Translink Buzzer Blog

Category: Buses

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!

SkyTrain Station Upgrades Project

2014-01-10 SkyTrain Station Upgrades Buzzer Post

Click the picture for a full infographic!

Wondering why Main Street–Science World Station and Scott Road Station are under construction right now? Well, TransLink is upgrading seven key SkyTrain stations and exchanges to ensure the rapid transit system will meet the needs of passengers and the region for years to come.

The upgrades are happening at stations along the Expo Line, and while the stations were considered state of the art when the system officially launched in January 1986 (and subsequent extensions in 1987/88 and 1995/1996), the time has come for necessary upgrades. These upgrades will allow for enhanced accessibility including new or improved escalators and elevators, increased safety and security measures, and greater platform capacity.

What stations are being upgraded? 

The following seven SkyTrain stations along the Expo Line will be upgraded:

  • Main Street–Science World
  • Commercial–Broadway (Phase 2 Upgrades)
  • Joyce–Collingwood
  • Metrotown
  • New Westminster
  • Scott Road
  • Surrey Central and Bus Exchange

What to expect 

TransLink’s number one priority is the safety of the public, passengers, employees, and contractors and we’ll do everything we can to minimize the impact of construction to passengers.

Construction work is underway at Main Street–Science World and almost complete at Scott Road Station. SkyTrain service will operate normally during construction at Main Street–Science World with the exception of early 2014 to summer 2014 when SkyTrain will operate shuttle train service to Main Street–Science World Station. During this time, two–car trains will provide service to/ from Main Street–Science World Station via Waterfront and Commercial–Broadway Stations.

Construction is expected to begin at New Westminster Station, Commercial–Broadway Station and Metrotown Station later on this year. Work at Joyce–Collingwood stations is scheduled to begin in 2015 and Surrey–Central is still in the planning phase. Work will be complete at all seven stations by the end of 2016.

More information about the upgrades to all seven stations is available in the project backgrounder.

Stay in the loop!

We’ll be updating www.translink.ca/ontrack with information about construction and potential service impacts, and we’ll also share updates here at the Buzzer blog! More details on the Main Street shuttle train will be available later this winter.

Thanks for your patience as we make these much-needed station improvements!

Bus Driver Appreciation Day 2013 at Vancouver Technical School

Can you small the hot cocoa?

Can you small the hot cocoa?

What a morning I had watching students at Vancouver Technical School handout hot chocolate to #9 bus route operators!

Every year in December, students give out hot chocolate and a little gift to each mid-morning bus operator that stops in-front of the high school.

I’m told the tradition was started by a teacher at the school nearly twenty years ago and has been going strong ever since. The excitement was palpable this chilly morning filled with sing-a-longs to Christmas music classics. Students got out of bed early to get the hot chocolate ready to go for 7:00 a.m. And Judging from the honks from each bus and smiling operator the effort was greatly appreciated.

For a bit of history and a look at past years of the program, you’ll want to read these past two (2011 and 2012) blog posts.

A big thanks to all of the students and staff at Vancouver Technical School who were involved in this incredible slice of annual holiday cheer!

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 thebuzzer@translink.ca 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

 

Information sessions for Commercial–Broadway Station begin December 5

2013-11-29 Commercial-Broadaway Buzzer(2)

Hear what’s happening at Commercial–Broadway station


Are you one of the 150,000 people who use Commercial–Broadway Station every day? Information sessions for the second phase of upgrades at the station will take place in early December 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: December 5, 2013
Time: 3 – 6 p.m.
Location: Commercial–Broadway Station, North Station House street level

Information Session #2
Date: December 10, 2013
Time: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Location: University of British Columbia, Student Union Building

Information Session #3
Date: December 11, 2013
Time: 4 – 8 p.m.
Location: Trout Lake Community Centre, 3360 Victoria 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 December 2 until December 16.

We hope to hear from you soon!

Winter service changes begin December 16, 2013

December2013_ServiceChange

Check your route before you go!

It’s that time of year again – drum roll please! <<drrruummrroolll>> . Winter service changes come into effect on December 16! For more information, check out the upcoming print Buzzer and Transit Service Changes. Check your route before you go!

For the very latest on transit service conditions be sure to check out @translink or call 604-953-3333.

Preparing transit for winter conditions

I doubt we’ll get this much snow, but you never know!

I doubt we’ll get this much snow, but you never know!

We’ve had a mild Fall in Metro Vancouver and so far the Winter has been the same. However, according to Environment Canada, as of Friday, November 29, Monday could see rain and flurries and Tuesday could bring temperatures as low as minus six.

In anticipation of these adverse weather conditions, TransLink and its operating companies have plans to maintain service as best as possible for the residents of Metro Vancouver.

Employees will be working to maintain expeditious service wherever possible – snow or shine.

As everyone knows,  despite our best efforts snowy weather in Metro Vancouver can create traffic snarls resulting in delays that could spread across the region.

Here are just a few of the efforts we’re taking to help people get to where they are going:

Buses

  • Switching out articulated buses for traditional buses. Although articulated buses are great for turning and maneuvering throughout our streets in Metro Vancouver and allow for quick movement of large numbers of passengers, when traveling up hills or on streets that have poor conditions, the back havles are heavy which can create some traction problems. Potential Jack knifing may occur.

 

  • In the evening, three Trolley deicer trucks will spray the entire trolley overhead system if there is a forecast risk of frost or ice.

 

SkyTrain 

  • The power rail is de-iced in the winter as well as the collector shoes on the trains. If it snows overnight, Skytrain will run trains throughout the night to keep tracks clear

 

  • De-icing stations will be set up in covered areas and tunnels to prevent ice and snow compacts on the trains. Measures are also taken to make sure switches are protected from freezing

 

  •  Staff will be monitoring the guideway for any large snow fall or drop-offs from the Skytrain cars in order to keep the tracks clear.

SkyTrain (Canada Line)

  • Winter weather forecast monitoring means more staff can be quickly deployed and more trains can be added to service so riders can get on their way.

 

  • Anti-icing and sanding measures are used to ensure the power rail and tracks are clears of ice. In fact, three vehicles have modifications to provide ice-slicing, de-icing and sanding. And there are special trains that can keep running on the system which further prevents ice-build up.

 

  •  New breaking modes for train cars – kind of like ABS on vehicles – to provide traction.

What should customers consider when challenging weather hits the transit system?:

  • Riders need to ensure that they give themselves extra time when heading out on the transit system when weather is nasty. Adverse weather means the entire transit system will be much slower as staff will use extra caution.

 

  • Buses endure the same road conditions as other vehicles. As a result, they too are not immune to the accompanying perils caused by bad weather.

 

  • Please be patient with our Operators: they are trying hard to provide efficient and timely service. Schedules will be affected when it snows despite our best efforts.

 

  • TransLink’s operating companies work closely with each municipality and city to help ensure streets or areas are addressed with snow clearing, salting or sanding.

 

  • We live in a region with several micro climates which makes it difficult to clear all areas simultaneously. It is possible that some bus routes will have gaps in service – but it could also mean that some areas are aokay.

 

Together we can help each other get ready for this possible winter wallop! And if you need help navigating your winter commute, remember our Customer Information team is at the ready through @translink and (604) 953-3333. Sign up for transit alerts, plan ahead with m.translink.ca and Trip Planner and give yourself extra time on your commute.

 

 

The newly renovated Newton Exchange is now open!

The newly renovated Newton Exchange

The newly renovated Newton Exchange!

The newly renovated Newton Exchange opens today! That’s right. We blogged about the start of construction in March, and now it’s done.

Changes have been made to pretty much everything including paving of the pedestrian area, shelters, lighting, signage and trees–all designed to enhance accessibility, safety, visibility and comfort. In order to accommodate the Newton Exchange to Guildford B-Line service starting in the fall, new layover spots have been created as well as updates to the curb and aisle paving.

Walking around the exchange last week, I couldn’t help but notice some of the details of the exchange including some smartly designed benches, trash/recycling receptacles that use solar power to crush contents, tactile strips on bus stops and our transit “T”!

New benches, trash and recyling recepticles and tactile strips - just a few of the additions to the exchange

New benches, trash and recycling receptacles and tactile strips – just a few of the additions to the exchange

Check out the TransLink website for a little more info on the exchange. Also, take a gander at this before and after comparison of the exchange. Remember, as the trees grow the exchange will look a little different as time passes.

The original exchange (built 1986) and the newly updated exchange (built 2013)

The original exchange (built 1986) and the newly updated exchange (built 2013)

If you’ve visited the newly renovated exchange, let us know what you think!

Update on the Langley Township and Langley City Bus Exchanges

Rendering of the future Willowbrook Exchange

Rendering of the  Willowbrook Exchange concept

Now that phase 2 of the consultation process is done, TransLink and the Township of Langley are currently finalizing a conceptual plan for a bus exchange in the Township’s Willowbrook neighbourhood.

Staff from the City and TransLink have been working since last year on developing alternatives for the exchange and, with input from stakeholders and the public (see the workshop notes and consultation reports documents), have selected and refined a preferred concept.

This exchange will support future transit service expansion in the South of Fraser and will provide a focal point for transit oriented development within the Langley Regional City Centre. The plan aims to provide a safe and comfortable passenger environment and considers land use, urban design and the street network to support transit, walking and cycling in the neighbourhood.

The exchange will be integrated with its surrounding area as redevelopment takes place. More detailed design work, informed by future public consultation, will be undertaken as the exchange and its adjacent areas evolve. You’ll want to check out the Willowbrook exchange page for more information.

In conjunction with planning for the Willowbrook Exchange, TransLink is also working with the City of Langley to finalize a concept for an exchange in the Downtown Langley area. A preferred concept for this exchange is expected to be finalized in the fall.

How did TransLink’s buses perform in 2012? Our new report has all the details!

TransLink 2012 Bus Service Performance Review

The cover of TransLink’s 2012 Bus Service Performance Review. Click to read the report!

The latest review of TransLink’s bus system is out today!

It’s a report called the 2012 Bus Service Performance Review, and it shows that bus ridership increased in 2012, while costs per trip dropped. That’s good evidence that our bus service is more cost-effective than ever, and that our bus service optimization measures are working.

To get really specific on the numbers: we’ve found the number of bus trips taken per revenue hour has increased 3.4 per cent, while the average cost per trip dropped by 2.2 per cent. Please do check out the full review if you’d like the all the details and stats!

About the Bus Service Performance Review

We first produced a Bus Service Performance Review in 2011, and now every year we examine bus data to track to understand trends in ridership and bus productivity.

With buses making up more than 80 per cent of TransLink’s transit services, the review is a key tool to inform service optimization, or evidence-based decision making on how to best use bus resources—a process that involves extensive public consultation.

The review examines three key indicators on three levels: the entire system, eight sub-regional areas, and for every bus route. Have a look at our Bus Service Performance Review Document Library to see current and past reviews, plus detailed reports on every route in the system!

Read on to see a handy infographic that describes our overall results. Take a read and feel free to share it with others!

Read more »

Construction starting at Newton Exchange

If you catch the bus at Newton Exchange, you’ll likely notice some construction activity going on there over the next few months.

TransLink is making improvements to the exchange, partly to accommodate the new B-Line bus service from King George SkyTrain Station to White Rock from Newton Exchange to Guildford via King George Boulevard and 104th avenue which will begin in the fall. The upgrades will also:

  • Enhance passenger safety, security and access
  • Enhance the aesthetic quality of both the exchange and the surrounding areas
  • Optimize operational efficiency

We’ll be adding better lighting, seating and wayfinding singage, and accessible features at bus stop to aid people with disabilities.

What does this mean for you?

Your bus stop at Newton Exchange will move, but not far at all! (Check out the map below for details). And don’t worry, we’ll have lots of signs up so you’ll be able to find your way there easily.

newton

We expect all the construction to be wrapped up sometime this summer, all ready for the new B-Line!

Life on transit: Today is Bus Driver Appreciation Day!

translinklifeontransit

For March/April 2013, we’re spotlighting Life on Transit—that is, observing and illuminating the quirks and habits of daily transit rides around our region!

Have you had a great bus operator experience recently? Well, today is the day to celebrate them, because it’s Bus Driver Appreciation Day! What’s that? Well, Jhen wrote about the history of the day a couple of years ago.

We regularly hear about great experiences on our buses. Sometimes we hear about them via our feedback form, our social media properties, or in the case of bus operator Tim Chaput, they win awards for their great service! Here’s more about Tim from the March issue of the Buzzer newsletter:

Three cheers for Tim!

Tim Chaput, winner of a Vancouver Tourism Award, we salute you!

Tim Chaput, winner of a Vancouver Tourism Award, we salute you!

Hurrah for transit operator Tim Chaput, who just won a Vancouver Tourism Award!

Tim was nominated by a customer, who had this to say:

This driver greeted me on this dark rainy morning with a big smile and cheery “Good morning”. Then, an elderly Asian lady got on the bus and was greeted with a friendly “Nihao”!

… Then on my normally quiet, boring ride I was again impressed when instead of the normal computer announcement for each upcoming stop, I heard the driver announce not only each stop, but the hotels and points of interest in the area as well as primary bus transfer locations.

WOW!!! This kind of service is beyond what I have come to expect in the morning and I believe this gentleman needs to be recognized. This is a true ambassador of our city and reminded all of us on the bus this morning to make that little extra effort in our day.
For his part, Tim said he was hugely pleased with the award.

“I’m really proud to get this, and I’m really accepting this on behalf of everybody at CMBC,” he said. “We have a lot of exceptional people on the front line and in our support positions. I’ve been in this business a long time, and winning this was really nice—just like winning an Academy Award!”

Way to go Tim, and thanks for making each day special for our customers!

Now it’s your turn to appreciate a driver/operator. You can do so with a simple in-person thanks, sharing your story in the comments section of this post, our feedback form, Facebook, Twitter or any other way you can think of!