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A few reflections as we come to the end of the Games

Busy crowds at Richmond-Brighouse Station on Friday, February 19.

Busy crowds at Richmond-Brighouse Station on Friday, February 19.

This is mildly off-topic (or is it?), but I wanted to share a few personal reflections as the Games come to an end today.

I think I speak for myself and all the folks at TransLink and its family of companies, when I say that these 17 days have been an extraordinary time for our public transit system.

John, a transit host at Main Street-Science World Station, brought in transit pins of his own to hand out to kids on transit. How wonderful!

John, a transit host at Main Street-Science World Station, brought in transit pins of his own to hand out to kids on transit. How wonderful!

Working here, I’ve always seen how much my colleagues care about providing good service for all of you. It’s truly wonderful that we were able to demonstrate this so vividly during the Games, and that so many of you have been so public with your recognition and commendations.

And while the immense work of our staff, led by the prescient planning work of our Olympic transportation team, has helped us move an unprecedented number of riders on our system—I know it could not have worked without the help of you, our transit riders for the Olympic period.

You have been cheerful, positive, and endlessly patient on busy trains and buses. And you have been generous in reducing vehicle traffic for the Games, working to help everyone get where they need to be.

Speaking with staff, I have heard over and over again that it has been a pleasure to serve you on the transit system, and I know it will continue to be a pleasure for us to help you get around the region well.

So I’d like to say thanks to you all, staff and riders alike, for a wonderful Olympic transit experience. Here’s to a beautiful friendship after the Games period, through the Paralympics, and onward into the future!

Heads up: big crowds headed to YVR on Monday, March 1

Just a reminder that Monday March 1 will continue to be a very busy day even though the Olympics are over.

Travelling into downtown Vancouver or to Vancouver International Airport (YVR) Mon, March 1—the first day after the Games end—will be extremely busy.

The airport is preparing for record crowds as over 35,000 Olympians, officials, media, visitors and other passengers catch flights home. Passengers are advised to arrive at the airport up to four hours in advance of their flight. Most Games-time road closures will remain in place so commuters should continue to travel smart.

Remember, we will be running special service on the Canada Line to YVR, with the trains continuing overnight from February 28 to March 1 to help with the rush. See this post for the full details. Also, check out YVR’s tips for passengers flying out on March 1.

Downtown bus routes start getting back on track next week

With the Games over this Sunday, many downtown buses will go back to their regular routes (or as close as they can get) as road closures are lifted.

However, just so you know, if the road closure schedule is revised, this may affect our bus reroutes — I will keep you updated if there’s any changes.

Please have a look at the info below so you know if your bus route is affected!

Monday, March 1

The #5 Robson/Downtown and N6 Downtown will return to their initial detour route from just before the Games, NOT their regular route. (That’s scheduled to happen on Thu Mar 4.)

That means the #5 will resume service in both directions using Denman, Robson, Burrard and Pender, and since the Robson Square zip line will be open till March 21, the #5 will stay on this route until March 1–3 March 21.

The N6 Downtown will use the same detour routing as the #5 Downtown.

#6 Davie/Downtown will return to its regular route using Davie and either Seymour northbound or Richards southbound.

C21 and C23 Community Shuttles will resume service between Yaletown-Roundhouse Station and Main Street – Science World Station, but via a temporary alternate route. (Regular routing between those stations is scheduled to resume March 14.)

Note: North Shore routes #240, #241, #242, #246 and #247 will continue to use a temporary downtown terminus on Georgia through March 21. (They were originally scheduled to revert to regular terminus on March 1.)

Tuesday, March 2

The #17 Oak/UBC/Downtown is now back to its regular route.

Wednesday, March 3

#50 False Creek South/Waterfront Station is scheduled to return to regular routing along the south part of Granville Mall.

Thursday, March 4

#15 Cambie/Downtown and NightBus services N6 Downtown, N8 Fraser and N15 Cambie/Downtown are scheduled to return to their regular routes.

You can find the full details on all Games-related reroutes on the main TransLink website. Or feel free to call TransLink Customer Information for help at 604-953-3333.

The night shift on the SkyTrain guideway

Speeder Crew repairs loose LIM cap bolts at Main Street SkyTrain Station.  File photo.

Speeder Crew repairs loose LIM cap bolts at Main Street SkyTrain Station. File photo.

This article is by Dave Miller, guideway supervisor for the British Columbia Rapid Transit Company (that’s our subsidiary in charge of WCE and Expo & Millennium Line!) As you’ll soon see, it’s all about working on the SkyTrain guideway late at night.

Michael Chernyh, Guideway Serviceperson and Carson Schmidt, Guideway Technician have signed up for the Guideway Olympic Response coverage at Waterfront SkyTrain Station this week. It is 4 p.m. and it’s time to get ready for work.

Pack the lunch bucket, fill the thermos and hit the road because this is an extended shift and Carson and Michael need to relieve the day shift crew at Waterfront Station in a seamless turnover. Plus, the day shift guys are eager to get home to catch the day’s Olympic highlights on the tube. They’d heard the roar of cheering Canadian fans echoing through high-rises in downtown Vancouver every time Canada potted a goal in the 7-3 win over Russia in Men’s Hockey.

Back on the guideway, two other Response Crews are covering the system, one at Commercial-Broadway Station and another at SkyTrain’s Operations and Maintenance Centre (OMC) for points east. These crews are ready to respond to any problem in the guideway within minutes. They are equipped with spare parts, several specialized cleanup and repair kits and linear induction motor (LIM) tapping sticks.

Read more »

A visit to the Richmond stations and King Edward, Saturday February 27

Crowds using the ticket machines at Bridgeport Station.

Crowds using the ticket machines at Bridgeport Station.

I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the downtown Vancouver stations lately, so I thought I’d take a visit to King Edward and the Richmond Stations in the afternoon today.

I tried to head out at a time where there would be crowds or lineups to photograph, but oddly enough, I didn’t really have any luck. Rainier weather this week has helped calm the crowd numbers down, and everything seemed to be flowing smoothly on transit. (And it’s not that I or TransLink wants a lineup or crowd, mind you — it’s just that they can make for more exciting photos! Oh well.)

Anyway, as you can see in the photo of Bridgeport Station above, the only lineups I could find at Bridgeport Station were at the ticket machines. There weren’t any lineups for the train and the bus loop at the bottom wasn’t crazy busy.

Hosts Shinder and Ron, plus transit supervisor Saeed at Bridgeport Station.

Hosts Shinder and Ron, plus transit supervisor Saeed at Bridgeport Station.

And when I spoke to Shinder and Ron, two of the transit hosts at Bridgeport Station, Ron said, “Oh, you should have been here in the morning. 1100 people came out of the 620 from the ferry! I’ve never seen so many people here.” So I guess my timing was just off.

Also, in case you’re wondering, Ron and Shinder seemed to be doing quite fine. Popular questions they were asked by people getting off at Bridgeport Station in the morning were “Where do you get the bus to the ferry?” (it’s the 620, right nearby) and “Where do you catch the 351?” All easily solved.

Read more »

A ride-along with HandyDART: taking folks with mobility issues to the Games

Dave the HandyDART driver at Metrotown bus loop!

Dave the HandyDART driver at Metrotown bus loop!

I did a ride-along on Wednesday, February 24 to see how our HandyDART service has been helping out for the Games period!

If you don’t know, HandyDART is our door-to-door, shared-ride service for passengers with physical or cognitive disabilities, using specially-equipped vehicles to meet their needs. Passengers register with the service, then can book their trips with HandyDART, who coordinates drivers to pick them up and drop them off as needed, sort of like a taxi service. (The service is delivered by a local contractor, MVT Canadian Bus, through an operating contract with TransLink.)

For the Games, HandyDART registered 70 visitors who required their assistance. But overall, a little over 1,000 bookings were made for Olympic venues in February, which includes both these visitors and locals. (Before the Games, visitors with mobility issues were informed about the service, and they could register for trips through a special Olympic Visitor’s HandyDART application.)

The loads are similar to what HandyDART would normally carry during non-Olympic periods, but the trips have required extra work, as they require more-than-normal coordination with VANOC and the HandyDART drivers, as they are affected by the impromptu happenings in the downtown core.

So let’s take a look at what a HandyDART trip to a venue is like, and learn a bit more about our visitors and the service itself.

Read more »

Heads up: closing ceremonies and end of Games celebrations, Sunday February 28

It’s going to be busy around town today, but here’s another reminder that Sunday February 28 will be especially busy in downtown Vancouver, due to the closing ceremonies at B.C. Place that evening and related end-of-Games celebrations.

Just like the opening ceremonies, there will be downtown Vancouver traffic restrictions in effect. Look out for some road closures, crowds of spectators heading to B.C. Place, and lots of loading in and out on a few streets. It is not recommended that you drive downtown!

Make sure to read this post for details on Sunday’s road closures, transit reroutes, and travelsmart tips!

The host command centre: supporting our transit hosts out on the street

The host command centre at Commercial-Broadway Station

The host command centre at Commercial-Broadway Station

The door to the host command centre in Commercial-Broadway Station.

The door to the host command centre in Commercial-Broadway Station.

Tucked away in a tiny room at Commercial-Broadway Station is our host command centre!

The host command centre is our central support system for our 200 transit hosts. They are the brain trust that organizes shifts and keeps everyone informed about key issues happening during the day.

From the other end, our transit hosts can also call the centre if they need help with anything—whether that’s information or to get in touch with the authorities or more. And they also keep the host command centre informed about what they’re seeing on the street.

I visited them this week to see how things were going, and learn a bit more about what they do!

Read more »

Even more links and tidbits about the Olympics and transportation

The West Coast Express drops 3,000 passengers into Waterfront Station on Saturday, Feb. 20. Photo by Carol Evans.

The West Coast Express drops 3,000 passengers into Waterfront Station on Saturday, Feb. 20. Photo by Carol Evans.

Time for some more links and tidbits on the Games and transportation.

The medal for hockey at the 1948 Winter Olympics

The front of the 1948 gold medal for hockey at the Winter Olympics.

The front of the 1948 gold medal for hockey at the Winter Olympics.

Well, this is a bit off-topic but still neat. My colleague Drew Snider from the TransLink media relations team sent along two photos and this story:

So I’m just finishing an interview with Ron Bencze of Global and this guy comes over and says, “Wanna see a gold medal?”. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a little presentation box and inside – there it is. The medal for hockey at the 1948 Winter Olympics in St Moritz, Switzerland. His dad was Reg Schroeter, and he was playing for a commercial league team in Ottawa when it was announced that Canada would not be sending a team to the Games that year (which would have been the first Games since 1936, because of The War). The Prime Minister’s office was flooded with letters from outraged Canadians (imagine: Canadians getting passionate about hockey!) and when the PMO said there was nothing that could be done, a doctor with the RCAF stepped up and said, “I can put a team together.”. Which is what he did, pulling players like Reg from local teams. And they won the gold medal. And there it is.

The back of the 1948 medal.

The back of the 1948 medal.

Heads up: travel tips for the tail end of the Games this weekend (especially Sun Feb 28)

This weekend marks the end of the Olympic Games in Vancouver, and there’s a couple of things you might want to know to make sure your travels are smooth.

Saturday, February 27 will be a busy day in downtown Vancouver, but Sunday February 28 will be especially busy, owing to the closing ceremonies at B.C. Place that evening and the end of Games celebrations.

Just like the opening ceremonies two weeks ago, there will be downtown Vancouver traffic restrictions in effect. Look out for some road closures, crowds of spectators heading to B.C. Place, and lots of loading in and out on a few streets. It is not recommended that you drive downtown!

There are whole pages of tips about travelling on Feb 28 at travelsmart2010.ca and vancouver2010.com, but here are some key items:

Similar to the Opening Ceremonies, the Olympic Closing Ceremonies in downtown Vancouver on February 28, 2010 will be an extremely busy day with large crowds expected to join in Olympic-related festivities throughout the day in the downtown core.

The following streets will be closed from 8am to midnight on February 28:

  • Cambie Street bridge (all lanes closed to vehicle traffic, however pedestrian and bike access will be maintained)
  • Beatty Street (between Smithe and Dunsmuir) and Robson Street (between Cambie and Beatty) will temporarily close to vehicles and have limited access for pedestrians

End of Games `Know Before You Go’ Tips

  • Leave the car behind Feb 27 and 28: Parking and stopping restrictions will still be in effect on many streets downtown, and more people will be moving around the downtown core.
  • Allow for more travel time: Wait times on public transit out of the downtown in the afternoon peak of 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm will be longer than usual.
  • Be in your seat: Spectators with ceremony tickets should be in their seats no later than 3:30 pm on February 28. The final hockey game will be broadcast inside BC Place beginning at 1:30 pm.
  • Visit the Official Spectator Guide for more details and information on accessible drop-off locations and routes from transit for people with mobility challenges.
  • Use dedicated pedestrian routes: Pedestrian corridors on streets such as Granville and Robson will continue to operate on February 28. At noon, some or all of the road space will become pedestrian only areas until midnight.
  • Watch out for bus traffic: Approximately 600 to 700 motor coaches and hundreds of transit buses will travel and/or park on many downtown streets between 8:00 am and midnight on February 28.

Anyway, make sure to visit travelsmart2010.ca and vancouver2010.com for all the details!

Transit reroutes for Sunday February 28

Also, owing to the road closures and such, here are the related transit reroutes you can expect on Sunday.

  • Cambie Bridge will be closed from 08:00 to 24:00 – transit reroutes begin 07:00
    • #15 Downtown: Regular route to Cambie and Broadway, then re-route westbound on Broadway, right on Willow, right on 6th, then right on Cambie to a temporary terminus at Cambie and 7th. Passengers heading downtown should transfer to the Canada Line at the Broadway/City Hall station
  • Pacific Blvd will be closed from 08:00 to 24:00 – transit reroutes begin 07:00
    • C21 Yaletown reroute begins 07:00: Regular route to Pacific Blvd and Seymour, rerouting left on Seymour, then left on Davie and back on its regular route.
    • C23 Yaletown: Regular route to Davie and Richards, rerouting right on Richards then right on Pacific and back on its regular route
    • All West End Specials: Regular route to Davie and Richards, rerouting right on Richards then right on Pacific and back on their regular routes.
  • Howe Street will be closed from about 10:00 to 24:00 depending on the crowds.
    • The #4, #7, #10, #16 and the #50 will all run on Richards Street instead of Howe, from first bus to 0100 (1AM Monday)

    • Georgia Street will be closed Eastbound – Richards to Cambie 08:00 to 24:00 – transit reroutes begin 07:00
      • #240 Eastbound: Regular route to Georgia and Pender, rerouting right on Pender, right on Richards then right on Georgia to its temporary terminus.
    • Canada Line:
      • A reminder that Canada Line will continue running overnight on Monday morning between downtown Vancouver and YVR with service every six minutes. This overnight service will not run to Aberdeen, Lansdowne and Brighouse stations in Richmond, however Richmond bound passengers will be able to transfer to the N10 bus at Bridgeport YVR Station. The N10 NightBus service will run overnight as scheduled between downtown Vancouver, YVR and Richmond.

    Keep an eye out for travelling on Monday March 1 too: the airport is preparing for record crowds as over 35,000 Olympians, officials, media, visitors and other passengers catch flights home. You’re advised to arrive at the airport up to four hours in advance of your flight. Most Games-time road closures will remain in place so you should continue to travel smart!

Moving the world with Road Services

Road Services: Kevin, Gord and Shawn

Road Services: Kevin, Gord and Shawn

This article was written by Charlotte Boychuk for Coast Mountain Bus Company employee communications. It’s a look at how our Road Services team is helping out for the Games period!

To ensure athletes get to their venues on time, the City of Vancouver created a network of Olympic lanes throughout the city where athletes in specially-marked vehicles can zip through the streets to any of the nine Olympic competition zones. These lanes are shared with our bus fleet and other emergency vehicles.

Teams of highly-trained CMBC Mechanic Road Services crews stand ready in strategic locations to provide quick fixes to problems that may stop our buses from moving and potentially blocking traffic.

For the duration of the Olympics, if a repair can’t be done quickly, the Road Services teams have three pusher trucks ready to move the buses to an area where longer repairs can be performed.

Read more »

Our customer call centre sets their own Games records

The call centre is filled with Olympic spirit: it's been decorated with Canadian flags, photos of Olympic athletes, pictures, posters, and useful maps of various Olympic sites.

The call centre is filled with Olympic spirit: it's been decorated with Canadian flags, photos of Olympic athletes, pictures, posters, and useful maps of various Olympic sites.

This article was put together by my colleague Tyler Heshka from CMBC’s employee communications team!

With the Olympics in full swing, our customer service call centre has been almost as loud as the argyle pants of Norway’s curling team!

Customer Information (CI), who answers system questions and helps with trip planning, had their busiest weekend ever from February 19 to 21, with a 25-30% increase in calls per day.

On Saturday, February 20, the CI team took an unprecedented 8,258 calls in person, along with 12,882 calls taken by their Interactive Voice Response system, and 51,070 hits to the TransLink website. (From February 10 to 21, 39.2% of the visits to the TransLink website were from new visitors, too!)

Our Customer Relations team (CR), who handles commendations and complaints, also had a very busy weekend. On Sunday, February 21, CR actually recorded more commendations than complaints!

Many customers called to gush about our transit system, our transit hosts, the fast-moving lines at various stations, and our many transit operators who have put customers at ease with a friendly smile, a positive attitude, and a well-timed joke or two. Thankfully, our CR representatives were up to the overwhelming task of talking to all the impressed riders and recording all the positive comments.

To help with the Olympic demand, both CI and CR added more staff for the Games period. CI even started fielding Olympic-related calls weeks before the Games started, often from visitors planning their trips and learning get from their hotels to Olympic sites on transit.

Julie Bailey, manager of Customer Information, has had a front row seat as her incredible team has tackled the enormous challenge of the Olympic workload.

“The CI and CR teams have done an outstanding job of keeping up with the increased call volume during the past few weeks,” she said. “The staff have been providing excellent customer service to our existing and visiting customers and have proven that when given a challenge, they really rise to the occasion.”

If you need to reach the Customer Information team, call 604-953-3333! Our staff is taking calls from 5:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., which are our extended hours for the Olympic period.

Transit host JoAnn deserves a medal!

JoAnn, valiantly working as a transit host despite a broken arm!

JoAnn, valiantly working as a transit host despite a broken arm!

If we at TransLink could give out Olympic medals, one would certainly go to JoAnn Woodhall.

Why? Despite breaking her arm last week, JoAnn has gotten right back up and has kept on working as a transit host for the entire Games period!

On top of that, JoAnn was also an integral part of our pre-Games effort: she helped downtown businesses reduce car traffic for the Olympics.

So a huge thanks, JoAnn: you’re a Games champion in our books!

Special Olympic Canada Line service to YVR, Sun Feb. 28 to Mon Mar. 1

As you may already know, the day after the Olympics (March 1) is expected to be the busiest day for the airport ever. Everyone is heading home after the Games, all at once!

So to help out the airport, we have arranged for extended Canada Line service to YVR through the night of Feb 28 and on into March 1. (The airport also has tips for boarding your March 1 flight on time, which includes arriving 4 hours before your flight.)

Here’s the full details of the extended Canada Line service from the press release.

Special all-night service will help move post-Olympics airport passengers from Vancouver

TransLink and Vancouver Airport Authority have arranged for the Canada Line to maintain service from downtown Vancouver to Vancouver International Airport (YVR) throughout the night of February 28th into March 1st. The special all-night service will help move the record number of passengers expected to pass through the airport in the 24 hours following the end of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

All Canada Line stations will remain open between Waterfront and YVR, however the Richmond Stations south of Bridgeport will close as usual overnight. Ten trains, with the capacity to move over 3,300 passengers per hour, will run at six minute intervals.

TransLink will work with the hospitality industry to ensure visitors are aware of the additional rapid transit service to the airport.

March 1 is predicted to be the busiest day in YVR’s history, with up to 39,000 travellers and 77,000 pieces of baggage expected to depart the airport. The Airport Authority has implemented a number of programs to ensure smooth travel through the terminal including increased customer service presence, offsite check-in facilities at the Athlete Villages and an auxiliary terminal on Sea Island. Air travellers are encouraged to check www.yvr.ca for the latest flight information before departing for the airport.

TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis says “All rail rapid transit services are normally shut down for daily maintenance, which is why they do not run 24/7. This is a very special circumstance; with so many people planning to fly out of Vancouver immediately after the games we will leave ten of Canada Line’s trains running while the other ten are prepared for regular service on March 1st,” he says.

Jarvis says the entire transit system, staff and equipment alike, has performed at unprecedented levels during the Games, moving record numbers of passengers. “Maintenance staff has done outstanding work to keep the bus, rail and marine fleets in service, complementing the efforts of bus operators, SkyTrain and SeaBus attendants, Transit Police and volunteers to keep all our customers moving safely and efficiently over the Olympic period.

“The whole transit system has demonstrated great efficiency, flexibility and resiliency throughout the Games, and people across the region have responded in a tremendously positive way to all the TravelSmart options, demonstrating patience and hospitality along the way. Together all of these factors have helped our road and transit system contribute positively to the overall Games-time experience,” he says.