ALERT! More info
Translink Buzzer Blog

Donated: a 1929 Buzzer and some classic tickets!

Just want to point out something I got a while back: a 1929 Buzzer! It actually describes the discovery of an old document showing the state of Vancouver in 1898, which the Buzzer considered hilarious ancient history. Download a PDF of the full Buzzer here to read all the details!

For background: Bob Hassan kindly sent this Buzzer along to me—it was part of his father’s collection, which Bob received when his father passed away.

I asked Bob if he could tell us a bit about his father, and Bob said that his dad was named Harold Hassan, and was born in Brandon, Manitoba in 1906. He moved to Vancouver in 1910, and spent the rest of his life here. He was interested in everything, loved to save things, and had a fantastic memory: eventually he was president of the BC Pioneers historic association. And because Harold could never drive a car because of his eyesight, that’s why he had transit items in his collection.

Bob also sent along a couple of transit tickets his father had saved: here they are!

Thanks again to Bob for sending this along! If anyone else happens to find an old Buzzer in their holdings and you don’t know what do with it, please do send it in to TransLink: just write to the attention of the Buzzer editor, 1600 – 4720 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H 4N2. We love collecting this sort of thing in our archives!

Jan Gehl lectures in Vancouver, Jan 24 and 26, 2011

Ooo—sorry for the short notice, but I just got a note that Jan Gehl, the world famous urban designer who helped reorient Copenhagen toward walking and cycling, is giving two lectures in Vancouver this week.

Here is the info from Canadian Architect:

Danish architect Jan Gehl is delivering two lectures next week in Vancouver.

On Monday, January 24, 2011, he takes the stage at the Vancouver Playhouse to deliver the annual Arthur Erickson lecture. Doors open at 6:00pm, and the lecture begins at 7:00pm.

On Wednesday, January 26, 2011, Gehl enlightens his audience on liveable cities in the 21st century at the Liu Institute for Global Studies at 2:00pm. Refreshments will be served at 3:00pm, followed by a round-table discussion at 3:30 pm on urban design and the healthy city. Based on evidence and practice, this discussion features Gehl and leading figures from government, industry and academia. This event is moderated by Patrick Condon (SALA) and Lawrence Frank (SCARP/SOEH).

These two events are generously supported by the University of British Columbia School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, and Kasian.

For more, here’s couple of links on Jan Gehl: his Wikipedia page and the website of his firm, Gehl Architects.

Friday fun poll: have you ever found a lost item on transit and turned it in?

During the Olympics, the Lost Property office at Stadium had a copy of Back to Back, the Bobcat Goldthwait/Michael Rooker star vehicle, on VHS!

This poll is inspired by, which is a lovely local blog devoted to transit stories, with an emphasis on storytelling! In August of last year, they ran a poll on lost items which I thought we could pay tribute to here :)

Have you ever found a lost item on transit and turned it in?

  • Yes (50%, 51 Votes)
  • No (50%, 51 Votes)

Total Voters: 102

Feel free to elaborate on your experience in the comments, as usual!

Also, if you’re curious about our lost property office and what it collects, check out these past posts:

SkyTrain historic photos: Princess Diana visits SkyTrain and more

Princess Diana and Prince Charles at Patterson Station. Photo dated May 6, 1986. Click for a much larger version!

Prince Charles and Princess Diana with SkyTrain car 014. Click for a much larger version!

Again, as it’s SkyTrain’s 25th anniversary this year, I’ve assembled some historic photo treats to share with you today!

We’ll kick it off with photos of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales on the SkyTrain, as a couple of people have asked after these. Charles and Diana visited Expo in May of 1986, and rode the brand new SkyTrain from Waterfront to Patterson Station. (Then I assume they went back to Waterfront, although our records are silent on the return leg. Edit: Thomas explains in the comments that they went back to Stadium Station and disembarked there. Thanks!)

I found the photo above in the TransLink offices: Diana is walking at Patterson Station, with Prince Charles just behind her. The one at right was from the Buzzer’s Jan 20, 2006 issue, and the one below was sent in by Jennifer Siddon at SkyTrain. Also, Global Edmonton has this photo of Charles and Diana apparently heading to Waterfront Station (or does that look like a different station to you?).

Notice that car 014 is the one Diana and Charles rode in! I’m not certain there is a plaque inside it for them, but car 014 does have one for the prince and princess of Belgium, and the princess of Thailand.

I’m not sure why car 014 got to be the bearer of such prestigious guests, but next time you ride it, know that you’ve shared the same space as countless royals!

Prince Charles and Princess Diana at Patterson Station. Click for a much larger version!

Read more »

Come to a Mia Birk cycling talk from the SFU City Program, Wed Jan 26, 2011

In case you’re interested, the SFU City Program is hosting a talk by Mia Birk, who helped develop the City of Portland’s hugely successful bike strategy and network. TransLink is co-sponsoring the talk through its TravelSmart program!

The details
January 26, 2011, 7:00pm
SFU Vancouver, 515 West Hastings Street, Room 1400
Reserve your seat here!

For a bit more about Mia, see the video above: Mia talks about Joyride, her new book, and touches on the effects of cycling on Portland. Plus, here is a little about Mia from the SFU City Program’s site:

Joyride: Walking and Pedaling Toward a Healthier Planet

Can bicycling and walking really be the key to bringing our world back from the brink of disaster? Active transportation advocate, consultant and author Mia Birk says YES.

In her new book, Joyride: Pedaling Toward a Healthier Planet, the award-winning bicycle transportation planner shows how in less than a generation, a team of visionaries turned Portland into a City in which people can and do choose bicycling as a normal, everyday means of transportation. The resultant impacts on emissions, oil use, physical activity, safety, and the economy should give us hope that active transportation holds promise for cities across North America.

Mia Birk is Chief Executive Officer and Principal at Alta Planning + Design, with 20 years experience in sustainable transportation focused on pedestrian, bicycle, trail, and greenway planning, design and implementation. Mia is also Adjunct Professor at Portland State University, where she co-founded the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation in the College of Urban Studies, and was the City of Portland Bicycle Program Manager from 1993-99, where she led a period of rapid growth of Portland’s bikeway network.

By the way, Mia was a guest speaker at a TransLink Regional Cycling Strategy workshop on April 6, 2009—so she’s no stranger to our region :)

Links and tidbits for Thu Jan 20, 2011

Bob sent along a snapshot of his collection of farecards dating back to 1990! Thanks Bob!

A roundup of interesting tidbits and links about transportation from the last few weeks or so!

If you have any items to suggest, or a photo to showcase on these posts, e-mail me at! (Seriously: photos. Send them to me!)

SkyTrain history tidbits: memorabilia!

The certificate given out for riding the prebuild, Main Street SkyTrain demonstration line! Scan kindly provided by Rob Chew.

SkyTrain tickets from 1983, 1986, and 1996! Scans courtesy of Rob Chew.

While I do have more video and photos lurking around, I don’t want to overlook sharing these memorabilia tidbits from the launch of SkyTrain 25 years ago!

Transit fan Rob Chew kindly shared these items with me a while back, and I think you’ll quite enjoy them.

Above, Rob scanned in the first rider’s certificate from the Main Street demonstration track. Staff also received an appreciation certificate that looks virtually identical: see the certificate here!

And of course, here are some classic tickets!

Rob sent along scans from the 1983 demonstration line, the 1986 first year of service, and the 1996 10-year anniversary. Boy, how times and prices have changed—just think of how much a movie cost way back then too!

(Also, if you’re so inclined, you can grab larger sized images of each ticket here — 1983, 1986, and 1996.)

Read more »

Allison Koberstein: Buzzer illustrator interview!

Allison Koberstein with her lovely cover illustration for the January 2011 Buzzer!

Ack: I kind of fell off the wagon with interviewing our Buzzer illustrators last year, but for 2011, I’m restarting the tradition!

Here is an interview with Allison Koberstein, who drew the lovely illustration on the cover of the January 14, 2011 Buzzer this year.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your art!

I’ve been drawing pretty much forever. I love it. My illustrations tend to be stylized, lighthearted and whimsical and I take a lot of my inspiration from pop culture. If you peek into my sketchbook, you’ll mainly see girls, animals and monsters – in various styles and combinations.

As for me, I’m into personal development, vegan baking and the Internet, and I’m currently studying Interactive Arts and Technology over at SFU. Pleased to meet you!

How did you come up with the Buzzer cover? Can you talk a bit about the other concepts?

To come up with the concept for the cover, I brainstormed different images that came to mind when I thought of “birthdays”, since it was the SkyTrain’s 25th birthday. Confetti, presents, parties, little cone shaped hats, candles, cake, banners.

I ended up sketching many variations on the cake theme (like a SkyTrain on top of a cake, a SkyTrain MADE of cake… mmmmm). I did try drawing SkyTrain-shaped candles, but it just looked like the SkyTrain was on fire. (It’s kind of a faux pas to draw your client’s system in flames. Oops.)

I eventually settled on the cupcake design because the shapes were easy to recognise at a glance. And who doesn’t like cupcakes?

Read more »

Guest post: Average Joe Cyclist on becoming a bicycle commuter – if I can do it, so can you!

With my own winter-ready bike parked nearby, I realized that I have become one of those fearless bicycle commuters – and also reflected on what a long way I have come. Photo by Average Joe Cyclist.

I’m pleased to present a guest post by Average Joe Cyclist, who’s a regular guy who gave biking a try—and wants regular folks like you to try it out too! (I didn’t mean to make that rhyme, but it’s so pleasing that I’m leaving it that way :) Make sure to check out his blog over at and at BikeBytes for the Vancouver Observer.

This fall I went out and volunteered at one of the VACC’s Bike to Work Week stations. It was great fun (apart from the pouring rain, but hey, this is Vancouver). Standing there in the torrential downpour, I watched the constant stream of determined commuters cycling by on the Central Valley Greenway, braving the fall dark and the elements.

With my own winter-ready bike parked nearby, I realized that I have become one of those fearless bicycle commuters – and also reflected on what a long way I have come.

When I first moved to Vancouver, I worked with a dashing and stylish woman who cycled to work. I had never lived in a city where this was even possible, and it blew me away. I watched her as she came in every day, flushed and triumphant, and started to wonder if this was possible for me. But I was overweight and out of shape, and the thought of cycling over the Second Narrows Bridge just seemed impossible.

A few years passed, but the fantasy of commuting by bike just would not die.

At last I gathered my courage and bought a reasonably decent hybrid commuter – a 1999 Devinci Rio. I started off with baby steps, cycling a bit further every day. Every day, I got a little bit fitter and a little bit stronger.

Finally came the day that I was ready to take the giant step from recreational cyclist to commuter. I mapped out the route I would need to take to bike to work, and practiced it. By this time I was no longer working in North Vancouver. I was living in East Vancouver, and working in Burnaby Heights. The commute would be about 10 km, one-way, with a lot of hills. The first time I did it, it was a Sunday, and I only went one way, and then put my bike on a bus to get home. But I had done it!

Read more »

Friday fun poll results: 83% have carried something cumbersome on transit

When your transit vehicle is empty, it makes it easier to get heavy luggage on board :)

Last week, I asked if you had ever carried something really cumbersome on transit.

And after 206 votes, 83 per cent said you had indeed lugged something big on transit—just 17 per cent hadn’t!

Is this representative? Well, it is a fun poll, so it’s only a good indicator about the pool of voters. But I can’t imagine that it’s super far off: it sounds reasonable that most transit riders have done this at least once, intentionally or not!

And just what people are hauling around on transit can be pretty hilarious. The items described in the comments were just incredible!

For example, Phyzz and Jay carried big paintings (Jay said they sparked good conversations!), Brooke took a vacuum cleaner, Pip had a pinata on the TTC subway, and Sean moved a whole wooden desk on the subway too!

Daniel saw someone moving a washing machine on transit once, and Scott took a five-foot Christmas tree on the bus and SkyTrain, and two eight-foot pieces of lumber another time. And taking luggage on the London Underground was described as an arduous odyssey by Steven, David and Eric B.

Closer to home, Jim Wheeler had an unexpected windfall that he had to get on transit:

A giant stuffed bumble bee about 6 foot high won at the PNE’s midway-we had to stand on the bus all the way to the skytrain-when getting off the female driver said maybe your friend would like one of these buzzers and I said no thanks honey. People were making Bee jokes all the way home.

Ikea furniture was also repeatedly mentioned as a transportation challenge for people. Here’s sarahmross, who sent this one in via Twitter!

@thebuzzer furniture home from ikea! If the box had been 2inches wider it wouldn’t have fit thru the bus door.

transitfan also took on the Ikea challenge:

I have carried lots of IKEA stuff over the years, from big boxes and large picture frames, to a 5x8ft carpet (rolled) and large suitecases – never had a problem or strange looks from drivers or other passengers.

But CMBC driver Derek Cheung probably had the craziest story—he had a coffin on one of his buses. Here’s the story:

Twas a home-built prop made out of plywood that a fellow was transporting for a Halloween party.

Though myself and several customers remarked that it had better be empty and not a ruse to sneak on another customer without paying…

Most people didn’t seem to have any difficulty getting their large items on transit, unless it was during rush hour on a crowded system—then the solution suggested was to take a taxi to save yourself the effort! Sheba also mentioned using a kids kick scooter was really handy to move a full CD tower around.

And finally, Reva had this heartwarming story about an oversized piece of luggage and an honest passenger.

A few years ago I escorted an Australian exchange student from the airport to a friend’s house in PoCo. He had only one piece of luggage — the most enormous backpack I have ever seen. The #100 driver jokingly asked if he was going to pay an extra fare for the backpack, since it literally was as big as a person.

We laughed, but being the nice Aussie guy that he was, he paid it!! He said it wasn’t fair that his pack was going to prevent someone else from getting on if the bus got full, and there was no way to “check” it. It was still way cheaper than taking a taxi so he didn’t mind at all. :) Considerate!

Bonus, it put the driver in a good mood too.

Thank you all again for taking part in the poll — I’m sorry I couldn’t quote you all, because all the stories were so good! Check out everybody’s full comments at the original post for more: you won’t be disappointed, I’m sure :) And stay tuned for a new poll next week!

Smart card naming contest vote now open, January 14-28, 2011

Validating your ticket will just require a tap of the smartcard come 2013.

OK: voting is now live for the smart card contest finalists!

Visit to select your pick for the winning name. As mentioned previously, the poll will be open until Friday, January 28, 2011, and the winner and its brand identity will be announced in March. The actual smart card system is slated for launch in 2013.

Also, response has been tremendous in the last post about the final three names. Rest assured, I am passing on all your feedback to the project team! Please keep it coming: we really do want to know what you all think of our work, as we can’t improve without your notes.

Click here for the past blog posts on the smart card, and see the main TransLink smart card page for more info on the smart card project.

The January 2011 Buzzer is now out!

The January 2011 Buzzer is now on board all buses, SeaBus, SkyTrain, and West Coast Express!

This issue talks about the 25th anniversary of SkyTrain, which we’ve been celebrating on the blog since December 11! There’s a short article about the opening, historic SkyTrain photos and memorabilia, a small set of trivia puzzles, and an updated list of SkyTrain “astronomical facts”!

(Btw: YES, I mixed up the answers to questions 1 and 3 in the trivia section. But luckily the answers are so distinct that you can figure out which is which!)

We’re also urging our customers to vote on the smart card naming contest, and to apply to attend the BC Youth Summit on Sustainable Transportation.

Plus our history tidbit is the InfoBuses that rolled around before the SkyTrain launched, dispensing info about the new integrated train-bus-SeaBus system!

Again, we are happy to have a cover from a local illustrator: this time it’s Allison Koberstein. Nice work, Allison!

And 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, or grab this 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 Wednesday, January 27 at 9 a.m.. We’ll pick a winner from all the correct answers, and that person will be notified by phone shortly after the draw.

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

Smart card finalist names released: you decide the winner starting Friday, Jan 14, 2011!

Smartcards will eventually replace all forms of tickets and passes on our system.

Smartcards will eventually replace all forms of tickets and passes on our system.

As you may have heard already, we have released the three finalist names for our smart card, and we want you to decide on a winner starting Friday, January 14, 2011!

As you know, we’re working on a smart card project for launch in 2013, where you’ll load your transit fares onto a single card that you can use across the system, and track important trip and ridership data for better system planning.

The three shortlisted names are Starfish, Compass or TPass. So visit on Friday and weigh in on your favourites: the voting period will be open for two weeks after that, ending on Friday January 28, 2011.

The winning name will be announced at the end of March along with a brand identity for the new card. The contest winner will get an iPad and a smart card loaded with a year’s worth of transit, to be used on the system in 2013. (If more than one person submitted one of these names, we will do a draw from all of those people to get our winner. See the rules and regulations for more info.)

Here’s the press release we issued about the voting today: you can also check out articles from the Province and the Peace Arch News.

As well, here are the past blog posts on the smart card project, and the main TransLink page with more info about the project.

Video: On Track, a SkyTrain project video from 1983!

At the end of December 2010, I posted the fantastic Going To Town 1985 SkyTrain documentary—well, since then, more classic SkyTrain video has come out of the woodwork!

My colleague Bill Knight, who you may know from the TransLink in film and TV posts, dropped by my office bearing VHS videotapes with even more tantalizing archival SkyTrain footage.

So SkyTrain’s 25th anniversary festivities continue with one of those goodies today: On Track, a video from 1983 highlighting the early development of SkyTrain! Similar to Going To Town, this video showcases the early stages of the project and the building of the early Main Street demonstration test track, which opened in 1982. And like Going to Town, the music is both amazing and epic :)

You’ll note that virtually all of the footage of the train in motion is filmed in Kingston, Ontario, where they were manufactured by the Urban Transportation Development Corporation. As well, just like Going to Town, nobody mentions the word “SkyTrain” at all: that name didn’t show up until 1985, and before that, people just called it the Vancouver Regional Rapid Transit project, or ALRT, Advanced Light Rapid Transit.

Also, here’s one bonus video: it’s b-roll footage of SkyTrain construction and the Vancouver region that was eventually shown in Going To Town! There’s no sound, but there are some amazing aerial shots of the Vancouver region in the 1980s. Enjoy!

Remember, you can check out the entire Transit History category for other posts on SkyTrain’s history and more. Happy 25th, SkyTrain!

Links and tidbits, Tue Jan 11, 2011

Daryl Claudio took a picture of all his saved transit passes and tickets, collected since 2006! Sent in via Twitter.

A roundup of interesting tidbits and links about transportation from the past few weeks or so!

If you have any items to suggest, or a photo to showcase on these posts, e-mail me at! (Seriously: photos. Send them to me!)