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Friday fun post: are you noticing the Olympic crowds on transit yet?

If you like, skip to the end of this post to take the poll about Olympic crowds on transit.

Last week: how do you feel about your car?

Last week’s fun post asked how you felt about your car.

Well, of the 185 who took the poll, it turns out most of you don’t have a car—53% to be precise. I guess I should have known, considering we talk about transit so much!

Of the remaining votes, 30% said it was just a way to get from A to B, 14% said it was a part of who they are, and 3% said it was an indispensable part of their job. So it seems that many car drivers in the poll are exactly hugging their car outside its basic functions, but there are some who certainly do find their car quite beloved and helpful.

A few comments showed that not only did some people not have cars, they didn’t even have drivers licenses. I grew up in Edmonton, so this revelation is pretty mindboggling to me! But it’s nice to know the transit system can support the decisions of some not to drive. Here’s Rvie

I never had a car in my entire life. I never wanted to get a driver’s license ever, even when I turned 16. Call me a coward but to me I felt that I’d just be risking my life (and the lives of other people) driving a car to school/work and back every day. That’s why I only take transit, and I love it. =)

But ;-) said that he couldn’t imagine giving up his car.

Anyways, I would like to do away with the expense of a car, but it’s just not practical….

-carrying a weeks groceries is challenging on transit

-too many retailers don’t welcome backpacks or large carrying bags into their stores

-there is no place to store valuables (laptops, electronics, cameras) when your destinations forbids their presence

-travelling short distances with large groups is not cost effective

-some buses won’t pick me up because they are too full when I want to use the service

-the Canada Line does not run frequently enough in the evening for me to make transit connections

-some bus stops and sidewalks to my destination are suicidal with all the bikes using sidewalks as their speedway

-90 minutes is not enough time for some trips
-paying a zone premium for short hop on the border is not fair, it’s cheaper for me to drive

And here’s our happy medium: Chris said he didn’t own a car, but did have access to one, and that’s worked well.

Who needs a car in Vancouver? When I moved to the city I became a member of the Co-operative Auto Network, and haven’t been happier – less stress and less costs.

As always, feel free to check out the original post to read everyone’s comments!


This week: are you noticing the Olympic crowds yet?

The Olympics folks are starting to arrive now, and we were just talking in the office about how some bus routes are already feeling busier. Are you noticing this too?


Anyway, we’ll be boosting service for the Games in February, so hopefully we’ll be able to handle all of it! And if you haven’t read it, here’s the overview article on how we have prepared for the Games.

Service improvements for the C26, C41 & C47 on Mon Feb 1

OK, we do have some service improvements starting Monday, Feb 1 that have nothing to do with the Olympics. They’re just service improvements! And here they are:

C26 Belcarra/Port Moody Station

Starting February 1, selected rush hour trips will be running on Murray Street to help the C25 with its high passenger loads and better balance transit services.

Currently, the C25 is very crowded, so re-routing the C26 will give passengers another option for travelling along Murray Street. (The section of St. John’s Street that will now be missed by the C26 has a lot of transit services, including the #97, C27 and C28, so customers on this corridor will notice little difference.)

The trips that will be rerouted are:

  • the four morning rush hour trips arriving at Port Moody Station at 6:39, 7:05, 7:39, and 8:06 a.m.,
  • and the eight trips leaving Port Moody Station after 4 p.m.

C47 Alouette/Haney Place

Starting February 1, the C47 trip leaving Haney Place at 2:01 p.m. will extend its route to Yennadon Loop.

The extension adds more transit service to Alouette River Campus, which is near Yennadon Loop and needed more afternoon service. (Currently, two afternoon trips are provided, leaving Haney Place at noon and at 3:01 p.m.) This change also improves service for the nearby Silver Valley area.

C41 Meadowtown/Maple Meadows Station/Pitt Meadows Centre

In December 2009, a few non-rush-hour trips were re-routed to serve the Bonson South residential area. But starting February 1, all remaining trips will be re-routed to serve Bonson South.

The re-route addresses the community’s request for peak period transit service, since residents are currently walking over one kilometre to access public transit during the peaks! Customers living in Bonson South will have peak period service and will be able to conveniently connect with the West Coast Express.

The January Buzzer is now out!

The January 2010 Buzzer is now on all buses, SeaBus, SkyTrain, and West Coast Express!

Since the Olympics are on and everyone at TransLink will be out in the field, this issue is actually going to be on the system throughout January and February.

It’s filled with Olympic travel information, including resources to help you “know before you go,” handy phone numbers, info about fares, and fun facts about transit.

We’ve also filled the community events section with free events happening during the Olympics, which we found at CityCaucus.com’s free 2010 events listings!

Again, we’re proud to have a cover from a local illustrator: this time it’s Chloe Lan. Great job, Chloe!

And as always, if you can’t get the Buzzer on the system, you can always read it in PDF form on our website. Visit our Buzzer PDF archives, which now stretch back to January 2000. (Here’s the direct link to the January issue PDF.)

Remember to enter the FareCard contest too! You can win a free FareCard in every issue of the Buzzer: read the issue, then email in your info and the answer to the trivia question by Monday, March 1 at 9 a.m. — we’ll pick a winner from all the correct answers.

Enjoy the latest Buzzer as always! Comments are welcome below.

More bus reroutes for the Olympics start Monday, Feb 1

Here’s a note to remind you that more buses will be rerouted starting Monday, Feb. 1, owing to the upcoming Olympics.

A list of the affected routes:

  • Reroutes in Downtown Vancouver (for pedestrian corridors and venue security zones)
    5, 6, 15, N15, 17, 50, C21, 240, 241, 242, 246, 247, N6, N8, N24
  • Reroutes near the Vancouver Olympic Centre (the curling centre near King Edward Station)
    33
  • Reroutes near UBC
    25, 33, 41, 43, 49, 480, C22
  • Reroutes near Pacific Coliseum
    16, N16, 405, C94
  • Reroutes near Surrey Celebration Site
    321, 326, 395, 502
  • Reroutes in Richmond
    405, C94

For the full details of these exact reroutes, check out the full list of Olympic service changes. All of them will be back on their regular routes by the end of February or in March sometime.

Again, here’s some handy sources for more on the Olympic travel situation:

  • www.travelsmart2010.ca – the central hub for Olympic travel info, with maps of road closures, restricted areas, and more.
  • Call our Customer Information line at 604-953-3333 if you have specific questions about TransLink services, trip planning, or reroutes. From Feb. 1-28, they will be staffed 20 hours a day, seven days a week, from 5:30 a.m. – 1:30 a.m.

Transit comic fun from Angela Melick

Angela Melick's Commuterlympics comic, from her webcomic <a href=http://www.wastedtalent.ca/>Wasted Talent</a>!

Angela Melick's Commuterlympics comic, from her webcomic Wasted Talent!

Here’s a hilarious transit-related comic from Angela Melick‘s webcomic, Wasted Talent! She sent it along in a tweet the other day, and here’s what she says about it:

It’s the latest installment of my webcomic “Wasted Talent”. Webcomics are comics that publish online for free and can be about almost anything, but mine is silly true stories from my life. And since I live and work in Vancouver, that comic invariably features transit! I don’t own a car, so I take the train to get to work and I take the bus to get pretty much everywhere else. When I lived in North Van, I took the Seabus every day, and when I lived briefly in Mission, I took the WCE occasionally, so really there is not a single part of the system that hasn’t been a part of my life for at least awhile :) I even livetweeted my sneak-peak ride of the Canada Line (a bunch of us engineers got to ride it in June)!

This latest comic is based on the fact that the Olympic tourists are so easy to spot in train stations. The locals are ruthless about getting onto trains, but we are all a team. Everyone loves to see a successful sprint, right!?

Indeed we do! For more, do look at Wasted Talent‘s archives (it’s been around for four years now: well done!) Angela suggests three transit-related comics in particular: the Skytrain Halloween party, the Pirates on the Seabus, and the crowded B-Line, from her UBC days!

Olympic security tip: stay alert for pickpockets

One of the new security ads now on our system!

One of the new security ads now on our system!

You may notice some new ads on the system, urging you to stay alert for pickpockets during the Olympic period.

Our Transit Police are hoping to let people know that professional pickpockets are expected at the Olympics—they tend to flock to international events on this scale.

“We don’t want people to be paranoid,” said Sgt. Mark Applejohn with the Transit Police. “But we’re coming from the angle that to be forewarned is to be forearmed.”

I asked Sgt. Applejohn if he had any tips, and he suggested that you keep your valuables close, and be aware of your surroundings, especially in large crowds.

He also said that pickpocketers tend to work in partnerships, with one person distracting you while another goes through your purse or pockets. One may take your wallet and pass it to a confederate before you’ve noticed.

“A well-known scheme in Europe uses young children to distract older people,” he said.

Pickpockets may also cut the straps of a purse or cut open the bottom of your bag.

“They’re extremely good at it, and that’s why to combat this kind of thing, we want you to be aware of what kind of things they do.”

Sgt. Applejohn also suggests that you do report any pickpocketing incidents to 604-515-8300—the Transit Police will act on it and won’t take it lightly.

A few other items….

There’s also a few other messages going up along with the pickpocket notices, such as:

  • Separated from your party while on transit? Before you travel, come up with a plan in case this happens, especially if you have kids. Maybe you can get off at the next station, or your children might be advised to stay put in a meeting place. Remember you can use the security phones in the stations, and SkyTrain attendants and security staff will help get you all back together.
  • Look out for unattended packages! Call the Transit Police if there’s something you want to report: 604-515-8300. Or you can send the Transit Police an anonymous text through their new Crimestoppers line in BC: text to 274637 and include the keyword “BCTIP”.

TransLink’s Olympic story, part 3: the transit host program

The Olympics arrive in February, and TransLink has the huge task of helping people travel during the Games. So here’s a series of articles illustrating the challenge and how we’re preparing to handle it. This article focuses on the transit host program, helping people find their way on transit during the Games. (Check out past articles on TransLink’s overall Olympic strategy, and the Transportation Management Centre).

TransLink transit hosts will be helping customers during the Olympics.

TransLink transit hosts will be helping customers during the Olympics.

During the Olympic period, thousands of visitors and residents will use Vancouver transit to reach their destinations. And for new and old riders alike, a friendly face with a wealth of transit knowledge can be a huge help in navigating the system, especially with Olympic traffic changes altering some routes.

That’s why TransLink has developed a transit host program for the Games, which puts knowledgeable staff members at key transit exchanges in Vancouver and Richmond.

Transit hosts will be on hand to assist riders throughout the day, and especially before and after Olympic events.

“It’s an enhanced level of customer service for everyone during the Olympic period,” says Giselle Blackman, manager of human resources for the TransLink Olympic team, and the driving force behind the transit host program.

“But we’ll also have new users, and we want them to have a positive experience on transit. A 30 per cent increase in passengers is expected, and if we can retain even a portion of that, we can build a new customer base.”

Read more »

Olympic public art inspired by Vancouver transit!

The City of Vancouver’s public art program has a neat transit-related project from artist Anna Ruth, called Sensory Maps of Vancouver. Check out the video above for more on the project, plus here’s the description from their website:

Sensory Maps of Vancouver is a series of drawings that record the movement of city buses and reflect the experience of public transportation in the urban environment. Using simple drawing tools, the Finland-based artist let the vibrations of each vehicle dictate the lines she translated to paper as she rode and moved from bus to bus during one 24-hour period covering as much of the city as possible. The end result—twenty bus routes, one train line and one Seabus trip later—is a collection of ‘maps’.

Very cool! Look for the maps in bus shelters throughout Vancouver from January 25 to March 21, 2010.

(Many thanks to Derek Cheung for sending this along!)

Some Olympic bus reroutes are underway (and service lifts are on the way)

Just a note to remind you that a few bus reroutes started on Monday, owing to the upcoming Olympics!

Affected are the C20, C21, C23, N16, 321, 326, 395, and 502—they’re being rerouted to accommodate security zones, celebration zones, and pedestrian-only areas in the region. For the full details, have a look at the press release on these reroutes.

As well, please be aware these reroutes are the first in a series of Games-time transit changes!

More bus reroutes will start on February 1, and increased service will launch on February 12. For more detail, check out the full list of all these Olympic service changes.

And here’s some handy sources in case you want more on the Olympic travel situation:

  • www.travelsmart2010.ca – the central hub for Olympic travel info, with maps of road closures, restricted areas, and more.
  • Call our Customer Information line at 604-953-3333 if you have specific questions about TransLink services, trip planning, or reroutes. From Feb. 1-28, they will be staffed 20 hours a day, seven days a week, from 5:30 a.m. – 1:30 a.m.

Get your transit alerts by text or e-mail!

Sign up for transit alerts through e-mail or text messaging! Here’s where the signup link is located on our front page (or just click this picture!)

Sign up for transit alerts through e-mail or text messaging! Here’s where the signup link is located on our front page (or just click this picture!)

Hurrah – at long last, you can now get customized transit alerts through text-message or e-mail!

We’ve just launched the service, and you can sign up to get your updates through the TransLink homepage (or click here).

You’ll only get alerts about transit services that you’re interested in. When you sign up, you’re asked to register your regular transit trips, which tells the service what specific routes or services you want alerts about. (You can sign up for system-wide alerts too.)

And nicely enough, you can also select which days you want to receive alerts, so you won’t be bothered on the weekend about changes that only matter for you during weekdays.

Quirks and quarks

This is all new to us, so here’s a list of a few quirks we’re currently seeing, plus a few tips based on what’s happening behind the scenes. (And feel free to share any more you discover too!)

Read more »

This week: how do you feel about your car?

If you like, skip to the end of this post to take the poll about your car.

Last week: how long is your commute?

Last week’s fun post asked how long your commute was.

And the answers turned out to be rather close between all the choices! After 195 votes, here’s the result:

  • 34% said “30 minutes to an hour”
  • 33% said “an hour or more”
  • 21% said “15-30 minutes”
  • 12% said “Less than 15 minutes”

I guess this shows that most people on the blog must not live close to work, since over half are commuting over 30 minutes every day!

In the comments, we found that Stefan and Ric had the longest commutes — 2 hours each way or more (eep!).

And while Sungsu said his travel time was 0 minutes (you must work at home!), cycling kept Alexwarrior‘s travel time down:

About 8-10 mins when I get to work by bike (almost every day except the few days a year it snows hard), about 20 mins when I take the bus if I factor in not checking the schedule before going out the door (the #25 is pretty frequent at peak times so I don’t usually check the schedule). On the one hand this is very convenient, on the other hand I don’t get nearly as much reading done as I could if I lived farther away and rode a bus for longer!

Amy also mentioned reading time on transit in her comment:

Depending on my transfers, about 40 minutes each way, door to door. I read or listen to podcasts, which makes it go faster. If only I didn’t have transfer, I’d get more reading done! The M-line makes it about 20 minutes faster than it used to be. Now if only the 135 were a B-line, then my occasional trips downtown after work would be faster (nudge, nudge. I’m going to keep mentioning that every chance I get until it happens ;-) )

Cliff mentioned carpooling could help save a little time (and much money).

Another interesting commute I did for a couple months while I was attending BCIT was a carpool. My friend, a construction worker at BC Place, drove over to my house and then we took my vehicle to Downtown, utilizing the HOV lanes on St John’s, Clarke, Barnet, Inlet, and Hastings.

The time savings on that one was actually a small loss, about 10 minutes, but my costs decreased significantly. To Carpool, I was given $30 a week.

And lucky Sally actually had her commute time drop recently.

Thanks to the Canada Line, my commute from South Surrey has been cut by 30 minutes each way. At the end of the day, I can now get from my desk to my kettle at home (tea is a priority in my house) in exactly one hour!

Feel free to check out the original post to read everyone’s comments!


This week: how do you feel about your car?

Hey, I haven’t asked any driving questions around here yet! So here we go — this poll is inspired by a question I saw at hunch.com, a customized recommendation site. I thought it was quite thought-provoking, so here you go!


Olympic travel tips: a guide to recognizing your transit staff

For those who might be in our region for the first time during the Olympics, here’s a short series of tips to help you get on your way. (If you do know this stuff already, please pass it along to those who might find this useful!)

So far in the Olympic tips series: info on tickets, bike info, Park and Rides, a guide to transit staff, where to find real-time transit info online, and transit etiquette. Let me know if I should add anymore!

Here’s a short guide to recognizing our transit staff, just in case you need help when you’re out on the system.

We have a number of different transit services—buses, SkyTrain, SeaBus, West Coast Express—and staff for each service have different jobs and uniforms. Hopefully this guide will help you find a transit staff member, plus show you a little about what they do.

SkyTrain Attendants (STAs) and Canada Line Attendants (CLAs)

SkyTrain attendants wear a blue jacket or a black sweater. In warmer weather, they may wear a black vest or a white shirt with the SkyTrain logo.

SkyTrain attendants wear a blue jacket or a black sweater. In warmer weather, they may wear a black vest or a white shirt with the SkyTrain logo.

CLAs wear this distinctive green in their uniform. You’ll see them on the Canada Line.

CLAs wear this distinctive green in their uniform. You’ll see them on the Canada Line.

You’ll probably see STAs and CLAs more than any other customer service representative. They sometimes ride the trains, but generally work at SkyTrain stations, helping passengers with information, medical aid, and so on.

STAs can be found on the Expo and Millennium Lines, and CLAs on the Canada Line, which is operated by a separate company under contract to TransLink. Both are a first point of contact in dealing with station alarms and incidents, and will call in resources as needed.

STAs and CLAs may check fares, but do not enforce rules and regulations. They are not police or security guards. They may request compliance with rules and regulations, but they have no powers of arrest or enforcement. For that, they’ll call police.

Read more »

More photos of the Olympic Line streetcar

The Olympic Line streetcar by night. By <a href=http://www.flickr.com/photos/dennistt/4294996818/in/set-72157623134999211/>DennisTT</a>.

The Olympic Line streetcar by night. By DennisTT.

A few people have sent in their Olympic Line photographs and video to share! (E-mail me if you have more: I’m happy to put up links.)

The Olympic Line streetcar makes its debut

My first day ride certificate!

My first day ride certificate!

The Olympic Line streetcar launched today, and I went down to Olympic Village Station this morning to be a part of the first public ride!

As you may know, the streetcar is a joint project from the City of Vancouver and Bombardier — it’s not a TransLink project, though we are quite excited to see how it goes.

You can ride the streetcar for free every day from January 21 to March 21, 6:30 a.m. to 12 a.m. It runs from Olympic Village Station on the Canada Line to Granville Island — it’s the Downtown Historic Railway route, spruced up to take on the modern streetcars. (See this Regarding Place article for a great look at the streetcars’ genesis.)

Anyway, everyone was very excited to be there, and when we got on board, the ride was very smooth and almost shockingly noise-free. (Seriously, it’s ridiculously silent.) Four minutes later, we were at Granville Island! And then we went back again :)

The interiors are done in leather and the car itself is just 2.3 m wide owing to the narrow Brussels’ streets — but you should really see the posts by Miss 604 or Stephen Rees to get a better look at the insides. And see this fact sheet for more details!

Today was all about the ride itself, so here’s a few more pictures and video! :)

Read more »

Olympic travel tips: Park and Ride lots for the Games period

For those who might be in our region for the first time during the Olympics, here’s a short series of tips to help you get on your way. (If you do know this stuff already, please pass it along to those who might find this useful!)

So far in the Olympic tips series: info on tickets, bike info, Park and Rides, a guide to transit staff, where to find real-time transit info online, and transit etiquette. Let me know if I should add anymore!


View 2010 Park & Rides (Temporary) in a larger map

A Park & Ride is a location where you can park your car and then hop onto transit for the rest of your ride. (You can be extra green and rideshare to the Park & Ride, too!)

And if you’re looking to do this during the Games, our Olympic team has been working on getting extra Park & Ride space throughout the region for the Games period.

Check out the map above to see the extra lots that are offering Olympic space so far. You can also see the full list of extra Olympic Park & Ride lots on the main TransLink site. Make sure to check both the map and the list for updates — the Olympic team is still securing more space!

As well, you can also check out the regular list of Park & Rides that are available throughout the year.