ALERT! More info
Translink Buzzer Blog

Search: reindeer

Spot the Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle Contest and help TransLink spread some holiday cheer!

TransLink Reindeer Bus at Pan Pacific

The Reindeer Bus at Pan Pacific

You may have already seen these two cheerful transit characters around Metro Vancouver. The Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle have been making there way on different routes in Metro Vancouver since mid-November and will continue to be in service into January. Have you spotted them yet?

The Reindeer Bus’ most recent public event appearance was visiting the Christmas Wish Breakfast, hosted by the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau at the Pan Pacific Hotel on December 11, 2013 (see picture). That particular Reindeer bus had Santa, Mrs. Claus and the bus operating elf Sparky inside.

The festive threesome also visited mystery stops between December 10-13 throughout Metro Vancouver; and will be part of the Toys for Tots campaign run on December 19-20. Both the Reindeer Bus and Community shuttle will deliver two buses full of new, unwrapped toys to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau as part of its employee-driven Toys for Tots program. Toys for Tots was created in 1985 by a group of eight BC Transit bus operators out of the Surrey Transit Centre. TransLink and its employees are invited to donate to the cause throughout November and December.

Spot the Reindeer Bus or Shuttle and Win one of two monthly January 2014 FareCards!

Want to win? Send your picture our way of the Reindeer Bus or Shuttle in one of three ways:

1. Tweet it to @TransLink with the hashtag #TLReindeerBus.

2. Email it to and make sure to include #TLReindeerBus in the subject line.

3. Post it on our Facebook page with hashtag #TLReindeerBus.

* Remember to read our terms and conditions to get the specifics – contest terms and conditions.

We’ll be randomly drawing two winners on these dates:

Draw #1 will be on Friday, December 20, 2013. Cutoff for entries will be 11:59 p.m. on December 19, 2013.

Draw #2 will be on Friday, December 27, 2013. Cutoff for entries will be 11:59 p.m. on December 26, 2013.

There you go. Get those camera and phones out and snap some holiday transit magic and you might be getting an early or late Christmas present for your trouble!

Photo by Laura Wilby

Photo by Laura Wilby


2012 Reindeer Bus and shuttle and photo contest

Photo by Laura Wilby

What’s a sure sign of the holiday season in the Lower Mainland? Sightings of our annual reindeer bus and shuttle, appearing on routes throughout December! If you spot one of the popular buses, be sure to snap a picture and send it our way by December 20 for your chance to win a monthly FareCard.

Santa, Mrs. Claus and the bus operating elf will also be on the bus periodically and stopping at mystery stops between December 10-13 throughout Metro Vancouver. The bus and shuttle will also be part of the Toys for Tots run on December 19-20.

Want to win? Just tweet us your picture of the reindeer bus or shuttle in one of three ways:

1. Tweet it with the hashtag #tlcontest.

2. Email it to

3. Post it on our Facebook page.

The winner will be announced on December 21, 2012.

Update: The randomly chosen winner of the contest is Kevin W. Congratulations to him and everyone who participated!

Kevin W’s winner Reindeer Bus photo!



The 2011 ReindeerBus


Happy holidays from the ReindeerBus!

You may have noticed the ReindeerBus over the last few weeks, making its rounds of the Lower Mainland. After paying special visits to Canuck Place and Ronald McDonald House (along with Mr. and Mrs. Claus of course), it’s been stopping by TransLink operations, collecting toys donated by employees for our Toys for Tots program. All the toys go to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau to distribute.

The ReindeerBus popped by TransLink head office yesterday to pick up donations from staff here and, as you can see in the photo below, it was already well on its way to being packed with toys.

John Strachan, Head Elf during the holiday season (and a CMBC operator instructor the rest of the year), says that the bus has collected more than 2,700 toys this year.

You can read more about the origins of the ReindeerBus in this 2008 post, and see some amazing photos of the bus and its community shuttle sibling in this post from last year.

Toys on the ReindeerBus

The ReindeerBus filling up with toys.

The 2010 reindeer bus and community shuttle

The C28 community shuttle, dressed up as a reindeer! Photo by Chris Cassidy.

Our reindeer bus, photographed by David Lam! Click the picture to see David's full gallery of reindeer bus photos.

Chris Cassidy sent along some photos of the 2010 reindeer community shuttle this morning, so I thought I’d give the reindeer buses their own post :)

If you don’t know, one TransLink bus and one community shuttle get dressed up as reindeer every year. Staff from the Coast Mountain Bus Company have been performing this bit of holiday magic for over 20 years, starting just after the very first Toys for Tots charity drive done by the company in 1987. Check out this 2008 post for more history, plus the challenges of finding the right antlers and nose that work on the road!

The bus and community shuttle get dispatched all over the Lower Mainland, so just keep an eye out to see if they’re in your neighbourhood. But if you do want more specific locations, the TransLink Twitter account has also been tweeting the location of the reindeer bus and shuttle when they know where they are.

And just to clarify, the reindeer bus does NOT offer free rides, but there may be some tinsel and holiday treats presented by your friendly transit operator!

For more pictures of the 2010 reindeer buses, check out Chris’s reindeer shuttle gallery, and David Lam’s reindeer bus gallery. Here’s one more picture of the reindeer shuttle’s festive interior!

The interior of the reindeer shuttle. Photo by Chris Cassidy.

The reindeer buses are out and about

Santa and his friends with CMBC's reindeer bus!

Santa and his friends with CMBC's reindeer bus!

Here’s one of our two reindeer buses, who have been out on the road spreading Christmas cheer this week!

Our reindeer bus and reindeer community shuttle have been travelling around Vancouver, surprising passengers with a little Christmas fun on their regular routes. (There’s no telling where they’ll be –operators have to request the reindeer bus each day, and it’s popular!) The reindeer were also in a number of Christmas parades this year, including the Rogers Santa Claus parade and the Hyack parade.

But the chief job of the reindeer is delivering toys to charity every year. On Dec. 17 and 18, the buses will be loaded up with toys collected by TransLink and its subsidiaries, and the reindeers deliver them to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau. (That’s 46,000 toys and $37,000 so far, and that doesn’t include 2008!)

Read more »

Santa taps to the North (shore)

Santa 01

Who wants to be on Santa’s “nice” list? We sure do! That’s why, when Santa came flying into town to do some work recently, and he asked to try out a Compass Card, we could hardly say no.

We gave him a card, told him the basics, answered his questions, and had him tap, tap, tap away as he travelled on buses, on SkyTrains, on the WCE, to the end of the SeaBus, over at the North Shore.

Here’s what he said about the card.

Buzzer: So, Santa, what do you think of the Compass Card?

Santa: Ho, ho, ho! Well, I think it’s just jolly fabulous! It’s really easy to use and, since I’m only in town for a few days in December and a couple of weeks of vacation in the summer,  I like that I can load it up with Stored Value and use it when I want—it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Buzzer:  What about your elves, do you think they’ll use it?

Santa: Well, my elves don’t always come with me, but when they do, they have lots of running around to do, picking up toy-making supplies and tools and whatnot. It’ll probably make more sense to put a DayPass on the card for them.

Buzzer: And Mrs. Claus?

Santa: Well, Mrs. Claus likes to come with me in the summer, but she usually stays for the whole month while I head back to the North Pole. She’ll probably get a Monthly Pass on her card when she comes so she can come and go as much as she likes.

Buzzer: I’ve heard your elves can be somewhat mischievous; do you worry about them losing their cards?

Santa: Ho, ho, ho! That’s true! They’re always pulling pranks and up to something.  They certainly keep things interesting—and it wouldn’t be the first time they lost something.

Buzzer: I hear you. Well, if they register the cards, they’ll get Balance Protection, just in case.

Santa: Excellent!

Buzzer: What are you looking forward to about the Compass Card?

Santa: Well, the elves have been trying to get me using the computer the last few years. Being way up at the North Pole, I’m looking forward to firing up the the ol’ machine and poking around on the website. I hear I’ll be able to load passes and Stored Value on my cards from there?

Buzzer: Yep. That’s right. Do you have any questions for us?

Santa: Just one: do the reindeer need cards too?

Buzzer: Sorry, Santa. There’s no reindeer allowed on transit.

Santa: Oh well. Thanks so much for letting me try it out. Ho, ho, ho!

The December 2013 Buzzer is now on the system!

Note: the December 2013 Buzzer is on the system free of charge (as usual)! You’ll want to note that this issue also covers January 2014. The next issue will be in February 2014.

The majority of content for the December issue is devoted to winter bus service changes. The full list of changes are in the Buzzer newsletter as well as on the TransLink website.

The cover illustration was drawn by local artist Zach Bulick! We’ll have an interview with him up very soon.

Also in the issue is info about the Compass Card, the United Way and the Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle contest.

And of course, there’s always the usual favourites including the Contest Corner, Back Issues and Coming Events.

Now all you have to do is pick one up or download it. Good reading to you all!

Santa to keep steering the sleigh…er, bus

Santa, Mrs Clause, Sparky the elf and the Reindeer bus!

Santa, Mrs Claus, Sparky the elf and the Reindeer Bus!

It’s that time of the year for candy canes, ginger bread houses and Santa Claus. Speaking of the jolly old elf, he’s been the subject of some media attention of late. Santa shows up on a number of routes including the #27 Kootenay Loop/Joyce Station run which sparked media coverage.

Just to be clear, we love Santa, we love the holidays and we love our riders! We’ve heard about your love of seeing Santa on this route and we would like to let our riders and the public know that we will continue to allow our bus operator to wear his Santa suit while on duty. We recognize that we underestimated how much our riders valued his holiday spirit and it was certainly never our intent to offend the public.

Where can you see holiday cheer on the transit system?

The Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle (November 2013 – January 2014)

The Reindeer Bus, Sparky the bus operating elf and Jiana from TransLink

The Reindeer Bus, Sparky the bus operating elf and Jiana from TransLink

The Reindeer Bus has been driving various routes across Metro Vancouver since November. Recently, the bus made a public appearance at the Christmas Wish Breakfast, hosted by the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau at the Pan Pacific Hotel on December 11. Santa, Mrs. Claus and the bus operating elf Sparky have also periodically been visiting mystery stops this week throughout Metro Vancouver. Here’s some fun facts about the program:

  • Since 1985, Coast Mountain Bus Company annually decorates one bus and one Community Shuttle to resemble a reindeer. This year it will operate from November 12 to January 1.
  • The Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle visit a number of holiday celebrations including local agencies likethe Canuck Place and Ronald McDonald House (December 9-12).

Toys for Tots

The Reindeer Bus and shuttle are a part of the Toys for Tots campaign. Here’s some info about the program:

  • Created in 1985 by a group of BC Transit bus drivers, Toys for Tots allows TransLink employees to donate newly unwrapped toys or money to the less fortunate.
  • Last year, Toys for Tots delivered 2,709 toys to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau with the grand total of 57,968 since the launch of the program.
  • In addition, $300 cash was contributed to the donations, totaling $42, 822.86 since 1985.
  • The entire supply of donations to be delivered to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau agencies from Monday, December 9 to Thursday, December 19.

Canada Line Blanket Drive (November 22 – November 23)

We were part of the fifth annual Drive on the Line campaign -partnership between Blanket BC Society and the Canada Line – that took place along the Canada Line on November 22 – November 23.

  • This year, the two-day blanket drive collected 8500 blankets, exceeding the last year’s record of 6200 blankets.
  • All donated items are distributed evenly to shelter programs and organizations that work directly with most vulnerable individuals and families throughout Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, and this year, Vancouver Island.

West Coast Express Santa Train (December 7 and December 14)

Now in its 17th year, this is an annual toy-drive that collects toys on behalf of the Christmas bureau, serving communities in the Northeast sector including SHARE in the Tri-Cities, the Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society, and the Christmas Bureau in Mission.

This year on Saturday, December 7 and December 14, riders will be able to ride the special train in return for a newly unwrapped toy.

Want more seasonal cheer? Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle contest coming soon!

Keep watching the blog for a fun contest you can take part of if you see the Reindeer Bus or Community Shuttle!

The top 5 local transit photos of 2012

Photo by Chelle Patterson

We’re continuing our look back of some of the highlights of 2012 with our five favourite local transit-related photos from the year (check out our top five videos and wacky transit stories). We love the gorgeous photo above by Chelle Patterson, capturing a double rainbow behind the SeaBus. Sigh…love this one.


The first 555 ride

It was a cold, dark morning, but we were bursting with excitement when the new 555 bus started service on December 1. The new route takes riders from Langley to New West in just over 20 minutes. Also love: a rider on took his bike along, too.


The first faregate installed

It was a milestone day when the first faregate was installed at Marine Station and we were there to capture the moment. Since then, faregates have been popping up across the system in preparation for Compass.


Photo by Chris Cassidy

‘Tis the season and our popular reindeer bus has been busy making the rounds. This photo by Chris Cassidy of BusShots Canada really captures the spirit of the bus well (I can almost hear the people laughing and chatting on the bus). Thanks, Chris!


And, of course, we’d like to thank you–our readers and fans. This shot was taken at the 2012 I Love Transit Night (our biggest one yet!) and I love how happy everyone looks. The event is one of the highlights of our years and we always look forward to meeting so many of you in person. It’s so fantastic to know so many people are so passionate about transit. Thank you!

The December 2012 Buzzer is on the system

Tis’ that time of the season for our annual holiday edition of the print Buzzer! What makes this issue special? Well, it’s chock full of holiday info to help you on your merry way throughout Metro Vancouver.

Many of you already know about the December Service changes which started on December 3. For those who haven’t noticed the changes yet, we’ve printed them in this issue. A couple of changes of note are the new #555 Port Mann ExpressBus and the return of the #5 and N6 NightBus to their previous routes.

Mention is also made of holiday transit service, which includes altered service on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day as well as info about free service on New Year’s Eve (Sorry, you’ll have to check the issue or the blog or TransLink website later this month for specifics).

The holiday season just wouldn’t feel right without the West Coast Express Santa Train. The first ride starts tomorrow, December 8, 2012. Make sure you have your toy to donate and your best holiday clothes on for your photo with Santa!

Also, helping to spread the holiday cheer again this year are the Reindeer Bus and Reindeer Shuttle. We’ve already received photos of the bus in action on the blog and on our Facebook page.

This issue includes info about where you can catch the bus or shuttle and snap your photos and possibly even meet Santa, Mrs. Clause and a Christmas bus operating elf! If you’re a shutter bug, you’ll want to check the blog later today to find out how you could win a Monthly FareCard for snapping a picture of either the bus or shuttle and sending it to us!

Speaking of contests, we announced the winner of our Halloween Photo Contest! The winning photo was of this Jolly Green Giant on the bus!

The Jolly Green won this Halloween!

This issue also includes a list of the fares which will increase starting January 2013. You’ll want to read our post on this if you missed it.

Rounding out the Buzzer are the usual suspects: the contest corner, back issues and coming events.

We also note a very interesting art installation on Main street including the #3 bus. You’ll want also want to check the blog later today for more on this!

If you haven’t picked up the issue yet, you can download as it a .pdf. Happy holidays everyone!


2012 Santa Claus Parade Transit Services, Dec 2, 2012

Photo by David Lam

Clear your calendar this Sunday and get out your Santa hats! The Annual Rogers Santa Claus Parade is coming to town for its ninth year this Sunday December 2. The parade begins at 1 p.m. at West Georgia and Broughton, continues east along West Georgia, turns south on Howe, then finishes at Davie. Keep your eyes peeled for the Reindeer bus and conventional shuttle too! Plan your transit trip ahead of time and come early to score a good seat – Christmas Square festivities begin at 10:30 a.m. in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Some transit services will be affected from 10:30 a.m. until 3 p.m., and they include:

002 Downtown

002 Macdonald 16 Ave

005 Robson

005 Downtown

006 Davie

006 Downtown

022 McDonald

022 Knight

135 Burrard Stn

240/246 Vancouver

240 15 St/246 Highland

C23 Main St Stn

C23 Davie

Check out the Alerts & Advisories page for Dec 2, 2012 for full details. The parade is sure to be a Christmas tree’t!

Links and tidbits for January 04, 2012

    A belated Happy New Year to you all! The trolley busses we use may not be that old, but the technology is pretty much the same as when BC Electric ran the trolley buses. Here’s a fun piece on dewiring and resetting trolley wires on Global News.

  • A subway bench that is clean, stain resistant and doubles as an art piece and leaning device. Could this be the coolest/best transit bench yet?
  • Montreal has the biggest one in North America, and Vancouver will soon have its own bike share. But it seems like U.S. cities are not as on board with the idea as their Canadian counterparts for a variety of reasons.
  • A look at the London Tube map of 2015 and 2019 – This blogger talks about expansion of the Ginger Line. I wonder if this will take you to the house of a certain Spice Girl?
  • Melbourne has a new rail stop (Epping), and it looks kinda like something the Empire would build in Star Wars. Here are some time-elapsed videos of the Epping and Thomastown stations and others in the state of Victoria in Australia.
  • Even cooler (and probably nearly as bright) is the new 1.4 billion dollar Fulton Street Transit Centre in New York. It features an amazing skylight called an “oculus” that brings light four storeys below street level.
    • Jarrett Walker of the Human Transit blog writes about a project that asks people to write music about metro stations around the world.
    • The Toronto Star references the Burnaby Gondola in a piece that questions if a gondola is better than boring new tunnels for Toronto transit.
    • No deal yet on the York transit strike as it enters its 11th week.
    • Fare hikes and cuts for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
    • Googles Mapnificent helps you figure out destinations that are reachable by public transit within a particular time frame. I wonder how this can be used with Trip Planner in the future?
    • By June 2012, there will be 120 Tube stations in England with Wi-Fi. Do you think free Wi-Fi on the SkyTrain would be a real asset or not worth the effort?
    • The Dubai Metro has a 99.69% punctuality rate. And I thought the SkyTrain was punctual!
    • The Evergreen line is mention in a Seattle Transit Blog post that speaks to funding for future transit in that city.

    Friday fun guest post: It’s all about the numbers… on the bus, by Michael Taylor-Noonan

    Our old and new trolleybuses at an event in 2007 --- you can clearly see their differing bus numbers!

    For this Friday fun post, Michael Taylor-Noonan, the editor of the Transit Museum Society‘s newsletter has kindly contributed a piece on the history of bus numbering! Read on for a deep dive into the numbers we see today.

    For this first guest blog, I’ve decided to write about bus numbers – not the ones on the front that tell you where your bus is headed, but the ones on the side, back and front that distinguish one bus from hundreds of identical vehicles. For years this was known as a ‘unit’ number, but now it can be called an asset number, fleet number, or bus number, depending on who you are talking to.

    Read more »

    2010 holiday parade reroutes for the weekend, Dec 4-5

    Our reindeer bus, photographed by David Lam! Click the picture to see David's full gallery of reindeer bus photos.

    Santa will be busy for the next couple of days—there are five holiday parades coming up around the region this weekend! And as you know, parades also mean some extra service and bus reroutes, along with a lot of holiday spirit :)

    Check the TransLink Alerts page for the exact details on all the parades and reroutes: I’ve compiled the highlights below.

    Parades on Saturday, December 4, 2010

    Maple Ridge
    Santa Claus Parade
    Reroutes from 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
    Routes affected: C43, C47
    View reroute map

    Langley’s Magic of Christmas Parade
    Reroutes from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
    Routes affected: 320, 341, 364, 501, 502, 595 reroutes
    View reroute map

    New Westminster
    Hyack Santa Claus Parade
    Reroutes from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
    Routes affected: 106, 112, 123
    View reroute map

    Parades on Sunday, December 5, 2010

    Santa’s Torch Light Parade
    Look out for one of our buses in the parade!
    Reroutes from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
    Routes affected: C70, 320, 341
    View reroute map

    Rogers Santa Claus Parade
    Look out for one of our buses in the parade!
    Reroutes from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    Routes affected: 5, 6, 22, 135, 240, 242, C23
    Reroute maps for each route: 5/6, 22, 135, 240/242, C23

    As always, SkyTrain will provide extra trains for the Rogers Santa Claus parade in Vancouver (an easy, traffic-free way to get there and back!). The parade starts at 1 p.m., and to get there, exit SkyTrain at either Burrard or Granville Station (both have elevators for wheelchairs and strollers), and walk to Georgia Street.

    SeaBus will also double its regular Sunday service, with sailings every 15 minutes between the Lonsdale Quay and Waterfront Station from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    By the way, remember our group ride offer applies on Sundays and holidays! The specifics: if you have an adult FareCard, West Coast Express 28-Day Pass, or Annual Employer Transit Pass, you can take five children, or one adult and four children on transit with you for free.

    And if you have any questions or concerns about your trip, please do call our Customer Information line at 604-953-3333!

    Links and tidbits for Thu Dec 2

    Tidbits and links rounded up about transportation in the past week. These are fun. I promise.

    If you have any items to suggest, or a photo to showcase on these posts, e-mail me at! (Seriously: good photos. These posts need them. Send them along!)