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Translink Buzzer Blog

Category: Transit Jobs

TransLink once again named one of BC’s Top Employers for 2017!

BC's Top Employer
We’re thrilled to share that TransLink (also known as South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority) has been named a top employer in BC for the third year in a row!

In addition to taking this title for the last three consecutive years, TransLink made the list of Forbes Magazine’s “Canada’s Best Employers” this year.

With nearly 7,000 employees across the enterprise, it’s clear that our employees love where they work and take pride in delivering top-notch service across our entire system, every single day.

It’s an honour to have been named again this year among so many other amazing BC employers.

About British Columbia’s Top Employers

Now in its 12th year, BC’s Top Employers is an annual competition organized by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers.

This special designation recognizes the British Columbia employers that lead their industries in offering exceptional places to work. Read the press release announcing the 2017 winners.

About Forbes Magazine

Forbes Magazine compiles annually a list of companies across Canada and ranks a list of Canada’s Best Employers.

This year, the TransLink enterprise ranked #202! Check out what other employers made the list.

For more information on BC’s Top Employers, visit the BC Top Employers website.
Information about Forbes Magazine ranking can be found on the Forbes Magazine website.

Author: Sarah Kertcher

CMBC defusers provide emotional first aid to bus operators

Video from the Vancouver Sun

A “defuser” may sound like an electronic device but in the context of Coast Mountain Bus Company, it means something much more personal and important.

A CMBC defuser provides what they like to call “emotional first aid” to employees out on the road; they help operators better cope with serious incidents. .

When the volunteers of this program are called, it’s because a driver is in need of help due to a major accident, a passenger assault or even a death.

The internationally accredited program began in 1992 and is very similar to the same resources extended to police and fire service employees after a traumatic event.

Statistics show that people who get “defusing” shortly after an incident have a much better recovery rate.

Dave McKay has been in this vital support position for 15 years and now acts as the program’s coordinator. He says they try and get a defuser out to an operator in need within hours of an incident.

“Right now we have 23 defusers. We like to have anywhere between 25 and 30. We have eight more on the way!”

All defusers are volunteers and initially were only operators but now the positions are open transit employees, including some former mental health workers.

McKay says a defuser needs empathy, listening and people skills and be able to do well in a crisis. The incidents can be very traumatic for operators and defusers are on call during all service hours.

“In these stressful situations we make sure they don’t drive, bring them to a quiet place then we take them through a defusing process which includes international critical stress management.”

And it’s not only the operators that need some support. Due to its stressful nature, all defusers have sessions themselves after responding to 10 incidents.

A defuser may not be a well-known position outside of CMBC but it is a job that makes such a difference in the lives of operators and employees and helps us keep you moving across the transit network.

Author: Adrienne Coling

Bill and TransLink’s excellent adventure: A brief history of 35 years in transit

Bill with the 2010 Vancouver Olympic mascots

When Bill started as a farebox attendant in 1980, no one could have known it would be the start of a 35 year career at TransLink! Over the years, he’s seen more than a few changes to our system. From the early years of the SeaBus and the opening of Expo Line in 1986 to the expansion of our system for the 2010 Winter Olympics with the Canada Line, Bill’s been around for it all.

Now TransLink’s Community Relations Officer for Government and Community Engagement, Bill is the contact between our organization and other agencies who are interested in learning what TransLink does. Giving tours to interested parties from all around the world, he not only fills agencies in on how transit works in Metro Vancouver, he’s a wealth of information on everything TransLink.

With Bill’s history at TransLink, I’d be nuts not to chat with him about his experience. I checked in with Bill for a brief historical tour of his career and a rundown of where TransLink’s been and where we might be headed.

What do you feel has been the best addition to our system over the last 35 years?

I guess, that’s a toss-up between advances in customer information and the SkyTrain System. On the customer information side of things, what we can provide for customers to let them know when their bus is coming to their stop has really changed. Online information through social media and what you can do at home through trip planning is a whole new package of technology that makes access to information so much easier.

I guess the other would be SkyTrain itself. We don’t realize how spoiled we are in Vancouver with the level of service that SkyTrain provides. You go to any other major city and you might have more capacity when a train arrives, but you’ll have a longer wait until it does.

Anything you miss about our transit system that is no longer around?

I miss the Brill buses. They had certain quirks and sounds to them as well as a distinctive look that was unique to Vancouver. You would find those types of buses elsewhere, but we kept them in service long after other people had retired them. They started in 1948 and they were still operating in 1984 and even as late at 1986. That’s a long time for any bus!

How has transit technology changed?

Over the years, the automation control for the SkyTrain and Canada Line has not changed much. Essentially they do the same thing or use the same or similar technology as they always have. In terms of the bus side there has really been a change in how bus service is delivered. For example, the way the buses run now, where there used to be complex wiring, it is now run on a data network which connects different parts of the bus together. You have computer controls everywhere in the vehicle, but you also have really significant changes in technology from the customer point of view that has changed people’s lives in term of how accessible the buses are now compared with when I started. There are no stairs in the buses anymore. There are on board announcement, audio announcements and visual display announcement for every stop along the line. This technology also means that we are able to track the fleet every moment of the day and share that information with the customers.

What do you like best about giving tours of our transit system?

Everyday is different and I never know what is coming at me. My favourite part about giving tours is to impart information and also listen to others to hear what their needs are and their thoughts on the system. Anytime I’ve done tours and brought people out to our properties, the one thing that comes across to me is how proud people are about where they work and what they do.

What is your most memorable moment so far at TransLink?

I have a lot of unique opportunities. I’ve met two Prime Ministers (Paul Martin and Stephen Harper) and helped plan the opening of the Millenium Line and the Canada Line. I also got to do some really neat things like helping to plan for the christen the SeaBus.

Just curious, but how do you christen a SeaBus?

The christening was a neat ceremony to plan for. The SeaBus was put up on blocks and a nice champagne bottle was wrapped up and then broken on the vessel. Senior SeaBus employee Maureen Hayes, the longest-serving female SeaBus employee, stepped up to perform the ceremony.

During our interview, Bill shared a few other memorable moments with me, including that he used to do a little bit of social media for TransLink. According to Bill, during the 2010 Olympic Gold Medal Hockey game, he was tweeting out the score for our riders!

Thanks Bill for sharing your story!

Author: Laura Tennant

Bus Operator Bronco Hyrman receives 100th commendation!


“Good evening folks, it’s 18 degrees and it looks like we’re in for a beautiful sunset!” This is something you might hear over the loudspeaker if Bronco Hyrman is behind the wheel.

A bus operator at Coast Mountain Bus Company for the last eight years, Bronco is known for his mini-news update when leaving a bus exchange. Often researching current events and weather before his evening shift (he drives highway routes between Bridgeport and Tsawwassen and White Rock), Bronco’s energy and personal pizazz has made him a passenger favourite. But don’t take it from me, here’s what a customer had to say:

“He greeted every single person that got on the bus with a smile and lots of energy. After such a long day coming from work, it was super sweet to a see a very positive individual make a change just by smiling and having a great attitude. He made me feel special and greeted every single person differently and thanked everyone when they got off! He made this bus ride a great experience for me and others and I really hope you let him know his work was greatly appreciated!”

Guess how many commendations like these Bronco has received? As of this May, he’s had 100!

But Bronco isn’t in it for the awards. He just wants to give his riders the best possible trip.

Here’s how he sees it:

“I like to make the drive pleasant, entertaining and make it a nice experience. I greet everybody. Shortly after I started driving I realized how we can affect people’s experience on the bus – we can make their day start or end on a good note.”

Recently, Bronco took some time to fill us in on what it’s like behind the wheel.

Q: Being on the front lines is a tough job. How do you stay so positive?

A: Knowing people appreciate what I do keeps me going. I used to perform onstage and feed off the environment. Seeing people in a good mood is a great reward. It’s worth it to put the effort in.

Q. What do you do when you come across people who are negative?

A. If customers are negative due to an issue with transit, I explain to everyone over the PA what the issue is. I see it through the passenger’s perspective. I believe in a human factor – show some empathy and you feel for them and know what they are going through.

If I see someone running for the bus I wait when I can and when it’s safe to do so. It isn’t always possible, but it gives us that human touch instead of calling everyone TransLink.

During our interview we also learned that in addition to English, Bronco speaks basic German, Russian and is fluent in Czech!

We should have asked him if he plans on giving news updates in all four languages during tourist season!

We’ll just have to wait and see.

Thanks for giving it your all, all of the time, Bronco!

Author: Laura Tennant

From planning department to transit centre: A three-month experience


Michelle Babiuk presenting a Safe Driving award to bus operator George Economou on his B-line 99 route.

Meet Michelle Babiuk. She’s the one in the hat, above. Hi Michelle! She is a TransLink transportation planner in Infrastructure and Network Management. But for the past few months, she’s taken on a different, temporary role. That of operations supervisor out of the Burnaby Transit Centre.

While working closely with the depot manager in her planning position, it was suggested that it might be a good experience for her to get out there and see what drivers and supervisors experience every day. So she did! It’s three months later and she’s learned a lot that she will be taking back to the planning department at TransLink. We sat down with Michelle to talk about her experience.

Why did you take a secondment to become an operations supervisor?

My thought was, the more I see on the ground, the better I can plan. On the infrastructure and network design side, you can understand how operators are using the system and what their experiences are. The more you understand what people do out there the more you understand what you’re seeing in the data. This allows you to better plan or design something that is realistic. Drivers have a lot of information we don’t and that’s very valuable.

I also wanted to learn the rhythm of a day at a transit centre. What do the supervisors do? What do the operators do? What are the potential communication touch points and tools that we can use to reach people? We want to get information back from them because they have suggestions just like the public does. We also want to find the best way we can get information out to them.

What have you learned while in the supervisor role?

The most interesting thing I’ve learned is what it is like to work with a mobile workforce. I have a large number of operators that work all different shifts and some you see very rarely. That’s why it’s important to get out there on the routes and interact with them to give and receive information.

Day to day, that was one of the challenges. I think the staff here work really hard to be out meeting people on their buses in the evenings, on weekends and if they can find a spare minute, during the day. The operators really appreciate it. When you deliver awards on the bus, people get really excited! They feel like you’re seeing their reality by being on the bus with them.

What will you take from this experience back to your planner role?

The easiest thing to action from what I’ve learned from my time here is communications. Understanding what opportunities there are here to increase communication and how information spreads. We can be out there and be visible with information sessions – like the ones CMBC planning and scheduling do now four times a year.

I’ve seen other ways information gets shared, like a paddle stuffer. So anyone starting their shift picks up their paddle [wooden boards with daily route info and more] and gets anything you need to tell them. You can’t relay a ton of information that way, but you can let the operators know what’s going on with certain projects and how they can give feedback.

We’ve also been exploring the idea of getting out in the evenings and doing some work at bus loops. Operators can spread the word from those interactions, too. It’s about learning what works for all sides, how to ask questions and provide information that resonates with operators.

Getting out of the office to visit Michelle at a transit centre was a great experience for me, too!

It was such a pleasure to meet George, hear his stories from the front lines and see what happens before the buses get out on the road. Understanding how he and other operators interact with our riders is so valuable. The more opportunities we have to hear what operators and riders are saying, the better we can work together to make positive changes across the system.

Thanks so much for the interview, Michelle and good luck heading back to the planning team!

Author: Adrienne Coling

Work to shape transit

Are you looking for work and love transit? We have 11 job postings!

In these tough economic times, it’s nice to know that there is work out there. Our planning department has 11 new job postings (eight different job titles) that you may be interested in. I’ve recently met most of the people in planning, and I can honestly say, that they seem like some very fun and smart people to work with! For more on these positions, you can go to our careers webpage for the specifics.