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Category: TransLink 101

TransLink 101: What’s interlining?

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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!

TransLink 101: What is short turning?

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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.

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

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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!”

TransLink 101′s back: We’re going to explore some more basic questions about our services

 

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We're back with another iteration of TransLink 101!

TransLink 101 is back!

We’re dusting off an old special series and bringing you another iteration of the TransLink 101 posts where we explore some basic questions about TransLink and the work that we do!

What’s TransLink 101 all about?

Last time, we covered off what TransLink does, TransLink’s responsibilities for roads and bridges, fare zones, how TransLink gets its funding, where buses and trains sleep at night, why can’t SkyTrain run 24 hours, and how do we keep the system in a stage of good repair!

We’re going back to basics again, but this time we’re going to focus more on the operations side of things! Our planned topics include:

  • What is interlining?
  • What does it mean when a bus is an express?
  • What is short turning?
  • What does far-side and near-side bus stop mean?
  • What are detours and why do they happen?

As well, we’d like to answer a burning TransLink question you’ve always wanted the answer to! Suggest your topic in the comments!

TransLink 101: Where does TransLink get its funding… and how do we spend it?

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For February 2013, we’re going back to basics with TransLink 101—explaining TransLink and its work!

One of the questions we often hear is, “How are TransLink and the transportation network funded?”

People usually think first of transit fares as one source of revenue, but fares make up just one piece of the revenue pie. So, as part of our TransLink 101 series, we’re looking at TransLink’s existing revenue sources, and where our revenues are spent. Let’s go!

What are TransLink’s existing revenue sources?

TransLink Revenues

TransLink’s available revenue sources as of 2013

Our revenue sources are broad and diverse, which is a benefit because it makes us better able to weather a changing economy, and gives us the capacity to deliver stable and predictable transportation services.

It also comes out loud and clear in our credit ratings – TransLink has maintained an “AA” credit rating even in the face of the financial pressures we’ve faced recently. This means investors, who take into account our revenue sources along with our governance structure and management, rate our organization well and consider our organization stable and well-managed.

There are two main “streams” of revenue that fund TransLink’s services: taxation revenue and user revenue.

Read more »

TransLink 101: keeping our system in a state of good repair

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For February 2013, we’re going back to basics with TransLink 101—explaining TransLink and its work!

SkyTrain, by Michelle Lee

As you travel around on the transportation network, have you ever thought about just what’s needed to keep the system running safely, efficiently and reliably — also known as a “state of good repair“?

Right now, TransLink has an estimated $10.2 billion worth of assets and infrastructure – from buses and trains to radio towers across the region that support the communication systems on our buses. And because they form the backbone of  a transportation system used by hundreds of thousands of people very day, keeping them in a state of good repair is crucial.

So while people often talk about transportation expansion to meet the growing needs of the region, we also have to make sure we keep our existing assets in a state of good repair so we can extend the life of the system already in place today.

In 2012 we conducted an in-depth asset inventory and analysis to understand what’s needed to keep our transportation assets in a state of good repair, today and over the next few decades.

To help us better understand the process, why we did it, and why it’s so important, I sat down with Dave Beckley, TransLink’s Vice President of Engineering and Implementation.

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TransLink 101: Why can’t SkyTrain run 24 hours?

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For February 2013, we’re going back to basics with TransLink 101—explaining TransLink and its work!

SkyTrain at night. Photo by kennymatic from Flickr. (Click the image to go to the original!)

As we’re nearing the end of the TransLink 101 series, we thought we’d talk about something that we get asked quite often: why can’t SkyTrain run 24/7?

We often get this question as SkyTrain is an automated, driverless, light rapid transit system, which provides a lot of flexibility in how we can run our trains.

But even without drivers, there are other key factors that affect how long SkyTrain can run every day. Here’s a quick FAQ!

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TransLink 101: Where do our transit vehicles sleep at night?

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For February 2013, we’re going back to basics with TransLink 101—explaining TransLink and its work!

Buses settled in for the night.

Buses settled in for the night, in a photo from about 2006.

You ride our buses and trains during the day, but what happens when they go home at night?

Well, just like the rest of us, our vehicles need some downtime and TLC at the end of a long day of work. Each night, our SkyTrains, buses, SeaBuses and West Coast Express trains retire to their own resting places for a well-deserved break. Read on to find out just what happens!

SkyTrain

From 2009: two generations of SkyTrain car inside our operations and maintenance centre near Edmonds.

From 2009: two generations of SkyTrain car inside our operations and maintenance centre near Edmonds.

For most of our SkyTrains, the end of the day means heading over to our Maintenance and Storage Facility near Edmonds SkyTrain station (15 stay on the line overnight, some along the Millennium Line and near King George Station).

George Booth, vehicle supervisor, says trains start coming off the line in the evening reduced service times so cleaning can start at 7:30 p.m. and finish by 4 a.m. Crews work through the night cleaning, changing light bulbs, replacing seat covers and doing other maintenance as needed.

And, depending on the temperatures outside, some of the SkyTrains might even head over to our automated train wash (how fun is that?!?). It’s just like a car wash, but for SkyTrains!

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TransLink 101: What’s the deal with fare zones?

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For February 2013, we’re going back to basics with TransLink 101—a series explaining TransLink and its work!

translink metrotown graeme brown

Graeme Brown, TransLink planner, at Metrotown Station!

Have you ever wondered why we have fare zones on our transit system? As part of our February TransLink 101 series, Graeme Brown, TransLink planner extraordinaire, helped us shed some light on what fare zones are, why we have them and what they could look like in the future!

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TransLink 101: Managing major roads and bridges in Metro Vancouver

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For February 2013, we’re going back to basics with TransLink 101—a series of posts explaining TransLink and its work!

A view down Knight Street (part of the Major Road Network), by brian.ch on Flickr

When most people think of TransLink, they immediately think of our transit services. But while transit is at the heart of our mandate, TransLink is also responsible for roads and bridges throughout the region, particularly corridors that connect communities and are critical for the movement of both people and goods.

So if you drive in Metro Vancouver, then you probably use roads that TransLink pays municipalities to operate and maintain! Running these roads, bridges, and transit helps TransLink fulfill its job to plan for regional transportation needs as a whole.

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TransLink 101: What is TransLink, anyway?

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For February 2013, we’re going back to basics with TransLink 101—a series of posts explaining TransLink and its work!

So what is TransLink, anyway?

Put simply, TransLink is the authority responsible for transportation in Metro Vancouver. And when we say transportation, we mean more than just public transit!

Our work includes:

The TransLink family tree

TransLink's governance and operating structure

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TransLink 101: welcome to our February special post series!

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We’re doing something different on the Buzzer blog in 2013!

Each month this year, we’ll take a topic and explore it through a series of special blog posts. (Though don’t worry, we’ll still post about other content too!)

For our first month, we’ve decided to go back to basics with a series we’d like to call TransLink 101!

What’s TransLink 101 about?

This month, we’ll explore some basic questions about TransLink and its work that many of you might be wondering about. Our planned topics include:

As well, we’d also like to feature an article that YOU pick!

What do you want us to write about?

Is there a burning TransLink question you’ve always wanted the answer to? Suggest your topic in the comments!

From your suggestions, we’ll select five that sound doable, and then everyone can vote for the winner in a poll at the end of this week end of next week, so we can gather more submissions! (And you never know — you might see the runners-up in future posts too :) Edit: We didn’t end up running a poll because we didn’t receive very many suggestions! So never mind.

If you need some inspiration, here are some articles we’ve done in the past:

Ok – suggest away! We hope you enjoy the series!