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Translink Buzzer Blog

Category: Buses

Spot the Bus Barrier – the next step in the pilot begins

Look closely. There's a bus barrier on the bus!

Look closely. There’s a bus barrier on the bus!

 

As reported in the media here, here and here, we are working with BC Transit, Unifor 111, Unifor 333 and WorkSafeBC to determine the best design for a safety barrier that will be most effective in preventing assaults on CMBC Transit operators. Check out an earlier announcement on other measures we are taking to prevent operator assaults.

We know you must have some questions – here are five queries asked and answered:

What is a transit operator safety barrier?

Safety barriers are a physical barrier typically made of a hard and transparent material composed of plastic and/or glass. The barrier enables a physical separation between driver and passengers while providing clear sightlines and the ability to verbally communicate with passengers.

Why is CMBC trying out a pilot barrier program?

The safety of our employees and customers is our top priority. Assaults on operators are unacceptable, and can put the lives of many people at risk.

How are operators participating in the pilot?

We are providing operators with a first-hand opportunity to experience the barrier prototype and provide feedback on the design.Feedback from operators will be collected over the next six months and then analyzed. This information will be used tohelp refine the design of the barrier and determine the best approach in protecting our operators from physical attacks.

Where can I see the barrier prototype in service?

The bus will be driven at various times and on various routes.

How can customers provide feedback on the barrier prototype?

Customer feedback is being gathered through all the usual channels. If you have questions or comments to share, contact Customer Relations through the online form or by phone at          604-953-3040 on weekdays from 8 am until 8 pm.

 

 

Take transit in Port Coquitlam? You might have spotted our new CNG buses!

Say ''hello" to one of the newest additions to the CMBC bus fleet!

Say ”hello” to one of the newest additions to the CMBC bus fleet!

If you take transit in Port Coquitlam and neighbouring cities, you might have spotted our new compressed natural gas buses in service! Coast Mountain Bus Company will be receiving 45 of these New Flyer Xcelsior buses in total.

The interior of the new CNG bus showing the courtesy screens

The interior of the new CNG bus showing the courtesy screens

Passengers will notice the roof of the bus is higher and the European-style windows outside, which are flush with the side of the bus. In the interior, courtesy screens have been added in front of the first forward sitting seats on both sides. There’s also a rear-facing wheelchair seat like our trolley buses and Nova Buses.

The rear roof hatch is now a sun roof and the bus has climate control set for 20.5°C, so you’ll want to keep the sun roof and windows closed. Having it open during the winter months can cause rain and snow to enter vehicles too!

Expect a smoother, more comfortable and powerful ride too. Transmission shifting is a lot smoother and comments from drivers and passengers are that the bus seems to glide. The bus also has more power, so it will be able to climb hills such as Gaglardi Way up to Simon Fraser University with a little more ease.

The buses will operate out of Port Coquitlam Transit Centre as it is currently the only centre equipped with CNG refueling stations until the Hamilton Transit Centre in east Richmond opens in 2016.

Renewing our bus fleet is part of our commitment to keep our system in a state of good repair. Most of our 40-foot and 60-foot buses have a 17-year replacement life as this life cycle has proven to have the lowest overall cost and practical life for our fleet. After 17 years, the costs to maintain vehicles increases and the safety decreases due to factors such as:

  • Component obsolescence – for example, the engines in our older buses have been out of production for 14 years.
  • Frame and body corrosion and fatigue – structural repairs can be very expensive or not safe to repair.
  • Overall maintenance costs escalate and reliability is lower as components reach the end of life and/or are rebuilt multiple times.
  • Safety inspections often take a bus out of service around the 17 year life.
  • Environmental and comfort factors – older buses have much more emissions, and are generally noisier, plus possible less comfort for passengers and drivers.

The 45 new CNG buses will replace the 45 older diesel buses that have reached the end of their life and will be retired from service.

Thanks to Eric W. for suggesting this Buzzer blog post! Have something you’d like us to blog about? Email it to thebuzzer@translink.ca or tweet us @TheBuzzer

TransLink Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle delivers two busloads of toys in 2014

On Friday, December 19, the TransLink Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle delivered approximately 3,500 unwrapped toys to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau as part of our annual Toys for Tots charity drive!

Sparky the Elf with Global BC's Sophie Lui

Sparky the Elf with Global BC’s Sophie Lui

Toys for Tots collects newly unwrapped toys or money for the less fortunate and since the launch of the program, employees from TransLink and its subsidiaries Coast Mountain Bus Company, BC Rapid Transit Company and Transit Police have donated 61,000 toys to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau.

Throughout the month of December, the Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle have been surprising commuters with a unique ride. Sparky the Elf, Mr. and Mrs. Claus along with the bus also visited Ronald McDonald House, Canuck Place, the Simon Fraser Center for Community Assisted Living and various bus loops handing out candy canes and spreading the holiday cheer.

“We were greeted by many in the public smiling, waving and even taking pictures of the bus,” Sparky the Elf said. “We found great pleasure again in pulling the bus to the curb near children and surprising them by having Santa exit the bus giving out candy canes to them.”

Staff from Coast Mountain Bus Company have been dressing up one bus and one community shuttle as a reindeer for over 25 years, starting just after the very first Toys for Tots charity drive done in 1987.

Vancouver Technical Secondary students show appreciation to our operators again in 2014 with hot chocolate!

One of our operators receive a hot chocolate and a hug with holiday treats from Van Tech students

One of our operators receive a hot chocolate and a mug with holiday treats from Van Tech students

It was a rainy Friday morning and by the time 8:35 am bell rang to mark the start of classes, the students were wet and there wasn’t much left of their ‘Happy Holidays’ signs, but that didn’t put a damper on their Christmas spirits! The students braved the rain for over an hour and a half to sing Christmas carols and show appreciation to our bus operators.

For the past 18 years, in December, students at Vancouver Technical Secondary have been giving out hot chocolate and a little gift to each mid-morning bus operator that stops in-front of the high school. (You’ll want to read our post in 2012 for a backgrounder on the event.)

The goodies mug students were handing out along with hot chocolate!

The goodies mug students were handing out along with hot chocolate!

Terry Stanway, the teacher-sponsor for the event the past few years, arrived at the school just before 6 am to prepare for the day.

“Today, started as a day to recognize the service that TransLink, particularly the drivers along the Broadway corridor, provides to our students,” he explains. “The school’s catchment is long and narrow and it expands from Boundary to just about Science World.

“We have a lot of students that depend on transit to get to school. It’s just the one day in the year that we can recognize the roles bus drivers play in getting our kids to school.”

The event is open to any interested students and despite the early start, many showed up to show their appreciation to the operators!

Kyle Hui, a grade 9 student, tells me he arrived just after 6:30 am to help out with today’s event and he says it wasn’t a challenge for him to wake up at all.

Grade 10 student Christine Tam adds, “I usually don’t wake up this early, but it was fun because all my friends were here and we got to do things for the community.”

Kyle Hui - Grade 9, Arlene Nguyen - Grade 10, Frederick Heere - Grade 10 and Christine Tran - Grade 10

Kyle, Arlene, Frederick and Christine

Each day, 418,000 people take TransLink transit to get where they need to go and on average, there are over 620,000 boardings on buses each day in Metro Vancouver.

“I think they do a really important job because the elderly and also people like us – we can’t drive yet,” says Frederick Heere, also in Grade 10. “They play the important role of getting us around town because if they weren’t there and our parents can’t take us, then we are stuck.”

Arlene Nguyen, another Grade 10 student, and Christine tell me they really appreciate the bus operators because they are always so nice.

“They always greet you when come on the bus,” says Arlene. “We always say ‘thank you’ when we exit the bus.”

Christine adds, “I was finished this competition and I had a trophy. He asked me, ‘Oh, what was that for?’ and I said my skating competition. He said, ‘Oh, good job! You got third! Good job!’”

“It was so heart warming because he actually cared about me and what I did.”

Plans are already in motion for the 2015 edition of event and I’m told some kind of major celebration is planned for the 20th anniversary in 2016!

Look for the Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle this holiday season starting on Mon, Dec 1, 2014!

We spotted the bus today!

We spotted the bus today!

Photo by David Lam

Photo by David Lam

What’s a sure sign of the holiday season in the Lower Mainland? Sightings of our Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle!

The reindeer bus and shuttle will be out and about starting on Monday, December 1, spreading the holiday cheer and surprising passengers with a unique ride throughout Metro Vancouver. Santa, Mrs. Claus and the bus operating elf will also be on the bus periodically and stopping at mystery stops!

Keep an eye out to see if they’re in your neighbourhood. But if you do want more specific locations, the TransLink Twitter account will be 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!

Staff from Coast Mountain Bus Company have been dressing up one bus and one community shuttle as a reindeer for over 25 years, starting just after the very first Toys for Tots charity drive done in 1987. Toys for Tots collects newly unwrapped toys or money for the less fortunate and the entire supply of donations to is delivered to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau agencies by the Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle.

Keep your eyes peeled for the bus and send us your pictures of it! Tweet them to @TheBuzzer using the hashtag #ReindeerBus, post them onto Instagram mentioning @TransLinkBC and hashtagging #ReindeerBus, or email thebuzzer@translink.ca. We’ll be sharing some of our favourites!

Photo by Laura Wilby

Photo by Laura Wilby

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.

Reminder for students with GoCards

Students out and about

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 still valid until October 31, despite any labour disputes.

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.

New GoCards will be issued to public school students once school is back in session.

For updates on GoCards for the 2014/15 school year, visit www.translink.ca/gocard.

A new 99 B-Line pilot queuing system is coming!

Lineups are about to get easier at the busiest bus stop in Metro Vancouver that serves one of the busiest bus corridors in the region, just in time for post-secondary students to go back to school! The new pilot queuing system will be introduced at the westbound 99 B-Line stop at Commercial-Broadway Station by September 2. The system will make passenger boarding easier and keep sidewalk space open for people walking by.

The pilot runs from September 2014 to spring 2015 when construction of a new shelter for the 99 B-Line is planned to start. The queuing system and shelter are part of the Phase 2 upgrades at Commercial-Broadway Station.

The pilot queuing system was developed following a TransLink study at Commercial-Broadway Station in late January. The study found that pavement markings were effective for managing the long line-ups at the 99 B-Line stop while providing clear sidewalk space for pedestrians. The video below was taken during the study.

The painting and construction work for the pilot queuing system is expected to occur during the week of August 25. Bus stops for the 99 B-Line and 9 will be moved slightly to the west on August 25 and 26 to allow for installation.

Beginning September 2, you can tell us what you think about the pilot queuing system through an online survey at www.translink.ca/99blineq. This feedback will be considered for the shelter and permanent queuing system being developed.

Have you spotted the TELUS Wi-Fi bus?

Enjoy free Wi-Fi from TELUS while you ride!

Enjoy free Wi-Fi from TELUS while you ride!

If you’re a regular rider on the 99, 351, or 555, you might have spotted our buses wrapped in TELUS branding offering free Wi-Fi!

TELUS has an arrangement with Lamar Advertising, who manages advertising on Coast Mountain buses, to pilot this service to our customers for a limited time. The service is available for all mobile digital devices that are enabled for Wi-Fi.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy free Wi-Fi while you ride! You can tweet @TELUSsupport if you are having issues.

The specific buses are 8125, 9258, and 9266.

Does this mean Wi-Fi is coming to all buses?

TransLink is committed to providing the best possible service to our customers across Metro Vancouver, while running an efficient transportation system with the resources available. At this time we do not have the resources to provide free Wi-Fi across the system. =(

That doesn’t mean it isn’t a possibility in the future. We are always looking for ways to improve the customer experience which includes looking at future advertising arrangements and possibly long-term partnerships to provide better mobile connectivity throughout the entire transit system in Metro Vancouver. =)

Information sessions for Commercial–Broadway Station begin June 3

2014-06-02 Commercial Broadway invitation

Hear what’s happening at Commercial–Broadway station

Are you one of the 150,000 people who use Commercial–Broadway Station every day? The next round of information sessions for the second phase of upgrades at the station will take place in June and we want your input!

Visit us in the community

We’ll be out in the community to share information about the station upgrades with our neighbours and passengers who use the busiest station on the network. Join us at one of the three information sessions:

Information Session #1
Date: June 3, 2014
Time: 3 – 7 p.m.
Location: Commercial–Broadway Station, North Station House street level (Fare Paid Zone)

Information Session #2
Date: June 10, 2014
Time: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Location: University of British Columbia, Student Union Building

Information Session #3
Date: June 12, 2014
Time: 4 – 7 p.m.
Location: Croatian Cultural Centre – Room C, 3250 Commercial Drive

Get involved online

Can’t make it to one of the sessions? No problem! We will also have information and a feedback survey posted at translink.ca/commercialbroadway until June 16.

We hope to hear from you soon!

TransLink offers passengers more service on race day

Sun Run photo

More than 50,000 people expected at 30th annual Vancouver Sun Run.

 

Ready, set, GOOOOO!!!! TransLink will extend transit services to help runners and their fans get where they need to go before and following the Vancouver Sun Run on Sunday, April 27.

To plan your trips to and from the race, you can visit here, here and here.

The quick facts:

  • Expo and Millennium Lines will leave King George Station at 6:38 a.m. & Lougheed Station at 6:45 a.m.
  • Canada Line will begin service at 4:48 a.m.
  • Coast Mountain Bus will provide regular Sunday service, with detours in effect in the West End and along Georgia Street.
  • The SeaBus will leave Lonsdale Quay at 7 a.m. and every 15 minutes from Waterfront until 2:45 p.m.
  • West Coast Express will depart Mission at 7 a.m. and arrive downtown at 8:15 a.m. The return trip will leave Waterfront at 1 p.m.
  • West Vancouver Blue Bus will provide regular Sunday service, with increased frequency on the 250 in the morning and after the run.
  • BEST’s Bicycle Valet, will once again offer cyclists temporary and free storage at Gate F on the second level of BC Place.

 

To prevent long line-ups after the Sun Run, SkyTrain customers can pre-purchase return tickets prior to the race. Portable fareboxes will be set up at Bridgeport, Burrard, Granville, King George, and Vancouver City Centre stations. They will also be set up at Stadium-Chinatown and Yaletown-Roundhouse stations  for up to one hour after the race. Exact cash fare is required and tickets will be valid until late afternoon.

Due to crowding and safety concerns, cyclists may need to wait to take their bikes on SkyTrain until the crowds clear.

 

For more service information follow TransLink on Twitter @TransLink or call Customer Service at 604.953.3333.

Transit Driver Appreciation Day is Tuesday, March 18th!

Downloadable Bus Driver Appreciation Day Cards

Downloadable Bus Driver Appreciation Day Cards


They’re the people that many of us see almost everyday. Some of us speak with them regularily others may simply exchange a, “hello”, a smile or maybe nothing at all. They can make or break your commute and when the make it, it can really change you day. They’re your transit operators and tomorrow is a day to say thanks for getting me to where I need to go.

It’s called Transit Driver Appreciation Day, and it’s tomorrow! If you check out the website, you can download!

Conceived in Seattle in 2009, the date was chosen because, “That’s the day that bus service is believed to have debuted in Paris in 1662.”, says the organizers

This day is not to be confused with the Bus Driver Appreciation day at Vancouver Technical School or Say Hi on the Bus. And of course, any day can be a day to appreciate your driver.

So, if you haven’t yet, say thanks to the driver you like, give them a card or simply give them a smile. I’m sure they’d love to receive it!

Take the Surrey Community Survey about bus shelters

Let the City of Surrey know where you'd like a bus shelter!

Let the City of Surrey know where you’d like a bus shelter!

At least once a week I get a question or request through our many communications channels regarding bus stops. Some may be surprised to find out the most bus stops in the Greater Vancouver Area are not looked after by TransLink, but are the responsibility of the municipality they are found in (the big exception of course are bus exchanges and transit stations). Often the requests are to add a new bus stop. Usually, I point people towards the correct municipality to contact. Today, I’d like to point Buzzer readers to a survey that the City of Surrey is conducting about bus shelters!

Below are a few words from our friends at the City about shelters in Surrey. You still have more than a week to take the survey!

Every year the City of Surrey adds to the number of transit shelters on its city streets. As a transit user, you have firsthand knowledge about where shelters are needed and we want to hear from you! Until February 28, 2014, the City of Surrey invites you to share your ideas about new shelter locations and why these locations are important to you. You can complete the survey here. For more info, check www.surrey.ca/transit.

 

Podcast: Frank Jensen celebrates 41 years as a bus operator

Frank sitting one more time on his bus!

Frank sitting one more time on his bus!

Many people spend less than four years at a job. Not Frank Jensen. Yesterday, Frank took his last trip after 41 years of exemplary service as a bus operator!

It’s not everyday that someone retires after more than four decades at the same job. And last night, Frank’s accomplishments were featured on the CBC Evening News. As you’ll see from video, Frank will be missed by more than just his fellow employees.

I had the privilege of sitting down with Frank and his son and daughter after Frank’s last run on the #405. Take a listen to what Frank and his family had to say.

 

After I spoke to Frank, his fellow operators and other staff at the Richmond Transit Centre lined up to congratulate him on his accomplishment. Thanks for all the great years, Frank! You’ll be missed!

Enjoy your retirement Frank!

Enjoy your retirement, Frank!

Proposed 2014 service optimization changes are live: Come to an open house or share your input online!

2014 Service Optimization

Have your say in-person or online.

 

Hey Buzzer Blog readers! Do you ride the 49, 116, 404, 606/608, C15 or C96? As part of Translink’s service optimization program, changes are being proposed to improve these routes. Public consultation will take place from February 3rd to 19th, 2014.

TransLink will host four open houses and you are invited to provide feedback at a location near you. The full details on each of the proposed 2014 bus service optimization changes are now online! Once you’ve had a look at the route changes, fill out the questionnaire and share your feedback!

 

Attend an Open House:

404 and C96

February 3 – 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

East Richmond Community Hall, Richmond

 

49 and 116

February 4 – 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Holiday Inn Express-Metrotown, Burnaby

 

C15

February 6 – 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Parkgate Community Centre, North Vancouver

 

404 and 606/608

February 13 – 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Ladner Community Centre, Delta

 

Did you know?

TransLink’s service optimization program is a critical part of managing the transit network to deliver more service with existing resources. In 2012, six million new rides were added to the system without additional investment. As a result, productivity increased by 3.4 per cent and total transit revenue grew by 3.5 per cent. Since the beginning of the program in 2010, more than 292,000 hours, or six per cent of total bus service hours in the region have been reallocated to better serve customers across Metro Vancouver!