ALERT! More info
Translink Buzzer Blog

Category: Special Series

My TransLink – February 7, 2017

Another edition of My TransLink coming atcha’!

ICYMI: My TransLink is a rider-focused series where we want you to share your transit photographs from across the system on social media and in turn, we share your amazing pics right here on the Buzzer blog. Basically, this is all about you!

Let’s see what you’ve captured over the last few weeks!

The daily commute 🛳 #mytranslink

A photo posted by Jaemie Sures | 📍Vancouver (@jaemiesures) on

I’m in love with this photo #95 #bline #95bline #135sfu #mytranslink @translinkbc

A photo posted by Damien (@rainyday59) on

55 #sfu #burnabybc #burnabymountain #winter #snow #britishcolumbia #mytranslink

A photo posted by Vancouver, Persian Style (@persianyvr) on

Want to be featured on the blog? You know you do! It’s easy!
Simply follow us on Twitter and Instagram, tag us and use the hashtag #MyTransLink.

Author: Adrienne Coling

So, you wanna be a bus operator? Come to our Reddit AMA!

 

asktranslink

If you haven’t heard, we’re currently looking for busloads of new operators to help us move the region.

Being a Coast Mountain Bus Operator is an amazingly rewarding career. With over 1,300 Conventional buses and 140 Community Shuttle buses in our fleet, we’re once again adding drivers to keep the wheels on the bus going ’round and ’round.

Our Transit Operators play a vital role in keeping our region moving, literally, and with ridership in the region growing at a rapid pace, and we’re looking for motivated, energetic and customer-centric people like you to hop on board!

Bus Operator AMA

Want to get an inside look at what it’s like to be a Bus Operator? Join us this Friday, February 3rd, 2017 at 1:00pm PST on Reddit for an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with one of our very own seasoned Bus Operators! Come prepared with your questions about what it’s like moving people each day, how you apply, or anything else related to what it’s like to be a Bus Operator. If you can’t make it to the AMA, post your question below and we’ll do our best to answer it during the AMA.

If you’re interested in applying online, check out our video tutorial on how to use our careers page!

 

Author: Sarah Kertcher

My TransLink – January 24, 2017

Welcome to the first official post of My TransLink!

A couple of weeks ago, we asked you to be our photographers on your commute and share with us your transit pics from across the system on social media.

The social team wants to share your content, your views of transit and our community.

Here are just a few from the first installment – including some very snowy scenes!

As seen from the Skytrain.

A video posted by Trevor Jansen (@tr3vorjans3n) on

The next station is… Inlet Centre.

A photo posted by Juan M. Sanchez (@jmsuncheese) on

the night shift #TransLink #Buses #NightRides #Vancouver #SFU #burnaby #mytranslink

A photo posted by Kobie Huang (@kobiehuang) on

Thanks to everyone for their photos. Keep them coming!

Want to be featured on the blog?
Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, tag us and use the hashtag #MyTransLink.

Author: Adrienne Coling

Vivienne King – BCRTC President & CEO wants to answer your SkyTrain questions online and in person (Sept 7 & 8)!

Vivienne King, President & General Manager of BCRTC will be taking your questions about SkyTrain at noon on September 7, 2016!

Vivienne King, President & General Manager of BCRTC, will be taking your questions about SkyTrain at noon on September 7, 2016 and in person on September 8!

Have you ever had burning questions about Metro Vancouver’s SkyTrain? How safe are SkyTrains? What exactly do SkyTrain attendants do? Why are different SkyTrains painted different colours?

Well, on Wednesday September 7th, from 12pm – 1pm, we’ll have Vivienne King, President and CEO of BCRTC, live on Reddit for an AMA! (Ask Me Anything).

Busy for lunch tomorrow? Well, maybe you wanna ask Vivienne your question in person. Vivienne will take your questions in person on Thursday September 8th, from approximately 7:30-9a.m. at Waterfront station at the entrance of SeaBus/West Coast Express and SkyTrain (just inside the fare paid zone and not far from Starbucks).

So, mark your calendars transit fans! Here is the link that will be live at noon.

Can’t make either one, but still have a question to ask? Just post your question in the comments section or on Twitter or Facebook and we’ll do our best to ask Vivienne for you! See you soon!

Author: Sarah Kertcher

I Love Transit week is back for its 8th year!

buzzer_header_template
Eight is great and 2016 marks eight years of TransLink I Love Transit weeks!

This week is all about celebrating the reasons why we love transit, sharing interesting transit stories, holding fun in-person events and contests for everyone!

This year, I Love Transit will run August 29 to September 2, 2016.

Take a look at what we have going on:

August 29: Kick-off of I Love Transit social media contest – start thinking about your entries to win!

September 1: I Love Transit Camp for kids (ages 8-12) at SkyTrain Operations and Maintenance Centre and Burnaby Transit Centre.

September 2: Exclusive opportunity to tour the new Hamilton Transit Centre!

September 7: Colouring contest draw from the special I Love Transit print Buzzer – out on the system on August 19, 2016.

Thank you, in advance, to all of our participants and entrants. This is always such a great time of the year and we love sharing it with you!

 Be sure to check out our social media channels for stories, photos, videos and lots of other exciting I Love Transit week content!
TwitterInstagramFacebookBuzzer blog

Author: Adrienne Coling

Buses: The next generation

Picture1

The newest member of our bus family

Some cool news for bus fans!

TransLink will soon have 21 New Flyer Xcelsior XDE60 articulated 60-foot buses in our fleet!

Each bus will help TransLink be even greener because they are all diesel-electric hybrids!

Twelve of the new buses will serve routes out of the Surrey Transit Centre (STC) replacing all of the existing articulated buses on the 96 B-Line.

The rest of the buses will call Burnaby Transit Centre (BTC) home and will add to the modernization of the articulated bus fleet in Burnaby.

This includes the 99 B-Line, the 135 and the 44, to name a few!

There are some great new features with these buses, including:

– LED headlights
– A better-optimized seating layout
– Electric doors which provide consistent opening and closing times
– Air conditioning!

Where the rubber meets the road

The artics at STC will start to be in service at the end of January with all of them on the road by March.

At BTC, the new buses will start being integrated onto the routes mid-February with full service in March.

Author: Adrienne Coling

Here’s lookin’ at you, 2015!

2015 2
As 2015 comes to a close we thought an end of year wrap up was in order!

After all, the past 12 months had more than a handful of memorable transit moments.

From the plebiscite and transit anniversaries to the Compass Card roll-out and fare structure changes, this year had it all!

So, in no particular order, let’s take a look at some of what made 2015 a year to remember:

Transportation and Transit Plebiscite

plebiscite-vector- smMarch 16, 2015 marked the beginning of the Transportation and Transit plebiscite.

Voting packages were mailed out and voters were asked to decide if they supported the 0.5% Metro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Tax (in the form of a provincial sales tax). The tax would support improvements for better transit and transportation in the region.

On July 2nd, the results were announced— Metro Vancouver voted against the 0.5% tax.

Compass Card roll-out

In 2015 more people started tapping their Compass Cards on the system than ever before.
Compass Vending Machines were installed at all SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express stations with U-Pass BC holders and West Coast Express customers kicking off the transition in June.
Since then, even more customers have made the switch to Compass!
Starting January 1, 2016 traditional Monthly Pass FareCards are no longer valid and Monthly Passes are on Compass only so there will be a surge of users in the New Year.
We’ve also been closing more and more faregates across the system in order to help remind riders to tap in and out on SkyTrain, SeaBus, Canada Line and West Coast Express.
To help this transition go as smoothly as possible, we produced many Compass 101 videos to help our riders learn the Compass basics!

Fare Structure Changes — Bus Anywhere with 1-Zone Fare

2015 also brought with it changes to our fare structure.afs_bus_anywhere_1200x628

As of October 5th, all travel by bus became a 1-zone fare.

With the new 1-zone bus fare riders can now bus across Metro Vancouver with just a one-zone bus fare.

In November, we asked in a Buzzer blog poll how the 1-zone bus fare has changed your travel — about half of you said your commute became less expensive!

I Love Transit Week 2015

And who could forget I Love Transit Week 2015?buzzer_header_ilovetransit

We took adult campers and kid campers to our transit facilities, held contests and had special blog content dedicated to transit love!

We even did a special I Love Transit print Buzzer!

If those brilliantly coloured print Buzzers aren’t a 2015 highlight, then I don’t know what is!

125 years of Transit, SkyTrain 30th Birthday and Transit Police 10th Anniversary

Davie streetcar, 1903

Davie streetcar, 1903

What a year for transit anniversaries!

First we celebrated 125 years of transit in June with vintage trolley rides, old photos of our system and special interviews with transit historians like Angus McIntyre.

The celebration continued on December 4 when Transit Police celebrated 10 years as a police service and 30 years serving the transit system!

Finally, in honour of the SkyTrain’s 30th Birthday, we threw back to more than a few hilarious 80’s videos and photos of SkyTrain’s early years.

All in all it’s been a busy year! Anything we missed? Let us know in the comments section!

Author: Laura Tennant

New policy for electric and folding bikes on transit

Fashion Electric BicycleElectric and folding bikes are now being allowed on board the system!

BCRTC and CMBC are updating their operational policies to allow different types of cyclists access.

Electric bikes will now be permitted on SkyTrain, West Coast Express and SeaBus.

UPDATE Folding bikes will be allowed on all modes buses, when folded.

Riders of folding bikes are asked to use a slipcover or carrying pack while on buses.

All the existing rules for bikes on transit still apply. Here’s a refresher:

  • Bikes are not allowed at Metrotown Station at anytime.
  • There is a maximum of two bikes per SkyTrain car and one per Canada line car.
  • No e-scooters allowed on the system
  • Morning and afternoon rush hour restrictions are still in place — Canada Line: Peak times in all directions. Expo & Millennium Lines: Peak times except for the allowances listed below.

Westbound:
7am – 9am Monday-Friday travelling from Columbia Station to VCC-Clark Station; and from Columbia and King George Stations towards Waterfront Station.

Eastbound:
4pm-6pm Monday-Friday travelling from VCC-Clark Station to Columbia Station; and from Waterfront Station towards Columbia and King George Station.

You can read more about our bike policy here.

Author: Adrienne Coling

John Atkin: SkyTrain Explorer

John Atkin leading a walk on Eveleigh St in Vancouver Photo courtesy of Wendy Cutler

John Atkin leading a walk on Eveleigh St in Vancouver
Photo courtesy of Wendy Cutler

This is the man, folks. John Atkin.

He wrote the book SkyTrain Explorer: Heritage Walks From Every Station and he’s the inspiration for me to walk those walks from Waterfront station to New Westminster station.

I’ve already have one in the can and you can read about my experience here.

I got the chance to sit down for a coffee with John on a rainy afternoon and discuss all things Metro Vancouver, how this book came to be and what he loves to explore.

Why SkyTrain stations?

Because it was arbitrary. *laughs* It came out of a discussion from a series of walks called “How to Look at Neighbourhoods.” It was a little bit of history, a little bit of development. But the idea was to get people out to look. At the end of one walk, someone told me that they wished their area was interesting. Turns out they lived right by the Nanaimo SkyTrain station.

The next walk, we met at the station and they were convinced nothing was there but we walked through a landscape of Vancouver Specials, the evolution of the area and found many fascinating little pockets. At the end of the walk, she was shocked (and pleasantly surprised) that there was all that in her own backyard. Everyone wanted to do another station and so we did!

What lead to the book itself?

After Vancouver Walks (with Michael Kluckner) was published, the publisher asked if I was interested in doing anything else. I said I was doing a few walks from the stations and they said, “That’d be cool!”

Riding the SkyTrain, I was always looking over, out the windows, wondering. When I had spare time I’d be on the train and randomly say, “well, let’s get off at the 4th stop.” Then just look around as I meandered. Turns out, other people wanted to do that too.

Why did you do the Expo Line and only to New West?

It was the original line. What I wanted to do is do that 1985 line. The idea was that we’d do the extension and the Millennium Line for the next one. Local publishing has changed but I do want to finish. I really do want to finish the Expo Line one day.

With the Millennium line, it’s tough right now to draw things out of some areas and stations. But that’s changing. There’s lots of Vancouver influence in those areas. I made tons of notes but I just couldn’t string it together yet. So, maybe if I just wait a long time, there will be lots to explore there!

What were the most interesting spots for you to walk and write about?

Edmonds was really interesting because it was semi-rural at the time. Big lots with small houses. And there was this creeping townhouse culture starting to show up but at the same time old Kingsway was still there. There was also this picture perfect shopping mall right out of the 1960s with an open courtyard and front facing shops.

That was a cool find. Actually, I went out originally and I wrote it all up, a great route. When I came back 8 months later to fact check it had all changed! That was a big development year for them.

Then, I guess, Royal Oak. It was one of those places that hadn’t yet taken off. The landscape was changing even when I was writing the book. At the time you could see grocery store, church, hardware store, house, house, house. It was the interurban stall that existed that just doesn’t now.

What advice would you give someone who wants to follow your guidance with the book… or break out and find their own walks?

It’s about going out and being curious about space. Just be curious. I can’t go anywhere without poking.

If you’re following the book, we published a while ago so you should keep in mind. You may look and think, “Whoops! Where’d that go?” We tried as much as possible in the book to give that indication that things will change. It’s inevitable!

If you’re doing it by yourself, the thing is, you make that decision when you’re out of the station, choose a direction and start walking.

Keep your eyes open. I think so often we’re so busy that we so rarely walk for the purpose of going nowhere.

I like going nowhere! By going nowhere you are really looking at your environment. You can start to see little things like a house may be older because it’s set far away from the street or that is a style very reminiscent of a certain era. Even the most seemingly boring space is interesting.

Part of the reason of choosing the SkyTrain is that it was, as I explained, a completely arbitrary structure.

Most people get on and go from A to B without any thought to what’s in between. It’s that idea of just being curious. As things change and the region develops, I think it’s a good idea to get to know an area that isn’t yours.

Beyond SkyTrain stations and areas in Metro Vancouver, what else do you like to explore?

I’m a big fan of shopping mall design. When we travel, we go to shopping malls.

We were in Beirut and we hiked way off into the Northern part of the city because there’s a new mall that just opened and we wanted to go see it. It had five or six floors but you entered at the top of a big hill and it was built all the way down the hill.

It was open air and you worked your way down the side of the hill in the mall. It was so interesting and something I’ve never seen before.

Malls are more interesting than you’d think. You can tell a lot about an area by the development of their malls!

Thanks to John for the afternoon chat and all the information about the book and our region.

He has definitely sparked a new interest for me and I am truly curious about the sidewalks, buildings, bridges and neighbourhoods of our region.

I can’t wait to get out there for my next SkyTrain explorer walk!

If you’re interested in joining John on one of his varied walks around the region, you can register here.

Stay tuned later this month for my Burrard station adventure.

Author: Adrienne Coling

SkyTrain Explorer: Waterfront Station

SkyTrain Explorer: Heritage Walks From Every Station

SkyTrain Explorer: Heritage Walks From Every Station

I’ve found a book. It’s called SkyTrain Explorer and it’s written by John Atkin, the co-author of Vancouver Walks.

It’s a very special book because it highlights (with clear directions) heritage walks you can take from every SkyTrain station along the Millennium and Expo Lines from Waterfront to New Westminster.

Atkin quotes comedian Steven Wright, “Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.” So, guess what? I’m going to take the time and walk the walks!

Too often we are oblivious to what’s all around us. Parks, buildings, history and culture. I know I’m guilty of this on my morning commute on transit.

But I want to know more about what makes this region so interesting and get off that train to go exploring.

This is the first in my series and over the next year I will make sure I do them all (hold me to it, please!) including pictures, any interesting videos and commentary of my experiences.

Enjoy!

It’s Sunday. It’s sunny. I’ve got my Chucks on and I’m ready to go! I mosey on over to the bus that takes me to the nearest Canada Line SkyTrain station and I hop on, heading to Waterfront.

I’ve been in Waterfront station countless times. Have I ever, even once, looked up at the architecture in the concourse? Nope. Not once.

I remedy this oversight immediately and spend a good 10 minutes walking around and taking pictures like a complete tourist!

According to the instructions, I head out past the A&W, ignore the calling of a delicious Teen burger and leave the station.

To my right, there’s a great view of the port, West Vancouver and the edge of the cruise ship terminal. To my left is a pedestrian walkway across Cordova St. Wait, was this always here? This is great!

As I cross the bridge, I turn back and grab a shot of the entirety of Waterfront station, built in 1914 for CPR. It really does have a presence with a beautiful backdrop.

The Sinclair Centre is next. It is made up of four buildings, the youngest of which was built in 1935. They were carefully restored in the 1980s and joined in the middle with a covered courtyard.

This block includes the Post Office from 1905, my personal favourite building on this particular walk.

Next time you’re near this area, check out the fish on the Granville St side of the buildings. Sometimes thought of as dolphins, they are actually sturgeon. Apparently, sturgeon are considered royal fish. You learn something new every day!

I see the impressive BIRKS flagship store to my Southeast. An impressive building that was originally the Canadian Bank of Commerce built in 1908.

Walking ever onward, Southwest now, I pass by the original Vancouver Stock Exchange under construction. Office building perhaps or condo? At least they’re keeping the outside.

I turn East and at Pender and Granville. The Rogers building. Built in 1912 and very well kept up since then! Peer up and see some lions keeping watch over the neighbourhood.

North to Hastings on Seymour. What I always thought was just a giant hotel is, in fact, the Conference Plaza (halls, retail, hotel and offices) with buildings dating back to the 1920s.

This includes the former Union Bank Building, now part of Simon Fraser University. Actually, a fair amount of older buildings in this section of town belong to SFU.

I look up and see the Vancouver lookout tower and the Harbour Centre. Any word on how the food is at the revolving restaurant?

I turn East on Hastings. Spencer’s Department Store circa 1928, later Eaton’s and finally Sears is now part of SFU’s downtown campus and on the left. Great library! I may have stopped and explored. I do love me some books!

Now, instead of heading down to Cordova and ending my walk, I continued East to Cambie.

The Dominion building on the Northwest corner cannot be missed. Shades of terracotta, yellows and oranges seem to capture a sunset in architecture that makes you stop and take notice!

I stroll down to Water St. to admire the much adored steam clock. Sorry to dash any heritage hopes for this popular attraction, but it was only built in 1977.

I love Gastown and I loved walking around it and the old financial district. You don’t have to walk far to see a lot in this neighbourhood!

My first heritage walk is done so I grab a drink, sit on a patio and enjoy the sunset.

Things I learned:

* Downtown Vancouver has some amazingly well-preserved heritage buildings
* Remember to look UP or you miss half of everything!
* Being a tourist in your own city is OK. Actually, it’s pretty fun!
* Even if you have directions, sometimes figuring out which building is which can take a few minutes – try to find the date on the building to help guide you.
* Never. Eat. Shredded. Wheat.

See my gallery below with all my pictures of the day. Which buildings are your favourites?

Stay tuned for the next installment in April, SkyTrain Explorer: Burrard Station!

Author: Adrienne Coling

 

TransLink 101: What is an express and pick-up/drop-off only bus?

TransLink 101 blog feature series banner

We’re going back to basics again with TransLink 101—explaining TransLink and its operations!

One of our buses carrying an 'express' designation

One of our buses carrying an ‘express’ designation

Express and pick-up and drop-off only are both stopping procedures for our bus routes.

“Express for the most part in the Lower Mainland really means limited stop. There are large gaps between the bus stops, such as on the three B-Line routes,” explains Katherine McCune, Manager of Service Planning at Coast Mountain Bus Company.

“These buses stop at major transfer points for customers, but do not stop at every stop located on the corridor. They offer a travel advantage over local service.”

Bus routes, such as the 160 and 503, are pick-up and drop-off only provide directional express-type service.

“Both these routes offer local stops along a portion of the route to collect customers and then at a point they become express and only drop off at major transfer points,” Katherine says.

“The reverse trip only picks up on the return trip. This ensures that customers to a particular area will have space on the bus to get there. Customers in the area the bus is travelling through are then encouraged to use the local services already available so they do not fill the bus and exclude those customers that are destined for the terminus.”

Katherine continues, “For example, someone wanting to go from Surrey Central to Clayton Heights has several travel options to get between the two locations. A customer from Aldergrove to Surrey Central does not have the same options and has only the one bus to rely on.”

What does it mean when I see an ‘Express’ designation on a route such as the 135 or 49?

“The buses are programmed to show 135 SFU / Burrard Station, but some operators like to add the express to make sure customers are aware that it is slightly different from a regular route,” Katherine says.

The 135 is different because it serves local stops between Simon Fraser University and Renfrew Street in Vancouver, but beyond that, it becomes a limited stop service all the way to Burrard Station.

On the 49, select trips are an ‘Express’ because they do not serve the Champlain area on 54th Avenue. These are extra trips put in to allow us to better serve and meet the demand of Langara College and the University of British Columbia during the school year.

Still have questions about why your bus says ‘Express’ on it? Ask our awesome drivers!

Author: Allen Tung

TransLink 101: What does farside and nearside bus stop mean?

TransLink 101 blog feature series banner

We’re going back to basics again with TransLink 101—explaining TransLink and its operations!

Why is this bus stop located where it is?

Why is this bus stop located where it is?

Have you ever used Google Maps to plan your trip or called 604.953.3333 with your transit stop number? Then you might have heard of farside (FS), nearside (NS), and mid-block bus stops.

What does that exactly mean?

Nearside is the side of an intersection before you cross and farside is the side after. Mid-block bus stops are located in between intersections.

Katherine McCune, Manager of Service Planning at Coast Mountain Company tells us farside stops are the standard due to safety and customer convenience considerations.

“Farside bus stops are preferred so that the cars do not cut in front of the bus stopped nearside or block the right turn lane and cause traffic congestion,” she says. “Also, the bus does not have to stop twice – once for picking up and dropping off customers and then again at the red light. All pedestrian activity takes place behind the bus when it has left the bus stop thus increasing the pedestrian safety.”

Nearside and mid-block bus stops are only used when it is absolutely necessary, such as a driveway is in the way or passenger amenities are poor on the farside.

“Nearside stops result in buses blocking the view of motorists and pedestrians, and often pedestrians running out in front of the bus,” Katherine says. “Mid-block stops are only used when we have a major [pedestrian traffic] generator in the area and generally there is a crosswalk or pedestrian signal nearby.”

When it comes to planning the placement of bus stops, the planning team works with the local municipalities and has spacing guidelines that they follow.

“We do not want stops too close together such that the bus cannot travel in a reasonably quick manner,” according to Katherine. “We also look at where people may be going to and coming from. We look for locations that will provide safety for our passengers, such as the location of crosswalks and signalized intersections nearby.”

Author: Allen Tung

TransLink 101: What’s interlining?

TransLink 101 blog feature series banner

We’re going back to basics again with TransLink 101—explaining TransLink and its operations!

This is our biggest service improvement yet: 14.7 million extra trips were added to the Metro Vancouver region!

What’s interlining?

Interlining combines two or more independent routes into one operational schedule. By doing so, we eliminate extended periods of down time where a bus would just be parked and out of service.

Katherine McCune, Manager of Service Planning at Coast Mountain Bus Company, tells us bus routes are interlined for several reasons, but one of the main reasons is scheduling efficiencies.

“It helps us minimize the footprint we use in the downtown core, for example,” she says. “A bus can arrive downtown as one route and sit very just a very few minutes and then leave as the next scheduled trip on another route.

Examples of interlined routes around the region include the 110, 144 and 116; the 403 and 480; and 601, 602, 603 and 604.

Wouldn’t it be most efficient if the buses ran nonstop – an operator drives his route and immediately goes back the opposite direction? Katherine tells us that is not the case.

“If you run buses nonstop you would no longer have a fixed schedule,” she says. “Customers require a schedule so they can make transfers to other services and have some idea of bus arrival at their stop. Without a schedule customers would not know when to expect the buses.”

One of the challenges of interlining is incidents on one leg of the bus’s journey can impact the service on the other end, Katherine notes.

“An accident on Hastings Street slowing the 135 could result in a delay in service on the 145, for example. However, with any serious incident our Transit Communications centre gets involved and makes adjustments on the road to ensure that service interruptions are minimal.”

Interlining also gives our operators some variety in their work, so they are not constantly driving the same roadways all the time!

Author: Allen Tung

TransLink 101: What is short turning?

TransLink 101 blog feature series banner

We’re going back to basics again with TransLink 101—explaining TransLink and its operations!

A 6 Davie bus on Graville Street

A 6 Davie bus on Graville Street

Sometimes situations beyond our control, such as weather, road conditions or heavy traffic affect how reliable our service can be.

In the rare event that a bus is regrettably significantly behind schedule, Transit Supervisors and Transit Communications (T-Comm), the traffic control centre so-to-speak for our bus operations, use “short turning” as a way to get buses back into the schedule.

“When a bus falls behind schedule, the bus can be ‘short turned’ – meaning the operator is directed to drop any passengers off and then go directly to another location on the route,” explains Fergie Beadle, Supervisor of Surrey Transit Center Operations. “This puts the bus back on schedule and then back into service.”

Often this means a bus ending its trip short of the terminus to begin the return trip in order to get back on schedule.

On the SeaBus, short turning exists too – although its done a little differently since you can’t really shorten the route of the SeaBus! At the direction of the bridge, the SeaBus will simultaneously load and discharge passengers in order to regain schedule.

Author: Allen Tung

TransLink 101: What are detours and why do they happen?

TransLink 101 blog feature series banner

We’re going back to basics again with TransLink 101—explaining TransLink and its operations!

One of our buses travelling on Broadway!

One of our buses travelling on Broadway!

Detours happen when our service has to take a different route than normal for reasons such as construction, parades, and city events. Whenever possible, these are always communicated to our bus operators and customers well ahead of time so you can plan ahead!

“It is primarily communicated to the Operators via an Operator’s Bulletin posted in the Transit Centre and by email to those Operators on our email list,” Fergie Beadle, Operations Supervisor at Surrey Transit Centre, tells us.

TransLink’s Mobile Transit Alerts!

For our customers, the detour information is posted on the bus stops along the affected route. Our Customer Information team also shares it on TransLink.ca’s Transit Alerts page (click here if our mobile-friendly site) and tweet it out on our @TransLink Twitter account as soon as they receive them.

Customers can also give them a call at 604.953.3333 and our agents will be happy to let you know where the bus is going and help you plan an alternative route if you like.

What goes into determining a detour route? It’s actually not as simple as finding a way to get around the obstacle! A number of considerations and factors have to be weighted.

“First and foremost, we try to have our buses miss as few stops as possible when we have to divert our service,” Lance A., a Work Leader from Customer Information says. “But many things can affect where we can actually send a bus.“

Fergie says the primary consideration is to ensure our buses can travel along the streets safety. Is the street wide enough? Can the bus make any turns required?

Having trolley wires can affect which streets we can use when our trolley buses have to detour and if they need to travel long distances. For shorter detours, they are equipped with a battery that allows them to travel about eight blocks with the poles off the wire.

View of T-Comm from Duty Manager’s desk.

A glimpse inside T-Comm from 2010

Transit Communication (T-Comm) tries to stick to main roads because it has to be able to corner and navigate on a street that we don’t normally use,” Lance adds.

“We can only turn down a street that our buses are actually able to use, that’s why we often try to detour buses onto roads where we already have regular bus service, whenever possible.”

Detours can sometimes mean missed stops along a route, but operators at their discretion and when safe to do so, will provide service along a detour route. A good idea for riders is to let the driver know where you would like to go.

“I’d always recommend waving a bus down when it’s not on its normal route, especially on those unexpected detours. The driver may not be aware of where all these new stops are, and you don’t want to miss your bus!,” says Lance.

In the rare event of an unplanned detour, such as due to heavy congestion, a police incident, or a motor vehicle accident, T-Comm and Transit Supervisors use TMAC (Transit Management and Communications System) to deliver the detour information to affected operators.

Reroute messages can be delivered solely to drivers of affected routes via TMAC.

A reroute message delivered to 341 drivers on TMAC

Operators get a text message on their screen letting them know about the specific detour. The system is smart enough to only alert operators on the affected routes.

At Customer Information, they publish text/email alerts as soon as they receive them. These notifications can involve planned detours, which they often know of weeks in advance through internal bulletins.

These service-related updates could also be related to unplanned detours. The information in the text message that is sent to drivers is seen by Customer Information in a report form as soon as that report is received. At that point, Customer Information will send it out as an alert to riders.

“Detours are a huge part of this job, we need to update the public as quickly as possible when our service is on detour,” says Lance. “Subscribe for text andemail alerts for your route, and follow @TransLink on Twitter so you’re never be out of the loop!”

Author: Allen Tung