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Translink Buzzer Blog

TransLink and Foursquare team up to offer a transit badge!

I’m so excited to announce that we are working with Foursquare, the mobile social-networking site, to put out a special “transit champion” badge for Metro Vancouver!

It’s going to be great fun if you’re using Foursquare and riding transit during this busy Olympic period – make sure you check in and earn your badge on the go!

If you’ve never heard of Foursquare before, it’s a really neat social networking site that makes a game out of exploring your neighbourhood, and it’s got about 350,000 registered users worldwide right now.

You sign in on your mobile device, share your location with friends, and share handy tips or reasons to explore other things nearby. But you also earn points for checking in to locations around the region, and the person checking into a location the most becomes “Mayor” of that location, at least until someone else checks in more!

Our TransLink transit champion badge on Foursquare!

Our TransLink transit champion badge on Foursquare!

Plus, you can unlock a “badge” for checking into certain types of places – several visits to the gym gets you a “Gym Rat” badge, for example.

In our case, 10 checkins to a TransLink train station (SkyTrain and West Coast Express!) or a major bus exchange gets you the Transit Champion badge! (Tip: you have to be friends with TransLink on Foursquare to see the badge on your mobile device.)

Anyway, Foursquare has been superamazing in helping us put this together, and it’s really great to have a badge for you all to enjoy. We’re so excited to keep on exploring ways to connect with our users through Foursquare! Thanks again to Tristan Walker at Foursquare and the awesome web team at SFBART for helping us connect!

And you can feel free to e-mail in your tips and recommendations to be added to locations through the TransLink page on Foursquare! Or add them yourself too, Foursquare users :)

TransLink’s Olympic communications centre is now open

TransLink's Olympic communications centre.

TransLink's Olympic communications centre. How glamorous :)

TransLink’s Olympic communications centre has started up today!

It’s a room full of TransLink staff devoted specifically to getting real-time information to the media and public about traffic conditions. (It’s different from the Transportation Management Centre, which is focused on managing and solving the traffic issues.)

A screenshot of the <a href=>Traffic and Transit Alerts map</a>.

A screenshot of the Traffic and Transit Alerts map.

During the Games, staff will be in the centre at our Metrotown offices from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. on most days. They will be updating the TransLink Twitter account with real-time transit information, and connecting with the media about transit updates.

They will also be updating the Traffic and Transit Alerts map, a Google map with real-time traffic info in the region! You’ll be able to turn layers of content on and off for 2010 Games venues, entertainment sites, Olympic Lanes, road closures, and alerts for incidents and issues. Partners like,, and the CBC will also have it on their websites too. (It’s best seen through Firefox!)

Make sure to check out all our web and mobile resources for transit info during the Games.

And here are the specific times the communication centre will be open, just in case you are curious.

Read more »

Friday fun post: are you helping out new folks on transit?

If you like, skip to the end of this post to take the poll about helping out new folks on transit.

Last week: are you noticing the Olympic crowds yet?

Last week’s fun post asked if you had noticed Olympic crowds on transit yet.

We had 165 votes in the poll, and 58.8% said a resounding “No!”. The remaining 41.2% said yes, they had noticed crowds.

So most people aren’t experiencing crowds, which I guess is good! Although this could be just a large number of votes from people in areas unaffected by the Olympics. And it’s not as though people aren’t noticing any Olympic differences lately. Henry said he hadn’t seen crowds, but he did notice tourists on transit.

Crowds? I wouldn’t say crowds in my case, but I have noticed more tourists recently. It looks like there are some out-of-towners with their respective nation’s Olympic gear on. That’s pretty neat to see. I guess some of them are here early to scope things out. At the same time, I guess there checking out transit too.

Really though, most of the comments came from the 41.2% who said they were seeing bigger crowds lately. Here’s Brandon, an operator from CMBC:

Being a bus driver, I have noticed more people then usual getting on the bus as well as heavier traffic in some areas due to the road closures. I have also had more people asking me how to get around in the last week or so, mostly people that would normally drive to/from work for now.

Jason V also said this:

I especially noticed bigger Olympic crowds at Waterfront Station today. I also saw the telltale signs of folks lingering on the train as it waits at the platform, disembarking at the last second (presumably because they’re not sure which station is their stop – I wish these people would ask for stop confirmation beforehand!) Oh well, so long as they’re not in a hurry, I wish them happy exploring!

By the way, I asked if Jason and everyone else were actually helping out tourists if they looked lost: the answer so far seems to be “Yes!”

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

This week: are you helping out tourists on transit?

I asked this question in the comments of the last poll, so let’s give it its own poll! (It also follows quite nicely from the “Ask Me” post.)

Currently there are some newbies in town riding transit owing to the Games :) But do you find yourself helping these new folks out when you encounter them on transit?

“Ask Me”: one more place to turn for transit help

Just one more note for visitors to our region!

You might see a lot of locals wearing red “Ask Me” buttons during the Games, and it’s to encourage you to talk to them if you need help navigating the transit system.

(They are mentioned in this guide to recognizing your transit staff too!)

We reached out to these residents through our Employer Pass Program, where employees can get discounted transit passes if 25 or more sign up from the same company. The program serves over 20,000 people, and so far 7,000 have agreed to wear the buttons! Thanks so much!

So it’s just one more way to get transit help if you need it. We will also have transit hosts in blue coats standing at key SkyTrain stations and bus exchanges throughout the Olympic period who can also lend a hand

You can also try the Customer Information line at 604-953-3333, which will be open from 5:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. to help you out.

Reminder: Olympic souvenir passes are valid as of Monday, Feb 8

The 3-zone Olympic FareCard.

The 3-zone Olympic FareCard.

Just a reminder that the six-week Olympic transit passes are valid starting next Monday, February 8!

So if you were thinking of buying one, get one soon so you can wring the most value out of it. (Find a FareDealer near you!) Prices are $110 for a 1-zone, $149 for a 2-zone, $204 for a 3-zone, and $63 for a concession pass. Each pass also comes with a limited-edition Olympic transit map.

Again, the six-week pass is valid until March 21, and the card makes a nice souvenir if you like that sort of thing!

See all the souvenir pass designs and a photo of the transit map in my earlier Olympic pass post. And here’s the Olympic pass page on the main TransLink site too.

Chloe Lan: Buzzer illustrator interview!

Chloe Lan and her illustration for the January/February Buzzer!

Chloe Lan and her illustration for the January/February Buzzer!

Let’s keep going with the fine tradition of interviewing our Buzzer illustrators! Here is the delightful Chloe Lan, who drew the cover of the latest issue (she describes it as a “Transformer-type of lineup” of our services, as you’ll see :)

Tell us a bit about yourself and your art!

I’ve always been curious about anything fun and creative since I was a kid. I enjoy playing, trying, and creating things I haven’t seen before. That’s why imagination significantly outweighs reality when it comes to the content of my work.
I enjoyed the challenge of adapting to Canada when I arrived from Taiwan at the age of 13. I discovered the power of images and icons to bridge gaps that language could not when I started making friends with my drawings as I first arrived in a school that was completely foreign to me.
I love working on projects that allows me to communicate to the public with sincerity and imagination. Inspired by my mentor, Craig Redmond, I want to listen to the public and create works that will be heard. I want my work to take me to places.

Read more »

Olympic travel tips: transit etiquette and behaviour

For those who might be on transit 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!

If you’re new to transit, you might notice that experienced riders are following an unspoken sort of transit etiquette.

That’s because regular riders know there are many things you can do to make the ride easier on yourself and your fellow passengers.

So if you’d like to help out, here’s a short transit etiquette list to help you get started. (There’s also a list on the main TransLink site.)

Although really, the golden rule of transit travel is “Be considerate” :)

Make boarding easier (and faster) for everyone

Have your fare ready when you board a bus
If you count your change on the bus, passengers behind you are stuck waiting to board. So have exact change ready before the bus arrives, and you can quickly pay when you get on. Better still – buy a prepaid fare, and you can just validate the ticket or wave your pass when boarding!

Let everyone off the transit vehicle before you get on
This is especially true for SkyTrain. Stand clear of the doors and let everybody exit easily—the quicker they get off, the quicker you can board.

Move as far into the vehicle as you can
Going far inside leaves more room for people to get on.

Put your backpack (or your bag) on the floor
A big backpack can take up a lot of room if it’s on your back, leaving less room for other people to board. Put it on the floor and more people can hop on.

Walk left. Stand right.
When using an escalator, please stand to the right to allow people to pass you on the left.

Read more »

Temporary T signage now up at downtown Canada Line stations

T wayfinding signage up at the Waterfront Canada Line entrance on Granville Street.

T wayfinding signage up at the Waterfront Canada Line entrance on Granville Street.

If you’re interested, more T wayfinding signage has gone up on Canada Line stations in downtown Vancouver. Woo!

Just note that these are temporary signs for the Games period, since permanent T signage for the Canada Line still has to be worked out with ProTrans BC, the private operator of the Line.

If you missed it, the past articles about the new wayfinding signage can be found here:

  • Look out for the big T: new transit station markers are here
  • More T signage is now up in downtown Vancouver

And here’s some more photos from Vancouver City Centre and Yaletown-Roundhouse!

Read more »

Bus reroutes for the C19, 177, and 791 start Monday, Feb 8

A few more non-Olympic service adjustments are happening on Monday, February 8. Pass it on to those who might be affected, please!

C19 UBC/Alma

Extensive modifications to the Museum of Anthropology’s parking lot are now complete, including the construction of a new bus bay. As of Monday, February 8 the C19 will now enter the Museum’s parking lot and utilize the new stop permanently.

The new bus stop at the museum is #61358. The temporary stop used during the construction (#61424) will be discontinued in coordination with the new stop.

Construction detours for the 177 and 791

The detoured portion of the 177 Braid Station and 791 Braid Station routes.

The detoured portion of the 177 Braid Station and 791 Braid Station routes.

From February 2010 to spring 2011, King Edward Street will be closed between Lougheed Highway and Woolridge for the Stage 1 construction of the King Edward Street Overpass. As a result, the 177 and 791 bus routes will be making detours on their routes, starting on Monday February 8.

The detours will affect only the 177 Braid Station and 791 Braid Station routes. (The 177 Coquitlam Station/Planet Ice and the 791 Haney Place routes are unaffected have a minor change: both will operate on a new section of Woolridge Street, which has been re-aligned, and the 791 Haney Place route will operate via Woolridge [the regular routing is via King Edward Street].)

So: these routes will be avoiding the closed section of King Edward Street by going northbound on King Edward under the freeway, right over Woolridge, then northbound on Schoolhouse, and westbound again on Lougheed Highway.

If this makes no sense to you, here are two handy maps that explain the rerouting quite nicely:

Also important: three bus stops on the 177 Coquitlam Station/Planet Ice route will be discontinued owing to the work!

  • 58994 NB Woolridge St at Tupper Ave
  • 53632 SB King Edward St at Woolridge St
  • 59466 WB Woolridge St at King Edward St

But one bus stop will be introduced along the detour:

  • 53948 EB Woolridge St at King Edward St

Please keep an eye out for future information about possible changes to these detour routings, including information about Stage 2 construction detours.

The Buzzer blog’s plan for the Games period

Yours truly, cycling the region to get you the inside scoop on transit and the Olympics.

Yours truly, cycling the region to get you the inside scoop on transit and the Olympics.

The Olympics will be on from February 12 to 28, and during that time, I’m planning to update the blog as much as possible—even on weekends!

I’m hoping to share stories on how our transit system is weathering the Games, plus capture the transportation experiences of our visitors and residents.

I’ll also keep you updated on any ongoing travel issues. (Here’s our online resources for real-time traffic info, too).

Share your stories

So, during the Games, please e-mail me if you have a story, photos or more to share on the blog! I’d love to know if you’ve started biking to work, or if you’re riding the West Coast Express for the first time, or whether you’ve spotted a celebrity or an Olympic athlete on the system :)

I’ll be out and about: what that means for you

As well, like most TransLink staff, I will be out of office and on the system during the Olympic period. I’ll update the Buzzer’s Twitter account if I’m somewhere notable, and please do say hello if you see me! I’ll have transit buttons to share and would love to hear how your Games experience is going.

One more thing: be aware that my capacity to answer questions will be more limited during this period. Almost all staff will be out as transit hosts or on other duties, so they won’t be as available to help me gather information about our system! I’ll also be out and about as much as possible during the 17 Olympic days. I will do my best to help you out though—I do know a wee bit about things!

Your comments welcome

And as always, feel free to let me know if you have suggestions for Olympic coverage, or other comments. You tell me what you want to hear about, and I’ll see what I can rustle up :)

SAP: how one company is travelling smart for the Olympics

SAP's office in downtown Vancouver!

SAP's office in downtown Vancouver!

As we talked about this week, we’ve done lots of outreach with businesses in downtown Vancouver to help them make travel plans for the Olympics.

And with 1,200 employees, SAP is a huge company who has really stepped up and made a plan for the Games!

So here’s an interview with Dorit Shackleton from SAP’s media team, where she tells us a bit about how travelling smart fits into SAP’s business plan, and what they did to prepare.

You might catch SAP’s story on TV too — CBC will have an item on their Games travel plan on tonight’s 5 p.m. newscast, and it will rerun on The National at 6, 8, 9, and 11 p.m.

Read more »

Granville Station’s Olympic look

Coca-Cola ads in Granville Station

Coca-Cola ads in Granville Station

Eagle-eyed readers will note that I missed Granville Station on Monday’s tour of Olympic ads in downtown SkyTrain stations. Luckily, my colleague Charlotte Boychuk from CMBC captured Granville’s look for the Olympics.

Obviously, Coke is advertising all over Granville Station! The ads are pretty enormous. Here’s a couple more shots too.

Read more »

Coquitlam hosts open houses on transportation and greenhouse gases, Tue Feb 9 and Wed Feb 10

The City of Coquitlam will be hosting two open houses next week, talking about transportation, and energy and greenhouse gas reduction. Here’s the details:

Coquitlam residents are invited to attend Open Houses covering two important topics: The Strategic Transportation Plan Update and the Community Energy and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Strategy. Both topics will be presented from 3-8pm on Tue Feb 9 at Poirier Library (575 Poirier Street) and on Wed Feb 10 at Coquitlam City Hall. (3000 Guildford Way) Refreshments will be served and you could win a draw prize! Info: 604-927-3500 or

Route411: another iPhone transit app

Another iPhone transit app for Vancouver users has entered the fray this January.

Route411 is an app developed by fusedlogic inc. of Edmonton, and it provides stop and route info for Edmonton, Vancouver, and Toronto.

(Other apps for Vancouver transit include the TransLink app, iBusVan and the Buzzer blog app — if you’re curious!)

And here’s a little interview with Evan Adnams of fusedlogic to tell us a bit about Route411.

Read more »

TransLink’s Olympic story, part 4: reducing car traffic and offering travel options

The Olympics arrive in February, and TransLink has the huge task of helping people get around 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 TravelSmart outreach program, which has been working to reduce vehicle traffic in key areas for the Olympics. (Check out past articles on Check out past articles on TransLink’s overall Olympic strategy, the Transportation Management Centre and the transit host program!)

With an extraordinary boost in traffic expected for the Games period, one strategy to manage the crowded streets was obvious—cut regular traffic levels to make room for the Games time increase, and give people other travel options to get where they needed to go.

This initiative was assigned to TransLink due to our existing work in Transportation Demand Management (TDM), which is also known as our TravelSmart program. (Mandated by the Province, our task is to manage traffic and encourage transportation options beyond driving alone.)

Downtown Vancouver is the focus for TravelSmart efforts—with a limited number of access points and a high concentration of workers, it’s also the central location for key Olympic venues and entertainment sites. In other words, it’s busy already, and will only get busier during the Olympics.

“For the Games to be successful, we needed to reduce vehicle traffic by at least 30 per cent downtown,” says JoAnn Woodhall, a TransLink TDM Officer, who led the task of developing the Olympic traffic reduction strategy.

“We’re expecting between 60,000 and 135,000 ticket holders a day, and 60,000 folks going to free celebration sites. The big focus was that we wanted to make sure businesses could keep running smoothly, and staff that needed to get to work in the downtown were given the information they needed to get there.”

Read more »