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Translink Buzzer Blog

Category: State of the System

The February 2015 issue of the Buzzer is now on the system

The first issue of the Buzzer in 2015 is now on the system!Feb-2015-Buzzer

Much of it is dedicated to the information regarding the Transportation and Transit Plebisicite taking place from March 16 through until May 29th of this year.

Transit Police are changing the way they patrol the system. Customers can expect to see more officers at major stations and they will be basing their patrols from the busiest stations and bus loops.

There’s also information about some things to keep an eye out for on the system. One is the new high visibility vests you’ll see our SkyTrain attendants sporting. Another is the prototype bus safety barrier that will be on select routes out of the Burnaby Transit Centre.

CelticFest and Cherry Blossom Festival will be in full swing this spring and you can find the all details in this issue.

As always, we have our favourites – Contest Corner, Back Issues and Coming Events!

Happy reading! Pick it up today on the bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express or  download it here. The next issue of the Buzzer will be out in April 2015.

SkyTrain Attendants are now wearing high-visibility vests!

Check out the new vests!

Check out the new vests!

Taking the SkyTrain this week? You’ll see SkyTrain staff sporting a new look. Starting today, SkyTrain Attendants, Supervisors and Duty Managers on the Expo and Millennium lines are wearing new, high-visibility vests!

These vests will help ensure our customers can immediately identify front-line SkyTrain staff if they require assistance or help during an emergency.

Making our front-line staff more visible was one of the recommendations in the independent review of SkyTrain service.

“It is also important that staff in the field be quickly recognized as SkyTrain employees even when there is normal operating service. All front-line staff should wear high visibility vests over their clothing. This will make them easily recognizable in times of minor or major crisis.”

Sky Train Attendants’ vests are a yellow/royal blue combination and made of Gore-Tex. They’re light and versatile, and most importantly, help them stand out amidst a sea of commuters. They say, “SkyTrain Customer Service” across the back and over the chest pocket.

Of note, Canada Line Attendants already have uniforms that are compliant with the independent review.

Independent Review

Gary McNeil presented TransLink with an independent review of the SkyTrain service disruptions that occurred in July, 2014. His recommendations addressed improvements in operations, maintenance and customer service delivery.

We accepted all 20 of his recommendations and many have already been implemented. The rest will be put in action over the course of the next few years.

What do you think?
Leave a comment below. We want to know!

Open House for New Westminster Station on January 28, 2015

Here's whats coming up at New Westminster Station!

Here’s whats coming up at New Westminster Station!

We’re inviting you to attend an open house to learn about the station design, construction plan and project timeline for the upgrades coming to New Westminster Station.

New Westminster Station Open House

Date: January 28, 2015
Time: 2:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Location: New Westminster Station, ticket vending level between CIBC and Tim Hortons

Get involved online

Can’t make it to one of the sessions? No problem! We will also have information and a feedback survey posted at translink.ca/newwestminster. Feedback will be accepted between January 28 and February 11.

We hope to hear from you soon! Oh, and we’ll be posting more info about upgrades at New Westminster Station soon.

Expo Line Power Rail Replacement work – late-night shuttle service begins Jan.6

SkyTrain in action!

SkyTrain in action!

Hey buzzer readers!

As you may already know, we’re replacing 34 km of original power rail on the Expo Line. The power rail supplies SkyTrain vehicles with power, approximately 650 volts DC.

Work is returning to the area between Waterfront and Stadium–Chinatown and there will be service impacts for people travelling to or from those stations during late-night service.

From Jan. 6th to the 8th and the 11th to the 15th, passengers travelling through all stations between Waterfront and Stadium-Chinatown will commute using a shuttle train during late-night service.

  • Shuttle service will begin at 10:15 p.m. on January 6th and 8th, and 9 p.m. on all other days.
  • Passengers travelling west of Stadium-Chinatown must hop off and transfer to a shuttle train. Service east of Stadium-Chinatown will operate normally.
  • Passengers are encouraged to plan for an extra 10 minutes of travel time.
  • SkyTrain services will run as normal during the day, peak times and major downtown events.
SkyTrain staff will be on hand at affected stations to provide directions and assistance. We thank you for your patience and cooperation as we keep our system in good repair for your overall service.

Take transit in Port Coquitlam? You might have spotted our new CNG buses!

Say ''hello" to one of the newest additions to the CMBC bus fleet!

Say ”hello” to one of the newest additions to the CMBC bus fleet!

If you take transit in Port Coquitlam and neighbouring cities, you might have spotted our new compressed natural gas buses in service! Coast Mountain Bus Company will be receiving 45 of these New Flyer Xcelsior buses in total.

The interior of the new CNG bus showing the courtesy screens

The interior of the new CNG bus showing the courtesy screens

Passengers will notice the roof of the bus is higher and the European-style windows outside, which are flush with the side of the bus. In the interior, courtesy screens have been added in front of the first forward sitting seats on both sides. There’s also a rear-facing wheelchair seat like our trolley buses and Nova Buses.

The rear roof hatch is now a sun roof and the bus has climate control set for 20.5°C, so you’ll want to keep the sun roof and windows closed. Having it open during the winter months can cause rain and snow to enter vehicles too!

Expect a smoother, more comfortable and powerful ride too. Transmission shifting is a lot smoother and comments from drivers and passengers are that the bus seems to glide. The bus also has more power, so it will be able to climb hills such as Gaglardi Way up to Simon Fraser University with a little more ease.

The buses will operate out of Port Coquitlam Transit Centre as it is currently the only centre equipped with CNG refueling stations until the Hamilton Transit Centre in east Richmond opens in 2016.

Renewing our bus fleet is part of our commitment to keep our system in a state of good repair. Most of our 40-foot and 60-foot buses have a 17-year replacement life as this life cycle has proven to have the lowest overall cost and practical life for our fleet. After 17 years, the costs to maintain vehicles increases and the safety decreases due to factors such as:

  • Component obsolescence – for example, the engines in our older buses have been out of production for 14 years.
  • Frame and body corrosion and fatigue – structural repairs can be very expensive or not safe to repair.
  • Overall maintenance costs escalate and reliability is lower as components reach the end of life and/or are rebuilt multiple times.
  • Safety inspections often take a bus out of service around the 17 year life.
  • Environmental and comfort factors – older buses have much more emissions, and are generally noisier, plus possible less comfort for passengers and drivers.

The 45 new CNG buses will replace the 45 older diesel buses that have reached the end of their life and will be retired from service.

Thanks to Eric W. for suggesting this Buzzer blog post! Have something you’d like us to blog about? Email it to thebuzzer@translink.ca or tweet us @TheBuzzer

Free transit on New Year’s Eve 2014 starting at 5 pm and New Year’s Day 2015 holiday service

Transit is free starting at 5 pm on New Year's Eve

Transit is free starting at 5 pm on New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve – Wednesday, December 31

As always, rides will be free of charge starting from 5:00 pm on New Year’s Eve until 5:00 am on New Year’s Day on all buses, SkyTrain, SeaBus, West Coast Express and HandyDART.

Bus, SkyTrain and SeaBus will all operate a normal weekday schedule with additional trips or extended service.

SkyTrain will operate more frequent evening trains and will extend service by approximately one hour.

The last Expo Line train to King George will leave Waterfront at 2:16 am. The last Canada Line train leaves Waterfront at 2:05 am to YVR-Airport and 2:15 am to Richmond-Brighouse.

SeaBus will extend service by about one hour with the last sailing from Lonsdale Quay at 2 am and Waterfront at 2:20 am.

West Coast Express afternoon trains depart from Waterfront at 1 pm, 3 pm, 4:20 pm, 5:30 pm and 6:20 pm. The 12:55 pm TrainBus will be replaced by the 1 pm train. All other TrainBus trips will depart at their regular times.

Regular fares apply on New Year’s Eve until 5 pm.

New Year’s Day – Thursday, January 1

Bus, SkyTrain, and SeaBus will all be operating on a regular Sunday/holiday schedule. The West Coast Express and TrainBus will not be operating.

Remember, since New Year’s Day is a holiday, you only need a single-zone fare to travel in all zones all day.

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You’ll want to use the Trip Planner to check your route and schedule times. The information noted here is subject to change. For the latest and most up-to-date information, visit translink.ca/holidayservice, call Customer Information at 604.953.3333 or tweet us @TransLink.

Service returns to regular weekday schedules for all modes on Friday, January 2, 2015.

Christmas and Boxing Day 2014 holiday service

santabusHere’s the overview of holiday service and fares for this week!

Christmas Eve – Wednesday, December 24

Bus, SkyTrain and SeaBus will all operate regular weekday schedules and regular fares will apply.

West Coast Express afternoon trains will depart from Waterfront at 1 pm, 3 pm, 4:20 pm, 5:30 pm and 6:20 pm. The 12:55 pm TrainBus will be replaced by the 1 pm train. All other TrainBus trips will depart at their regular times.

Christmas Day – Thursday, December 25

SkyTrain and SeaBus will operate on a Sunday/holiday schedule and to better reflect demand, bus service will operate on an adjusted Sunday/holiday schedule. West Coast Express trains and TrainBus service will not operate.

Boxing Day – Friday, December 26

Boxing Day will have an enhanced schedule, especially on routes to shopping destinations to help shoppers get to where they need to go! SeaBus will operate a Sunday/holiday service with extended evening trips. The last sailing will leave Lonsdale Quay at 1 am and Waterfront at 1:22 am.

Some bus routes will be modified to provide additional services and additional late evening trips will be added on some routes to connect with the last SeaBus departures. SkyTrain will operate on a Saturday service with extra trains. West Coast Express trains and TrainBus service will not operate.

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You’ll want to use the Trip Planner to check your route and schedule times. The information noted here is subject to change. For the latest and most up-to-date information, visit translink.ca/holidayservice, call Customer Information at 604.953.3333 or tweet us @TransLink.

Remember, on Christmas and Boxing Day, you only need a single-zone fare to travel in all zones all day.

 

The Mayors’ Council announce transit referendum question

The Mayors’ Council have voted this morning to ask the public to vote yes or no to a .5% increase in the Provincial sales tax in order to expand the regional transit and transportation system in Metro Vancouver. If approved by the Provincial Government of BC, the proposed yes or no referendum could start as soon as March of 2015.

The Mayors’ Council website has been updated with the above video and accompanying information including the press release with the proposed referendum question. For answers to referendum and Mayors’ Council questions, you’ll want to follow @CutCongestion on Twitter and the CutCongestion Facebook page. You’ll also want to sign up for updates.

More about our SkyTrain system safety features

One of our SkyTrain Attendants helping out a customer at Lougheed Town Centre Station

One of our SkyTrain Attendants helping out a customer at Lougheed Town Centre Station

Have you ever wondered about the yellow strip onboard SkyTrain? Wonder no more!

We are here to tell you more about the five main safety features on SkyTrain – the passenger silent alarm, speakerphone, designated waiting areas, emergency cabinets, and Transit Police‘s 87-77-77 non-emergency text reporting service.

Passenger Silent Alarm – also known as the Yellow Strip

The 'yellow strip' silent alarm found on every window on SkyTrain

The ‘yellow strip’ silent alarm found on every window on SkyTrain

The passenger silent alarm is the yellow strip located on every window on-board our SkyTrain cars.

When pressed by passengers, it triggers an alarm at SkyTrain control alerting the Control Operator. A SkyTrain Attendant will board the train at the next attended station to investigate the situation.

Our attendants are trained to provide customer service, provide emergency response, troubleshooting train and station operations, and performing fare inspections.

To better assess the situation and determine an appropriate response, SkyTrain control has the ability to activate the speakerphones on-board and listen in on the activities in that car.

It’s important to note that pressing the yellow strip does not stop the train or directly alert Transit Police.

Speakerphone

The SkyTrain speakerphone found on board all cars near the doors.

The SkyTrain speakerphone found on board all cars near the doors

The speakerphone is located inside each car near the doors and provides two-way voice communication with SkyTrain control operators for emergency assistance.

All the passenger needs to do is press the ‘red’ button on the speakerphone and they’ll be directly connected with SkyTrain control.

Activating the speakerphone does not stop the train or directly alert Transit Police.

During system-wide disruptions, passengers can use the speakerphone to communicate with SkyTrain control for emergency assistance.

Passengers should not force open SkyTrain doors as this is a dangerous practice. Portions of the track remain charged with 600 volts of power and the risk of electrocution is present even when the train is stopped.

Forcing SkyTrain doors open can lead to lengthier delays since, for the safety of passengers that have exited, power has to be shut down and then a safety sweep has to be conducted before the system can be powered back on.

Designated Waiting Areas and Emergency Cabinets

A designated waiting area and emergency cabinet at Sapperton Station

A designated waiting area and emergency cabinet at Sapperton Station

Designated Waiting Areas have enhanced lighting, red emergency telephones, a bench, and are monitored by closed-circuit television.

Emergency Cabinets are located on SkyTrain platforms and are equipped with a fire extinguisher and emergency train stop buttons along with a red emergency telephone.

Like our on-board speakerphone, the red emergency phone is a direct line to SkyTrain control for emergency assistance.

Pushing the emergency train stop button does not shut down power on the SkyTrain tracks, so passengers should never enter the track area even if the emergency stop has been pushed and the train has stopped.

87-77-77 Texting Service

Transit Police 87-77-77 Texting Service

Text 87.77.77

The Transit Police report-by-text (SMS) system allows passengers to discreetly report crime and suspicious activity on and related to transit without drawing attention to themselves.

Messages will be received immediately by Transit Police dispatchers and they will respond accordingly. They may dispatch an officer, ask the user to call 911 if it is an emergency, or refer them to other resources.

You can also use the Transit Police OnDuty app to report. Through its built-in text messaging function, users will be able to access the 87-77-77 service directly from the app.

There is no need to draw attention to yourself and you don’t have to wait to report crime on transit. The texting service is for discreet reporting across the transit system — not just on the SkyTrain.

Have any questions about our safety features? Ask away in the comments section and we’ll get you the answers!

TransLink accepts all 20 recommendations in McNeil report on SkyTrain service

TransLink accepts all 20 recommendations in McNeil report on SkyTrain service

TransLink accepts all 20 recommendations in McNeil report on SkyTrain service

TransLink is accepting and acting on all 20 recommendations made by independent reviewer Gary McNeil into SkyTrain.

» Read Gary McNeil’s full report and recommendations

Mr. McNeil estimates that all the recommendations will cost approximately $71 million to implement. This includes equipment and technology upgrades, and customer service improvements.

We have already moved ahead with some of this work. We acted immediately following July’s unprecedented service disruptions by improving the way we prevent, prepare for, and respond to service disruptions. Funds to complete the initiatives will be budgeted over the next five years.

The service disruptions in July were unacceptable to customers and unacceptable to us.  We are committing to better service on SkyTrain and with this review, we now have a clear plan of action for improving our customers’ experience with this vital regional service.

Some of the recommendations include:

  • More resources and a robust plan for quickly and safely evacuating passengers from trains during major service disruptions.
  • A better Passenger Address System, including PA speakers and emergency information panels at each station entrance.
  • Adding the “auto restart” component to SkyTrain’s SELTRAC system to reduce the duration of delays when major failures occur to the “command and control” communication function between trains.
  • Installing system continuity equipment for critical system elements. These “redundancies” for system continuity will ensure the critical functions remain active in the event of a system failure.
  • Upgrading the guideway intrusion system to better detect false alarms.
  • Increasing the visibility of front-line staff.

These initiatives will aim to:

  • Reduce the frequency and duration of service disruptions
  • Ensure timely evacuation of passengers in the event of a prolonged disruption
  • Strengthen the resilience of the system so it can recover from breakdowns more quickly
  • Provide clear and frequent communication with customers on the trains, in and around the stations, and on buses, when service disruptions occur

Have a question about the report? Let us know in the comments section below!

Remembrance Day 2014 holiday service

remembrancedayRemembrance Day is Tuesday, November 11.

Bus, SkyTrain, and SeaBus will run on a Sunday/holiday schedule. West Coast Express and TrainBus will not operate. Bus routes may change slightly to accommodate parades and services.

Remember, on a holiday, you only need a single-zone fare to travel in all zones all day!

Service returns to regular weekday schedules for all modes on Wednesday, November 12.

Veterans, Armed Forces and Coast Guard members ride free!

In honour of Remembrance Day, and the contribution our veterans have made to this country, TransLink and its operating companies are providing transit — free of charge — to veterans and members of the Armed Forces and Coast Guard.

Veterans include Ordinary and Life Members of the Royal Canadian Legion, the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans and the Korean Veterans Association. Veterans just have to show their membership card or appear in uniform to receive free transportation. Free service does not apply to associate members of these organizations.

Free transit applies to bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus and HandyDart service and the Canada Line YVR-AddFare is included.

A moment of silence at 11 am

The SkyTrain, SeaBus and buses will observe a moment of silence at 11 am (or the stop reached closest to the hour). All TransLink and operating company properties will also half-mast their flags from sunrise to sunset on November 11.

Remembrance Day Parade reroutes

Remembrance Day parades and services in Vancouver, Burnaby, North Vancouver, New Westminster, Richmond, Port Coquitlam, White Rock, and Aldergrove means some buses will be temporarily rerouted on Tuesday, November 11.

For a complete list of reroutes please check the Transit Alerts tab on our Alerts and Advisories page.

Halloween and Transit 2014: Your costumes of transit and on transit!

Halloween safety tips from Transit Police

When taking part in Halloween festivities this weekend, Transit Police is reminding everyone to take a few precautions to ensure you enjoy the night safely.

Here are some tips:

  • Take extra care when choosing a Halloween costume. Ask yourself, could this prop be easily mistaken for the real thing? If so, how might it put your safety at risk if the police are called? If in doubt, leave it at home.


  • Consumption of liquor in public is illegal. This includes at SkyTrain stations and on-board buses, SkyTrain, and SeaBus, If you are carrying liquor on transit, ensure it remains closed until you arrive at your private destination.


  • Stay alert to your surroundings while on public transit. Keep valuables out of sight from others. Avoid being engrossed in your electronic device.


  • Plan ahead for a safe ride home. Make note of key times such as the last trip of the night. The last Expo Line train to King George Station leaves Waterfront Station at 1:16 am, Mondays through Saturdays, and at 12:15 am on Sundays and holidays. The last Canada Line train to Richmond-Brighouse Station departs Waterfront Station at 1:15 am, seven days a week.


  • If travelling in a group, establish a meeting place in the event you are separated. 


  • Be visible. Wear bright costumes or include reflective tape, glow sticks, or other articles that improve visibility.


  • Use face paint or make‐up instead of a mask. If you must wear a mask, enlarge the eyes for better vision and push it back off your face when you are walking in and around train stations, and in busy pedestrian areas.

Stay connected to Transit Police through the free OnDuty app. Report any suspicious events or safety concerns on public transit to Transit Police’s non-emergency line. Text 87‐77‐77 (standard carrier rates may apply) or call 604‐515‐8300. In emergencies, always call 911.

Customers in West Vancouver can expect onboard announcements

West Van Blue Bus

A key benefit of TMAC is GPS technology.

Today TransLink introduces the Transit Management and Communications system or “TMAC”, to the 57 vehicle strong West Vancouver Blue Bus fleet. This onboard communications system provides a more predictable and consistent service and delivers increased dispatch support and monitoring to ensure safe and efficient travel for customers and operators.

TMAC benefits include:

  • Onboard speakers and public information displays provide next stop announcements to help customers on new routes, riders experiencing the system for the first time, and customers with seeing or hearing challenges.
  • GPS technology provides customers real-time access to real-time transit information on the Next Bus mobile site.
  • GPS technology is on every bus, providing added security.
  • A fully monitored service, providing operators with real-time information on traffic congestion, road detours and adherence to the published service schedule.

Do you remember this post? Although the system has improved over time, here is a more detailed look at the system and how it operates.

If you are a customer in West Vancouver, let us know what you think of the new system.

Thankgiving holiday service on Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! (Photo: John/Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Happy Thanksgiving! (Photo by John, CC BY-NC 2.0)

A reminder to our customers that Monday, October 13 is Thanksgiving!

Bus, SkyTrain, and SeaBus will all be operating on a Sunday/Holiday schedule. The West Coast Express and TrainBus will not be operating.

Remember, since it’s a holiday, you only need a single-zone fare to travel across all zones all day!

Service returns to regular weekday schedules for all modes on Tuesday, October 14, 2014.

Need service and trip planning information? Our Customer Information team is here to help! You can reach them at 604.953.3333 and on Twitter (@TransLink), 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., seven days a week.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!