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We’re taking a stand against bullying on Pink Shirt Day, Wed April 14

Ward Clapham, our Chief Officer of the Transit Police, wearing a pink Bullying Stops Here shirt!

Ward Clapham, our Chief Officer of the Transit Police, wearing a pink Bullying Stops Here shirt!

You might see transit staff wearing pink on Wednesday, April 14. That’s because it’s Pink Shirt Day, a day to take a stand against bullying!

Over the past three years, pink has become the color of anti-bullying, thanks to two Grade 12 students in Nova Scotia who came up with the idea after hearing about a Grade 9 boy who was harassed for wearing a pink polo shirt.

Our Transit Police will be wearing pink, and they encourage you to visit to get an official Pink Shirt and support the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Vancouver’s anti-bullying programs.

Check out Chief Officer Ward Clapham’s full message at the Transit Police website. Here’s an excerpt:

When people in a community stand up to bullying they help demonstrate the kind of caring, concern and acceptable behaviour that makes a community safe. By teaching our young people that bullying is wrong and unacceptable, we are helping them choose the right path in life.

You also might see your transit operators wearing pink ‘Bullying Stops Here’ buttons on their uniforms.

Coast Mountain Bus Company has teamed up with CKNW to offer 3,500 buttons to staff, showing their support for eradicating bullying in our community. Here’s part of a note they have sent out to staff.

We recognize that bullying is not limited to the classrooms or playgrounds. It is also experienced in the workplace and other social settings. No matter where it strikes, the effects can be devastating, leading to low self esteem, a continuing cycle of absenteeism, and even suicide. Therefore, we all have a responsibility to stand up for those who have become targets and help stop it before it becomes a cycle.

I’ll keep an eye out on Wednesday to see how many pink buttons and shirts are on the system — here’s hoping we’ll see a sea of pink!

Friday fun post: do you like having buskers perform near transit?

If you like, skip to the end of this post to take the poll on buskers.

From last week: how do you pick up a free newspaper on transit?

Last week, I asked this question:how do you pick up a free newspaper on transit?

166 people took the poll in the end, and in fact, 26% said they don’t read any of the free newspapers at all. Of the remaining 75% who did read the paper, 33% said they grabbed it when someone handed it to them. 23% picked it up if someone had left it behind on a seat, and 19% said they get their paper from a box on the street.

In the comments, many people were very vocal about never taking a paper. For example, here’s Amy:

I never pick them up – I find the people giving them up to be so aggressive that I actively dislike the papers.

I bring a book to read, or I listed to a podcast. Plenty of good stuff to keep me occupied on transit!

Rainbow didn’t want to make waste:

Since i have the iphone, i can just read it on my iphone. Save the environment :)

Some had a different strategy though. Reva, Sally, zack and Eric all said something similar, though here’s Eric’s version of it:

I sometimes read over peoples shoulders, that’s about the extent of it.

And Tim Choi was much more democratic.

How about a little of all three? :D

When in a rush and/or there’s someone handing them out, then I’ll take it from the handler.
When not in a rush and there’s no one handing them out, then I’ll go to a box.
When in a rush and there’s no one handing them out, then grab one from a seat.

Check out the rest of the comments for more reactions!

This week: do you like having buskers perform near transit?

So here’s a fun poll that will hopefully help us out in a practical way as well.

Here’s the background. We have a busker program, and it’s going to continue as it is from April 2010 to April 2011. In January 2011, we’ll start work to develop a new program for buskers, to help figure out how we’ll handle the fees SOCAN wants, and to make the whole program more efficient (right now it takes up a LOT of staff time!).

So before we start to engage on this process, this fun post can be an informal straw poll to see what you currently think of the program and more. I’ll pass all your feedback on to our public consultation team, who is actually in charge of the busker program!

Here’s some questions for discussion:

  • What kind of music do you like to hear at stations?
  • Should buskers just be music or would you like other types of performance?
  • At which SkyTrain stations would you like to hear buskers? (You can list more than one!)
  • Do you only like buskers at certain times (e.g. morning rather than evening)?
  • Anything else?

Two regional travel studies show more take transit trips and more share car rides, among other things

The proportion of the population using different modes of travel, from four past trip diary surveys.

The proportion of the population using different modes of travel, from four past trip diary surveys.

We’ve just announced the results of the 2008 Trip Diary and 2008 Screenline studies, which are two surveys we do every few years to measure how people are getting around the region.

The Trip Diary survey asks people about their travel in the past 24 hours, while the Screenline survey captures how many vehicles pass key points in the regional network. Findings from these surveys (and a backgrounder on how they were conducted) can be found in this press release that was just put out.

Here’s a quote from the press release with some of the findings:

As “driver auto” trips have declined, the transit mode share has increased by 16%, while the population of Metro Vancouver went up by about 6%. The number of trips being made on public transit is steadily increasing over the past 10 years, with a 12.5% mode share in 2008, compared to 10.8% in 2004 and 10.1% in 1999. Also, the combination of all modes other than driving a car – transit, cycling, walking and riding as a passenger in a car – reached a share of about 44%.”

Changes in travel choice are helping the region to manage transportation more efficiently. The rate of trips per person on all travel modes in Metro Vancouver declined significantly from a peak of 3.24 per day in 2004 to 2.65 in 2008. This suggests people are combining more individual purposes into each trip, or “trip chaining.” This finding takes on even more meaning when one sees that the number of transit trips per capita has grown by one-third over the past 10 years – from 60 transit trips per person per year in 1999 to 80.

More people appear to be willing to share the ride, too, as the percentage of people using private auto as a passenger has increased from 16.5% in 2004 to almost 18% in 2008. The Screenline survey supports that observation, as vehicle occupancy increased from 1.19 persons (including driver) per vehicle in 2004 to 1.24 per vehicle in 2008, reversing a trend towards having fewer people in vehicles.

Also, for the info diggers, the Trip Diary and Screenline surveys were last run in 2004, and you can check out those results here: 2004 Trip Diary results (PDF), 2004 Screenline results (PDF). Just in case you would like to look through them!

Check it: you can embed the TransLink trip planner on your website!

Look: we’ve just launched a new widget to let you embed our trip planner on your website! That’s the trip planner widget from our homepage right above this paragraph!

You can grab the code here if you’re interested. It could be really handy if you have a site for your store or business, or an upcoming wedding or conference or other events, and want you to give your guests a way to plan trips easily. Or if you just want the trip planner on your site somewhere, go ahead!

The regular-sized widget is shown above, but there’s also a narrow version. Here it is below.

Read more »

An interview with Noam Dolgin, author of Canada Line Adventures

It’s kind of turning into interview week here on the blog, but let’s just run with it!

So local environmental educator Noam Dolgin put pen to paper last year and came up with Canada Line Adventures, a slim pocket guide to help you explore the neighbourhoods near the new Canada Line stations in Vancouver and Richmond.

I thought I’d chat with him about the guide and what drove him to put it together, and just what kind of adventures are in store for you once you pick it up.

So why did you decide to write this guide?

On opening day and in my personal conversations, I saw how excited people in the city were about Canada Line, and I decided to give people the tools to take advantage of it. Rapid transit offers enormous opportunity for environmentally friendly recreation, as an environmental educator and advocate, I wanted to capitalize on that enthusiasm to help get people using the train for recreation.

In addition, I grew up near what is now Canada Line, in the Cambie corridor, and am very proud of what my neighbourhood offers. After having lived in New York for seven years, relying entirely on trains for my transportation needs, when I moved back to Vancouver, I was excited about the expansion in our train system and wanted to share my experience and expertise with the rest of Vancouver.

Author Noam Dolgin!

Author Noam Dolgin!

I remember saying to myself, ‘I want to show people what the Cambie corridor has to offer and explore Richmond and Sea Island.’ I was excited about transit, about showing off my neighbourhood and about exploring new neighbourhoods. I hope that comes across through the pocket guide.

Every station has nine categories of things to do around that station, from restaurants and bars, to children’s activities and a neighbourhood walking tour. It’s intentionally written to be small, easily fit in any pocket or bag, yet packed with information. Good for residents or tourists.

Read more »

Transportation links and tidbits for Wednesday April 7

A photo of a 1925 B.C. Electric observation car from our archives.

A photo of a 1925 B.C. Electric observation car from our archives. Click for a larger version!

I found this picture above in our Buzzer archives and thought it would be a good photo to share in this tidbits post! The B.C. Electric observation cars were big draws for people wanting to see the sights back in the day. Can anyone tell me when they went away or why? (Seriously, I don’t know the answer.)

And one more thing before the tidbits: I just want to let you know that I’m at a conference called F5 Expo today, learning more about social media and the web for our organization. I’d love to say hi if any of you are in attendance—find me through the Buzzer’s Twitter account!

And finally, here are the links and tidbits!

An interview with Oliver Neubert, CMBC maintenance planner and children’s book author!

Oliver Neubert!

Oliver Neubert!

Oliver Neubert has been a maintenance planner with Coast Mountain Bus Company since 2007—but he’s also a children’s book author on the side!

Oliver’s four-book series is a fantasy adventure called Chantel’s Quest, which you can pick up at Kidsbooks, at Chapters, or your local library. (Or check the April Buzzer to see how you can win copies of the first two books!)

You may have seen a quick interview with Oliver in the April Buzzer, but since we actually had a much longer conversation, I thought I’d post the extended version on the blog. So here we go!

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Friday fun post: how do you pick up a free newspaper?

If you like, skip to the end of this post to share how you pick up a free newspaper.

From last week: how would you like to see the Buzzer blog design improved?

Last week, I asked this question:how would you improve the design of the Buzzer blog?

We had over 30 comments with lots of really great ideas! A common thread was the thought the design could be better used to surface interesting content more easily, and to make maximized use of the space (I agree, this design is pretty narrow.) rubai even suggested we put the poll in the sidebar, which I think is fantastic.

Lots of you also asked for the ability to edit comments, flag comments as spam, and otherwise more control. I can tell you now that we’re exploring that possibility, but the challenge is adding a registration process — we eliminated registration to make it easier for people to post comments quickly, and to ensure we weren’t collecting data from people when we didn’t really need it. But I take your point — we’ll see if it can work!

So thank you to all who contributed: your feedback has been passed on and hopefully we’ll end up with a better blog design than we started with. As always, visit the original post to see more of the comments, or even to add your own (I could always use the advice!)

This week: how do you pick up a free newspaper?

A colleague suggested this one! Free newspapers like Metro and 24 Hours are distributed all over our system, but how exactly do you pick up your paper?

The April Buzzer is now out!

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

Did you notice that the logo has changed, and there’s a new swoosh? It’s an updated look to match the rest of our printed materials and our website. The Buzzer blog will eventually transition to the new logo too.

(The swoosh on the newsletter will go all the way down to the edge in future issues — we’re still getting used to it!)

The issue’s main feature is on the first Great Rides bike ride of 2010, which is a Bike the Blossoms event on Saturday, April 17, 2010. It’s a great excuse to get on your bike and explore the cherry blossoms in Vancouver!

There’s also a lovely story about a grade four class whose field trip was rescued by our transit service, an interview with a CMBC maintenance planner who happens to be a childrens’ book author, and travel info for the Sun Run and BMO Vancouver Marathon. Plus there’s info about the new Coast Meridian Overpass, which opened in Port Coquitlam just after the Olympics!

And there is info on the new fares starting April 1: and please note that we got the concession FareCard price wrong! The price is actually $46.50!

As always, we are happy to have a cover from a local illustrator: this time it’s Tobias Ottahal. Super job Tobias, and sorry the colour wasn’t pink for the blossoms!

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. (Here’s the direct link to the April 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 Thursday, April 22 at 9 a.m. — we’ll pick a winner from all the correct answers.

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

An interview with Tamsin Dillon, director of London’s Art on the Underground program

Tamsin Dillon, head of the London Underground public art program.

Tamsin Dillon, head of the London Underground public art program.

Yesterday, we were honoured to have Tamsin Dillon give a presentation at TransLink!

Tamsin is the head of the London Underground’s art program, called Art on the Underground. She kindly agreed to come by our offices as she was also in town for a conference at the Vancouver Art Gallery. (Explore the Art on the Underground website here!)

During her presentation, she gave us background on the program and talked about its works. Art on the Underground is actually part of their customer experience strategy, and works to fulfill the Underground’s chief philosophy: “value our customer’s time.”

Under Tamsin’s direction, the art program has adopted the motto, “World class art for a world class Tube for a world class city,” and has presented works from high-profile artists like Cindy Sherman and Mark Titchner, as well as artists at early stages of their career.

Richard Long's artwork for the Tube map cover. Photo from <a href=>Art on the Underground</a>.

Richard Long's artwork for the Tube map cover. Photo from Art on the Underground.

The program has been creative in seeking out places for art of all kinds all over the system. For example, the Tube map cover is now illustrated by artists, and one project doesn’t use system space at all – it asks Piccadilly Line staff to use a booklet of selected quotations in their announcements and conversations.

And the works continue to involve front-line staff more and more — for instance there’s a portrait series of 60 Jubilee Line staff to celebrate its 30 year anniversary.

Just in case you’re wondering, we don’t currently have any concrete plans or a mandate for an ongoing public art program right now, except for smaller projects like the Main Street public art project (here’s work 1 and work 2), or the Between Spaces partnership.

But we were happy to hear Tamsin’s insight on how art has worked for her system, and her experience will absolutely help inform our work as we move forward!

Tamsin was also kind enough to do an interview with me about her work – so for more detail on Tamsin and Art on the Underground, please continue reading below.

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The Buzzer blog named one of 8 essential transit agency blogs!

L.A. Metro's The Source blog has named the Buzzer blog one of its top 8 essential transit agency blogs! (Also: recursion!)

L.A. Metro's The Source blog has named the Buzzer blog one of its top 8 essential transit agency blogs! (Also: recursion!)

Wow — the Source, which is the blog from L.A. Metro, has named the Buzzer blog as one of its eight essential transit agency blogs!

Thanks to Fred Camino at the Source for putting us on the list — you should make sure to check out all the other blogs he’s listed, as they’re very interesting too. The Source is no slouch either, with tons of great posts on transit news, history and more!

Good Friday and Easter Monday transit service

Don’t forget about transit service on the upcoming 2010 Easter weekend!

On Good Friday, April 2, transit runs on Sunday/Holiday service, and you only need a single-zone fare to travel in all zones all day.

But on Easter Monday, April 5, we’re back to regular service and fares.

28 Olympic transit maps to give away!

The pocket-sized fold-up Olympic transit map. While supplies last!

The pocket-sized fold-up Olympic transit map. While supplies last!

Remember those nifty transit maps we provided with the Olympic transit passes? Well, I have 28 of them just sitting on my desk, and I thought some of you might like them as a Games souvenir.

If you want one, send an e-mail to with the subject line “Olympic Map,” along with your name and address. The first 28 to e-mail in will get one sent to them — I’ll let you know when I run out!

OK — don’t send in more entries! 28 people have e-mailed in for maps now! Thanks to all who wrote in!

(PS: I’ve asked, and we can’t give away the Olympic transit passes because they are a tax credit! Sorry about that.)

Another SkyTrain flashback: the SkyTrain Flight Plan from 1986

Ghostly SkyTrain soars above Vancouver! From the cover of the SkyTrain Flight Plan leaflet.

Ghostly SkyTrain soars above Vancouver! From the cover of the SkyTrain Flight Plan leaflet.

Here’s another classic SkyTrain leaflet: the SkyTrain Flight Plan from 1986!

It’s obviously another info piece to help people get used to SkyTrain — only the Flight Plan is much more in depth than the ‘Join the SkyTrain team’ leaflet from last week.

The awesome SkyTrain attendant fashions are in place, but there’s also promotional stuff for the B.C. Parkway, pictures of tickets and how to read them, and a bit on SkyTrain control.

A few more images to whet your appetite!

Read more »

Friday fun post: how would you improve the design of the Buzzer blog?

If you like, skip to the end of this post to share how you think the Buzzer blog design can be improved!

Results from last week: if you’re standing and a seat opens up near you, do you jump for it?

Well my friends, we’re back with poll results!

Last week, I asked this question: if you’re standing on transit and a seat opens up nearby, do you jump for it?

219 of you bravely took the poll, and with 68% of the vote, the most popular answer was ” I look around first to see if someone else needs it, then I take it if no one else wants it.” (In the comments, Jeff McLeod commented on this result with “I see the second option is in the lead. Glad to see we are following our Canadian customs of thinking of others first lol.”)

The other two answers were rather far behind, but close in proportion to each other: 17% say they grab the seat asap, while 14% say they always like to stand.

As usual, the comments had some fascinating discussion. I’m not sure whether I could pull out any general conclusions. Mostly everyone said they keep an eye out for who deserves a seat more. It really could depend on the situation at hand. For example, here’s Hilary:

It depends entirely on what I feel like doing. I don’t often find myself on a bus/train so crowded as to have no seats open when I get on, but if I’ve already found a comfortable spot to lean against then I probably won’t bother to sit down when a seat appears. I mean, there’s not much point to it.

I do prefer to sit when I have the option, though, and if there’s seats to be had then I’ll probably sit down when I get on just out of pure and simple laziness.

Philippe G said something quite similar too.

I donno what it is, but if I start the ride standing up, I’m committed for the rest of the trip.

But like some others, samatwitch said that physical difficulties were key, so a seat was a priority.

Having a bad back, and usually needing to get off the front so that I can ask for the step to be lowered, I now grab the first empty seat – and am often offered it. So I’m either starting to look older – or in pain! ;)

I used to always get up and give up my seat for someone who looked as if they needed it more, but now I wait for someone else to do that, unless it’s an obvious case.

This week: how would you improve the design of the Buzzer blog?

Well, as you may have guessed, we are going to do a little update to the Buzzer blog’s design over the next month or so, and I would LOVE your feedback on how you think it could improve!

We can’t go radically different—the chief aim is to bring the Buzzer blog design in line with the current look of the TransLink website—but we do have an opportunity to do some tweaking and upgrades within that scope.

So please let me know what you think! Here’s a list of questions to help spark some thoughts.

  • What do you look for when you visit the blog? How does the design help or hinder your visit?
  • How do you find what you need on the blog? Do you have trouble finding things you’re looking for?
  • Is there anything you want to see more of?
  • Do you use the links on the sidebar?
  • How are the RSS feeds working out for you? Could we be delivering blog posts to you in other ways?
  • Just in general: what do you like and dislike about the design of the Buzzer blog?
  • Anything else to add?

A bit of a caution: we can’t obviously incorporate everything you suggest, so I hope you can understand if it doesn’t show up in the final design. Also, super drastic changes are lovely to hear (I’d love to know where you think this could go!), but just be aware that they probably won’t be implemented if they don’t fit the scope and/or take a LOT of development to get going!