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Translink Buzzer Blog

APTA Rail 2010: Canada Line session

The title slide from the Canada Line presentation.

The title slide from the Canada Line presentation.

First, a note for students who are planning to attend this week: The Canada Line and SkyTrain technical tours are already fully booked. Don’t come down if those were the only things you wanted to see! I wasn’t lucky enough to get on either of them, so if anyone has gone through them I would love to share photos and notes.

I’m at the 2010 APTA Rail Conference downtown from Monday through Wednesday, and since I’m going to a lot of sessions, I’m just going to give you my notes from the talks, in the interests of getting things online faster.

“Canada Line: Innovation from Start to Finish” was a session moderated by SkyTrain CEO Doug Kelsey in the morning. There were three parts to it: the first had speakers from TransLink; the second had speakers from ProTransBC, and the third was speakers from YVR, all discussing the Canada Line from their particular perspective. Then questions were asked by the attendees.

Bear in mind that this is a conference for transit professionals, so the aim of the session was to outline the process that put the Canada Line public-private project together and talk about the contract and partnerships from an implementation perspective.

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A call for submissions: I Love Transit Week, July 12-16

I’ve set a date for the next I Love Transit Week: July 12-16, 2010!

Yes, summer, when nothing else is happening (or so I think)! And let me just refresh everyone on the aim of the week:

While there are many things we don’t like about transit, there are still many things that we do like. And there just hasn’t been an official opportunity to celebrate what we like – until now!

So now that we have a date, I’d like to to put out a call for submissions. During I Love Transit Week, the Buzzer blog will showcase essay, photos, podcasts, discussion posts, and more from everyone, talking about just why you love transit. And I’ll transfer as much of it as possible into the August Buzzer!

Your deadline for content is Thursday, July 8: feel free to be as creative with form and content as you like—poetry, songs, and the like are all fair game—and feel free to e-mail me if you only have a vague idea of something, and we can work together to make something great. Please do have a look at last year’s posts for some inspiration!

Also, if you’re wondering, we will indeed do I Love Transit Night again this year, which is a live meetup of all who want to have some fun celebrating transit. Last year’s meetup was a great deal of fun!

I’ve scheduled it for the evening of Thursday, July 15 — we are still mucking out the specifics, but part of the plan already involves chartering a bus, and of course we’ll play some transit games. I’ll have more details as the date approaches!

RSVP if you know you’ll come, so we can get a sense of the numbers—as well, please do suggest ideas for games, activities, giveaways, and whatever else might make a fun evening based on transit. Just remember to suggest things that will be fun for all levels of transit interest :)

Friday fun post: what do you do when waiting for transit?

If you like, skip to the end of this post to tell us what you do when waiting for transit.

Last week ago: ever read what someone else is reading on transit?

Last week, I asked you if you’ve ever read what someone else is reading on transit.

With 111 people weighing in, most people said they HAD read something someone else was reading on transit (77%) — just 23% said they hadn’t.

Donna saw some choice reading material once:

The 7 or the 4 coming downtown, I was sitting with my partner in the back row, and a somewhat geeky looking young man in his early 20s was sitting in the sideways seat in front of us. He was reading a rather nice looking large book, black leather & gold leaf, so I took a peek at the title…

…and it was “The Game” by Neil Strauss. Ew, ew, ew! Sleaaaazy!

And here’s what Hilary saw once:

I think the most interesting, or at least out-of-the-ordinary, thing I’ve read over somebody’s shoulder was a sheaf of papers this one woman had that turned out to be detailing how to prepare for a hysterectomy and what would indicate that something had gone wrong.

Wait, no, it was a tubal ligation. Much less drastic than a hysterectomy.

But Dave 2 pointed out that hardly anyone was reading these days.

Read? Who reads? The kids these days are texting, Facebooking, or playing Tetris on their smartphones :-) True, people do read the free papers, just this morning I saw someone reading an article on page x… so I went to page x in my copy… Last month a woman sat down beside me and started to read an eBook on a Kindle…these days the new opening line would be “So, downloaded any good books lately?”

Have a look at the original comment thread for more!


This week: what do you do when waiting for transit?

Reva suggested this poll a few weeks ago, and so here it is.


Feel free to share any “other” choices in the comments!

The APTA International Rail Rodeo gets underway

The rail rodeo sign up at VCC-Clark Station.

The rail rodeo sign up at VCC-Clark Station.

(Update: click here for the rail rodeo results!)

I spent all day Thursday and a bit of Friday out with the International Rail Rodeo participants!

As you may know, TransLink is hosting the 2010 American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Rail Conference, and the Rail Rodeo is a big part of that conference.

Teams from other rail systems compete in tests of their operations and maintenance skill—operator teams compete in train operations, and maintenance teams challenge each other on diagnosing and fixing train problems.

Eight teams are competing this year: Houston, Denver, Los Angeles, Canada Line, New York, Dallas, SkyTrain, and Philadelphia. The official competition is on Saturday, June 5, but Thursday and Friday were a crash course in SkyTrain operation. Competitors needed to learn all about the SkyTrain system, as that’s what they’re going to be tested on!

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Links and tidbits for Fri June 4

An exploded diagram of a Brill trolley, from a May 25, 1956 Buzzer! Click the image to see a larger version, and click to download the full issue.

An exploded diagram of a Brill trolley, from a May 25, 1956 Buzzer! Click the image to see a larger version, and click to download the full issue.

Tidbits and links, tidbits and links! If you have any to suggest, or a photo to showcase on these posts, e-mail me at thebuzzer@translink.ca!

Bus reroutes for parades and such this weekend, Sat June 5 and Sun June 6

We’ve got some bus reroutes coming up this weekend owing to summer events — have a look and see if your route is affected.

Saturday June 5

From 8:30am to 5:00pm, Hastings will be closed from Boundary to Holdom in Burnaby for the Hats Off Parade. The following routes will be detoured: # C1, C2, 129, 130, 135 & 160.

From 10:30 am to 1:00pm, Pitt Meadows will be holding their annual Pitt Meadows Day Parade. Harris Rd & Hammond Rd will be closed to all traffic. The following routes will be detoured: # C41 & 701.

Saturday & Sunday, June 5 & 6

The City of Burnaby is hosting Play on Hockey Street Tournament on Central Blvd from Nelson to Willingdon. Eastbound lanes will be closed completely on both days. The following routes will be detoured: # 19, 49, 106, 110, 116, 129, 130, 144 & 430.

The APTA 2010 Rail Rodeo continues at VCC/Clark Station and as a result VCC/Clark Station will be closed. The following route will be detoured: # 84.

Sunday June 6

From 5:00am to 4:00pm, The Westside Cycling Classic will start at 16th & Blanca then via 16th, SW Marine Dr, Camosun, 29th, Imperial Rd, 16th. The following routes will be detoured: # 25, 33 & 41.

From 8:00am to 8:00pm, the City of Vancouver will be hosting the Italian Day Festival on Commercial Drive between Grandview & Venables. The following route will be detoured: # 20.

From 8:30am to 1:30pm, the City of Vancouver will be hosting the Annual HSBC Walk or Run on 33 Ave between Ontario and Heather. The following route will be detoured: # 33.

For more information, check the TransLink Alerts page, or call Customer Information at 604-953-3333

A hands-on look at accessibility on buses

Julie from Access Transit tries getting on transit with a scooter at Vancouver Transit Centre, under the guidance of trainer Bert.

Julie from Access Transit tries getting on a trolley with a scooter at Vancouver Transit Centre, under the guidance of trainer Bert.

The ramp from a trolley bus on the practice curb at Vancouver Transit Centre.

The ramp from a trolley bus on the practice curb at Vancouver Transit Centre.

So, as Access Awareness Day is on Saturday June 5, I went to learn about accessibility on buses with Coast Mountain Bus Company’s training department last week!

Julie from Access Transit joined me at Vancouver Transit Centre, our main Vancouver bus depot. Bert from training had set up a trolley and a new diesel bus to show us the accessibility training provided to both operators and passengers. There’s a curb and a bus stop in the yard to simulate real-world conditions!

By the way, did you know that passengers with disabilities can book appointments with our training department to practice entering and exiting buses in the yard? Patients from the G.F. Strong Rehabilitation Centre often come down to give it a try, if they’re not used to riding public transit with an assistive device yet.

(To book an appointment, call Ron Williams at 604-264-5420 to set up a time! The training department will arrange to have buses ready so you can practice for as long as you need to feel comfortable.)

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Happy 94th birthday to the Buzzer!

Images of the Buzzer's first issue! At bottom right is a picture of the jitneys, private cars that competed with the streetcar system. Click for a much larger look!

Images of the Buzzer's first issue! At bottom right is a picture of the jitneys, private cars that competed with the streetcar system. Click for a much larger look!

Happy 94th birthday to the Buzzer!

As you may know, the very first Buzzer appeared on streetcars in June 2, 1916. (See the full first issue here!)

The first Buzzer ran a contest for the newsletter’s name, and when 11 people sent in the winner, the company just split the prize money between them: $2 each! Runners up were “Current Comments” and “Between the Lines.” (Here’s the 2nd issue announcing the winners.)

The Buzzer was originally launched so the streetcars could compete with jitneys, private citizens who patrolled streetcar routes and offered rides for five cents. Jitneys were banned in July 1918, but the Buzzer kept going for another 90 years and counting.

For a Buzzer history treat, have a look at the main Buzzer page on the TransLink website — go to “Related Documents” on the right side, and you’ll find scanned Buzzer issues all the way back to 1960.

Make sure to let me know if you see tidbits to share. More issues from the 1950s will be uploaded soon! You can also see four fun issues from the Buzzer’s 93rd birthday.

Last but not least, here are the PowerPoint slides from the talk I gave to the Vancouver Historical Society last Thursday — you can read the slide notes for a rough outline of its content. Chuck Davis also posted a description of my talk over at the KnowBC blog. Expect video and audio eventually, thanks to Karen and Jason!

An Access Awareness Day quiz!

Again, it’s Access Awareness Day on Saturday June 5, so we’re exploring accessibility on the blog this week!

Today, here’s a seven-question quiz about accessibility and disabilities, devised by a colleague from the Access Transit department.

Give it a try and see how many you can get right. I found some of them a bit tricky, I’ll warn you.

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Angus McIntyre’s retirement ride

Angus dancing as the Carnival Band gives him a surprise performance!

Angus dancing as the Carnival Band gives him a surprise performance! Photo by Wayne Worden of the Carnival Band.

To celebrate his last day after more than 40 years on the job, Angus McIntyre took a Brill trolley out for a ride yesterday evening, packed with friends, colleagues, and well-wishers!

Angus followed his regular 7 Dunbar/Nanaimo route, and the Carnival Band surprised him with a performance at Nanaimo Station. I wasn’t able to make it out for the ride, but folks have said he was properly surprised by the gesture!

Check out the Carnival Band’s blog for more pictures and stories. There’s also a lovely item over at Vancouver is Awesome. Edit: Dennis has sent along an album of photos as well!

Plus here’s a photo of the Brill Angus was driving (followed by another one)!

Two Brills were in fact part of Angus's retirement ride. Photo by <a href=http://www.flickr.com/photos/35698624@N07/4658869611/in/set-72157624055517565/>Wayne Worden</a> of the Carnival Band.

Two Brills were in fact part of Angus's retirement ride. Photo by Wayne Worden of the Carnival Band.

Come to discussion sessions with TransLink’s CEO in June, talking about our 2011 plans

TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis

TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis

Come out to a community information session with our CEO in June!

Ian Jarvis, our Chief Executive Officer, will be providing an update on TransLink and discussing the priorities in our proposed 2011 Transportation and Financial Base Plan. Read about the proposed plan here.

A bit of background: every year, TransLink is required by law to develop a plan for our next 10 years of work, and that’s the 2011 plan Ian will be discussing in these sessions.

You might recall us doing a big consultation for last year’s plans. This year’s plan has a much more modest scale: it focuses on maintaining our existing transportation network while striving for further operational efficiencies and effectiveness.

Anyway, here are the dates for the sessions!

Tuesday June 1, 2010
6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre
13458 – 107A Ave, Surrey

Thursday June 3, 2010
6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Evergreen Cultural Centre
1205 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam

Tuesday June 8, 2010
6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Douglas College, Room 1620
700 Royal Avenue, New Westminster

Thursday June 10, 2010
7:30 – 9:00 p.m.
John Braithwaite Community Centre
145 West 1 Street, North Vancouver

Tuesday June 15, 2010
6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Vancouver Masonic Centre
1495 West 8th Avenue, Vancouver

Hope to see you there!

Post-secondary students: enter the APTA high-speed rail contest for a chance to go to Beijing

Here’s another APTA tidbit for post-secondary students: you’re invited to enter a contest about high speed rail!

Submit an essay or a drawing about one of three high-speed rail concepts, and you might win a prize and a chance to attend the 7th World Congress on High Speed Rail in Beijing in December 2010.

Have a look at this PDF for full information, and send any questions to highspeedrail@apta.com. (You can also visit highspeedrailonline.com for more on high speed rail and APTA.)

The competition is open to both American and Canadian currently enrolled post-secondary students, and the application deadline is July 30, 2010 at 5pm EST!

How do you find a bus stop if you are visually impaired? Rob Sleath discusses Access Awareness Day and accessibility on transit

Rob Sleath, the chair of our Access Transit Users’ Advisory Committee

Rob Sleath, the chair of our Access Transit Users’ Advisory Committee

It’s Access Awareness Day on Saturday, June 5, so I thought we’d take some time this week to talk about accessibility—the issue has a lot more subtleties than you’d think!

To give us a bit of background, I spoke to Rob Sleath, who helps guide TransLink’s Access Transit accessibility strategy as chair of our Users’ Advisory Committee.

Rob kindly explained why Access Awareness Day is important, the challenges he faces on transit and beyond as a person with a visual impairment, and what people can do to help make their communities more accessible.

“It’s not my vision loss that is the disability,” Rob says. “It’s the environment around me. If you change the environment you minimize my disability.”

Read more »

Friday fun post: ever read what someone else is reading on transit?

If you like, skip to the end of this post to tell us if you’ve ever read what someone else is reading on transit.

Last week ago: where do you like to sit on transit?

Last week, I asked you where you liked to sit on transit, which was an update of the very first poll I ever ran on the blog.

141 people weighed in, and this time the winner was clear: the back, with 45% of the vote! (Middle came second with 37% and the front received 25%.)

It did seem like everybody had a different preference based on which bus/train they were sitting in, however! Lots of people gave detailed lists, and here’s a short sample from Tsushima Masaki

Orion V (Highway coaches)
3rd forward-facing seat row, right side, window.

New Flyer D40LF (Most Richmond buses)
I used to prefer the window seat on the right side of the bus 1 row behind the back door, but now I find the right window seat just in front of the back door to be more to my liking.

B-Lines
Any right window seat that has a glass partition behind it.

Community shuttles
Not too much of a preference, I tend to sit in the front seats, left or right.

Hilary had a nice long list too, and this particular excerpt from her comment was seconded by Bevis Parker:

I like the SkyTrain driver’s seat position, but I rarely sit in it because I prefer the view from the side windows and, in Mark II trains, I can’t comfortably lean my elbows on the… ledge-thing… without putting myself at an angle where I have to crane my neck to see much beyond the tracks (vertically). Although it can’t be beat for getting a good view of the subway tunnels. The exception to this ambivalent position is on the Canada Line, where my favourite seat, no contest, is the aisle seat by the front window (either side), again for the subway-tunnels reason. Although, since those trains have a wider front window than the Expo/Millennium Line trains, it’s a good seat for the rest of the stations too.

Sally, however, said her seat choice was all about efficiency.

It’s all strategy – at the front of the highway coaches so I can be first (or almost first) off because if you are at ground level and you hear the Canada Line train rumbling in, it gives you chance to sprint up the 2 escalators and leap onto the train. Heaven forbid I’ve have to wait 4 minutes for the next train!

I then stand in the first carriage by the door so I can get off easily at Oakridge. (Although Oakridge is really bad for passengers getting on the train without letting anyone off first………..)

Coming home I don’t care where I sit so long as it is on the right-hand side!!

And a couple of people had specific favourites. Here’s:

For Novabus, I’ll take the private seat behind the driver.

Check the original comment thread for more: there is in fact a neat side discussion about how long SkyTrains sit at a station for, and of course many more suggestions on the best places to sit on transit :D


This week: ever read what someone else is reading on transit?

This is inspired by the free newspaper poll: I realize a bunch of you said you read over someone else’s shoulder, so let’s see just how many people are reading others’ stuff in transit!



If you’re a yes, can you think of any particularly notable reading material you’ve seen? I remember glancing sideways at someone’s psychology notes about the Stanford Prison Experiment and learning some rather insightful things on my trip home :)

Three companies shortlisted for our smartcards and faregates project

TransLink is working on developing a smartcard for our system, much like the Oyster Card in London. Photo by <a href=http://www.flickr.com/photos/mirka23/2312439764/>mirka23</a>.

TransLink is working on developing a smartcard for our system, much like the Oyster Card in London. Photo by mirka23.

Our media relations team put out a release today announcing that three companies have been shortlisted for our smartcards and faregates project. They are:

Thales/Octopus International Projects – creator of the ‘Octopus Card’ used on Hong Kong’s transit service and supplier of similar systems in the Netherlands, Norway and Dubai.

Serco/Parkeon – who introduced a complete smart card program for Perth, Australia and have provided related systems to transit operations in Belgium, England and Dubai, as well as to the French national rail system, SNCF.

Cubic/IBM – whose systems include London’s ‘Oyster Card’ and systems for US transit agencies in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami-Dade, San Francisco plus Brisbane in Australia.

The smartcard project is targeted to launch in early 2013. I’ll keep you posted on who wins the bid!

Have a look at the full release for more: you can also see a December 2009 project update and the original project announcement.