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Translink Buzzer Blog

Category: Web and Mobile Offerings

Introducing our brand new Accountability Centre!

Snapshot
Ridership in 2016 was at an all time high. TransLink’s service area covers more than 1,800 square kilometres. That means that over 90% of the region’s population either lives or works within walking distance of transit.

Do you like numbers and facts like that? Well then, I’d like to introduce you to the TransLink Accountability Centre.

This is your one-stop-shop for the TransLink “big” picture as we focus on a system that is customer-focused as well as being financially and environmentally sustainable.

Here’s what you’ll find in the Accountability Centre (translink.ca/accountabilitycentre):

  • Regional Snapshot – what we do and where we go, including cycling infrastructure and the Major Road Network.
  • Performance Dashboard – performance indicators in six categories; Ridership, Customer Satisfaction, Safety and Security, Service Quality, Efficiency, Environment.
  • Transparency – links to our corporate reports, meetings and Freedom of Information requests.

Our mandate is to get you where you need to go in a safe and efficient manner on buses and by rail and sea. We also know the importance of monitoring our services and examine how we can strive to be better delivering our service and more transparent to our riders.

This is version 1.0 of the centre and we’ll be improving as we go.

So, how can we make it better? What numbers and other items would you like to see?

Leave a comment and let us know because we want to make it as good as we can for you, our customers!

Author: Adrienne Coling

Where do you get your transit information?

Big T
Welcome to the Buzzer blog’s Learn ‘n’ poll!

From construction reroutes and weather to bus stop locations and Compass information, TransLink provides a virtual buffet of transit knowledge in a variety of places.

We strive to get you any and all the details you need to keep you on time, on route and on transit.

Let’s take a look at some of the avenues you can explore for all your transit needs.

The TransLink websiteWe're not the only TransLink out there!

TransLink.ca is our one-stop-shop for all transit information.

You can map your route using Trip Planner, see when your buses are arriving with Next Bus and learn all about TransLink and its operating companies in Schedules and Maps, Fares, Rider Guide, Getting Around, Plans and Projects and About Us.

The homepage also lists other transit resources for you like YouTube and the Buzzer blog!

Transit Alerts

Maybe you’re less interested in the Corporate Reports and more interested in what’s happening right now on transit.

Not a problem! You can visit the Alerts page for an overview of the conditions of all modes of transit, station accessibility as well as any detours, construction or delays that may impact your trip.

The best part about Transit Alerts is that you can sign up for alerts and receive SMS text or emails about your route and be the first to know about any changes in service.

Twitter

Another amazing resource is the Customer Information (CI) team on Twitter.Twitter

You can easily tweet them @TransLink to receive answers to your questions about your bus, Compass information, operating hours, lost property and pretty much anything else you can think to ask!

Not a tweeter? Give them a shout by phone at 604-953-3333.

CI will be there to heed the transit call from 5:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. Monday to Friday and from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on weekends.

Facebook

The TransLink Facebook page is a place for discussion, transit news, fun tidbits and lots more!Facebook

The page is manned by the Buzzer blog crew (^rw, ^ac and ^sk, respectively) from around 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and we are happy to answer your questions during those times.

If a major service delay occurs, CI will post outside of those business hours to update customers of impacts.

Transit Apps

In 2012, TransLink released our transit data as open source.

This means that new transit apps based on our open API crop up giving riders access to information like GPS bus tracking.

Last year we did a poll about your transit app options. Do you use any of these? Have a new one? Comment below and let us know!

Remember! It’s always good to check in with Customer Information for clarification on any service issues.

Radioradio

Remember the radio? It’s that thing that plays songs you can’t skip!

In all seriousness, local radio stations are great resource for transit information.

If there is inclement weather, a disruption or a major accident, local media are informed by TransLink so they can reach out to their listeners who may be affected.

Tune in to News1130, CKNW and CBC 690 AM and 88.1 FM – just to name a few!

In person

For in-person assistance you can visit any of these reliable and accessible places for your specific questions. SkyTrain_Vests

TransLink’s Compass Customer Service Centre for your Compass needs and Lost Property Office are both located at Stadium–Chinatown Station.

The West Coast Express Office is at Waterfront Station and our awesome SkyTrain Attendants and bus operators are across the SkyTrain and bus networks.

Transit Police has hubs at major stations and Transit Security is out and about helping customers across the region.

Take a trip to your local library or rec centre and you’re likely to find transit schedules, system maps and Compass information as well!

The time, as they say, is now. Let’s head to the poll!

**You can vote for two options**

Where do you get your transit information?

  • The TransLink website (58%, 88 Votes)
  • Transit Apps (36%, 54 Votes)
  • Twitter (32%, 48 Votes)
  • Transit Alerts (17%, 26 Votes)
  • Other - comment below! (9%, 13 Votes)
  • Facebook (8%, 12 Votes)
  • Radio (4%, 6 Votes)
  • In person (3%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 151

Weigh in and tell your friends!

Author: Adrienne Coling

More connectivity for SkyTrain passengers!

SkyTrain at VCC-Clark Station
Today TransLink and Rogers announced the next phase in its partnership to enhance wireless connectivity and customer experience for SkyTrain passengers.

Rogers and Fido customers will now have access to Rogers LTE wireless coverage through the Edmonds Tunnel, helping commuters stay connected across Metro Vancouver!

This next phase expands on the LTE and voice access first made available to SkyTrain customers through the Dunsmuir Tunnel in July 2016 – a significant milestone that connects passengers along one of the busiest stretches in the SkyTrain network.

“This is just one way we are working to improve the transit experience by improving cellular coverage for our customers at no cost to taxpayers. We will continue to work with Rogers to build out wireless coverage along the SkyTrain, including Evergreen, Columbia and New Westminster.”

– Guy Akester, TransLink Director of Real Estate and Strategic Sourcing

Rogers and Fido wireless customers can now surf the Internet, make and receive calls, send and receive emails and text messages, stream video and music, and more on their mobile devices while travelling on the Expo Line between 22nd Street and Edmonds stations.

You can read the media release here.

Author: Jessica Hewitt

SeaBus is pretty fly with its new WiFi!

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Thousands of passengers travel between downtown Vancouver and the North Shore each day by our beloved SeaBus.

Since December these riders have been able to enjoy Shaw Go WiFi at both SeaBus terminals and now everyone will be able to surf the web right ON the SeaBus!

Did you know?

From launch in December 2015 until the end of July 2016, SeaBus riders have used over one million megabytes of data on the ShawGuest network alone!

Not a Shaw customer? No problem!

You can easily access Shaw Go WiFi by selecting ShawGuest from the list of available WiFi networks.

For Shaw Internet subscribers who’ve used Shaw Go WiFi before you’ll be automatically connected.

You can read more about this great partnership and connectivity in the media release here.

Happy surfing!

Author: Adrienne Coling

Some tweaks to the Next Bus SMS service

Next Text Promo

You can still text to get your bus timings however, how you send and receive SMS information from the service is changing slightly .

What’s new

From August 15, 2016 onward, you will need to text the stop number AND a bus route number in order to receive the next two departure times.

You must include a bus route number in your request in order to get times.

How does it work?

Text the bus stop number and bus route number to 33333 (example: 54440 240) and within seconds, you’ll receive the next 2 departure times for that bus route at that stop.

If you need times for multiple bus routes that service your stop, enter the stop number and up to two bus routes, and text 33333 (example: 50585 44 84).

You’ll get the next 2 arrival times for each bus route in separate texts. You can only request up to two bus routes per text.

If three or more bus routes are listed at a stop and you want times for all of them, an additional text message will need to be sent (example: 54446 240 246 and 54446 241).

Departure times

The predicted departure times are based on the GPS location of the buses and update approximately every two minutes, but sometimes only scheduled times will be available.

Scheduled times are marked with an asterisk (*). When a service is cancelled, we’ll indicate the time with a “C” – same as today.

Need help?

As always, you can text “HELP” to 33333 for assistance.

Remember! Next Bus is also available on our website. So, you can get departure times and all of the route and stop information provided for you on your mobile device or computer.

For more information on the Next Bus SMS service, you can visit our website.
Have questions on the go? Tweet @TransLink or call us at 604.953.3333.

Rogers and Fido customers you are now connected at downtown Expo Line stations

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From left to right: Derrick Cheung, Vice-President Strategic Sourcing and Real Estate, Translink; Gord Nelson, Vice-President, Sales, British Columbia, Rogers Communications; Leon Leroux, Director, Network Implementation, Western Region, Rogers Communications; and Guy Akester, Director, Real Estate Program and Partners, Translink.

Exciting news! Today, Rogers announced it has turned on LTE wireless service in the SkyTrain Dunsmuir Tunnel.

TransLink has partnered with Rogers to provide strong LTE connectivity while on the SkyTrain and – the best part is this service improvement is being made with no cost to taxpayers.

Now, Rogers and Fido customers can surf the web, make/receive calls or texts, stream video and music and catch Pokemon all while travelling through the Dunsmuir Tunnel; including Stadium–Chinatown, Granville, Burrard and Waterfront stations.

Here are all the details on the enhanced connectivity on the SkyTrain!

How do you get wireless service in a tunnel?

This type of install is referred to as a DAS or a Distributed Antenna System. Rogers worked tirelessly over many nights to install equipment in the stations and throughout the Dunsmuir Tunnel.

Non-revenue night work was necessary to ensure passenger service would not be disrupted in any way.  SkyTrain staff also provided great support during this installation.

What are the benefits?

Increased access to cellular data and connectivity is important to our customers!

TransLink has engaged industry experts to ensure that we have a reliable and sustainable network in place.

Rogers and Fido customers now have uninterrupted LTE connectivity while travelling along the Dunsmuir tunnel and can browse the web and make calls.  This improves the safety, security and convenience and is part of our continued effort to improve customer experience.

Are there any plans to expand LTE service to other areas or other carriers?

We are finding innovative ways to expand and diversify revenue sources while delivering a service that customers have requested.

Rogers will continue to expand LTE service along the SkyTrain, specifically, the Edmonds, Columbia, New Westminster and Evergreen tunnels. The DAS system has been configured to support additional carriers so we look forward to other carriers also taking advantage of this opportunity to improve LTE connectivity to the public.

Is LTE the same as Wi-Fi?

The two major categories of wireless internet access for mobile devices are cellular wide area networks and Wi-Fi local area networks.

The biggest difference and reason why we are pursuing cellular access is that Wi-Fi is tied to a router and has a limited range to a confined area, approximately 50 to 100 feet, whereas a cellular network provides access anywhere, through your data plan when you’re out of Wi-Fi range.

Thank you to Lea Dam, Real Estate Project Manager for the low down on the new connectivity!

For more information, check out this news release.

Author: Jessica Hewitt

Transit Police travels with you on your mobile device

See something? Say something.

See something? Say something.

Whether you are on SeaBus, West Coast Express, SkyTrain or buses, Metro Vancouver Transit Police is right there with you!

Our unique police service has a brand new mobile-friendly website to make it even easier to say something, when you see something, all with your mobile phone.

By visiting transitpolice.ca you are able to discreetly report a non-emergency police issue, contact us, download the OnDuty app or text 87-77-77 and Transit Police takes each report they receive very seriously.

Check out the safety tips section to help keep yourself and your belongings safe while on transit.

Basically, visiting transitpolice.ca means that you have Transit Police in your pocket during your transit journey on all modes at all times.

You can help Transit Police keep transit safe.  If you see something, say something!

Author: Adrienne Coling (with files from Transit Police)

#ThankYou100K: Celebrating 100,000 followers with a contest!

ThankYou100KWe’ve been celebrating a lot here at TransLink! There was 40,000 followers on Twitter, then 50,000 of you following us and now you’ve helped us reach a monumental 100,000 Twitter followers!

The @TransLink Twitter account started way back in February of 2010 during the Winter Olympics, providing riders with breaking news and key service updates.

In November of 2010 we launched a one-month pilot project in an effort to better serve our customers. It was extended multiple times before becoming a permanent service in February 2011!

In fact, our Customer Information team is in such high demand, on March 14th of this year, we extended our Customer Information service hours on Twitter from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., seven days a week to:

Monday to Friday: 5:30 a.m. – 12:30 a.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 6:30 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.

to answer all your service-related questions and provide service updates, tips, and information to all 100,000+ of you!

Contest time!

To celebrate this excellent milestone, we’re having a giveaway (Prizing to be announced soon!) To enter, simply follow @TransLink and retweet one of the following tweets from our Twitter team:

 

Contest closes at 11:59 p.m. on June 1st, 2016 and we’ll randomly select a winner on June 2nd, 2016. Make sure to check out the contest terms and conditions for all the details on the contest.

Author: Sarah Kertcher

TransLink Facebook reaches 20,000 likes!

Here's to the next 20,000!

Here’s to the next 20,000!

Twenty grand. Likes, that is.

We are so pleased to announce that the TransLink Facebook page has officially reached the milestone of having 20,000 likes. Actually, right now we’re at 20,323 and climbing!

We strive to make our Facebook page accessible, transparent, informative and a whole lot of fun!

Therefore, in honour of our growing online community, we’d like to take a look back at 20 of our favourite Facebook posts.

If you have favourites that aren’t featured here, be sure to comment below!

Enjoy!

Check out the story behind SkyTrain chimes – November 2010

Customer Information on Twitter started out as a pilot project – December 2010

An Olympic look back one year later – January 2011

Pet Peeves Battle Royale – November 2011

SkyTrain photo project by Alejandro Mejía Greene – December 2011

A dress made out of nearly 3,000 fare transfers? YEP! – May 2012

Early edition print Buzzer cartoon – October 2012

Bbbb…rrrraaaaiiiinnnnsssss…I mean, bus operator zombie – October 2012

They found love in a transit place – August 2013

Happy 5th birthday, Canada Line! – August 2014

Our annual I Love Transit Camp – August 2014

Cutest. SkyTrain. Ever. – November 2014

Sparky the Elf, Mr. and Mrs Claus and a Reindeer Bus! – December 2014

Rocky loves transit so much he wants to ride the bus! – March 2015

Transfer throwback – March 2015

A surprise serenade at Burrard Station from PALS Chorus – May 2015

Compass 101 video – Where to get a Compass Card – October 2015

Our region’s SkyTrain riding, celebrity crow, Canuck – December 2015

Compass gates are closing! – March 2016

Be a SkyTrain VIP! – April 2016

Author: Adrienne Coling

New Customer Information hours begin March 14, 2016

Call 604.953.333 for transit information

Call 604.953.3333 for transit information

In May 2015, Customer Information (CI) – or as you probably know them ^jkd, ^mr, ^ck, ^ah and others – extended their hours to better communicate with transit customers across the system.

The trial was so successful that the extended hours will continue!

Starting on March 14, the new hours of CI are:

Monday to Friday: 5:30 a.m. – 12:30 a.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 6:30 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.

CI works tirelessly to provide updates about service and answer customer’s questions in real time.

So much so, that we have nearly 92,000 followers on Twitter and have tweeted 245,000 times!

Take a look at a few of the tweets from our customers thanking this amazing team!

Twitter CI screengrabs

Have transit questions?
Reach out to the CI team @TransLink on Twitter or call 604.953.333!

Author: Adrienne Coling

BikeMaps.org and other cycling resources on TransLink.ca

cycling into the sunset

TransLink.ca has all your community cycling resources!

Are you looking to get into cycling in Metro Vancouver? Are you unsure of where the best, safest and longest stretches of cycling paths and lanes? Or maybe you want to learn more about the region’s cycling community in general.

TransLink.ca is a great place to start your cycling journey!

Nestled in the cycling section of our website is the Community Cycling Resources page.

FYI, you’re going to want to bookmark it because it’s a great repository for all things cycling!

bikemaps

Head to BikeMaps.org to view your cycling routes

Our latest addition to the page is a link to BikeMaps.org a crowdsource tool for the global mapping of cycling safety.

The focus on the map is, “… to identify areas with cycling safety issues. These results can be used by municipalities to prioritize infrastructure investments, resulting in safer streets for cycling.”

It’s pretty cool as you zoom into your area!

The map shows you detailed locations of bike thefts, accidents, rough or unfavourable cycling conditions and traffic jam hot spots.

Take a look and let us know what you think by commenting below.

Happy riding!

Lots to learn at TransLink.ca!

website screenshot
There is so much information on our website from plans and projects to fare information, Trip Planner and even an events calendar for all things TransLink.

Here are some updates we’ve done lately. Click the links provided to take a peek!

surveillanceRiding transit, you may have noticed that some of our transit vehicles and properties contain video and/or audio recording devices.

Recording devices are present around the system to ensure the safety and security of everyone on and around our system and we take the privacy of all concerned very seriously.

TransLink’s Privacy Policy and Video Surveillance & Audio Recording Privacy Statement have been recently revised. They explain our privacy practices, how data is protected and how, when and why we would disclose information collected.

Both documents are available at translink.ca/privacypolicy.

The statements reflect compliance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and supports our long-standing commitment to protecting the privacy of our employees, customers and the general public.

Get involved today!

Get involved today!

Have you taken the Transit Consultation Survey yet?

You have until November 6th to weigh in on several proposed bus route changes.

There is also a section at the end where you can add your own suggestions!

And Compass has arrived!

This area on the website is your one-stop-shop for Compass information including products, usage guides and the benefits of using the card.

A useful link found here is askcompass.ca.

This is where you can ask any question you have about the Compass program and see what others have asked too.

There’s always something new at TransLink.ca so be sure to check back often!

Author: Adrienne Coling

1-zone bus fares means a new look for Trip Planner!

afs_bus_anywhere_1200x628
Today is the day! All buses and HandyDART vehicles are officially operating on a one-zone fare structure.

Because of this, if you hop on TransLink’s Trip Planner today, you may notice a bit of a makeover.

Trip Planner has been adjusted to include the new one-zone bus fares.

If you are using a Compass product, you can use Stored Value on your Compass Card to get exactly the same discount as the current FareSaver tickets.

If you are viewing on your desktop computer, you will now see four fare options now instead of two.
Trip Planner The difference on mobile is fairly minimal.

The Trip Planner will show two fares: cash and Stored Trip Planner mobileValue. This is instead of the single cash fare we show now.

These prices reflect fares that are valid during the transition to the Compass system.

Please note! These prices reflect Compass and cash fares in a “fare gates closed” scenario.

This means that, until that time, your current fare MAY be different from what Trip Planner lists for you.

Single cash fare prices remain the same.

You can see this on the regular fare tables.

You can use Stored Value on your Compass Card to get the same discount as the current FareSaver tickets.

Reminder!

Currently, you can use tradition fare media (transfers, FareCards, monthly passes, etc.) to travel from the bus to SkyTrain/SeaBus without having to buy another fare.

Once all Compass fare gates are closed, tickets purchased on a bus won’t be valid for transfer to rail or SeaBus.

In the future, customers paying cash on the bus will need to purchase another fare if transferring from bus to rail or SeaBus.

This is because the traditional faremedia are magnetic strips while Compass faregates use an RFID antenna allowing you to tap your way on and off the system.

Compass customers will only pay one fare, if travelling within the 90-minute transfer window.

You can find more information at translink.ca/onezone
to help you transition to the 1-zone bus fare.

For convenient, one-stop source for customer questions and answers about the new Compass system, visit: AskCompass.ca.

 Author: Adrienne Coling

A slightly different look for the Next Bus SMS service

Next Bus mobile

Riders can use the Next Bus SMS service or Next Bus on our mobile site

If you’re a user of Next Bus SMS service, like I am, or if you are considering using the service, this post is for you!

For those of you who are new to this, I’ll break it down for you.

Basically you text the 5-digit bus stop number (the yellow number at the top of every bus stop sign) to 33333 and our Next Bus SMS service will tell you when the next six buses are expected to depart your stop.

Handy, isn’t it?

And, bonus, it’s free for riders to use!

That’s right, TransLink doesn’t charge you for Next Bus SMS — although, depending on your plan, standard carrier text messaging charges may apply.

Now, to keep operating costs associated with Next Bus from being passed on to you, we’ve introduced an advertising-based service.

When you use Next Bus SMS, an ad and/or link may appear, in addition to the upcoming bus times.

This won’t cost you anything, either.

If you don’t want to receive these ads, there’s an easy solution!

Hop on our mobile website for exactly the same Next Bus information.

Happy riding!

Author: Adrienne Coling

#TLHIGHFIVE0: ^at talks to @TransLink’s ^DA about 50,000 followers

Customer Information Workleader Desirée, better known as ^DA!

Customer Information Workleader Desirée, who you know as ^DA on Twitter!

Have you ever called 604.953.3333 for transit information, checked our Transit Alerts, or tweeted @TransLink?

Our fabulous Customer Information team are the folks at the other end of the line when you call and the Customer Information Work Leaders are the ones behind the Transit Alerts and Twitter account!

At the rate TransLink’s Twitter account responds to tweets and pushes out information to our customers, you would imagine a throng of staff all behind rows and rows of computers. But nope, it’s usually just one person – the Customer Information Work Leader!

Desirée, better known as ^DA on Twitter, has been a Work Leader for the past few years. I had the opportunity to ask her a couple of questions about what it’s been like helping to look after the Twitter account!

What does 50,000 followers mean to you and the TL Twitter Team?

It feels like a reward to see this many people follow us! It means over 50,000 of you are looking to us and trust us for accurate and timely information. We always keep that at the front of our minds – just how much impact the information we share can have on our customer’s day.

What do you want to say to the 50,000 followers?

Thanks for the taking the time to contact us, whether it is for good or bad feedback! Thanks for taking the time to notify us when you see something – like an accident on the road or a knocked over bus pole – out on your route that that we should know about. And thanks for sending us positive and kind tweets when you think we might need it. Some of those get passed along so that everyone in our group can see it because we are a team.  We really do feel that we have some of the best followers around the Twitterverse!

One of Desirée's colleagues at the Customer Information Work Leader desk!

One of Desirée’s colleagues at the Customer Information Work Leader desk!

What’s the favourite part of your job?

There are a couple of things. One, I really love the team that I work with. Seriously, they are such a great group of people and they’re so knowledgeable. I learn something new all the time from them. Another favourite part is figuring out some of the mysteries of transit. Being part of the Twitter team involves so much more behind the scenes than just what gets tweeted out. I love figuring out why something is the way it is or why something happened.

What’s the most memorable question you’ve received from a tweeter?

We’ve received so many and it always amazing to see how creative people are. Also, I think it is so great to hear how passionate our riders are about transit. Some pretty fantastic and constructive conversations have been had via Twitter about transit so it’s tough to narrow it down to just one. Although, I personally love it when our followers send us funny or interesting pictures – like the one of Darth Vader riding the Canada Line that said he was “Forced” to take transit due to rising gas prices.

What’s it like having to convey information in less than 140 characters on Twitter?

It’s a challenge to be reduced to such a small number of characters, that’s for sure. I’m usually a pretty descriptive person, so I cringe and joke about having to commit “a grammar crime” in order to squeeze it all in one tweet.  I think I’m probably the biggest offender for sending multiple tweets to get an answer out! Sometimes you need to get creative.

How does one become a tweeter for @TransLink?

Apply to work at Coast Mountain Bus Company and TransLink! Most of the people who tweet and respond using @TransLink are Work Leaders in the Customer Information department. The majority of the Work Leaders have been with Customer Information for some time and most of us have worked in other Coast Mountain departments and depots during our tenure with the company. Being a Work Leader requires a higher level of knowledge about the transit system and also we have access to additional tools and contacts within the company.

How has @TransLink changed 50,000 followers later? 

It has evolved. There is a lot more discussion happening and we’re not just using Twitter to push out information. Information is now being exchanged in both directions, between our followers and us. We learn a lot from our riders and often, if there is an issue going on, they have been the first to alert us (accidents, delays, clean ups required, etc.). Also, in addition to our 50,000 followers, when there is any sort of disruption people who don’t follow @TransLink on Twitter are turning to us first for information and updates.

To cellebrate 50,000 followers on Twitter and to show appreciation, we are giving away three FareCards! To enter, simply follow @TransLink and retweet one of the tweets on this page. It’s that simple. =)

Author: Allen Tung