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Translink Buzzer Blog

The Commissioner’s review and planning for the future

How public transit is funded is an important topic and one we don’t usually talk much about on the Buzzer. In January, TransLink’s Regional Transportation Commissioner asked for public feedback on a fare increase asked for by Translink to keep current service levels. Today, the Commissioner has released his review of TransLink’s application. TransLink has released a response to the Commissioner’s review.

Post your ideas and questions for TransLink staff!

Read more »

2012 Easter weekend holiday service

The 2012 Easter weekend is upon us!

I hope there's something in those eggs!

Friday, April 6, 2012, is Good Friday. That means transit runs on Sunday/Holiday service, and you only need a single-zone fare to travel in all zones all day on the bus, SkyTrain and SeaBus. West Coast will not be running.

Monday, April 9, 2012, is Easter Monday. That means a return to the regular weekend schedule and regular fares. West Coast Express trains that depart Mission Station at 5:55 a.m. and 6:55 a.m. are cancelled; trains that depart Waterfront Station at 4:20 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. are also cancelled. The TrainBus will operate on the regular weekday schedule.

Enjoy your weekend!

The Frequent Transit Network map

Quick and reliable transit service revealed on a map!

The term “Frequent Transit Network” or “FTN” has been mentioned a few times on the blog. As explained on the TransLink website, the FTN “… is a network of corridors where transit service runs at least every 15 minutes in both directions throughout the day and into the evening, every day of the week.”

Besides the convenience of knowing that transit will be there every 15 minutes, the FTN makes public transit easier for these corridors since planning your trip is as simple as showing up at your stop (provided a maximum of 15 minutes is not too long of a wait for what you want to do). TransLink has just release a map of the TransLink FTN. The Human Transit blog (written by author and transit planner extraordinaire Jarrett Walker) has also recently posted about our FTN map. For more info on the map, you can check out the dedicated FTN page on the TransLink website, which speaks to the benefits the network’s benefits to not only users but for municipalities and developers.

Showing is always better than just telling, so please download the map, and let us know what you think!

Friday Full Poll: Do you eat on transit?

We don’t advise doing it. [Update] In fact, you can purchase coffee and snacks on the West Coast Express. However, food and drink on transit can cause problems. Spill your pop or soup, and you not only get a mess, but you’ve created a potential safety hazard. Allergies to foods can also be a serious concern. Then there is the etiquette faux pas of eating and drinking on transit. Not everyone wants to smell your culinary creations or pungent fast food, let alone have it end up with it on their clothes. That said, we know that people do it. Riders often live busy lives and find themselves scarfing down their breakfasts or late dinners on transit. Hopefully, the food and drink you bring on board isn’t hard to clean, doesn’t cause a injury/reaction or, at least, is in a non-spill container.

One example of eating on transit.

Apart from wondering if you eat on transit, it would be interesting to know if you’ve seen others do it. Have you seen or smelled a Hungry Hamster recently?

Here’s one food on transit experience from one of our Facebook friends. Feel free to leave you stories of food and transit in the comments section.

Do you eat on transit?

  • Yes, I sometimes eat on transit. (50%, 179 Votes)
  • No, I never eat on transit. (46%, 166 Votes)
  • Yes, I eat every time I'm on transit. (3%, 12 Votes)

Total Voters: 357

Predictive departure times added to the new mobile website

The official launch of the new TransLink mobile website is almost here! Over the past seven months, the mobile team has been testing out the mobile site with each new beta release and considering feedback from Buzzer readers on how best to perfect the final product. In early February, we had a couple of Buzzer readers visit the TransLink office and test out the predictive departure times feature of the website. Later in February, we asked readers how they would like to see predictive departure times integrated into the service. Thanks to everyone who took the time to provide feedback, the team has been able to complete their work on predictive departure times and has just released this feature for everyone to use!

How predictive departure times work: Next Bus home page

There are many ways to find where you are going using the new Next Bus!

If you’re new to the system, the revamping of the Next Bus home page will be very helpful. Instead of clicking “map view” and navigating around the map for the service you want, you can now use the look up functions for both bus routes and bus stops (there’s also the favourites function of course). Using these two functions, users can see their route or stop destinations. So if you only know where you want to go, these additions can help! The bus route lookup now includes the name associated with the bus number. This means that if you know you need the Main bus, you can find it without knowing that the Main bus is the #3. The bus stop lookup links to Trip Planner, allowing you to search the specific route or find the service information for a particular landmark. Read more »

Elevators and escalators out of service and how Trip Planner, alerts, SMS, email, Twitter and transit information can help you

The elevator and the escalator and stairs at the North entrance of Surrey Central SkyTrain station are currently out of service until July 31st, 2012. - photo by Anna Mae Abia

Making your connection from one transfer to another can sometimes be a challenge. In some areas of the world, it’s so much of a challenge that some people make it a sport to see who can get from a to b on public transit the fastest (check out transit marathons)! For people who have accessibility needs, knowing the right way to get to where you want to go isn’t a sport, it’s a necessity.

When there are repairs on the system, sometimes making connections between buses, SkyTrains, SeaBuses, etc. can be even more of a challenge than usual. Besides the regular station maintenance that can shut down elevators and escalators, TransLink is in the midst of updating SkyTrain stations as part of OnTrack as well as installing new faregates and other items for the upcoming transition to Compass Card. This means a larger than usual number of disruptions to the usual flow of traffic at SkyTrain stations across the system. Read more »

Links & Tidbits for March 19, 2012

The intersections in Holland look a little different than they do here. I spot only a handful of personal vehicles in two minutes. Thanks for the link, Joey Chiu!

  • Could robocars bring about the death of public transit? Man, my sci-fi mind is going crazy!
  • Here’s an example of how graphic design and transportation can be a beautiful marriage.
  • Have you ever wondered where the SkyTrain name came from? Well, before it was the train, it was a train in the sky. The name SkyTrain was first used by a now defunct British airline.
  • This guy tells you how to travel by train almost anywhere in the world.
  • And this guy is into transit marathons. That’s right. You can compete to see who can make a trip on transit from a to b the fastest. There are even rules to follow so that you can be documented by the Guinness Book of Records. If this hasn’t already been done in Metro Vancouver, then I think it’s time to start the competition!
  • Are there hard times ahead for Portland’s standout transit system?
  • This study shows that with real-time transit information, people’s perceptions of how long they have to wait for transit are more accurate than they are for systems without real-time transit information. I wonder if perceived wait times for people using transit in Vancouver have changed now that Next Bus is in real time?
  • In the February issue of the Buzzer, I asked readers to send in photos of what they thought could be a version of the Transit Game. Jason Vanderhill sent in this photo. Thanks, Jason!
  • The Canada Line has a new website. Check out all the latest service updates and blogs about the line!
  • Mass transit ridership in the U.S. hits a record high.
  • Now, here’s a great idea. The Metropolitan Transit Authority has a new app for people who want to experience and learn about all the public art on the New York transit system.

The New Pattullo Bridge Project webinar

Last Thursday’s webinar about the New Pattullo Bridge Project can now be viewed, here, the Buzzer blog YouTube Channel, TransLink’s channel or via this third-party website. I advise using the third-party site (but not using Chrome)  since it will allow you to follow along with  Sany Zein, Director of Road at TransLink, during the presentation.

If you didn’t get a chance to participate in the live webinar, please also take the time to watch and check out all the additional material found on the TransLink website. We had some great questions asked during and before the webinar. The questions ranged in topic from tolling of the existing and future bridge to what effects the new bridge would have on existing parkland if any. There’ll be other opportunities for your input on the new bridge when we ask for more feedback in the spring, so there’s plenty of opportunities to provide feedback in the not-too-distant future!

The March 2012 Buzzer and Andy Dixon: Buzzer illustrator interview

Andy and his vivid drawing of transit in Steveston

The cover of the latest issue.

If you’re taking transit, make sure to pick up the new March Buzzer, which came out this past Friday! As usual, you can jump on a bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus or West Coast Express and pick up a copy, or download it as a .pdf . Read more »

St. Patrick’s Day Parade reroutes

CelticFest 2012

It’s that time of the year for everything green and Irish. Yup, Celtic Festival is just around the corner as well as the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. The Celtic Festival kicks off tomorrow with a free, family-friendly event at Vancouver’s Village on False Creek. St. Patrick’s Day is on Saturday, March 17 this year, and the annual parade is the following Sunday, March 18.

The parade is a popular, large-scale event, so a number of roads will be blocked off to traffic, including buses, so that means a number of reroutes. For specifics on the reroutes, visit TransLink Alerts & Advisories (updated with parade info next week), or call 604.953.3333. Here are the basics if you’re planning to drive downtown on Saturday or take transit to the festivities.

St. Patrick’s Parade day street closures and bus reroutes

On Sunday, March 18, 2012, these streets will be closed to vehicle traffic:

From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  • Howe Street–from Drake Street to the Granville Street Bridge
  • All southbound traffic on Granville Street Bridge and Granville Street (except buses)–from Drake Street to West 5th Avenue

From 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  • Howe Street–from Drake to Georgia
  • Georgia Street–from Hornby to Seymour
  • Granville Street–from Georgia to Pender

The parade will result in road closures for these bus routes: 4, 5, 6, 10, 14, 17, 20, 50, 135, 240 and C23.

Due to the high volume of people attending the parade, it’s always advisable to plan in additional time to commute downtown and back. If you have a smartphone, use to see the location of your bus. That way, you don’t have to wait at your stop longer than necessary.

Enjoy St. Paddy’s Day, everyone! Oh, and remember to wear something green. It’s the thing to do!

The New Pattullo Bridge Project webinar is this Thursday, March 8, 2012!

A photo of the opening of the Pattullo Bridge in 1937.

It’s just a few days away. The New Pattullo Bridge Project webinar is this Thursday, March 8 at 7 p.m! You’ll need to register before the webinar to watch and ask questions live.

Sany Zein, TransLink’s Director of Roads and Infrastructure Planning, will be walking webinar participants through all the different bridge locations and directions. You’ll want to do your homework before the webinar since there’s a lot of information to absorb.

I’ll be accompanying Sany to help field the questions coming in live, collected at workshops and those that Buzzer Blog readers have posted already on this past post. I’ll be collecting your questions on the blog up until Thursday, so please post them in the comments section of either this post or the past post.

I hope you all can join me on Thursday. I’m excited! See you online!

On the system – fare evasion

The Transit Security badge

To say fare evasion is a hot topic on this blog and in Metro Vancouver in general is an understatement. Not only has it spurred much debate of late, it’s generated a lot of questions. One of those questions is just how is TransLink trying to reduce the amount of fare evasion on the system. The most current numbers are that between four to six percent of riders are not paying for fares, resulting in a loss in revenue of roughly $18 million dollars. One of the aims of installing faregates, which will come into use at SkyTrain stations along with Compass Card in 2013, is to help reduce the number of people getting on SkyTrain without paying the proper fares. However, we know that faregates alone won’t completely solve the problem on SkyTrain, not to mention the rest of the system. Along with Transit Police and SkyTrain Attendants, Transit Security are actively on the system every day checking for fares. If you’re a user of the multiple modes of transit in Metro Vancouver, it’s very likely you’ve met or seen a member of our Transit Security team on the bus, SkyTrain or SeaBus.

On Monday, I joined the members of Transit Security on one of their numerous targeted fare check blitzes on a Metro Vancouver bus route that is particularly prone to fare evasion. Transit Security has taken a new approach this year to reducing fare evasion, and while I can’t get into details about exactly what they’re doing, I can tell you that so far, it’s working.

Over the course of one week in February, fare evasion was reduced from 11 per cent to just under eight per cent on one problem route.

Being a user of the system for many years, I assumed most fare evaders were simply not paying for fares when they get on the bus. What I discovered is that fare evasion is a much more complicated problem than I thought, and it’s a problem that spans socioeconomic status.

Read more »

Predictive departure times for real-time Next Bus

This is one internal beta version for predictive bus departure times in map view.

In simple terms, the main question that the new TransLink mobile website has been trying to answer is: Where is my bus? Having GPS on our fleet and using the new website to track the location of buses has provided a solution to that question. Now, with the website nearing the end of its beta testing, the mobile website team is aiming to answer yet another question: When will my bus be departing from my bus stop? Providing customers with the best information to do this based on the data our systems can gather is our approach to this new and very important question. And it’s a question I hope Buzzer blog readers can help us address.

Throughout the beta phase of the new mobile site, the mobile team has been collecting feedback on the new website from Buzzer blog readers. This has been done via the comments left by readers and two in-person user testing sessions (one in August of last year and one early this month).

During this last (predictive) phase of the mobile website development, the mobile team would like to ask readers what predictive information they would like to see and how they want to see it. Read more »

The New Pattullo Bridge – we want to hear from you!

The existing (old) Pattullo Bridge

Back in July 31, 2008, TransLink’s Board of Directors decided the Pattullo Bridge (built in 1937) needed to be replaced. Designed to last 50 years, the 75-year-old bridge has outlived its projected life.

In terms of modern day safety, structure, seismic and riverbed scour (water that removes sand and rocks from around the bridge piers) factors, the bridge is outdated. Although the existing bridge has exceeded its projected lifespan, it’s still in usable condition, safe and will continue to be monitored until the new bridge has been completed. Once the new Pattullo Bridge is completed, the old one will be dismantled.

Tomorrow, TransLink will begin the public engagement portion of the consultation process for the bridge, which will help determine the future of the New Pattullo Bridge Project. The general objectives for creating this new bridge are the following: Read more »

Real-time transit information beta test part II wrap-up

Luke was the first tester of the day!

At the beginning of the month, I put out a call for a couple of testers to help us look at where we’ve come from since we launched the new mobile site last September as well as where we should be heading. We received over 20 applications, and, in the end, we settled on two great testers. Although there were a lot of qualified people who offered to be testers, the two Buzzer blog readers we settled on were both heavy users of the mobile site and provided some very constructive information in their applications.

The first tester of the day was Luke. He brought his iPhone 4 and his good nature along with him. The mobile team got him to play with the existing mobile site as well as showed him some other North American transit agencies’ mobile sites. I met up with Luke after the testing and asked him how it went. Read more »