We don’t often write about the awards our staff win, but when an honour as significant as the BC CFO of the Year Award is given to your Chief Financial Officer, we want to tell the world!
Honorees of the award are nominated by members of the business community (non-TransLink members of course) for their business performance relating to corporate growth, strategic decision making, solid business principles, overall performance execution and financial reporting.
Cathy was nominated in the Transformation Agents category for her efforts to successfully promote TransLink to financers across the country and North America, resulting in low-cost financing for vital capital projects.
Business in Vancouver has a great profile on Cathy which speaks to why Cathy is being honoured by her peers. The TransLink investors page has info on the results of Cathy’s work in choreographing TransLink’s ability to raise funding through Canadian debt capital markets.
Cathy is very humbled and appreciative of being honoured with the award, and gives high praise to her team at TransLink. As she puts it,
“I have never worked in an organization—and I say this on regular basis—where people are so passionate about what they do every day…they believe in what they do every single day and they want to make a difference in people’s lives and that’s contagious.”
Cathy will be collecting her award tonight at the third annual BC CFO Awards Gala.
Late last year, someone brought to our attention the photography of Alejandro Mejía Greene, who has a stunning series of photographs of each of the SkyTrain stations. We caught up with him recently to find out more about the photos and his inspiration for creating them.
Alejandro Mejía Greene
Tell us about yourself and your photography.
I’m originally from Mexico City, I moved to Vancouver 2 years ago. I’m a mechanical engineer. I started taking photos when I was 14. In 1989 I asked for a “real” camera as a birthday present, and I got it. Obviously in those days, there weren’t any digital cameras available, it was all film. Together with friends and family I got the opportunity to travel to new places, and during those travels I discovered that I enjoyed taking pictures, not just as memories of those places, but also as interpretations of the reality through my eyes.
How did you come up with your idea for the SkyTrain photo gallery?
Mexico City has a fairly big metro system, so I’m used to underground mass transit. Later on I visited and used more and more systems in different cities (even falling in love with some of them), taking photos (but not necessarily a series). When I moved to Vancouver, I thought about stopping at least once at every station. And then just popped in my mind the idea of documenting this.
Tell us the story of putting this gallery together and choosing the final images.
As part of my style of taking photos, I limit myself to the tools I have in my camera, in other words I don’t do any post-processing on my photos. Therefore, taking the photos is definitely more time consuming for me, than choosing them. I first visited the Canada Line, since I use it more often. Waiting for a weekend with a blue sky, especially for the stations that are elevated. So sunny weekend after sunny weekend, section after section I completed the journey.
How long did it take to get all the images you wanted?
All the photos were taken during 2011, from May to the end of the year.
Which of the photos do you like the most and why? 29th Avenue Station (photo above). In general, I like geometric patterns on my photos, this one has a frame inside the frame, straight lines, curves, perspective, etc. Also the fact that the train itself appears on the photo makes it special.
Do you take transit? If so, what’s your favourite mode of public transportation?
I do. Definitely metro/SkyTrain. I’m positive that this is the most efficient means of transportation we can have in any city. I also use the buses, but my favourite is the SkyTrain. I can’t wait to see the Evergreen and the Broadway lines!
What can we expect from you in the future?
I’ll continue talking photos of the City of Glass where we live in, on a regular basis. And of course, transit is included in my planned subjects.
For many of us, this is the time of year for last-minute Christmas gifts. It’s also a time to uphold traditions. In keeping in the spirit of both giving and tradition, I give you the annual Buzzer gift ides for transit fans.
Even though there are only four days left until Jolly Old Saint Nick visits, it’s never too late for that perfect gift! Remember, there’s always Ukrainian Christmas. It starts on January 6 and runs until January 19. Think of the money you could save on gifts bought on Boxing Day! OK, on with the gifts:
Transit related toys
The Brio Metro Railway Set. It has lights and even makes a cool subway sound!
If you’re a parent and want to get your child a train set that’s not a Thomas the Tank Engine (disclaimer: I have nothing against the mighty train that keeps trying), I suggest going with the Brio Metro Railway Set. It does everything a train set does, but it’s a subway instead! I like this set as much as my kid does.
Speaking of Brio, they apparently just made the longest wooden railway in the world. I wouldn’t suggest buying 2,607.15 meters of track for a present though. In these challenging economic times, it wouldn’t be a prudent investment.
In another life, I used to live in Japan. There are some amazing sounds to be heard in public – including public transit. A colleague of mine sent me this from his Christmas wishlist. It’s a Yamanote Line piggy bank with some great sounds! Well, you can judge for yourself.
Transit maps are where it’s at
The fridge door can be a great place to plan your cities future transit network!
Continuing on the rapid transit and subway theme, Spacing Magazine has some pretty neat Metro Magnets for sale. You know those word magnets everyone has on their fridge? It’s like that, but the magnets are sections of subway/metro lines that you can make into any fictional or actual subway line configuration you like!
If you’re a fan of transit maps, especially subway lines, this Christmas is like the mother of all Christmases. It seems 2012 was the year of the transit map as art/commodity.
That Tokyo sure does have a lot of public transit!
Don’t want to wait until after X-Mas for that present? The Museum of Vancouver has some new merchandise that includes old-school trolley scrolls turned into rugs, wall hangings and pillows. Here’s a link to where you can find the items.
Hey look, another example of transit maps in popular culture!
Teras Grescoe was not only a Vancouverite for much of his life (as well as a friend of the blog), he’s also written a fantastically informative and very readable book about how good public transit can make cities and communities function well. Think you know everything about pubic transit around the world? Take a read of Straphanger and get yourself a quick eduction that’s great for holiday Christmas party conversation.
All you need to know about good transit planning this holiday season.
For the transit planner (or armchair version) in your life, there’s one book you won’t want to be without this season. Human Transit, the book with the same name as the popular blog, is one of those invaluable resources you want to have when trying to explain how good transit planning works.
Jarrett Walker (also a friend of the blog), has done some great work for TransLink. He’s one of those people who can put complicated jargon and ideas into everyday language.
Some other suggestions
I could go on, or let our past work speak for itself. This is the fourth such list we’ve produced over the years. Lots of the suggestions for that perfect transit gift can be found in our 2009, 2010, and 2011 posts.
Do you have suggestions?
Did I mention that the holidays is also about sharing? Feel free to add your own suggestions for good transit gifts. You guys always surprise me!
You weren’t seeing things! A few of your humble Buzzer bloggers will now be providing occasional morning transit updates for the region on TV.
Both Robert and Tina Robinson, another of our Buzzer contributors, will be filling in from time to time when Derek Zabel, TransLink’s regular CTV Live correspondent, needs a much-deserved break.
And if you’d like to keep up, Robert will be on TV again on Monday, December 24, 2012 and Tina will be on Dec 27, 28, and 31, 2012 :) Feel free to drop a note and tell them how great they look on television!
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) YouTube channel posted this video about what the results of Sandy.
If you’re watching the news or have friends and family on the North East United States and the central and eastern provinces, you’ll know that the post-tropical storm Sandy is causing a lot problems. That includes public transit.
We saw this tweet from the The Port Authority of NY & NJ (@PANYNJ).
A tweet from The Port Authority of NY & NJ
Our hearts goes out to the people who live in these areas and we hope for a quick return to normality soon.
The conclusions show Vancouver outpacing the others. A quote:
But neither Portland nor Seattle can hold a candle to greater Vancouver, BC.
The simplest comparison among the three cities looks at the average number of bus and rail transit boardings per person, per year, in the entire metro area. And on that measure, Vancouver vastly outstrips its two southern neighbors.
There’s a great deal of discussion in the comments on both posts arguing about the analysis, but nonetheless: the data still provides a very interesting comparison highlighting our service!
Violet Patrich's transit pass dress, made for the Garbage Fashion Show at Heritage Woods Secondary.
Here’s a young designer with a refreshing take on transit passes!
This picture was taken at the “Garbage Fashion Show” held at Heritage Woods Secondary. The first place winning dress made with 2700 fare transfers won first place in the show.
Violet Patrich, the designer of the dress, said this about her creation:
“I started out collecting discarded FareSavers on the ground around bus stops and the Skytrain. As a high school student, I take transit nonstop. After a while, I recruited friends and even friends of friends to gather their FareCards for me. I ended up collecting over 3000 passes (including transfers, prepaid tickets, monthly passes and U-Passes), 2700 of which compose the dress. The rest are scattered about my room.
The dress itself took about a week to construct. The base is shaped out of recycled chicken wire and there are six used hula hoops to keep its shape on the inside. The dress is inspired by Victorian era fashion, and has been dubbed the “Bus Pass Princess”.
With this dress I was hoping to promote waste reduction (reduce, reuse, recycle) and taking public transit instead of driving.”
Thanks for sharing your creation and reusing your tickets, Violet!
Ken Cameron, past Manager of Policy and Planning with the Greater Vancouver Regional District and a member of the PlaceSpeak Board of Directors, talks about the importance of the survey.
I just finished filling out the 2012 Metro Vancouver Urban Futures Opinion Survey. I’m told that it’s truly unique in the world of surveys. I can honestly say that I’ve never filled out one quite like it before. It has a lot of transit oriented content, so I was of course compelled to complete it.
Though time is short until the biggest gift-giving day of the year, I thought I would continue the annual tradition of gift ideas for transit fans. I realize that many of the items on this list would come a bit late if ordered this week, but these make excellent gifts at any time for the transit fan in your life!
In addition to the ideas below, you should also take a look at the lists put together by Jhenifer in 2009 and 2010. She found some incredible items, with the Lego Public Transport Kit my personal favourite (which, incidentally, I saw in stock at a local toy store just yesterday).
Real stuff off the system
A unique memento for the SkyTrain fan
For many transit fans, there is something thrilling about owning a real piece of a transit system. And right now you have an opportunity to own a piece of real SkyTrain rail. SkyTrain celebrated its 25th anniversary late last year, and had a unique memento created to commemorate the occasion (pictured at left). Wouldn’t you love to have a real piece of SkyTrain rail gracing your desk at home or at work? If you are interested in purchasing one and can pick up locally, they are available for $50 each – contact me directly for more details.
The San Francisco Cable Car Museum also offers real stuff off of San Francisco cable cars, including a key ring made of authentic cable car cable, a 20 lb Gripman’s Bell and pieces of authentic cable and rail from 1909.
Drivers often compare the cost of gas between stations, choosing the one offering a lower price even when it’s only a slight savings. Who hasn’t seen cars lining up at a gas station where the advertised price is a couple of cents lower than its competitors? Metro Vancouverites, situated as we are so close to the border with the United States, take it to a whole other level. A favourite weekend activity in these parts is a jaunt across the border for cheap dairy and, of course, gas.
Find out how much you save (or don't save) when you travel for cheaper gas.
Plunk in the size of your tank, your car’s fuel efficiency, the distance you have to drive, and the price of gas, and voilà! Out churns your expected savings (or cost!). What isn’t included here is how much you value your time. That $4 savings might be worth an extra 20 minutes of driving for one person, but isn’t worth it for you. Try out the calculator and decide for yourself.
In light of the England riots, I thought it would be nice to read a ‘good news’ story about the recent Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver. Our friends at BCRTC passed this account of one SkyTrain attendant’s experience on June 15th when chaos broke out on the streets of downtown Vancouver and the Granville SkyTrain Station. Reading Virginia’s words really brings the memories back of that night.
Granville Station during the Stanley Cup Riot
A personal account by Virginia Farrow-Busch
Looking back, I think I knew that Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals was going to be crazy in downtown Vancouver the moment I heard the Canucks had lost Game 6 in Boston.
As a SkyTrain attendant, I had worked many shifts in downtown Vancouver throughout the playoffs. During game nights, I could sense the happiness that people felt; the genuine excitement that Vancouver was in the spotlight again. But on Game 7 day, the feeling in the city was something altogether different. The look on people’s faces was tense, almost desperate, and the city felt toxic, almost sinister. Something was about to happen in the city, win or lose.
Despite this, I still wanted to work at Granville Station because I knew it was going to be the hub of activity for the night. And it was. People did not stop coming and going through that station from the moment I started my shift. The constant flow of people through The Bay corridor was dizzying. I had never seen anything like it — not during the Celebration of Light fireworks and not during the Olympics.
Photo of SkyTrain attendant Virginia Farrow-Busch
What surprised me the most that night was how the number of people coming into downtown increased even though by the second period of the game, it became apparent that the Canucks would likely lose. By then, I was almost certain that this night wasn’t going to end well.
Previously in the playoffs, when the Canucks lost a game, most of the crowds left relatively quickly and quietly. During Game 7, it seemed as though there were people who felt they deserved to be a part of something/anything that was about to happen in the city.
The riot happened like a blur. People were running in and out of the Dunsmuir entrance to Granville Station. The smoke from the burning cars was so strong that it made me cough and my sinuses burn.
There were uniforms everywhere: SkyTrain attendants, SkyTrain field supervisors, Transit Police, Vancouver Police and RCMP. SkyTrain and TransLink executives were also at Granville Station; all pitching in to try to do what seemed like the impossible – get people to leave the city.
SkyTrain Attendants are trained in basic first aid, so we treated people for tear gas burns. I also did first aid on a young woman with a leg injury who said she’d been bitten by a police dog. She claimed to be an innocent bystander. Regardless, she came to me for help, and I gave it to her. The young woman was scared and in shock, and the best I could do was clean and bandage her injured leg and try to keep her calm. The young woman was grateful for the help. She said she felt safe inside the station but still insisted on trying to find her boyfriend who was outside on Granville Street … somewhere. I had to tell her to get on a train, go home or to a hospital outside of the downtown core. It took some time, but she finally agreed to leave on a train.
It seemed like the riot would never end. But later that night, when it felt somewhat safe, my co-workers and I stood outside Granville Station on Dunsmuir Street. We were completely awestruck by the destruction: smoldering cars, smashed windows and the remnants of looting. Smoke and ash were still hanging in the air. It looked like a war zone. It was impossible not to feel ashamed, angry and sad all at once. I’ve never seen anything like it before.
My co-workers and I were completely exhausted; emotionally and physically. No one had a break that night, and that was okay. But at that moment, I would have given anything for a hot tea or coffee. Ironically, we stood right across the street from a Tim Hortons, but it had closed early because of the riot.
Then something wonderful happened. A fellow SkyTrain attendant, Dan Fidler, who also happens to be relatively new to the job, appeared out of nowhere with 12 coffees from Tim Hortons! He had gone across the street and appealed to the employees who had taken refuge inside to make coffee for us. Dan handed out the coffees to the SkyTrain staff and Transit Police officers who were at Granville Station. Honestly, it was THE best tasting cup of coffee I’ve ever had in my life. (Thank you, Dan! Thank you, Tim Hortons staff!)
Looking back, I don’t regret taking a shift at Granville Station for Game 7. The riot is one of the worst things I have experienced in my life, but that night, is also the highlight of my SkyTrain career. I witnessed SkyTrain staff and Transit Police gel and work together like never before. From executives to field and technical staff, control operators and even the cleaners, we all did what we do best: move people. We did it professionally and safely. And to me, that is the best reward.
The smooth metal claws of a yellow excavator smash the wooden building just feet away from the news station. Onlookers watch powerlessly as the yellow mechanical behemoth surveys the normally quaint town for a new victim to smash into a thousand pieces. Will Camero Jewelers or the delightful Brasserie Georgina be the next to suffer at the bucket of the unstoppable digger of destruction? Wait, why is this charming street being demolished anyway? And what news outlet is the “news station”?
If you have a favorite view from transit (SkyTrain, Bus, SeaBus, West Coast Express) drop me a note at email@example.com. I might just make a blog post about it! Thanks to my colleague at SkyTrain for snapping these pictures of Smallville, Kansas… er Burnaby.
I wonder what a place above the restaurant would cost?
They were just given the “Exceptional Performance/Outstanding Achievement” award at the CUTA (Canadian Urban Transit Association) conference in Regina for their Idle Free CMBC program! As you might have read in the June issue of the Buzzer, the CMBC fleet reduced the amount of bus idling every single month over the same month the previous year. They did this by asking drivers to turn off their buses if they expected to idle at a bus stop or loop for more than three minutes. As you can see from the chart, CMBC is still exceeding targets this year.
The CMBC program is part of an overall initiative by TransLink to “clear the air” and generally reduce harmful CO2 emissions. This also includes 180 hybrid buses added to the fleet; operating the new, more fuel-efficient Sea Bus and redeploying 98 B -Line buses to suburban locations thereby increasing their fuel efficiency.
All of this has led to a reduction of 1.2 million litres of diesel used by its bus fleet and SeaBus in 2010 despite carrying more passengers and travelling further than in 2009. Reducing 1.2 million litres of diesel resulted in a reduction of about 4,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions or the equivalent of taking 1,000 cars off the road for a year.