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Translink Buzzer Blog

Category: Buses

Happy 148th, Canada!

We hope you all enjoy Canada Day!

We hope you all enjoy Canada Day!

Ohhhhhhhhhhh Canada we stand on guard for theeeeeeeeeeeee!!

I do love a good anthem.

Canada Day is this Wednesday, July 1st and there will be tons of activities happening all over the region.

Know before you go! Check out the holiday service schedule for detours and extended service.

Heading downtown Vancouver to see the fireworks at Canada Place?

Avoid those crazy long lines and pre-purchase return tickets for the SkyTrain!

Customers can buy tickets at Vancouver City Centre, Granville, Burrard and Waterfront stations.

Portable fareboxes only accept exact cash fare and tickets are valid until the end of service.

Perhaps you’re more of a Granville Island Canada Day celebrator. If you’re planning to ride your bike there, prepare to feel pampered!

BEST’S Bicycle Valet will be providing cyclists FREE, secure temporary bike storage from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m.

You can check out more details here.

Wherever you celebrate this great land of ours, let us help you get there!

Plan your route with our Trip Planner or call Customer Information at 604.953.3333.

Remember! On holidays you only need a one-zone fare for the entire system!

Bus operator goes above and beyond to fight roadside fire!

Earlier this week, bus operator George Simnos was driving a full 84 UBC bus along West 6th Ave when he noticed something unusual. Smoke was coming from a patch of bushes near a wooden fence, about a 100 metres from a few townhomes and parkland.

Immediately, George’s operator training kicked in. Stopping the bus (with hazards on, of course), George checked for passenger safety before grabbing the onboard fire extinguisher and starting work on the blaze.

The flames, now about a foot high, had started to climb the six-foot tall fence nearby. George quickly doused the flames. However, the blaze was resilient and continued to spark, until a passenger with a bucket of water from the pub across the street, came and soaked the fire.

Then, another passenger helped George finish it if off by kicking dirt on the area. Fire trucks arrived on the scene minutes later and took over. That’s when George got back on the bus and was greeted with a standing ovation from his passengers.

According to George he acted on the fire because he likes helping people. Shrugging off the “hero” title, he says he wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.

We’d like to tip our hat to George and his passengers for helping put out a fire before it got out of hand and making sure everyone was safe.

FREE TRANSIT

TransLink bus

PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT ALL MODES OF TRANSIT WILL BE FREE TODAY, MAY 22, DUE TO THE MAJOR DISRUPTION.

UDPATE: 12:14pm: Thank you all for your patience and understanding today. We understand the inconvenience and are happy to announce that full service has been restored to the Expo Line.

The SkyTrain disruption that was due to a fire destroying one metre communications cable is now over. Please allow time for the service to catch up to regular timings. Shuttles will continue to be used as needed to help with the flow of riders. ^ac

UPDATE: 10:43am: Follow us on Periscope at noon today (handle: TransLink BC) for a live update on the Expo Line SkyTrain disruption.

UPDATE: 10:36: For those of you who have already paid for transit today, please hold on to your tickets and/or receipts. We are working on a way to make sure you benefit from this.

UPDATE 9:29am: Trains are now able to get to and from (East and Westbound) Broadway-Commercial station. Shuttles will be in place to get people to and from downtown from this point. Please keep in mind it will take a while to get service back to regular timings.

We appreciate your patience as crews continue to work to fix the damaged communications cable caused by a fire.

We will continue to keep you updated on the Buzzer blog, Facebook, Instagram (@TransLinkBC) and Twitter (@TransLink) until the system is back to normal.

Vancouver Sun Run 2015

 

Sun Run photo

More than 50,000 people expected at 31st annual Vancouver Sun Run.

The Vancouver Sun Run is upon us. This Sunday, in fact!

This is Canada’s largest 10K road race and has been such since it started in 1985.

Considering its size, lots of routes will be affected to clear the way for all the participants.

This may affect your transit trip on Sunday so make sure you know before you go!

Our alerts page has the full list detours and changes.

For runners and cheering sections, the Expo and Millennium Lines will start service half an hour earlier.

SeaBus will begin at 7 am running on a 15 minute schedule until 3 pm when it will return to a regular Sunday schedule.

To prevent long line-ups after the Sun Run, SkyTrain riders 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 Station, Granville Station, Vancouver City Centre Station and Yaletown-Roundhouse Station after the race.

For more information and a map of the affected area, take a look at the event posting on the TransLink’s website.

Looking for some inspiration to get ready for next year’s race?
Check out this training blog from the Vancouver Sun.

Transit has got you covered for the playoffs!

GO CANUCKS GO!

First round of playoffs start tonight at Rogers Arena

Heyyyyyyyyy Canucks fans! Guess what?

SkyTrain service on both the Expo and Millennium Lines is boosted for the playoffs starting with game one tonight against the Flames.

Additional trains will be in service and will continue if the game goes into overtime.

Don’t worry drivers, we haven’t forgotten about you! The PNE has graciously offered their parking lot – FOR FREE – for those commuting to the game.

Lot #16 is located across from the Playland main entrance. Vehicles can enter lot off Pender Street.

So, forget about crazy downtown game night traffic. Keep your sanity and use the Park & Ride!

Commuters can then hop on a variety of frequent buses that stop near Rogers Arena.

From Park & Ride to Rogers Arena:

  • Catch either the 14 UBC or 135 Burrard Station bus on Hastings at Windermere.
    Buses arrive at this stop every 7-12 minutes.

Return Trip from Rogers Arena to PNE Park & Ride lot:

  • Catch the 135 SFU on Hastings at Cambie Street, or on Hastings at Carrall street. Buses will be operating on 15-minute service at this time.

Looking for other ways to take transit to the game? Know before you go! Take a look at our Trip Planner and find your best route.

Oh, and one more thing…………

GO CANUCKS GO!!!!

Trolley buses: a historical transit lesson

The 14 Hastings streetcar: looking north on Granville from Robson, 1950. Photo by Vic Sharman.

The 14 Hastings streetcar: looking north on Granville from Robson, 1950.
Photo by Vic Sharman.

When I moved out here from Toronto nearly two years ago now, one of the first things I did was explore the city. How, you ask? On the bus! So I hopped on a bus to adventure around my new city.

At least, I thought it was a bus. It had large, yellow tubes attached to wires overhead. It reminded me of my streetcars on the TTC… but no tracks. What a strange beast this was. I was informed by a fellow rider that the beast was, indeed, a trolley bus! Huh. Who knew?

But how long has it been around and why do we use it? Being a former journalist and the daughter of a history teacher, I needed to know the answers.

Trolley buses have been in operation in Metro Vancouver since 1948 and the first routes were replacements for the old streetcar routes in the region.

We actually have 188 40-foot conventional and 74 60-foot articulated New Flyer E40LFR low-floor trolleys operated by the Coast Mountain Bus Company. That means we have the second largest and most modern electric trolley fleet in all of North America!

Trolley buses in downtown Vancouver.

Trolley buses in downtown Vancouver.

Each trolley utilizes a network of overhead wires that span 315 kms through Vancouver and Burnaby. Because we’re using electricity, it’s a very environmentally friendly transit option. Yay for greener transportation!

You can still see a few of Vancouver’s first trolley buses manufactured by the Canadian Car and Foundry-J.G. Brill Company. They have been preserved by the Transit Museum Society out of CMBC’s Surrey transit centre. Namely, a 1947 T44 No. 2040 and a 1954 T48A Nos. 2414 and 2416.

If you’re as interested as I am in this cool vehicle hybrid, check out the Edmonton Trolley Coalition for pictures and information on trolley buses from around the world.

Feel free to impart this historical transit trivia to fellow riders the next time you take a trolleybus!

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. =)