process. All in all, I probably put 8-10 hours into developing my illustration. Plus many more hours if you include all my time spent on the bus as preliminary research.

How did you pick which iconic parts of Metro Vancouver to include in the drawing?
I tried to include as many references to my favourite places in Vancouver as I could: the downtown VPL branch, the H. R. MacMillan Space Centre, and of course, the sculpture from Dude Chilling Park. These places are all integral to what makes Vancouver so great. There’s even a Nardwuar reference hidden in the illustration because Nardwuar is the coolest.

Have you illustrated transit systems before? Was it difficult to capture the essence of an entire system?
No, I haven’t! The most difficult part was deciding which elements made it into the illustration. I really wanted to include the Alex Fraser Bridge, but when I tried to draw it, there were just too many supports and it turned out looking like some kind of spaghetti disaster.

What has been the best part of your summer so far?
In June I proposed to the most beautiful and wonderful lady in the world and she said “yes”. We’re now engaged!

Still haven’t got your hands on the Special Edition Buzzer? You can download it here.

Links and Tidbits — August 15, 2015

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.

start transit map

This Vancouver transit map will leave you starry-eyed.

Looking for a sign that you truly love transit? These might do!

LA transit takes you on a Tour De Food. No, Subway is not on the itinerary.

Hey stranger, whatcha’ reading? This subway rider documented fellow passengers talking about their books.

So cool! Old city buses in Hawaii are given a new life to give others new homes.

Business slow at the pub? You could always put up a fake bus stop to drive up business…

New buses are coming for BC Transit. One hundred and twelve to be exact!

Yikes! That old school bus yellow had some pretty toxic baggage.

Some subway maps are chaotic. Others, like Helsinki’s, get straight to the point.

What if in the eagerness of waiting for the train, you are ignoring the love of your life? Whoa.

Clean design, driverless and see-through? Make way for what may be the future of buses!

Riding the bus with rose, er, green coloured glasses!

If there’s something strange in your neighbourhood. Who ya gonna call? The production team!

This New York subway map guides you through the system one emoji at a time. Oxford Circus, you look so angry!

Subway car star makes its way to Ontario, other subway cars swoon. Not really, but wouldn’t that be cute?

What’s the longest subway trip possible in New York? Would you believe it is nearly 150 miles long?

Step aside snakes, there’s eels on the train!

In New York? Need a date? Head to the subway and date while you wait for the next train!

Just so everyone knows, tap and go transit fares are kind of a big deal.

Could this story get any sweeter? A bus driver in Boston stopped at a children’s lemonade stand and bought a round for all of his passengers!

Whatever you do in Beijing, don’t kiss on the Subway!

Need a Metro ticket, but got squat? No problem, ten squats is all it takes to ride the Metro in Mexico City!

TransLink bus routes: 3 facts you didn’t know.

Tyrese is back on the bus, but this time he’s singing his own tune, and no one seems to notice.

Transit in the News— August 14, 2015

A weekly section about transit making headlines around the globe. Have an article you want to share?
Comment below or 
email us.


Washington Metro boosts video surveillance on buses to fight assaults on drivers.

Quick thinking MBTA worker hailed as hero for using bus to slow car with unconscious driver.

Dump truck crashes and dangles from 1-80 bridge over NJ transit Line.

New transit world coming with Compass Card.

Entrepreneurs want to build transit pods to ease traffic .

Amazon looks to mass transit for package pickup.

Halifax transit bus to become a weekly mobile food market.

Calgary transit worker rescues escaped lovebird.

Trip times a deterrent to public transit.

Federal administration seeks new mass transit safety role.

MGM National Harbour changes stance on transit; will allow Metro buses on site.

GO Transit Delays: Daystarter Traffic.

Calgary Transit riders sweltering in hot Ctrain cars pumping in heat during heat wave.

 If you’re looking for interesting facts and fun stories about transit, check out our monthly Links and Tidbits series.