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Category: TransLink in the media

This innovative TransLink program projects to generate $1 million in revenue

Guy Akester, TransLink's Director of Real Estate Programs and Partnerships with Patti Parente, Vice-President of Real Estate for A&W Food Services Canada outside the new 24-hour A&W restaurant at Main Street–Science World Station.

Guy Akester, TransLink’s Director of Real Estate Programs and Partnerships with Patti Parente, Vice-President of Real Estate for A&W Food Services Canada outside the new 24-hour A&W restaurant at Main Street–Science World Station.

Retail is popping up at SkyTrain stations—it’s all part of TransLink’s innovative retail real estate program. This program is already generating about $500,000 per year in additional revenue, and we’re projecting, within five years, to double that figure to about $1 million annually!

How is TransLink doing this? As part of ongoing SkyTrain station upgrades along the Expo Line, TransLink is turning under-used spaces into coveted retail spaces. While revenue from the retail real estate program will not fund the system in its entirety, it is offsetting costs for our customers and providing them with added comfort and convenience.

Recently, we added our first 24-hour retailer at Main Street–Science World Station, an A&W restaurant. This creates a constant human presence at the station, which can put customers at ease and provide them with a safe place to go.

This is just the start for us. We’re continuing to explore new ways to include retail at stations as we continue upgrades along the Expo Line. One day, with technological advancements, you might even be able to pay at these retailers using your Compass Card!

Want to learn more? Check out these stories:

Author: Allen Tung

TransLink 2016: A year in review

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Another trip around the sun. 2016 – what a year! It’s been a busy and productive 366 (leap year) days for TransLink.

Let’s take a look back at 2016 in the world of Metro Vancouver transit!

New CEO.

In the spring, we welcomed new CEO, Kevin Desmond. Kevin came to TransLink from King County Metro Transit that serves the Seattle area.

Kevin jumped in with both feet to lead the charge of a very full and important year while emphasizing our customers’ needs, transparency and excellent service.

We’re so happy to have him at the helm!

Compass.

This word was on everyone’s lips this year!

Compass Card tap outAfter a roll out that started with Upass users then West Coast Express, the general public adopted Compass with Monthly Passes at the beginning of this year.

Then, on April 4, 2016, the fare gates closed requiring riders to tap in on buses and in and out at all gates to pay their fare.

With Compass, you can travel seamlessly across the TransLink transit network with one card! Compass also allows us to gather important data on peak periods, bus route ridership and more – helping us better plan and run the transit network.

Expo ’86.

May 2nd marked the 30th anniversary of Expo ’86 – the 1986 World Exposition on Transportation and Communication held on the north shore of False Creek.

This was North America’s largest World’s Fair and a monumental event for Vancouver that left a lasting legacy – our SkyTrain system starting with none other than the Expo Line!

SkyTrain started regular service on January 3, 1986.

100 years of the Buzzer. 

Happy birthday, Buzzer! The print Buzzer hit a major milestone anniversary of 100 years!

This free, on-transit publication began on June 2, 1916 without a name. That soon changed and it has been delivering informative, fun and interesting transit and community related tidbits to the riders of the transit system ever since.

You can pick yours up on your ride or download here.

Federal funding.

PM Justin Trudeau made some lifelong transit friends when he announced more than $900 million will be invested – by the Government of Canada, British Columbia and municipalities – in public transit projects across the province.

This important funding promise allowed the Metro Vancouver Mayors’ Council to present Phase One of the 10-Year Vision for approval. But we’ll get to that soon enough!

LTE connectivity.

Rogers and Fido customers were treated to not one but two connectivity projects allowing riders to use their mobile devices.

In July, the Dunsmuir tunnel downtown Vancouver was connected and in November, the Edmonds tunnel followed suit!

Up next? We will continue to work with Rogers to build out wireless coverage along the Evergreen Extension, Columbia Station and tunnel and in New Westminster.

#Compass1Million.

This summer we hit one million active Compass Cards.

That means that a million riders across Metro Vancouver embraced the switch to Compass and were tap, tap, tapping their way to and from school, home, work and more!

With such great news, we had to celebrate with a fun contest to thank you for using Compass!

Mark IIIs.

These beautiful new SkyTrain cars were the hit of the summer! Especially because the A/C is just oh, so cool!

Press tourThese cars rode across country – on flatbeds – to reach out region.

Each 4-car set is fully articulated (you can walk from one end of the train to the other), has more room for standing passengers, wheelchairs, bikes, strollers and riders with luggage plus, they are more environmentally efficient!

Transit riders and enthusiasts eagerly awaited the first trip on August 18th and our Mark III VIPs got a front seat for the journey!

SkyTrain Wedding.

Something old, something new, something borrowed something… transit? Hey, whatever floats your SeaBus!Congratulations Nathaly and Jeff!

Jeff and Nathaly met on Canada Line and it was their dream to get married on transit.

Enter a white (naturally) Mark II SkyTrain, a full band, wedding guests and one interloping Buzzer blog writer and you’ve got a SkyTrain wedding!

It was a distinct pleasure to document this lovely couple’s big day aboard our beloved SkyTrain at Stadium–Chinatown Station.

I Love Transit Week.

I love transit week is a time for enthusiasts of all ages can say loud and proud, “I LOVE TRANSIT!”

Poems, colouring contests, a special Buzzer, HTC opening tour, kids camp and more – we felt the transit love from riders of all ages at a variety of events.

Interested in participating in next year’s festivities? Keep your eyes peeled for rumblings on the Buzzer blog in spring!

Hamilton Transit Centre.

In one September weekend we said goodbye to North Vancouver Transit Centre and hello to the brand new HTC building in Richmond! HTC

Did you notice? If not, that’s a good thing! CMBC made the seamless transition from one TC to the other and got your buses on the road from their no locale A.S.A.P.

Hamilton Transit Centre has capacity for 300 forty-foot buses, including up to 80 community shuttle buses and 150 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fuelled buses.

HTC performs three functions: dispatch, fuel and wash service as well as maintenance for buses servicing the Richmond, New Westminster, Burnaby and Vancouver areas.

Pattullo.

Opened in 1937, this bridge is one of the busiest Fraser crossings in the region. So, it’s unsurprising that while we go ahead with plans to build a new bridge, this ol’ girl needs some safety upgrades in the interim.

We know the evening and weekend closures impacted a lot of drivers and we appreciate your patience as we rehabilitated the crossing to ensure its safety for all.

Repairs included:

  • milling off the asphalt surfacing from the deck
  • removing all deck concrete down to the top layer of rebar
  • repairing concrete delamination and cleaning or replacing rebar
  • repaving the deck area with a concrete overlay

Crews managed to finish early allowing for goods and people to move freely over the Pattullo Bridge once again .

CUTA.

CUTA is the Canadian Urban Transit Association and this year’s Fall Conference and Transit Show happened right here in Metro Vancouver on November 5-9.

This year’s theme was Inspiring Sustainable Change with a variety of seminars and speakers discussing today’s demands, tomorrow’s challenges and the possibilities for transit in our country and around the world.

TransLink had many speakers engaging with experts and transit enthusiasts from around the globe. Including CMBC’s Derek Stewart who spoke about the impact of climate change to transit agencies.

New Westminster upgrades.

We are upgrading SkyTrain Stations across the rapid transit network.

New Westminster was one of them. I say was because the work is done! On November 21, we officially completed and opened the overhauled station for riders to use and enjoy!

The completed upgrades at New Westminster Station include:

  • A new elevator and escalators to improve access for customers with disabilities
  • Improved lighting throughout the station
  • Glass panels to replace the mesh screens and improve station visibility from street level
  • Better integration with the surrounding community to make it easier to connect to and from the SkyTrain system
  • New public art that improves the experience of riders

10-year vision.

Our region is growing and along with that comes greater need for public transit.640x194_buzzer_blog-01

The Mayors’ Council 10-year Vision Phase One was approved by the TransLink board and council on November 23.

Along with the federal and provincial funding promised in June, municipalities will pitch in their share with TransLink for some much needed transit upgrades and projects.

Phase One improvements in 2017, 2018, and 2019 include:

  • 10% increase in bus service
  • 15% increase in HandyDART service
  • 20% increase in rail service
  • New or expanded transit services for neighbourhoods that currently have few or no transit options today
  • Safer walking and cycling routes
  • Reduced traffic congestion by fixing bottlenecks on major roads

Metro Vancouver residents will start to see added service in the new year with much more to come in the coming months and years!

Evergreen.

Sometimes, it IS easy being green! EmeansGo

On December 2, the Millennium Line Evergreen Extension opened to great excitement despite the rainy weather!

The community celebration at Coquitlam Central Station ran all day with riders eagerly awaiting the first official ride on Evergreen.

With this extension, TransLink has the longest, automated, driverless rapid transit system in the world!

Twitter Heroes.

If you’ve ever called 604-953-3333 or tweeted @TransLink, you’ve interacted with CI (Customer Information).

This crew works tirelessly to help keep riders informed on specific routes, transit timings, disruptions, detours and all things transit related!

Started in 2010 as a pilot project, to date our followers have reached over 135,000 people and CI has sent out 295,039 tweets!

A big thank you to these awesome people who keep us moving!

Well, that about wraps it up. We can’t wait for what 2017 will hold for our region and transit!

Author: Adrienne Coling

My day with Mika: Understanding accessible transit

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Mika waiting for the bus on Main St.

This past spring I had the immense pleasure of tagging along on a filming request on our system and spent the afternoon with Kaz and Mika who wanted to showcase the accessibility of our system for a Japanese audience.

Kaz owns Motion Pla-net Productions that often produces work for NHK, Japan’s National public broadcasting organization.

Mika is a lovely woman who lives in downtown Vancouver and takes transit all the time in her fabulous pink wheelchair.

We spent the afternoon riding the bus and SkyTrain while Mika explained in Japanese to the camera all of the fittings and equipment TransLink offers on the system for those who need it.

Part of the filming also included speaking with TransLink’s Access Transit Coordinator, Sarah Chung about why TransLink has been so proactive in promoting the accessibility of transit services for people with disabilities.

“Public transit should be a safe and convenient way to travel, which means our infrastructure, policy and customer service are all impacted by accessibility. There are a number of different needs among our customers that we try to balance so we have to make sure the solutions we provide are sustainable and won’t hinder other people.

One of our key challenges is finding solutions that strike a balance between the diverse range of needs. We need to be financially responsible to the taxpayer as well, and have to prioritize our initiatives. Other challenges happen with the nature of the region, such as the geography making it difficult to make all bus stops wheelchair accessible.”

Mika says that the greatest strength of the system is that people with disabilities have choice.

“I know I can travel on bus, on SkyTrain, on the water on SeaBus and I will be able to get on there myself and be safe. Also being able to get to the airport without calling a taxi is great!”

I learned a lot travelling through the eyes of someone who faces accessibility challenges in her daily life.

On each part of our transit trip, I thought about space on buses, location of elevators, fare box heights, even something as simple as getting on and off a transit vehicle while others are trying to do the same.

These are things as an able-bodied person, I admit, I sometimes take for granted. Perhaps we all do. But it’s important to see through the eyes of others to really understand the world beyond ourselves.

As for the future, Sarah Chung says as an organization, TransLink is constantly growing and adapting our system to meet the needs of our customers.

“We are always looking at improvements to make the system as inclusive as possible. For example, we have a high percentage of wheelchair accessible bus stops, and have introduced a pilot project to make bus stops more accessible for people who are blind or partially sighted. The pilot includes tactile information panels and tactile walking surfaces to help people identify stop information and locations. As a region, we have recently transitioned to a contactless smart card payment system and are continue to work with partners to develop solutions for customers who have limited or no arm mobility.”

Have a look at some pictures from our day together.

Author: Adrienne Coling

Transit funding announcement for B.C.

Today is big day for transit in Metro Vancouver and all across British Columbia!

Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau and B.C. Premier Christy Clark have announced that they have signed an agreement resulting in more than $900 million being invested – by the Government of Canada, British Columbia and municipalities – in public transit projects across the province.

So, what does this mean for transit in your community?

Take a look at the plan for the first phase of investment in our region:

Metro Vancouver TransLink Phase 1 of Investing in Canada includes:

  • The purchase of additional SkyTrain vehicles for the Expo, Millennium, and Canada Lines
  • A new West Coast Express locomotive
  • A new SeaBus
  • Upgrades to SkyTrain stations
  • Design and planning for Rapid Transit South of Fraser and the Millennium Line Extension along Broadway

(From the office of the B.C. Premier)

You can read the press releases from the TransLink Mayors’ Council, the province and the Federal government.

Author: Adrienne Coling

TransLink in the Media: TransLink CEO, Kevin Desmond, speaks with the media

Kevin Desmond has only been at the CEO of TransLink job for six weeks, but he’s already done a host of media interviews and events.

Last week he addressed media after speaking at the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade Transportation Summit (audio below).


Next up was the Lynda Steele Show on CKNW (Video above) follow by On the Coast on CBC Radio One for a ride on the 99 B-Line and more with Stephen Quinn yesterday (Skip to 2:06:30 to hear Kevin and Stephen).

 

UPDATE: Kevin was also on Global News! (May 5, 2016)

We’re sure Kevin will be doing more media in the future and we’ll keep sharing them with you.

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.

TransLink Twitter Customer Information team gets rave reviews!

TransLink Customer Information Twitter team earns top nods in new study

TransLink Customer Information Twitter team is top notch!

Public Transit and TransLink has been all over the Twittersphere lately because of some great news! According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Southern California and published in the Journal of American Planning Association, our very own Customer Information Twitter team has been ranked #1!

The Twitter team behind @TransLink has only 140 characters to help, direct and inform thousands of riders every single day. They respond in real-time to customers’ questions and complaints from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

After analyzing over 60,000 tweets to and from major North American transit authorities, the study found the Twitter community were “nicest” to TransLink, with a majority of tweets posted using positive language. The team calculated a “mean sentiment score” for each authority, looking at the amount of positive and negative comments made about local transit.

The research also showed that personal touch is what’s most important when dealing with online complaints. If a transit authority randomly pushes out impersonal tweets, they receive mostly negative comments in return.

TransLink’s Twitter persona is very personal, highlighted by the use of initials (e.g. ^ck and ^jd for Customer Information Work Leaders Candace Kennedy and Jason Davidson), good cheer and sometimes a little sympathy.

This is no easy task! Most of the tweets are about ways in which our customers’ commutes will be negatively affected — track maintenance, detours, elevator outages, and other unavoidable issues.

So, huzzah for the Twitter team and their amazing efforts! Huzzah, I say!

Check out some more information in Wired Magazine and The Georgia Straight. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, @TransLink and say hi to the fabulous CI team!

Author: Adrienne Coling

Interview with interim TransLink CEO Doug Allen

TransLink interim CEO, Doug Allen

TransLink interim CEO, Doug Allen

Unless you’ve been completely unplugged for the past few weeks, you’ll know that we had a leadership change here at TransLink. Doug Allen has joined TransLink for six months as our interim CEO. Mr. Allen comes to TransLink with years of experience in leadership roles and he isn’t new to the transit scene, either. From 2011 to 2014, he served as President and CEO of InTransit BC, which built and operates the Canada Line, linking YVR and Richmond to downtown Vancouver.

So, in order to get to know him better, we sat down with him to ask him a few questions about himself and what he foresees in the coming months.

The Board of Directors says that they made this move to restore public confidence. So how will you go about restoring public confidence in your new role?

The CEO has to come in with a very strong plan of action to have a good fresh look at everything and decide what is right and decide what needs improvement. So once you’ve decided where you can make improvements, you make them. And you try to ensure that our service is extremely good, reliable, and of high quality –  that’s clean and safe. It’s not one person that will do that, it has to be the whole team at TransLink. The CEO sets the tone.

Where do you think you will be making changes?

I have to take to look at everything that’s important. Every major issue. I have to understand it; I have to have a sense of if it’s being managed properly or not. I have to ensure that the right people are accountable for their actions around those major initiatives. Then if we need to make some changes, we make them and move forward.

What are the key things you will focus on as interim CEO?

One of the key things is service delivery. My tenets are: reliability, quality and safety. If you can deliver well on these on a consistent basis, then the customers will be happy, and our other partners can have a strong supportive response as well.

How do you think your experience, specifically when it comes to the Canada Line, will help you in this role?

The Canada Line is viewed by many as the best public-private partnership operating in the country and that’s a pretty large statement. Going back to my three tenets, Canada Line was – and is – delivered in a highly reliable fashion, it is high quality, and it’s clean and safe. They’ve done a really great job of delivering. That’s what I aim to bring to TransLink.

Two major issues in the public’s mind right now are executive pay and the SkyTrain shutdowns last summer. What do you think you can do to address these issues?

When a new CEO comes in, he has to look at everything, including compensation. In terms of the SkyTrain shutdowns last summer, there was an independent review that made 20 recommendations that TransLink is now working to implement. I’m going to have a good look again at the review and how we’re doing at implementing the recommendations.

There is some speculation that CEO change at this time has to do with the referendum and getting a YES vote. What do you think?

My responsibility is to lead a sound and solid organization, and set the platform for the new permanent CEO. That’s my focus.

What is your favourite way to travel around Metro Vancouver on transit?

I take the #84 to VCC Clark and then take the SkyTrain to the TransLink offices at Sapperton. I use all modes of transit – and I think we have a great system here in the Lower Mainland.

Author: Adrienne Coling

West Coast Express wants you to stand as far back as you would from a guy with garlic breath

"Stand Back from the Yellow Line as Far Back as You Would Stand From That guy with the Garlic Breath"

West Coast Express’s Yellow Line Campaign poster

Over the years, more and more people have been turning to West Coast Express to get around in Metro Vancouver. In fact, average ridership has doubled since its launch in 1995 and its growth doesn’t appear to be stopping!

For West Coast Express that means finding new and creative ways to let riders, who may not be used to commuting via train or familiar with station and platform protocol,  know about the dangers of not following safety warnings.

The challenge, though, is that most safety messages lack the ability to engage and often simply blend into the woodwork.  As a result, they don’t have the desired effect for changing people’s perceptions or habits.

That’s why West Coast Express has developed new experimental materials for its annual Yellow Line Campaign to raise awareness about standing too close to the platform edge!

A series of posters were rolled out in 2013 at the station’s platforms asking people to stand as far back from the Yellow Line as you would stand from a guy with garlic breath.

The campaign returned and was kicked up a notch earlier this month!

Rather than using traditional print signage, a series of “About as far back as…” pay-off lines were chalk-sprayed underneath existing  ‘Stand Back From The Yellow Line’ messaging on the platforms.

These pay-off lines were crowdsourced from West Coast Express riders and were updated on a weekly basis – creating a level of anticipation amongst the riders since some of the lines were created by them.

The real key is that in order for the people on the platform to be able to read the pay-off lines (printed on the pavement), they’d have to stand back so that they aren’t stepping on the printed lines. As a result, they’d actually be standing further back from the Yellow Line!

The messaging at work forcing people to stand back from the yellow line!

The messaging at work forcing people to stand even further back from the yellow line!

This five-week campaign started on July 7 and was developed with five different lines to be used. Each week, a new line appears at a station and will culminate with a final line that isn’t a joke, but a sobering reminder of the realistic dangers from standing too close to the platform edge.

So far, the pay-off lines that have been released are:

  • As far back as you’d stand from the guy doing the robot with no music playing.
  • As far back as you’d stand from the guy wearing a speedo.
  • As far back as you’d stand from the boss before their morning coffee.

There are still two more lines to be released, so keep an eye out for them at West Coast Express stations!

What are your suggestions for a pay-off line? Let us know in the comments section below! No promises, but we might even feature some of the best ones!

Author: Allen Tung

TransLink in the media: An act of kindness on transit

 

The image of kindness

The image of kindness – 24 Hours

Hello Buzzer readers,

We often hear about random acts of kindness on our buses and SkyTrain.

Such is the story that took place two days ago on a bus in Surrey. A young man, who prefers to stay anonymous, saw that another rider was barefoot, took off his shoes and socks and gave them to the barefoot man. Asked about how he was going to get around without shoes, he replied: “Don’t worry about me — I live close by and can walk,” and got off the bus. This generous and selfless act was witnessed by an off-duty bus operator who told this story to the media. As he said to CBC News: “It was very inspiring and very soul-touching for me”.

You can read the original story, published by 24 Hours or watch the CBC News clip.

We are deeply touched by this story and proud that such a genuine and generous act happened on our transit system. Have you witnessed an act of kindness on transit? Let us know and leave us your story  in the comments section.