Translink Buzzer Blog

Category: State of the System

Have you spotted the TELUS Wi-Fi bus?

Enjoy free Wi-Fi from TELUS while you ride!

Enjoy free Wi-Fi from TELUS while you ride!

If you’re a regular rider on the 99, 351, or 555, you might have spotted our buses wrapped in TELUS branding offering free Wi-Fi!

TELUS has an arrangement with Lamar Advertising, who manages advertising on Coast Mountain buses, to pilot this service to our customers for a limited time. The service is available for all mobile digital devices that are enabled for Wi-Fi.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy free Wi-Fi while you ride! You can tweet @TELUSsupport if you are having issues.

The specific buses are 8125, 9258, and 9266.

Does this mean Wi-Fi is coming to all buses?

TransLink is committed to providing the best possible service to our customers across Metro Vancouver, while running an efficient transportation system with the resources available. At this time we do not have the resources to provide free Wi-Fi across the system. =(

That doesn’t mean it isn’t a possibility in the future. We are always looking for ways to improve the customer experience which includes looking at future advertising arrangements and possibly long-term partnerships to provide better mobile connectivity throughout the entire transit system in Metro Vancouver. =)

Enjoy more bus and train service this BC Day long-weekend!

Photo by Jay Siggs

Photo by Jay Siggs

Ready for the long-weekend? There will be additional bus, SeaBus and train service on August 2nd, 3rd and 4th to help you get where you need go, safely and comfortably this BC Day long weekend.

Details on all the specific service changes for the Celebration of Light finale, the Pride Parade and BC Day can be found by visiting our Calendar of Events. Please check your route before you go and allow plenty of time to get to and from the downtown corridor, given the additional volume during these events.

 

Just a couple of notes:

  • To show our appreciation for customers, we’re offering a fare holiday on BC Day! This includes Bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus and HandyDART services.
  • Scheduled power rail maintenance work will affect service on the Millennium and Expo lines from 8 pm to the end of service.
  • The Train2Main will be in operation for those travelling to or from the Main Street-Science World Station. See OnTrack for more details.
  • Transit Police will deploy additional officers to ensure that everyone is able to travel to and from the event safely. You can text all non-emergency reports to Transit Police at 87-77-77 or     call 604.515.8300. In case of an emergency, always call 9-1-1.

 

For transit service information throughout the summer, sign up for Transit Alerts, visit m.translink.ca, follow @TransLink or call Customer Service at 604.953.3333.

 

What’s that green sign with the running person at Main Street-Science World SkyTrain station?

What's that green running thing?!

What’s that green sign with the running person?!

If you’ve been to Main Street-Science World since the east stationhouse upgrades were completed, you might have noticed some new signage.

A closer look at the new sign, courtesy of ISO!

A closer look at the new sign, courtesy of ISO!

There are green signs here and there throughout the station showing a person running out a doorway.

What are they?

Well, they are the new emergency exit signs!

Jeff Deby, Senior Wayfinding Specialist at TransLink, tells us these signs were adopted in the B.C. Building Code in 2012 and the National Building Code of Canada in 2010.

These will replace the text-based, red ‘EXIT’ signs as the standard emergency exit sign in all new building facilities in Canada.

“The new signs follow the ISO international standard and are commonly seen in Europe and Asia,” Jeff says. “It will be more familiar to international travellers, and the graphic method of communication is easier to understand for people who don’t read English.

Here's the old exit sign found at Sapperton and most SkyTrain stations

Here’s the old exit sign found at Sapperton Station and other TransLink facilities

It is also clearly separate from the wayfinding system (which helps people navigate the transit network) because it is so distinctive, making it clearer in cases when an exit is for emergency use.”

Since this sign is the new standard in B.C., it will start to appear in more facilities across the transit network in the coming years.

This includes all six new Evergreen stations and other SkyTrain stations that have been identified for major upgrades.

Update on cause of SkyTrain disruptions

An update on SkyTrain

An update on SkyTrain

UPDATE: Besides apologizing for the recent SkyTrain disruptions, TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis says TransLink will be bringing in an outside adviser to help TransLink better prepare for future disruptions. 

Hello Buzzer readers. Below is an update about the SkyTrain disruption yesterday. We’ll try our best to answer your questions. We’re still reviewing the disruptions yesterday and last Thursday, so bear with us!

Human error led to yesterday’s Millennium and Expo Line disruptions.

An experienced electrician was installing a new circuit breaker for the Evergreen Line at a power distribution panel when he accidently tripped the main breaker feeding the critical systems at SkyTrain’s operations centre, causing a system-wide shut down of train controls.

TransLink is still reviewing the details of the incident.

The power outage halted trains and impacted TransLink’s ability to communicate with customers over SkyTrain’s PA systems.

Additional resources were quickly mobilized to ensure continued customer safety and to help people get to their destinations.

Every available bus was used, and employees from all areas were called in to help or stayed well beyond their shifts for several hours.  TransLink also relied on the news media, social media, television screens in the stations, and its website to communicate with customers.

Bus-shuttle hubs were set up at the busiest locations, with 42 buses running to keep people moving.

“Our trains are reliable 95% of the time, but we know that is little consolation for customers who are delayed for hours when we do have a significant breakdown,” said Doug Kelsey, TransLink Chief Operating Officer.

“Two major disruptions in one week is unprecedented, and the two incidents are completely unrelated.”

To show appreciation for customers, TransLink will offer a free day of transit on BC Day with details to be later announced.

10 Heat Wave survival tips from TransLink’s Buzzer

A sunrise over the SkyTrain in New Westminster.

A sunrise over the SkyTrain in New Westminster.

In a few days, it’s going to be HOT with temperatures soaring upwards of 28 degrees Celsius—or 34 degrees Celsius if you factor in humidity!

We’re quite used to the temperate weather in Metro Vancouver, so it might get a little uncomfortable especially on crowded buses and SkyTrain cars.

Before you head out out the door, here are ten heat wave survival tips for traveling on transit!

1. Plan ahead

Summer season is also detour season! Festivals, marathons, and markets are taking place across Metro Vancouver, so be sure to follow us on Twitter (@TransLink) and check the Transit Alerts page before you go.

You can also plan your trip using our Trip Planner tool to find the fastest way to get to your destination with the least amount of walking and minimize layover time between transfers. And don’t forget to check out where your bus is in real time by clicking on Next Bus via m.translink.ca!

If you think you’ll need time to recover from the heat, it might be a good idea to start your trip a little earlier too. This way you aren’t running after the train and it will give you time to recuperate between transfers such as spending some time in the shade or grabbing an ice cold drink.

2. Ride beside others as you would have them ride beside you.

It’s at times like these we need to remember the Golden Rule of Transit: “Ride beside others as you would have them ride beside you.”

Since heat and crowded conditions can make people very testy, we need to be all the more mindful at these times of what we do around others. If you can, try to observe basic hygiene and don’t go too far with the cologne, after-shave or perfume, since so many people are severely allergic.

3. Dress smart

Our buses do not have a “dress code” as such, but for safety reasons, shirts and footwear are required on SkyTrain; so if you’ve been to the beach and take the bus back intending to transfer to SkyTrain, make sure you have a shirt on and something on your feet.

It’s a good idea to wear white or light coloured, breathable clothing since black and other dark colours trap heat. Remember to wear sunscreen and sunglasses—being inside the bus doesn’t protect you from harmful UV rays!

And remember to apply the Golden Rule – would you want to sit next to someone on a hot day without a layer of cloth between you?

4. Drink plenty of fluids

Generally, food and drink are not allowed on transit vehicles, but since it’s important to stay hydrated, I’m sure our drivers will cut you some slack and allow you to bring a bottle of water on board. ;)

Absolutely no drinks with no lids! It might be a good idea to stay away beverages such as coffee and pop since they could cause dehydration.

Be mindful that it is sometimes necessary for our transit vehicles to come to a sudden stop, so it’s probably not a good idea to drink while the vehicle is in motion. Even though it’s a hot day, I’m sure you don’t want to spill water on yourself or having your water bottle go flying across the bus and spilling.

5. Keep those windows open—or shut! 

The majority of TransLink vehicles are not air-conditioned, but some are! These include our Mark II SkyTrain cars, highway coaches, newer community shuttles, and newer buses in West Vancouver and Richmond.

Vehicles that are air conditioned have signage on the windows saying so and it’s important to remember to keep those windows closed. It can take some time for the bus to become cool if it just entered service, so be patient rather than opening the window. It will be worth the wait!

Mark I SkyTrain cars were built without air conditioning because in the mid-1980s, when they were built, A/C units were much heavier and more expensive than they are now. Since those issues were resolved by the time the Mark II cars were built, the newer cars and Canada Line have air conditioning.

If you want a window opened or closed, as a courtesy, it might be nice to ask around first in case somebody has a preference for the window to be opened or closed. They might have allergies!

6. Stretch the priority seating definition

Stretch your definition of who should have priority in seating. Our signage says seniors and people with disabilities have priority, but if you see someone on a hot day who looks like they need the seat more than you do, please be courteous and offer it to them.

7. Strategize

Figure out which seat will get you away from the sun and plan accordingly! It will make for a more comfortable and cooler ride. Consider waiting for an air conditioned SkyTrain car if you think you need it.

8. Adjust your travel times

Do you really need to hop on the bus at 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon to do grocery shopping? Consider travelling earlier or later in the day when transit is less crowded and the weather outside is a little bit cooler. Remember, it’s a one-zone fare after 6:30 p.m.!

9. Move to the back of the bus

Moving all the way to the back of the bus means more people can get onto the bus and more room for you too in this weather. We promise there’s no black hole in the middle of the bus!

10. BREATHE!

Above all, BREATHE! We all look forward to a warm summer and here it is.  Cut others some slack and enjoy the nice weather. Days like these don’t last long in this area.

Vancouver’s climate and transportation system are two factors that make it one of the most livable regions in the world. Observing these suggestions and maintaining your own “situational awareness” can make for a more pleasant experience all around.

Let us know in the comments section, tweet us @TheBuzzer, or email us at thebuzzer@translink.ca how you plan to beat the heat!

Canada Day 2014 holiday transit service

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day!” by Ian Muttoo is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

We celebrate Canada’s 147th birthday next Tuesday!

SkyTrain, SeaBus, and bus will all be running on a Sunday/holiday schedule, but TransLink will be extending services to help get customers get where they need to go.

Customers are advised to check their route before they go and remember, it’s a one-zone fare to travel across all zones!

Service returns to regular weekday schedules for all modes on Wednesday, July 2.

The nitty-gritty!

Bus services will operate Sunday/holiday hours and service, except as noted:

  • Customers going to the Canada Day event in Cloverdale can take the 320 at Surrey Central Bay 2; 12 additional shuttles will leave Cloverdale following the fireworks.
  • “Saturday” late night trips will operate for the 319, 320 and 321 to connect with the last train from Waterfront to King George.
  • To accommodate Canada Day festivities across the region, there will be increased frequency or minor detours on some routes, including multiple routes in downtown Vancouver and the 135, 160, 209, 210, 211, 240, 246, 250, 250A, 257, 320, C43 and C47.

Canada Line will operate Sunday/holiday hours and service, plus:

  • “Rush-hour” service will begin in the afternoon, with every available train in service after the fireworks in downtown Vancouver to clear people out of the area as quickly as possible.
  • The last Canada Line train will leave Waterfront for Richmond-Brighouse at 1:15 a.m.

Expo and Millennium lines will operate Sunday/holiday hours and service, plus:

  • Sunday/holiday start time of 7:08 a.m. from King George, 7:15 a.m. from Lougheed and 7:50 a.m. from Waterfront. The last train will leave from Waterfront at 1:16 a.m. and arrive at King George at 1:55 a.m.
  • Trains will run more frequently starting mid-afternoon.

SeaBus will provide extra and extended service:

  • First sailing: Lonsdale Quay at 8:02 a.m. and Waterfront at 8:16 a.m.
  • Last sailing: Leaves Waterfront at 1:22 a.m.
  • Services will operate every 30 minutes from 8:00 to 10:15 a.m., every 15 minutes from 10:15 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and every 30 minutes from 11:30 p.m. to the last sailing at 1:22 a.m.

West Coast Express and TrainBus service will not operate. AirCare Inspection Centres will also be closed.

Need more help?

To make sure you get where you need to go on time, you can plan your trip with our Trip Planner. You can also call Customer Information at 604.953.3333 or tweet them @TransLink, 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Have a happy Canada Day, everyone!

The Mayors’ Council Vision for Regional Transportation

Regional Transportation Investments document

Regional Transportation Investments document

Hello readers. There’s big news today. The Mayors’ Council has approved a Vision for Regional Transportation for Metro Vancouver.

To download documents, watch the video and ask questions, you’ll want to check out www.mayorscouncil.ca.

Information sessions for Commercial–Broadway Station begin June 3

2014-06-02 Commercial Broadway invitation

Hear what’s happening at Commercial–Broadway station

Are you one of the 150,000 people who use Commercial–Broadway Station every day? The next round of information sessions for the second phase of upgrades at the station will take place in June and we want your input!

Visit us in the community

We’ll be out in the community to share information about the station upgrades with our neighbours and passengers who use the busiest station on the network. Join us at one of the three information sessions:

Information Session #1
Date: June 3, 2014
Time: 3 – 7 p.m.
Location: Commercial–Broadway Station, North Station House street level (Fare Paid Zone)

Information Session #2
Date: June 10, 2014
Time: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Location: University of British Columbia, Student Union Building

Information Session #3
Date: June 12, 2014
Time: 4 – 7 p.m.
Location: Croatian Cultural Centre – Room C, 3250 Commercial Drive

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/commercialbroadway until June 16.

We hope to hear from you soon!

Scott Road Station Upgrades Complete

Hi buzzer readers,

As you may know, Scott Road has been in the process of getting upgraded to improve safety and accessibility at the station. Today, we celebrated the completion of construction with the Honourable Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay, Minister of National Revenue, B.C.’s Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone, TransLink’s own Marcella Szel, board chair, and Ian Jarvis, CEO with an event at the station.

2014-05-21 Scott Road completion

Minister Stone, Minister Findlay, Marcella Szel and Ian Jarvis outside the new elevator

Thanks to the recent upgrades to the bus exchange and parking lot completed over the last year, station access is safer and easier for customers who travel by car and bus. Accessibility has also been markedly improved following the installation of the elevator at the west-side of the station in the spring of 2012.

Scott Road Station is the first of seven stations on the Expo Line to be upgraded by TransLink with funding from the federal and provincial governments. These upgrades will ensure the rapid transit system meets the needs of passengers and the region for years to come.

The full press release is available here.

Thanks for your patience during construction!

Entrance

Entrance

Bus Shelters

Bus Shelters

Victoria Day 2014 holiday service

SkyTrain arrives, 1” by colink. is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Long weekend, here we come!

Monday, May 19, 2014 is Victoria Day. This means bus, SkyTrain, and SeaBus will all be running on a Sunday/holiday schedule.

West Coast Express trains and TrainBus service will not operate. AirCare Inspection Centres will also be closed.

Don’t forget you only need a one-zone fare to travel across all zones!

For transit service info, feel free to reach out to our call centre on Twitter (@TransLink) or at 604-953-3333 (6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.)!

2014 Easter weekend holiday service

It’s Easter weekend everyone!

Friday, April 18, 2014, is Good Friday. That means transit runs on Sunday/Holiday service for bus, SkyTrain and SeaBus. West Coast will not be running. And don’t forget, Friday is a statutory holiday so you only need a one-zone fare to travel across all zones!

Monday, April 21, 2014, is Easter Monday. That means a return to the regular weekend schedule and regular fares. However, there’s reduced AM and PM peak period service for SkyTrain. West Coast Express will be running trains W1, W3 and W5 westbound and E1, E3 and E5 eastbound. TrainBus will operate its regular weekday schedule.

Have a happy and safe weekend everyone!

TransLink turns 15: Preparing for Y2K

BCRTC Control Room Circa 1999

BCRTC Control Room Circa 1999

Let’s go back in time. The year is 1999. Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time” was a global smash hit, the Blackberry 850 was blowing peoples minds by putting emails in the palms of your hands, and last, but definitely not least, TransLink was created!

Those of you who remember the transition to this new millennium will remember the tension that was building as the 90s wound down. Not only did we not know what to call the next decade (I don’t think we ever did land on a good term to define 2000-2009 or our current decade either), there was widespread panic over what our computers would do once the “99″ in 1999 rolled over to “00″ of 2000 (Wikipedia explains this and more better than I can).

The fear for many was palpable. Whether or not you believed that we were heading for digital/analogue/world armageddon, the newly formed TransLink didn’t take things for granted. Someone needed to be on standby in case the world’s worst estimates came true. For the SkyTrain system, that person was Michael Carmichael, IT Network Supervisor for BCRTC.

Michael was a Network Administrator working at SkyTrain Operations and Maintenance Centre (OMC) in 1999. He looked after the IT side of the Y2K bug at SkyTrain. That included desktop computers, servers, networks, and office software. The computers that run the trains were handled by SkyTrain Control.

In the months leading up to Y2K, management at BCRTC were not too concerned that it was going to be a major problem that would cripple SkyTrain. Mike took some precautions, and some computers and software were updated and replaced prior to the “big event”.  All computers were tested three to five months in advance for potential issues by setting the clock forward to see what happened. Three months ahead of Y2K, it was evident that everything was going to be fine.

Mike came to the office on New Year’s eve as a precautionary measure to ensure all the computers and software were up and running when people came back to work. Computers that run SkyTrain are rebooted at 2 or 3:30 a.m., so the plan was for them to check for problems at that time, but the system had already been tested with no issue. If there had been an issue, SkyTrain attendants and Control Operators would have been there to take care of it.

What happened?

“It was just me alone from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. It was actually quite boring, but I did hear some celebrating and screaming in the control room at midnight. I didn’t go up there, though,” says Michael. What was happening was an impromptu New Year’s celebration that broke out in SkyTrain Control at midnight.

Michael reflects on that time, “We actually have more issues with Daylight Savings Time than we ever did with Y2K. Y2K was basically a non-event.”

Yes it was Michael, but I, for one, am glad he was there, just in case.

A shot of what things looked like around 1999 in SkyTrain control

A shot of what things looked like around 1999 in SkyTrain control

 

TransLink turns 15!

Happy birthday TransLink!

Happy birthday TransLink!

It’s birthday time here at TransLink. Yup, it was 15 years ago this month that TransLink was formed as a  multi-tiered governance structure responsible for a fully integrated transportation system across land, rail and sea!

At lot has happened over these 15 years and below are 15 interesting facts you may not know about your transit authority of Greater Vancouver.

15 fun facts about TransLink

1) At its founding, TransLink was unique among North American transportation agencies by being responsible for a fully integrated transportation system across land, rail and sea.

As the first North American transportation authority responsible for both roads and transit, TransLink is responsible for 2,400 lane kilometres of the major road network and five bridges (Pattullo, Knight, Westham Island, Golden Ears, and the Canada Line bike and pedestrian bridge).

 

2) Since 1999, the numbers of people using our transit network has grown dramatically – annual passenger trips have increased by 127 million. In context, the population of Metro Vancouver grew by 15 per cent while passenger trips increased by 56 per cent during the same period.

 

3) People board our buses, trains and ferries about 1.2 million times each weekday, making a total of 970,000 trips each day.

 

4) Geographically, we cover the huge region that is Metro Vancouver – there are over 2,800 square kilometers  in TransLink’s service region! Our transit network includes more than 8,200 bus stops, 200 bus routes, 57 SkyTrain Stations and eight West Coast Express Stations.

 

5) Our buses, trains and ferries stay busy moving our customers – to work, school, medical centres, friends and family. Our transit fleet provides approximately seven million service hours in a year, and our vehicles travel about 167 million service kilometres per year.

 

6) Our rapid transit system was the first fully automated, driverless and unattended rail system in the world. When the Expo Line was completed in 1986, it became the longest automated driverless system globally, a title only recently surpassed by Dubai in 2011.


7) Our bridges help move goods and people across the region. Over 300,000 crossings of trucks, cars and buses cross the Fraser River on TransLink bridges each day. 

 

8) Since 1999, TransLink has added 1,168 new conventional buses, 148 new SkyTrain vehicles, 17 West Coast Express trains and one SeaBus to make space for our growing numbers of riders. Our current fleet consists of 1,900 buses, 300 SkyTrain cars, 50 West Coast Express trains and 3 SeaBuses.

 

9) Since TransLink’s inception, we have expanded all modes in our transportation network. To name just a few, we have added the Millennium and Canada rapid transit lines, built the Golden Ears Bridge, launched the 24-kilometre Central Valley Greenway, and funded construction of the Coast Meridian Overpass in Port Coquitlam.  

 

10) The TransLink logo landed at its current form in 2007, reflecting TransLink’s evolution. At inception, the logo included a reference to the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority, TransLink’s original name, but was simplified when TransLink officially became the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority in 2007.

 

11) We manage a complex transportation network, with assets worth more than $11 billion – including roads, bridges, tracks, guideways, trolley wires, stations, vehicles and bus depots.

 

12) Our AA credit rating has enabled TransLink to raise $900 million from longer-term investors. These funds allow us to invest in the assets and infrastructure of the transportation system we operate. This includes buses, SkyTrain vehicles, road and bridge improvements, and many more physical assets and system upgrades which help us provide a safe and reliable transportation system for Metro Vancouver.

 

13) We introduced the U-Pass BC program in 2003 to 58,000 students. The popularity of the program grew from there and today 125,000 students are enrolled in the U-Pass BC Program.

 

14) The Buzzer blog was one of North America’s first transit agency blogs. Every month there are an average of between 15 – 35 000 page views!

 

15) On the social side, TransLink has over 43,000 Twitter followers, and nearly 10,000 Facebook followers. We work hard to deliver a world-class customer experience throughout our entire system, and our Customer Service Charter is our promise of quality service. We’re committed to giving our customers a service that is efficient, safe, reliable and comfortable.

Wanna know more about the last 15 years of transit and goods movement in Greater Vancouver? Take a read of our press release and follow the link to The Road Less Traveled, a look at TransLink’s journey from 1999 to 2008. We also included a short look back at the last 15 years in the March 2014 print Buzzer.

TransLink in the media: Don’t Touch the Operator

Constable Goodmurphy

Constable Goodmurphy

The safety of our riders and our employees is a top priority for TransLink. This is why today the Metro Vancouver Transit Police launched, Don’t Touch the Operator. This awareness campaign is aimed at those who use our system, but may not have the best intentions for our operators in mind.

With 1800 buses operating in Metro Vancouver and 233 million passenger boardings a year, there’s a lot of activity on our transit system. Although most of the interactions between riders and operators are positive ones, unfortunately, some aren’t and have been in the news of late.

Everyday our operators safely help to deliver this huge volume of people to where they need. But as Constable Kevin Goodmurphy said in the Transit Police media event today, “Violence on transit affects operators and customers” and it needs to stop.

Constable Goodmurphy also mentioned that riders can also help keep the system safe by reporting unacceptable behaviour. This can can be done by calling 911 in an emergency or texting 87-77-77 for non-emergencies. The above video also shows what other measures are being used to make sure our buses are as safe as possible.

I’m curious to know if any of you have called 911 or used the Transit Police texting service to report a transit related situation? Let’s share our experiences so we all can work to make the system as safe as possible!

Safety decals on buses

Safety decals on buses

TransLink in the media: The expanded lot at the South Surrey Park and Ride

News hounds like myself might be reading some of the chatter today regarding the expansion lot at the South Surrey Park and Ride. The Province and Georgia Straight have both written about it.

We would like to correct some facts regarding who funded this $4.5 million project.

To respond to overcrowding at the previous lot, the expanded Park and Ride was developed as a partnership between the Province and TransLink. The Province funded the project’s capital costs and contributed to the land purchase. That is, the Province of British Columbia funded the $4.5 million expansion project. TransLink is responsible for operating and maintaining the lot.

This expanded lot supports improved transit and transportation for local communities, transit users and the travelling public. It makes it easier for people to connect to the existing transit network, which in turn makes transit a more viable choice.

UPDATE: Letter sent from TransLink to CTF