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Translink Buzzer Blog

Get your questions in for our Surrey Rapid Transit webinar, Tue Oct 19

A reminder that we’re holding a webinar for the Surrey Rapid Transit study, and we want your questions in advance!

The webinar is a live, one-hour session led by Jeff Busby, TransLink’s Manager of Infrastructure Planning. You can join us on Tuesday, October 19, 2010 from 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. PST at this link.

You can ask questions during the webinar too, but gathering your questions in advance will help us make sure Jeff answers the most popular questions. Please hit this post and put your questions in the comments! (If you prefer e-mail, feel free to send questions to

Don’t worry if you can’t attend the webinar, either — we’ll be recording it and the video will be available after the event. I will also do follow-up blog posts for discussion based on clips from the webinar!

For more on the Surrey Rapid Transit study, check this blog post and the Surrey Rapid Transit consultation page.

Contest inspiration: fare card names from other places

In the naming contest post from last week, Chris passed on this handy list of fare card names from other places! I took a look through the list and highlighted names with interesting backstories, in case they might inspire winning contest entries…

Card Place Name explanation
Oyster London, UK Chosen as a fresh approach, unrelated to transit. The word Oyster had connotations of security and value.
Octopus Hong Kong Octopus references number 8 which is very lucky in Asian cultures. 8 also means “many” and “reaching everywhere.”
Myki Melbourne, Australia Sounds like “my key” to represent having a key for a new lifestyle, and also makes the card a character (“Mikey”). (Explanation found here!)
Clipper San Francisco Named after Clipper ships: the fastest mode of transportation during the Gold Rush. This card used to be called the TransLink card!
CharlieCard Boston, Massachusetts The CharlieCard is named after a fictional character in a folk music song often called “Charlie on the MTA”, which concerns a man trapped forever on the Boston subway system (then known as the Metropolitan Transit Authority, or MTA) because he can’t pay the 5-cent surcharge required to leave the train.
ORCA Seattle ORCA (“One Regional Card for All”) Card
Suica Tokyo (Japan Rail) Stands for “Super Urban Intelligent Card”, and is also a pun on the Japanese word for watermelon. As well, Sui Sui means smooth and Ka is an abbreviation for card.
Sugoca Japan (Fukuoka prefecture) The name is an acronym of “Smart Urban GOing CArd”, while sugoka (凄か?) in the local Kyūshū dialect means “great”.
NicePass Japan (Entetsu Railway) The name is an acronym of New Intelligence Card of Entetsu Personal and Smart System.

From this I detect some general strategies:

  • Pick a name of a sea creature with useful alternate meanings
  • Pick a word not generally related to transit that gives the card some human features
  • Acronyms: the more complex, the better.
  • Puns, homonyms, and double meanings! The more the merrier!

Also, to be honest, my favourites are the non-acronym, non-punny, unrelated to transit names. Oyster! Myki! There’s something kind of bold about choosing a name like that and sticking with it. Enter the contest!

TransLink to proceed with public consultation on proposed supplement

A quick but important note: the following media release went out today on behalf of our Board.

TransLink to proceed with public consultation on proposed supplement
Regional contributions to the Evergreen Line and North Fraser Perimeter Road to be decided
October 15, 2010

After careful consideration, the TransLink Board has authorized the organization to move forward with planned public consultation on funding the proposed supplement required to build the Evergreen Line and complete the first phase of the North Fraser Perimeter Road project and, possibly, to proceed with a number of other priority projects, which include key SkyTrain station upgrades, restoring funding to bike and major road network capital programs, additional service throughout the existing bus network and new rapid bus services on King George Boulevard and Highway 1.

“A supplement is the legal mechanism we have to enable policymakers to make a decision on critical regional transportation issues. The Mayors’ Council can only make a decision on our regional commitments to these projects if TransLink prepares a supplement for them to consider. Before a supplement can be provided to the Mayors’ Council and the Regional Transportation Commissioner, TransLink must consult the public on how to pay for proposed projects and that consultation must focus only on funding sources our legislation currently allows us to implement,” says Chair Dale Parker.

Decisions on both the Evergreen Line and the North Fraser Perimeter Road project, which involves an extension of United Boulevard to remove a major traffic bottleneck, are up against a year-end deadline to have signed funding agreements in place with the provincial and federal governments respectively.

Please have a look at the full media release for all the details (that’s just the first three paragraphs above).

In light of this decision, consultation will begin at the Transportation Fairs and online on a proposed supplement with two possible funding mechanisms: property tax or a transportation improvement fee. You can visit the TransLink website for more detail on the proposed supplement and funding mechanisms.

Connect with us at our transportation fairs, Oct 16, 17, and 23

We’re holding three transportation fairs this October!

Learn about our system and comment on our future plans

At the fairs, you’ll be able to examine and offer feedback on two of our upcoming plans:

Participate, and you’ll be eligible to win one of ten monthly FareCards to be drawn at each fair. As well, there will be three chances for a grand prize: a year’s free transit, one given away at each fair.

At the fairs, you can also learn about our transportation investments over the past ten years and how they’ve made an impact on the region. There will also be vintage buses on hand, activities for kids, hot dogs and drinks, and more. You can also enter our electronic fare card naming contest at the fair, to win an iPad and a year of free transit in 2013 — or just enter the contest here!

Dates and locations

Come out and join us from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the following dates and locations:

October 16, 2010
Creekside Community Centre
Olympic Village, Vancouver

October 17, 2010
Executive Plaza Hotel

October 23, 2010
Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre

We hope to see you there!

Friday fun poll: have you used an electronic fare card on another system?

A collection of smartcards! Photo by Joe Mazzolla.

Since we’re asking you to submit names for our future electronic fare card, here’s a fun poll about the cards!

Have you used an electronic fare card on another system?

  • Yes! (76%, 124 Votes)
  • No! (24%, 40 Votes)

Total Voters: 164

The obvious follow-up question is “How many cards have you tried?” (My answer is one—I used the Oyster Card extensively in London in 2006!)

The Downtown Historic Railway opens Sat Oct 16, 2010

Good news: the Downtown Historic Railway is back on track and will open at noon on Saturday, October 16, 2010!

The Railway runs two restored heritage interurban cars between Granville Island and Olympic Village Station — the Olympic Line streetcar used its tracks during the Games earlier this year.

The train will be offering afternoon rides during weekends in October. Check their schedule for full details!

And for more info on the Railway, here’s a few links. The Transit Museum Society runs the Railway along with the City of Vancouver: check out the TRAMS website and the City website for more info. As well, John Calimente over at Regarding Place wrote a seven-part series of articles about the Railway once: here’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.

Transit may be extra busy for We Day tomorrow, Fri Oct 15

Just a heads up that SkyTrain and bus service may be extra busy tomorrow, as the We Day event is on downtown on Friday, October 15, 2010.

Here is the press release we put out:

WE Day, the cross-country series of events put on by Free The Children, comes to Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Friday, Oct. 15. Several thousand young people are expected to attend, and organizers are encouraging them to use public transit. This means there will be more customers than usual on the SkyTrain system during the morning and afternoon peak periods – from about 7:45 to 9:30am for the main event, and again from 4:30 to 5:15pm for a smaller event, to be attended by approximately 1200 young people.

SkyTrain is taking extra steps to help with the extra loads: additional SkyTrain Attendants will be on-hand at Stadium-Chinatown Station during the peak periods, and portable fareboxes will be set up so people attending the event can purchase return transit tickets on their way in, thereby avoiding lineups after the event.

TransLink and BC Rapid Transit Company wish the organizers of WE Day the very best success.

You can also read a short note from the Vancouver Sun here.

Tidbits and links for Thu Oct 14

Freeloading varmints trying to hitch a ride at Stanley Park! This hilarious picture was snapped by David Lam.

Tidbits and links about transportation! This one’s long overdue—I’ve had a backlog to go through this week.

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

Surrey Rapid Transit consultation workshops start tomorrow, Thu Oct 14, 2010

Just a heads up that the Surrey Rapid Transit Study consultation workshops start tomorrow, Thursday October 14, 2010!

I mentioned the Surrey Rapid Transit Study on Tuesday — after a year of work with stakeholders and partners, we have nine concepts for rapid transit in Surrey that we want your feedback on.

So, join us at an in-person workshop if you can! Our planners and consultation staff will be out to discuss the alternatives and answer your questions. Make sure you know what feedback we’re looking for, as well!

October 14, 2010
6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Langley Hampton Inn Rooms A, B & C
19500 Langley Bypass, Surrey

October 18, 2010
6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
SFU Surrey
Rooms 5140 & 5100
13450 102 Avenue, Surrey

October 19, 2010
1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Surrey Sport and Leisure Complex
Rooms MP1 & MP2
16555 Fraser Highway, Surrey

October 25, 2010
6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Newton Seniors Centre
13775 70 Avenue, Surrey

Also, if you can’t make it to an in-person session, join us online at our webinar on Tuesday, October 19, 2010. Submit your questions in advance for the webinar to this blog post.

And if you can’t make the webinar or the in-person sessions, make sure to check out the Surrey Be Part of the Plan site—there you can also check out the Alternatives and answer our online questionnaire!

Tim Choi writes in about transit in Istanbul, part II

The ferry Tim rode from Besiktas on the European side of the city to Kadikoy on the Asian side.

Reader Tim Choi is in Istanbul for a few months and has sent back a few observations about the transit system! Here’s his second dispatch about Istanbul’s ferries — you can also read his first dispatch about buses and minibuses.

A ferry terminal building in Istanbul. Photo by Tim Choi.

Hello Jhen! Here is a post on Istanbul’s ferries, with video.

The first three videos are as we took a ferry from Besiktas on the European side of the city to Kadikoy on the Asian side. The ferry in question is shown above – very classy and beautiful, also quite old, with real wooden decking. It is capable of carrying 1500 passengers. For our particular trip, it took 20 minutes. All ferry trips cost 1.50 Turkish Liras, around $1.10 CAD. It’s a very cheap way to enjoy and watch the city. Servers are on board all vessels, selling tea and coffee.

The terminal buildings are also quite interesting – the picture at right was taken inside one, looking towards the doors and water. Embarking procedures are a little less chaotic than for buses, but just barely – the ship pulls up to the dock, the ramps are connected, passengers disembark (either through or beside the ramps!), terminal doors open, and passengers race across the apron towards the ramps. You can see visually the dock layout in the videos.

Read more »

We want your thoughts on rapid transit in the Surrey area!

Tell us what you think about rapid transit in the Surrey area!

This week, we’re launching a public consultation to get your feedback on nine rapid transit alternatives for the Surrey region.

We’ve come to these alternatives after a year of hard work with the Province of B.C. Stakeholders from the Surrey region helped us get to know the key issues, and with their help, we’ve identified these nine preliminary concepts for rapid transit in the Surrey area.

So now it’s your turn to have a look and tell us if we’re on the right track!

How to get involved

Before you dive in, I’d really urge you to watch these two videos first! See the video at the top of this post to learn more about the study, and see the video above to learn more about what we’re looking for in this consultation.

Then go wild and check out our Surrey Be Part of the Plan page to learn more about the alternatives and the Surrey project.

Once you’re armed with all the information, share your thoughts in our questionnaire, or at one of our four in-person workshops. Or join us online for a webinar!

Submit your questions for the webinar

The webinar is a new addition to our consultation toolbox this year!

If you can’t make it to one of the in-person sessions, join us online for this live, one-hour session led by Jeff Busby, TransLink’s Manager of Infrastructure Planning.

We’ll be holding the webinar on Tuesday, October 19, 2010 from 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. PST. Jeff will do a presentation about the Surrey Rapid Transit Study, and he’ll leave lots of time for your questions.

Don’t worry if you can’t attend the webinar, either — we’ll be recording it and the video will be available after the event. I will also do follow-up blog posts for discussion based on clips from the webinar.

In the meantime, feel free to visit our webinar page to pre-register for the session.

As well, please do submit advance questions for the webinar through the comments in this post!

You can ask questions during the webinar too, but obviously gathering your questions in advance will help us make sure Jeff is getting to the most popular questions. You can even use the Like function in the comments to vote on questions you’d really like answers on.

And of course, if you prefer e-mail, feel free to send your questions to

Contest: name our future electronic fare card!

Edit, 1:35 p.m.: added one of the promotional videos above! There’s a second video here too.

Starting today, Tuesday, October 12, 2010, you can enter our contest to name our future electronic fare card!

As you may know, TransLink is putting an electronic fare card system in place by 2013, similar to fare payment systems in London and Hong Kong. But tomorrow’s fare card needs a name today—so we’re asking you to put your thinking caps on and get involved!

Submit your suggestions through our online form or via text message (text CONTEST, your name, and your idea to 77777).

The winner gets an iPad, and in 2013, the winner will also receive an electronic fare card loaded with a year of free transit!

For more, check out the TransLink website to learn about electronic fare cards and the project timeline. And here’s the past Buzzer blog posts on the topic:

Fun poll results: 74% have not rideshared

Last week’s poll asked whether you have ever tried ridesharing!

Neatly enough, 100 readers took the poll. When all was said and done, 74% (74 votes!) said they had never rideshared before, and 26% said they had.

In the comments, Sally was firmly against ridesharing, though not against other travel alternatives:

I’d hate to ride-share. There would always be someone who wasn’t on time and I’m afraid I’d have to kill them as I loathe unpunctuality! Give me the bus anytime!!!

But on the other end of the spectrum, we had TM:

I ride-share all the time. One of my co-workers lives 2 blocks away from me so I just walk to his house in the morning and then we drive to work. On the way home I get a ride from another coworker; I’m his HOV lane access, and he’s my fast ride home (he likes to get home ASAP) so it’s a win-win.

The downside is it makes it hard for me to want to move from my current residence…

And somewhere in the middle, we had Paul C, despite his best efforts:

The closest I’ve ever come is sometimes driving someone home in the past as it was on my way home at previous jobs.

Others most times there never has been anyone who is going the same direction as me at the same time.

And since I cycle now. I’m sure nobody wants to ride my handle bars. :)

I guess you could say I ride share the bus ;)

I also wanted to point out Sungsu’s response, as it highlighted another interesting trip reduction initiative!

No, I telecommute full time.

Why yes, telecommuting, or teleworking, is a great travel-friendly option if your company lets you do it! “The ultimate commute is no commute,” as they say. If you’re interested in it, do check out this teleworking page on the TransLink website, to see how you might get teleworking started at your organization.

Anyway, click here to see all the comments from the previous post. I’ll have a new poll next week about electronic fare cards!

On Evergreen Line funding and more: TransLink’s potential 2011 supplemental plan

A slide highlighting TransLink's priorities, from the presentation given to councillors and mayors on Thursday, October 7, 2010.

Yesterday, TransLink made a presentation about its future plans and possible funding sources, which has prompted quite a discussion lately. So I thought I’d take a little time to let you know where this news is coming from and what is slated to happen next.

Where did the news come from?

First, the news about the proposal came out because TransLink made a presentation to the region’s mayors and councillors on Thursday, October 7, 2010.

You can read the the full presentation here — I highly encourage you to, as it has a ton of detail—but I’ll cover some background in some bullets below.

  • First, you need to know a bit about TransLink’s long-term planning process. By law, we are required to come up with a base plan every year that states how we will operate for the next three years, plus an outlook on services for the next seven years. The first three years of this base plan must be fully funded by our current revenue streams. If we want to spend beyond this base plan—to expand, for example—we are allowed by law to come up with supplemental plans, which then must be approved by our Board, reported on by the Regional Transportation Commissioner, and approved by the Mayors’ Council. With a supplemental plan, we have to explain exactly where we’ll get our funding from, and we need to outline what we are going to spend it on.
  • So, TransLink made this presentation on Thursday to the councillors and mayors to let them know we are thinking about a possible 2011 supplemental plan to fund the Evergreen Line, North Fraser Perimeter Road Phase 1, and other projects around the region. Since we have to specify funding sources, the main vehicle suggested is property tax. As you might know, TransLink only has access to a limited number of funding sources—basically fares, fuel tax, property tax, and transfers from senior government. We’ve raised fares, fuel tax, and property tax in the past year to reach our current funding, which preserves our current system.
  • TransLink performed a detailed analysis to prioritize projects in the region, based on which ones bring us closer to our Transport 2040 goals, and which ones best fit our supplemental goals — ie: projects that would be a lost opportunity if we don’t do them now, which make best use of our resources, and more. (See page 8 of the presentation PDF for full criteria.)
  • Based on the analysis, two possible plans present themselves. Option A plans for the Evergreen Line Program and North Fraser Perimeter Road Phase 1—it would cost $31 a year per household, or $39 million annually. Option B includes the items from Option A, plus a host of other regional investments in transit, roads, and cycling—it would cost $54 a year per household, or $68 million annually. See page 15 of the presentation PDF for the full details.

Why present this now? And what are the next steps?

Why present this now? Well, by law, we have to do a public consultation on the supplemental plan, before we present it for approval to our Board later this fall. The plan then goes to review by the Regional Transportation Commissioner, and then approval by the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation afterward.

Consultation on these possible supplemental plans will start on October 15, 2010. You’ll be able to talk to our staff or answer a questionnaire about the proposed supplement at one of our Transportation Fairs. We’ll also have an online version of the questionnaire—I’ll post a link once it’s on our website.

So, that’s where we sit! Nothing’s been approved or rejected yet—we will see how the public, the Board, the Regional Transportation Commissioner, and the Mayors’ Council respond in the future.

The October 2010 Buzzer is now out!

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

This issue is super exciting—it focuses on the electronic fare card naming contest that we’ll be launching on Monday, October 12!

Read the Buzzer to find out how to enter, plus more details on the future electronic fare card. (You can also find out more through our electronic fare card project page, which includes detailed FAQs!)

You can also find out about our upcoming transportation fairs, and workshops for the Surrey Rapid Transit public consultation in October.

There’s also a short story about who won the Bus Stop Hop, and we’ve put in the wonderful story about Satveer, who helped save a HandyDART caller’s life!

Again, we are happy to have a cover from a local illustrator: this time it’s Mouki Butt. Good job Mouki!

And if you can’t get the Buzzer on the system, you can always read it in PDF form on our website. Visit our Buzzer PDF archives, or grab this direct link to the October 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 Friday, October 29 at 9 a.m. — we’ll pick a winner from all the correct answers, and he or she will be notified by phone shortly after the draw.

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