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Questions and answers about the YVR AddFare

A ticket vending machine on the Canada Line.

A ticket vending machine on the Canada Line.

So since many people have questions about the YVR AddFare, our media relations department has put together a Q&A document.

Just so we have a one-stop shop for this info, I’m going to copy and paste that Q&A over here. I’m also going to include the questions from the earlier post on the YVR AddFare. So hopefully this post will answer most things you are wondering!

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SkyTrain flashback photos: 24 years of fond memories

Metrotown SkyTrain Station circa 1986.

Metrotown SkyTrain Station circa 1986.

Over on Twitter, SkyTrain’s communications liaison Jennifer Siddon has been posting some historical SkyTrain photos for people to enjoy. I thought I’d cross-post them on the blog so you could see them too!

(Jennifer also reminded me that SkyTrain celebrated its 24th year of operations on January 3, so let’s send our rapid transit system the happiest of birthday wishes!)

More photos after the jump…

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Canada Line YVR AddFare coming Mon Jan 18: here’s how it works

The Canada Line at YVR.

The Canada Line at YVR.

Whoosh — the Regional Transportation Commissioner has just approved the YVR AddFare for the Canada Line, which will come into effect on Monday, January 18.

The AddFare will actually be implemented in a different way than we earlier proposed. Here’s the details:

A diagram of how the YVR AddFare will work. Image from the <a href=>Regional Transportation Commissioner</a>.

A diagram of how the YVR AddFare will work. Image from the Regional Transportation Commissioner.

  • The new YVR AddFare will cost $5, on top of the regular fare.
  • The AddFare will only apply to anyone buying cash fare tickets at any Canada Line station on Sea Island, for travel from the airport to Richmond or Vancouver. (Said another way: the AddFare only applies to those buying cash fares for travel off of Sea Island.) Ticket machines at these stations will automatically charge the correct amount.
  • Anyone using pre-paid fares will be exempt and will not be charged an additional fare for any trip on the Canada Line to or from the airport. Pre-paid fares include DayPasses, FareCards, FareSaver Tickets, U-Passes, Employer Passes and the BC Government Bus Pass Program.
  • Also, travel on the Canada Line is free between stations on Sea Island.
  • By the way, this new fare was approved in principle in 2004 as one of the ways to pay for the construction of the Canada Line. Clarification: The funds from the AddFare will go directly to TransLink to cover the construction costs.
  • And just to refresh your memory, the stations on Sea Island are YVR-Airport, Sea Island Centre and Templeton.

Please check out the very full explanation of the AddFare and its history over at the Regional Transportation Commissioner’s website.

Also, since someone will surely ask, here is the answer to one of the scenarios you might encounter (a colleague was bending his brain thinking of these).

Q. Let’s say I’m leaving the airport and have a one-zone FareSaver ticket, but I am travelling during the peak time so must upgrade with a $1.25 AddFare. I put my FareSaver into the machine and upgrade to a two-zone ticket, which looks just like a cash fare ticket. Is that considered a cash fare that forces me to buy the Canada Line AddFare? Or is this still considered an exemption?

A. The ticket will be considered exempt, but the machine will indicate “airport” on the ticket to alleviate any enforcement issues.

Feel free to leave your comments, as always :)

Edit! Make sure to check out the Q&A post about the YVR AddFare for even more details.

More T signage is now up in downtown Vancouver

The new entrance name sign at Waterfront Station.

The new entrance name sign at Waterfront Station.

In case you haven’t seen it , more new wayfinding signage has now been installed at Expo and Millennium Line stations in downtown Vancouver!

We talked about the new T transit station markers last time, but even more wayfinding signage with the T identifier have been put up. That includes entrance name signs like the one above, SkyTrain line diagrams, and trip planning maps.

Since many have asked, the T beacons and horizontal entrance name signs will light up. Some sites are still working on getting power to the signs, so they’re just not all illuminated yet.

Read on to see more photos!

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iBusVan: an iPhone transit app

Update, Jan 6, 2011: Sadly, iBusVan has now been discontinued! However if you want to take over the project instead, please check out this post.

Update Jan 26, 2011: The app is now open source—find out more about grabbing the code here!

The iBusVan logo.

The iBusVan logo.

Have you seen iBusVan, an iPhone app for Vancouver transit? It’s now using TransLink’s GTFS data feed to power its schedules!

The app is available for $0.99 and it’s the work of Zhenwang Yao, an independent app developer from SFU.

I e-mailed Zhen and did an interview so we could all learn about him and his transit tool — check it out below.

(Also, if you don’t know, TransLink offers its own official iPhone app for free in the App Store. But we do welcome development of tools like iBusVan to provide more info options and features for customers!)

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Audition to be a busker on Thursday, Jan 14!

A busker at Waterfront Station.

A busker at Waterfront Station.

Hey yo: we’re calling all buskers for a special open audition on Thursday, January 14!

We’re looking to bring more performers into TransLink’s existing Musician Program, to supplement the program before and during the Olympics. Hopefully, talented musicians from our region can help liven up the Olympic period when customers may be waiting for transit!

The details of the auditions:

Thursday, January 14, 2010
9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
TransLink head office
(4th Floor Metrotower II, 4720 Kingsway, Burnaby)
Cost: free!

Successful candidates will be offered a license to perform at select stations, located primarily in the downtown core, from February 1 to March 31.

Many more details on the whole audition process can be found in the audition press release. There’s also a bit of info discussing a new pilot project for the musician program that will be developed in the next three months. Enjoy!

Photos of the new SeaBus on its maiden voyage

I was away for the launch of the new SeaBus, the Burrard Pacific Breeze on December 23. However, several lucky blog readers made it on board and sent along photos and commentary!

(By the way, I’m told that the Breeze doesn’t have a fixed “in service” schedule this week, as a bit more staff training on the new SeaBus is currently underway. However, for the week of January 11, the Breeze is expected to be in service from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Just in case you’re trying to catch it!)

Dave Olson -- photo by <a href=>Rebecca Bollwitt</a>.

Dave Olson -- photo by Rebecca Bollwitt, a.k.a. Miss604.

Here’s devoted SeaBus rider Dave Olson pictured above. He wrote about the first sailing of the Pacific Breeze for the Vancouver Observer, and here’s a choice quote:

Along with my co-conspirator Rebecca AKA Miss604, we rode out the inaugural voyage outside in the breeze, on the upper deck. Nope, you can’t go there. We were invited to the bridge, interviewed the first officer (b. 1979) and checked out the spacey-looking bridge controls before stepping outside for the journey. We leaned on the rails and I waved to passing boats like an old sea commodore, I just needed a pipe to complete the perfect Vancouver morning.

Dave also says he’ll have a podcast up soon about the Breeze – I’ll link to it once it’s up.

Read more »

Free transit on New Year’s Eve, plus info on New Year’s Day service and fares

Note: I’m still on holiday until Jan. 4!

Another reminder here about service and fares for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day — we offer free transit service after 5 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, by the way!

Transit services will basically run their standard schedules according to the day of the week, except where noted in the following list. I’ve also put in the applicable fares.

(For the very latest on transit service conditions or more detail on these items, call 604-953-3333, try the TransLink alerts page, and check the TransLink Twitter account. Our media release page will also have something up if there’s a major issue.)

New Year’s Eve – Thursday, December 31

Regular weekday fares until 5 p.m., then free service.

A number of bus routes will provide extended late-night service.

Expo and Millennium Lines and SeaBus will extend late-night service by one hour, with the last train and ferry leaving Waterfront Station at 2:16 a.m.

Canada Line service will be extended by one hour, ending at the last train leaving Waterfront Station at 2:05 a.m. towards YVR and 2:15 a.m. towards Richmond.

West Coast Express afternoon trains depart downtown at 1:00, 3:00, 4:20, 5:30 and 6:20, plus the regular TrainBus service. Please note, there will not be a 12:55 TrainBus, but all other TrainBuses will run on schedule.

New Year’s Day – Friday, January 1

Regular Sunday/holiday fares.

Buses, SeaBus, Expo/Millennium Line, and Canada Line will operate on Sunday/holiday schedules.

There will be no West Coast Express service on New Year’s Day.

And from me….

Happy New Year everyone! Enjoy yourselves and have a fun (and safe) time at your celebrations!

Yay: our trip planner gets some big improvements!

The old trip planner (pictured here) will be getting some major improvements!

The old trip planner (pictured here) will be getting some major improvements!

Note: I’m still on holiday, returning Monday Jan 4!

If all is going according to plan, you should keep an eye out for some great improvements to our transit trip planner today (or shortly thereafter!)

Here’s the list of improvements I’ve been told about:

  • The big one: there is now a widget which searches for addresses as you type them into the from/to fields, so you can select your match right away. It also recognizes common contractions such as E or Hwy, etc. This functionality also carries over to Next Bus and Schedule lookup.
  • Early in your trip plan, you can now select some trip options, such as minimize walking or no Skytrain or others.
  • We’ve added an Olympic Preferred Route option for planning trips.
  • For the first time, we will have a mobile Trip Planner that can be used by web enabled cell-phones!
  • Alerts and information we know about your planned trip will be shown right in your results, so you can get up-to-the-minute information about what might affect your travel plans.
  • The schedule lookup has been revamped so that it all fits on one page and is easily printable.

I’m still away, but feel free to explore and discuss – I’ll get answers for you once I’m back!

Masters student seeks feedback on transit volunteer program

Silas is a student interning with the TransLink planning department, and he’d love your feedback on a project he’s working on for his masters degree. Here’s the summary he’s given me:

Silas Archambault, a masters student at the School of Community and Regional Planning (UBC) is exploring the concept of a transit volunteer program. The program would see pairs of experienced transit users assist customers at stops, stations, and on vehicles with wayfinding and questions about the system. It would be designed to increase customer understanding and appreciation of the transit system, and facilitate communication between TransLink and users. The project is still in conceptual stages, and Silas would like feedback on program design and ways to engage potential volunteers. If you are interested in the project or have ideas, please email

Please be aware that this volunteer program is not yet approved or implemented! It’s just an idea he’s exploring for his schoolwork at the moment, and he’d like to get some feedback if possible :)

Service and fares for Christmas, Boxing Day, and Dec 28-30

Note: I’m still on holiday until Jan. 4!

Here’s an overview of holiday service and fares for the Christmas and Boxing Day holidays, plus December 28-30.

Generally, transit services will run their standard schedules according to the day of the week, except where noted in the following list. I’ve also put in the applicable fare for each day.

(And for the very latest on transit service conditions or more detail on these items, call 604-953-3333, try the TransLink alerts page, and check the TransLink Twitter account. Our media release page will also have something up if there’s a major issue.)

Christmas Eve – Thursday, December 24

Regular weekday fares in effect.

West Coast Express afternoon trains depart downtown at 1:00, 3:00, 4:20, 5:30 and 6:20, plus the regular TrainBus service.

West Vancouver Transit will offer additional bus service for Horseshoe Bay ferry connections.

Expo and Millennium Lines will adjust service to accommodate midday office closures and earlier afternoon commuting peaks.

Christmas Day – Friday, December 25

Sunday/holiday fares­—only a single-zone fare is needed for travel in all zones all day.

Most bus routes will run according to their Sunday/holiday schedules; however, some routes will run less often due to lower Christmas Day demand.

Expo and Millennium Lines and SeaBus will run according to their Sunday/holiday schedule.

Canada Line will operate regular Friday service hours.

There will be no West Coast Express service on Christmas Day.

Boxing Day – Saturday, December 26

Sunday/holiday fares­—only a single-zone fare is needed for travel in all zones all day.

Most bus routes will run according to Sunday/holiday schedules, with extended evening service on some routes to connect with the final SkyTrain Expo and Millennium Line trains and final SeaBus departures. Service will be enhanced during the day for some routes that serve major shopping destinations and entertainment venues.

Expo and Millennium Line service will start and finish according to its Saturday schedule – first train from King George at 6:08 a.m.; last train from Waterfront at 1:16 a.m. – and will feature more frequent service during midday to accommodate Boxing Day shopping crowds.

Canada Line will operate regular Saturday service levels with additional train service as required.

SeaBus will operate according to a Sunday/holiday schedule, but will extend late-night service according to a Saturday schedule.

Monday, December 28

Regular weekday fares.

Expo and Millennium Lines will adjust service frequency during daytime to reflect increased midday demand and reduced rush-hour commuter travel.

No West Coast Express service on Monday, December 28.

Tuesday, December 29, and Wednesday, December 30

Regular weekday fares.

Expo and Millennium Lines will adjust service frequency during daytime to reflect increased midday demand and reduced rush-hour commuter travel.

And from me…

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you all! Hope you have a great holiday season!

Away for the holidays: back Monday, Jan 4

Just a note to say that I’m away for the holidays!

A couple of scheduled posts will go up while I’m away, and I’ll be back to answer your comments and e-mails on Monday, January 4.

Here are some handy links in case you need info/help while I’m away:

Happy holidays to everyone! See you next year!

Friday fun post: share your top transit moments of the decade

If you like, skip to the end of this post to put in your top transit moments of the decade.

Last week: do you usually talk to your transit operator?

Last week’s fun post asked if you usually talked to your transit operator.

And after 114 votes, most people (71%) said they didn’t speak to the operator unless they were spoken to first. Just 29% said they did try to talk to the operator unprompted.

In the comments, many said their interactions with operators were quite limited: usually a “hello” when boarding and a “thank you” when departing. There was some concern that talking to drivers could distract them from driving. Here’s ;):

I love the opportunity to start conversations with strangers every chance I get. I find drivers to be generally friendly and it’s an opportunity for driver/passengers to share issues (traffic? why a bus was delayed?) in a healthy way.
However I always wonder when chatting with operators is it “appropriate” comparing to the cellphone driving controversy. Would my driver be distracted? Am I endangering others on the bus? I believe in Hong Kong, they have signs stating it’s illegal to hold conversations with drivers. I guess it’s far safer for me to hold my transit conversations here on this blog with my Blackberry.

But transit operator Brandon mentioned a way to mitigate that issue:

As a transit operator, I always enjoy talking to my passengers when the chance arises. Some like to talk about the service, some like to ask about the bus itself and some just like to tell a story. If I find that I am getting to distracted at a certain time, I will just nicely let the person know that I need to concentrate on the driving and they appreciate that. I also find it amazing how much the public know about the workings of transit.

Sean, however, had his own take on talking to operators.

I ride an average of 15 bus trips a week and my goal is to make at least one of them laugh at some point in my trip. Having said that I rarely strike up arbitrary conversation and seldom sit on the front half of the bus, which makes my task more difficult but usually can crack a smile with my one-liners.

And CJ highly recommended chatting with your driver:

And believe me. Its a good thing to talk to ur drivers. I remember when the comm shuttles first rolled out into White Rock. All the drivers were super friendly and nice to talk to. You get to know a lot from the drivers, and know a lot of the inner workings of translink.(Hence my knowledge of the system. Wouldn’t have known without those guys.). While most of the original 12 have gone on to other endevors (Head office, and conventional). Some remain on the comm shuttles like Sue and Dave. Their friendliness and attitude is what makes me like the system the most. There’s mike, who currently runs out of RMD doing conventional, that sometimes comes into my work when he has time. And there’s two other ladies that used to run out here, but their names escape me…so sorry ladies if u read this.

As always, check out the past comments to read everyone’s responses!

This week: what are your top transit moments of the decade?

As we come to the end of 2009, the media has been churning out a billion lists highlighting the top events/items/websites etc of the decade. So I thought we could do the same thing here, only with transit!

I’m going to start with my top five here, but feel free to name more or fewer moments if that’s what your heart desires. Any criteria will do, as well. (Also, if your comment has a link, the spam filter will hold your comment until I moderate it. So be creative with how you put your link in, since I’d rather your comment go up fast than wait for me!)

Jhen’s Five Most Memorable Transit Moments of the Decade

A Brussels train station.

A Brussels train station.

5. Brussels 2008

Brussels has a nice little 70s-style LRT system, but this item is more about the stations than the trains. What’s memorable is that Brussels plays music in all the stations, but there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the song choices. I remember getting on at one station playing “Conga” by Gloria Estefan, then exiting into another station playing epic classical music. Hilarious.

A new Edmonton LRT station.

A new Edmonton LRT station.

4. Edmonton 2009
My hometown is just now expanding its LRT system, and while I’m no longer living there, it’s really nice to see the network take shape. For so long it only went to a quarter of the city – now it’s going to go everywhere! And I finally got a chance to ride the newest extension to the line in June this year.

3. Chicago 2009

Well, you know about this one: six hours, 10 trains, 11 trips on Chicago’s fabulously large train network.

The tube on July 8, 2005.

The tube on July 8, 2005.

2. London, UK 2005

Perhaps an odd one to bring up, but it’s truly a transit moment I will never forget. I was an intern at the CBC in London, and happened to be on the system when the bombs went off on July 7 (nowhere near my stop, though). It was a sad, strange, and shocking moment to be present for. I took the train the next day still, though few passengers joined me.

1. Vancouver 2009

And last, I must say the Canada Line’s debut this year has been my favourite transit ride of the decade. The launch day of our region’s brand new transit line was filled with such enormous excitement and energy!

Golden Ears Bridge tolling registration no longer needs pre-authorized payment info

The Golden Ears Bridge!

The Golden Ears Bridge!

So, after monitoring the Golden Ears Bridge for the past five months, we’ve just made a change to the tolling rules to help people register for discount pricing.

Before, you had to give us your credit card info while you were registering for a Golden Ears Bridge account. But now, you can register for an account without handing over your credit card info.

So now, you can choose how to pay after you receive your bill, rather than having it automatically charged to your account.

We’re hoping this change will help people register for a tolling account. As I described in a past Quickpass post, we’re finding few people are registering, even though there’s a discount. (Currently 266,000 out of 300,000 accounts in the system are unregistered and paying the highest toll fee possible!)

Registration also helps us cut down on paper statements, because people registered with the system can opt for e-bills.

Please do remember, you can pick one of three ways to register your vehicle for the Quickpass tolling system:

  1. Lease a Quickpass transponder and save 30% off the standard toll rate. (Transponders are $1 a month plus a $10 refundable deposit.)
  2. Register as a Quickpass video customer and save 15% off the standard toll rate. (You don’t carry a transponder and your license plate is read by cameras.)
  3. Pay as you go and pay the standard toll rate.

You can register in many ways: at, call 604-460-5050 or at 1-877-299-0599 (toll free), or visit the Quickpass customer service centre in Pitt Meadows (12167 Harris Road) or Langley (12-8948 202nd Street).

And here’s the official press release and the Quickpass website for more info, too.

Winners of the SeaBus launch ceremony spots, take two

OK, I’ve just done the draw for four launch spots (one more became available), and the winners are Donald, George, Chris, and Andrew!

You should be getting a PDF invite in your e-mail — make sure it doesn’t end up in your junk folder! I will also give you a call to make sure you’re aware that you have won.

Thanks to everyone who entered again: I had 28 people in the draw this time around!