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The last wooden bus stop leaves the ground in Langley

Here Coast Mountain Bus Company employees Frank Crowhurst and Chris Rasmussen stand beside the last wooden post on active duty, and the new metal post that has replaced it in the 4200 block of 240 street N.B. in Langley Township.­­­­­­ Photo by Charlotte Boychuk.

Well, a small moment of transit history passed this morning — the last wooden bus stop was pulled out of the ground in Langley at 10 a.m.!

Taking out the last post was CMBC’s most senior man, 43 year veteran, Frank Crowhurst. In September 1994, Frank, a Bus Stop Maintenance Painter was the one to put the post in the ground, so it was appropriate that he was the one to remove it.

For those who don’t know, the bus stops in greater Vancouver all used to be wooden blue posts, not steel pipes as they are today. But because of the cost of using steel pipe versus cedar, plus lead based paint issues, the wooden post era had to come to an end.

So, over the past 15 years, CMBC Bus Stop Maintenance crews have been converting TransLink’s 8200 wooden bus stops in the Metro Vancouver area to the new metal posts. The new posts have proven to be less labour intensive to maintain, and have stood up better to vandalism. (In the past, if the post was knocked over, the wooden post had to be dug out of the ground — now a metal post can just be unscrewed and replaced.)

Here’s a bit more about Frank Crowhurst, the history of our bus stops, and the last post from our communications folks over at CMBC!

About Frank Crowhurst and the last post

Forty-three-year CMBC veteran, Frank Crowhurst, was nominated to pull the last wooden post. With more than 25-years experience as a Bus Stop Maintenance Painter, Frank can visualize and give directions to nearly all 8200 bus stops and signs in the system, and he says this particular post was left to the last because it’s in a rural area that doesn’t see a lot of activity.

Frank recalls that over the years if many of the old wooden bus stops weren’t being replaced due to vandalism, such as kids carving up chunks or burning them for fun, they were being repainted to keep tune with the political environment. When Frank started in the Sign Shop Maintenance, he personally pulled a few NDP orange and brown posts, and then helped re-paint them along with the rest of the post fleet to the Social Credit red, white and blue, before re-painting many of them again with the TransLink blue that currently coats “The Last Post”.

The I.D.s were also all updated over the years to incorporate the new Customer Service number, and later the new 604 area code for the new ten-digit dialing system, and finally the new bus stop numbering system corresponding to the Next Bus service, so that’s why Frank says he’s familiar with all the locations.

The last post started its work life in September 1994, when the Salmon River extension north along Fraser highway was added. It was originally part of the #511 Langley Centre/Aldergrove run, now the #502, and was on the Salmon River Run ‘flag stop’ where customers would stand along the side of the road and flag down an Operator to request them to stop and pick them up.

Frank Crowhurst, with the assistance of co-worker and 23-year CMBC Building Service Worker Chris Rasmussen, dug out the 8 to 10 foot post, which extends a minimum of four feet in the ground. The team then prepared the hole for the new steel post by placing a 100 lb cement block, which is pre-formed back at CMBC’s Burnaby sign shop, into the hole. The new pole was then placed into a sleeve that fits into the cement block and bolted into place. The whole process took approximately 20 minutes.

What will happen to the last post?

The last post will most likely become an icon of history in the halls of CMBC, or be inducted into a transit museum where it will be enjoyed by future transit enthusiasts.

Other tidbits about the signs

In the past the wooden posts had two sets of signs, one made of wood and one of metal. Now both sides are metal with the near side of the bus reflective for easy viewing as a bus approaches.

There are four different types of ID signs and 3 types of ID bus stop plates used to direct customers.

The I.D. signs are now silk screened including approximately 3300 geared at conventional service, 1300 for Community Shuttle service and 500 for Night Bus.

As another interesting sidebar, Frank said that in past if a bus stop was being removed altogether from a particular location, it was often quicker to use the front bumper of the truck to snap off the top of the wooden bus stop at ground level rather than dig down and remove the portion buried in the ground. That’s a trick that definitely won’t work with the new steel poles!


10 Comments

  • By Cliff, July 9, 2010 @ 5:23 pm

    I remember asking about this once! I can’t believe they’re all gone now!

    Shame about the cost. They really did look nicer most of the time.

  • By ;-), July 9, 2010 @ 9:56 pm

    If this is the last post, where are the ones before it? Can we eBay them like the Seawall?

    I’d love to have one outside my place to keep people from parking there. Better yet, put back some old stops that were removed over the years.

  • By Sally, July 9, 2010 @ 10:50 pm

    Nice story! Wow, 43 years for Frank at CMBC – love it when people love their work. It was nice that you profiled him too.

  • By Bill Kinkaid, July 11, 2010 @ 8:56 am

    A nitpick: “the new 604 area code”? It’s always been 604 here; the 778 and 250 codes are the “new” ones. I know what you mean, we didn’t need to use any area codes for local dialling until ten years or so ago, but just in case “younger” readers are wondering the 604 area code is not new.

    I’m following another discussion at Steve Munro’s blog in Toronto. Many old bus and streetcar stops there were just painted on wooden telephone poles (and are still in use). In some places you can see painted over stops on streets or stops that have had service withdrawn over the years.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, July 12, 2010 @ 9:57 am

    Bill Kinkaid: Aha — of course the 604 was always around. I’ll amend the post to reflect. I’ll have to check out that post at Steve Munro’s blog too!

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, July 12, 2010 @ 5:28 pm

    Thanks for sharing this.

    Wood always seems to bring about a little nostalgia. I’m sad to see them go.

    I’m glad to see that a government organization is thinking about costs.

    It’s interesting to read about the technique of using the front bumper.

    I remember when I first started to use transit seriously. Every time I discovered a new bus stop, it was like being given a surprise gift. I would feel like I was out in the middle of nowhere, and that somebody had been there before, and that this bus stop was similar to a bookmark.

    I kind of wonder if the bookmark concept could be used to help people appreciate transit more.

    @ ;^)

    Why would you want them put back, when they contain lead paint?? I guess that they could repaint them, but is it worth it?

    @ Jhenifer

    Maybe that is a way for volunteers to help out. If the volunteers want a more costly alternative, then maybe the volunteers can do the extra work involved. In this case, volunteers can dig to install/remove the bus stop, or Coast Mountain uses the metal bus stops or pushes over the wooden bus stops with the front bumper.

  • By ;-), July 12, 2010 @ 7:03 pm

    To speed bus efficiency some stops were consolidated over the years. Some stops were removed because of construction and never put back.

    I shop a fair bit at Victoria & 41st’s London Drugs. 20 years ago, there was a stop in front of this mall. The #20 Victoria stop was removed for construction but never restored. It’s a 380 meter hike between 38th and 41st stops, especially for seniors.

    If the stop was not restored because of traffic bottleneck, perhaps the stop can be made available when it’s not rush hour.

  • By Cliff, July 13, 2010 @ 8:33 pm

    ;-),

    Why not take the one from the 156 route on Mundy at Kugler in Coquitlam? There’s another stop just 98 metres from it; a joint consequence of unsuccessful street calming efforts and road rehabilitation several years back.

    I can’t think of another set of stops quite like this one. Maybe in downtown, but 98 metres is awfully close regardless.

    Google Maps link: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=Canada+(NB+Mundy+St+NS+Kugler+Av)&daddr=Mundy+St&hl=en&geocode=Fctl7wIdTrOt-CE8VEKJw3Adqw%3BFW9p7wId0bKt-A&mra=ls&dirflg=w&sll=49.244085,-122.83422&sspn=0.001706,0.00327&ie=UTF8&z=19

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, July 27, 2010 @ 4:08 pm

    Agh — sorry for the delayed response. But we place bus stops according to our Transit Service Guidelines. Check out page 7 for the minimum bus stop spacing lengths and more info on that. They are:

    STOP SPACING SHOULD BE AT LEAST:
    BUS – 250 metres (both near & farside stops permitted at major transfer points)
    EXPRESS COACH – 250 metres (in local service area)
    B-LINE – 500 metres to 1,500 metres average spacing on route
    COMMUNITY SHUTTLE – Flexible to serve local conditions

    Sorry if you all know this already — I think I’ve answered this question in another post somewhere.

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