ALERT! More info
Translink Buzzer Blog

Category: State of the System

Doug Allen on Voice of BC!

You may have heard, that come early August, our Interim CEO, Doug Allen will be leaving.

At this time our current CFO Cathy McLay will become Acting CEO as we continue our search for a permanent replacement.

With just a few weeks left until Doug bids us adieu, he joined Vaughn Palmer on “Voice of BC” to discuss his six-month stint at TransLink.

Chatting with Vaughn about the search for a new CEO, the transit plebiscite and TransLink governance, Doug spoke to a number of important transportation issues.

Growing transit and transportation needs in the Metro Vancouver were also apart of this conversation, as was the exploration of potential funding options.

All in all, the video gives you a good look at Doug Allen’s role over the past six-months at TransLink and his take on current transit matters!

 

The Low Down on Sea Island’s $5 return AddFare

A ticket vending machine on the Canada Line.

A ticket vending machine on the Canada Line.

Whether you are returning to Vancouver from the YVR Airport or the New McArthur Glen Shopping Centre this weekend, don’t forget about the $5 AddFare!

The AddFare is nothing new, but if you’ve never travelled from any of the three stations on Sea Island before, the extra $5 fare may come as a surprise.

Since January 2010, the AddFare has been in place to bridge the $55 million gap in funding for the Canada Line Construction.

Determined as the best funding option with the least impact on transit growth in the region, this AddFare was a part of the agreement with the Airport Authority who contributed $300 million towards construction of the Canada Line.

The Airport Authority actually owns all three stations on Sea Island (YVR-Airport, Sea Island Centre and Templeton) with travel between these stations being free for all passengers.

And although the free ride was originally intended for YVR staff to travel between the three stations, now that the shopping centre is open, more passengers are able to take advantage of the free ride between Sea Island stops.

When is the $5 AddFare required?

Although travel is free between the three Airport Authority Stations, if you are heading to Bridgeport and beyond, the $5 AddFare is required (in addition to your regular fare) if you are starting your trip from Sea Island.

It is important to note that the YVR AddFare only applies to passengers buying fares from the ticket vending machines at YVR Airport, Sea Island Centre and Templeton station.

However, this will change when Compass is launched to the general public. At that time those with Stored Value (Compass version of FareSavers) will be charged the $5 AddFare when they tap in at one of the three Sea Island stations and tap out at Bridgeport Station or beyond.

Who’s exempt from the AddFare?

Riders with a Monthly Pass, DayPass, FareSavers, WCE Fare, U-Pass and BC Bus Pass are exempt from the AddFare. Sea Island residents and YVR employees are also not required to pay the additional fare.

Also, if you a purchase a ticket before travelling to one of Airport Authority stations, and return within the 90-minute fare expiry window, then you are also off the hook for AddFare.

If you are still uncertain whether your trip will cost you an extra $5, there is information about the AddFare posted at the three Airport Authority stations.

You can also check out TransLink’s online Trip Planner! All travel shown on this site includes the  AddFare fee in trips leaving Sea Island stations.

 

 

 

Sign-up 101: How operators choose their work

Guest post by Jessica Hewitt, Internal Communications Advisor at Coast Mountain Bus Company.

Have you ever wondered how Transit Operators pick their bus routes? With six transit centres and 157 conventional bus routes to choose from – how could one pick?

I had the opportunity to visit the Vancouver Transit Centre (VTC) during a local sign-up to find out more about how depot staff, union reps and operators work together to assign operators to specific routes.

How does it work?

Four times a year (April, June, September and December) service level or sheet changes occur. At this time, adjustments are made to routes and schedules to ensure we continue to provide reliable, efficient and safe transit service to get our customers where they need to go. These schedule changes can be either permanent or seasonal depending on the route.

Once the schedules have been determined, operators then sign up for routes. Sign-ups occur about three weeks before a new sheet is in effect. There are two types of sign-ups. A local sign-up allows operators to sign for work in their own depot and a consolidated sign-up  (occurs once a year) gives operators the opportunity to choose work at any depot.

The consolidated sign-up lasts for four weeks with sign up dates being determined by seniority. During this process, operators choose the depot they want to work at as well as their weekday, weekend, and holiday shifts. Operators can opt to sign up for regular work or can choose to be on the spare board in which they receive work assignments on a day-to-day basis.

Who does what?

Depot Coordinators, given leave from their regular duties, ensure correct operator data is entered into the system—they are instrumental to ensuring a smooth sign up!

Bus operators, with the help of an online sign-up planner, can review new routes, availability as well as ensure that they select work that is compliant with the Safety Code limits on driving hours, overtime, rest time and more.

Unifor representatives and depot staff then double and triple check work selections to avoid mistakes.

Depot Coordinator, Rita Barha says “I’ve worked in different areas in the depot and even after 10 years, there is always something new that you haven’t seen before.” She says “I learn something new every day”.

Why paper?

In the age of apps, smartphones and real-time updates, it seems that paper would be the way of the past.

However, for CMBC, the operator sign-up process is so complex that a significant business technology project will be required for automation. Also, training for all of our staff will be needed to ensure the transition from paper to online is seamless.

The move to automation is important for CMBC. Although preliminary discussions are underway to transition to online sign up in the future, with the number of current projects on the go such as Compass, we’re waiting for the resources and time to develop the sophisticated software to meet our needs.

Want to know more about the service our operators who sign up for work provide? Read more about our seasonal service changes here!

Cutting back on washing to save water

Bus wash closed at Surrey Transit Centre

Bus wash closed at Surrey Transit Centre

Reducing water use isn’t just happening in your home, it’s also happening at our bus depots. That’s right, we’re cutting back on washing buses to help with water conservation efforts in Metro Vancouver. I’ve copied and pasted our press release about it below:

In an effort to conserve water during the current water shortage in the region, TransLink has suspended washing the exterior of its buses until further notice.

An unusually dry and hot May and June has depleted Metro Vancouver’s water reservoirs.

Buses are typically washed at our transit centres at the end of each service day. Our bus wash system uses reclaimed water for the majority of the wash cycle, except the final rinse which uses fresh water.

Last week, we started washing buses every second day. And now, we will only do exterior washing in exceptional circumstances. At our largest facility, Vancouver Transit Centre where we maintain more than 500 buses, that translates to 30,000 litres of water conserved each day.

The decision to suspend bus washing is something we’ve done during previous water shortages, as part of our commitment to conservation.

The interior of buses will continue to be cleaned for the comfort of passengers and employees.

Interested in how we wash our buses normally? Check out the Surrey bus wash facility and how it reclaims 80 per cent of the water used!

A day of transit activity visualized through video!

buzzer_banner_125_years

Static transit maps are great, but dynamic ones are better!

You don’t have to tell that to Andrew Walker, Vice President of development at Sumus Technology.

Andrew is all about bringing life to data using a GTFS video creator, something he has done for around 100 cities’ transit schedules from around the globe.

Each visualization map traces one day of transit service schedules during a 24 hour period. Colour coded and set to music, these maps allow us to see the size of the system in a way that static maps cannot.

Metro Vancouver’s routes have been mapped a few times by Andrew.  You can check out his video from 2012 and view his other maps of transit across the globe on his YouTube channel

And don’t forget to check out the rest of our 125 Years of Transit posts on the blog and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by searching for the #Transit125 hashtag.

King George Station Bike Parkade is now open!

Our new bike parkade!

Our new bike parkade!

 

For those of you that have been eagerly awaiting the opening of the new Bike Parkade at King George Station — today is the day!

That’s right, it has now become even easier for cyclists to take transit!

For a $1 a day up to a maximum of $8 a month (plus a one-time $8 registration fee) you can now park at one of the 70 new bike lockers at King George Station.

These additional parking spaces are accessible by key card and double the capacity of the existing facility.

The way it works is that you pay a $1 a day, but if you park your bike eight days in a single calendar month, you won’t be charged again until the following month!

So, you may be asking, how do I get my hands on one of these coveted spots?

Well, first you need to register and here’s how you do it:

  • Head to www.translink.ca/bikeparkade and follow the link to the registration site.
  • Fill out the online registration, provide ongoing payment information and then pay the registration fee.
  • Finally, check the mail! Your very own access card will be mailed to you within the next five business days.

The King George Bike Parkade is the second of its kind on our system (first one opened in 2014 at Main St.-Science World Station) and over the next few years, we are expecting to replace even more bike lockers at some of our busiest stations and bus loops!

Improving cyclists’ connections to the transit network and encouraging people to hop on their bikes is pretty exciting.

By making cycling safer and easier we are one step closer to reaching Metro Vancouver’s goal to reduce single-occupancy car use and increase trips made by foot, bike and transit!

A recap of TransLink’s 2014 AGM

TransLink AGM 2014!

TransLink AGM 2014 took place at the Anvil Centre June 26.

In case you weren’t able to attend our annual general meeting for 2014 last week, fear not!

Here is a a video of the event including employee speakers, presentations and questions from attendees.

 

International Bus Benchmarking Group looks at CMBC!

Did you know that CMBC is a member of the International Bus Benchmarking Group (IBBG)?

Joining 14 other bus organizations from cities around the world such Paris, Barcelona and Dublin, being an IBBG member helps us understand how our bus performance and operations stack up globally.

As a part of the group we are given an inside look at global industry trends that help us ensure we have the best practices in place in Metro Vancouver. To check out what IBBG is all about you can watch this informational video (note: the video is six years old, so a little dated) or visit their website. 

This morning we were lucky enough to attend a presentation led by the Associate Director of the Bus Benchmarking, Mark Trompet. Sharing data collected from bus organizations worldwide, Mark gave us an overview of key performance indicators measured by IBBG and how Metro Vancouver’s bus network compares to other systems.

Catching up with Mark, we did a quick interview about his work at IBBG and CMBC’s performance. Enjoy!

TransLink 2014 AGM

From Left to Right (Doug Allen, Interim CEO; Barry Forbes, Board Vice-Chair; Cathy McLay,  CFO  and Executive Vice-President, Finance and Corporate Services; Sandra Hentzen Executive Vice President, Human Resources; Angus MacIntrye, Retired Bus Operator

From Left to Right (Doug Allen, Interim CEO; Barry Forbes, TransLink Board Vice-Chair; Don Rose, TransLink Board Member; Sandra Hentzen, Executive Vice President, Human Resources; Angus McIntyre, Retired Bus Operator;  Cathy McLay, CFO and Executive Vice-President, Finance and Corporate Services; Robin Chakrabarti, Board Member

It was a beautiful morning at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster as VP of Communications and Customer Engagement, Colleen Brennan, welcomed all guests to our annual general meeting .

The meeting was open to the public and discussed how we did last year both operationally and financially, where we are now and where we’re going as a transit system heading into the future.

TransLink’s achievements in efficiency and sustainability were presented by CFO Cathy McClay.

Take a look at some of the highlights Cathy shared:

  • The 2014 Budget included over $64 million in cost efficiencies and revenue improvements, of which we exceeded by over $5 million.
  • We also achieved slightly over $38 million in one-time savings from contributions from developers and improved buying practices.
  • Since 2012, we’ve realized about $240 million in cost savings
  • Since 2010, we’ve kept expenditures below the rate of inflation, with only 1.2 per cent compounded annual growth
  • TransLink plays a leadership role in sustainability.
  • Our anti-idling program for buses has saved 567 thousand litres of fuel, accounting for a savings of $750k last year alone.
  • We also decreased energy consumption across our facilities by 2.3 per cent compared to 2013.

Interim CEO Doug Allen spoke about how TransLink is continuing to implement recommendations from the MacNeil report of 2014 to better serve our customers across the region.

He also talked about our very successful and necessary HandyDART program.

This past year, we have expanded the use of taxis to get more people with mobility challenges where they need to go resulting in a 60 per cent reduction in trip denials for HandyDART service.

We delivered more than one million trips on HandyDART vehicles and 74,361 trips by taxi.

Everyone in attendance was able to hear some stories from wonderful employees across TransLink and its operating companies.

Mechanical engineer with BCRTC, Matt Doyle works behind the scenes to make sure SkyTrain is running smoothly.

“I enjoy going to work because I provide a necessary public service and I know it makes a difference – to thousands of people – every day.” – Matt

Sabrina Lau Texier, “plan-gineer” (planner in the engineering department) extraordinaire told us her story of why she does the work she does.

“I choose to work in transit because I believe very strongly in what this organization is trying to do – both at work, and outside the office.” – Sabrina

Desiree Gill has been a bus operator out of Vancouver Transit Centre with CMBC for 6 years and she loves her job, working in the heart of Vancouver.

“There is no better way to start the day than seeing the ocean and city skyline while driving over the Granville Street or Burrard Street Bridges, just as the sun’s coming up.” – Desiree

 

 

Looking for even more information about how TransLink fared in 2014? Check out our latest Annual Report and Statutory Report.

Be heard at our AGM!

AGM

Our AGM this Friday is fast approaching!

On June 26th from 10am to 11:30am at the Anvil Centre (777 Columbia St.) we will be sharing our 2014 operational and financial milestones with regional stakeholders, senior TransLink staff, media and those of the general public that can attend.

The event will kick off our celebration of 125 years in transit as well as give us a chance to thank those that have kept us moving today and into tomorrow.

Our AGM is an excellent opportunity to ask any burning questions you have or ask a question about the work that TransLink does.

So, what if you can’t make it? If you can’t attend this Friday here’s your chance to put forward a question at our AGM.

Two Ways to Submit a Question:

  • Post your question in the comments section. We’ll try our best to answer it at the AGM and will also post the answer.
  • Send your queries to thebuzzer@translink.ca. Make sure to include “AGM” in the subject line and also include your name (first required both if you like).

While not all questions will be able to be asked live at the AGM (we get a lot of questions…), we will try to respond to your questions via email.

Your input matters — ask away!

Bus operator goes above and beyond to fight roadside fire!

Earlier this week, bus operator George Simnos was driving a full 84 UBC bus along West 6th Ave when he noticed something unusual. Smoke was coming from a patch of bushes near a wooden fence, about a 100 metres from a few townhomes and parkland.

Immediately, George’s operator training kicked in. Stopping the bus (with hazards on, of course), George checked for passenger safety before grabbing the onboard fire extinguisher and starting work on the blaze.

The flames, now about a foot high, had started to climb the six-foot tall fence nearby. George quickly doused the flames. However, the blaze was resilient and continued to spark, until a passenger with a bucket of water from the pub across the street, came and soaked the fire.

Then, another passenger helped George finish it if off by kicking dirt on the area. Fire trucks arrived on the scene minutes later and took over. That’s when George got back on the bus and was greeted with a standing ovation from his passengers.

According to George he acted on the fire because he likes helping people. Shrugging off the “hero” title, he says he wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.

We’d like to tip our hat to George and his passengers for helping put out a fire before it got out of hand and making sure everyone was safe.

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

Buzzer-June-2015

Much of it is dedicated to summer service changes that begin June 22.

You can also find an update from Transit Police about the one year anniversary of their OnDuty app and text line.

Don’t forget to TravelSmart to all the great summer events this region has to offer.

Finally, a thank you from us to you. Because you keep us moving!

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 you can download it here.

The next regular issue of the Buzzer will be out in August 2015 but keep your eyes peeled for a special edition this summer!

June 9, 2015 SkyTrain disruption update

Interim CEO Doug Allen and independent reviewer Gary McNeil spoke to the media today about yesterday’s SkyTrain disruption as well as progress made on Mr. McNeil’s report on SkyTrain.

As noted by Doug Allen, TransLink has improved in the response time to SkyTrain disruptions, but work still needs to be done to make it quicker.

After the above press conference this morning, a technical debriefing was held regarding the initial cause of the disruption. Below are a couple images of the damaged linear induction motor on one of our SkyTrain cars. The exact cause of the damage is still being investigated.

linear induction motor damage

linear induction motor damage

Another view of the damaged linear induction motor

Another view of the damaged linear induction motor

If you weren’t aware of the disruption yesterday, below is a statement TransLink issued to media and shared via social media:

We thank our customers for their patience and apologize for the major inconvenience they experienced this afternoon because of the SkyTrain delay. The delay occurred at the peak of rush hour service, which affected our most regular daily customers. While we recognize the inconvenience and longer commute times, we appreciate their patience and calm behaviour while our staff worked to repair the problem and help redirect customers via alternate means.

While the specific cause of the delay is still under investigation, a technical issue at 4:10 p.m. caused 19 trains between Royal Oak and Waterfront stations to stop running. Expo Line trains continued to run between Edmonds and King George stations, and Millennium Line trains continued to run between Columbia and VCC-Clark stations.

Many trains were stopped between stations; several were attended by a SkyTrain Attendant within 5-10 minutes and driven manually to the nearest station. Staff attended the majority of the remainder of the trains within 30 minutes.

Customers broke out of three different trains in the Nanaimo SkyTrain area, so we had to turn off power in the area to ensure customers were safe and clear of trains. Attending to these customers delayed SkyTrain system recovery by an additional hour.

25 buses provided shuttle service between affected stations. We deployed over 100 staff to help customers, respond to questions and assist with crowds – including 60 SkyTrain Attendants on trains and at stations; 16 Transit Police officers and five Transit Security units; 13 support staff; and eight transit supervisors.

7 additional technicians worked to bring the system back on as quickly as possible.

By 6:10 p.m., we were able to provide some service with SkyTrain Attendants manually driving trains in the affected area. We restored full service by 6:45 p.m.

The sun is shining and summer service changes are in the air!

june_svc_change_buzzer

Are you ready for the summer? TransLink’s transit services are changing to get more people to more places during these beautiful summer months!

Beginning June 22, you can expect increased trips heading out to Seaside and Buntzen Lake and fewer trips to post-secondary schools. There are also NEW trips during peak hours on some popular routes!

Services changes can be found on our website.

Even if you don’t see your route listed, service changes can affect many routes, so use TransLink’s trip planner to double check if your route has changed.

Take a look at some of the highlights of these service changes:

  • Increased connections for customers travelling between Carvolth Exchange in Langley and Lougheed Town Centre Station. The 555 will now end at Lougheed Station and directly link customers to a regional city centre with connections to key destinations. Late evening service is also being added on this route.
  • Extended route on the 395, which provides customers with more travel options between King George Station and Langley Centre.
  • More frequent trips to Stanley Park, Lynn Canyon Park, Buntzen Lake and White Rock Beach.
  • Late-night service increases between downtown Vancouver and SFU.
  • NEW trips on the 100 and 335 to reduce overcrowding just before/after peak periods. These are made possible by shifting resources from routes that currently have low customer demand.

Learn about all the travel choices in your community by visiting TransLink’s TravelSmart program for information, resources and tips.

How else can you stay in touch? Sign up for Transit Alerts at translink.ca/alerts, visit translink.ca, follow @TransLink or call Customer Service at 604.953.3333.

AGM marks 125 years of transit!

AGM

It’s the 125th anniversary of transit in our region!

To mark this occasion, this year’s AGM will be more than just a year in review, it will give a shout-out to those that keep us moving today and into tomorrow.

The event goes down Friday, June 26th from 10am to 11:30am at the Anvil Centre (777 Columbia St.), right next to the New Westminster SkyTrain Station.

To stay true to AGM form, in addition to celebrating transit’s big 1-2-5, we’ll also be sharing our 2014 financial and operational milestones with our regional stakeholders, senior TransLink staff, media and those of the general public that wish to attend.

Keep your eyes peeled on our website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information in the weeks to come!