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Translink Buzzer Blog

Links and tidbits for Thu Sept 23

A new round of tidbits and links about transportation! If you have any items to suggest, or a photo to showcase on these posts, e-mail me at thebuzzer@translink.ca! I really need good photos. I’m not going to lie.

Again, thanks so much for your patience with my blog pace these days, as there are still those long-term, non-blog projects I’m working on. Le sigh…

Spot the ride-share dummy and win at Capilano University today

Ride-Share Rick!

Ride-Share Week is coming up in the first week of October, and we’re doing a bit of advance promotion to get people thinking about sharing their rides.

As such, look for the Spot the Dummy campaign at Capilano University today, Tuesday September 21!

The Ride-Share Week folks will be moving a ride-share dummy, dubbed Ride-Share Rick, around campus. If you spot him, tweet the location to @BCrideshareweek or post its location to BCrideshareweek on Facebook. You could win Chevron gas vouchers, Tim Hortons gift cards, and more!

If you can’t spot the dummy today, you can also win by signing up with the ride-share.com database. Have a look at the Ride Share Week page or the Capilano University Spot the Dummy page for more info.

As well, you can follow the adventures of Ride-Share Rick at the ride-share.com blog :)

TransLink.ca gets a brand new homepage

TransLink's new website homepage

New and improved!

Check it out—we’ve updated the look of our homepage!

The new look is cleaner, more sophisticated and has some awesome new features—and the changes are all made based on your feedback, plus improvements our web team has been working on.

A quick overview of what’s new:

  • there’s a new homepage rotating information box! Now we can put up big promos to let you know what’s new on the site, and you can even click the box to get to the information you need.
  • the Trip Planner widget and associated transit maps information has been better organized on the left side of the screen. Plus its second tab is now a widget for Google Transit searches! (Transit maps, which used to be in the second tab, are now more visible below the Trip Planner widget.)
  • the Buzzer blog posts are now embedded right on the homepage—yay! Although there’s a bit of a snafu—the homepage is pulling the body text of the blog posts, and not the headlines. Apparently this will be fixed soon.
  • there’s a new info box on the front page with two sections: What’s New and News Releases. What’s New helps you know what’s been updated on the site (even if it’s just minor changes) and News Releases shows what has been sent to the media lately.
  • a new, robust footer! If you’re wondering where all the links at the top of the page have gone, they’ve all been moved into this bigger better footer navigation section.
  • and a new RSS page has been created showing all the TransLink RSS feeds available.

You can also have a look at this page for even more details about these changes. Feel free to let us know what you think in the comments, as always :)

Note: A few people have mentioned that the new homepage looks messed up on their browsers. Our web team has suggested that you clear your browser’s cache and cookies, which seems to work for most people. But give it a try and then let me know if you still have problems.

Friday fun poll: have you ever put a bike on the bus bike rack?

Bikes on a 99 B-Line bus.

In the comments on Tuesday’s tidbits post, Jean suggested a poll about using the bike rack on buses. A great idea!

Have you ever put a bike on a bus's bike rack?

  • Yes (56%, 146 Votes)
  • No (44%, 116 Votes)

Total Voters: 261

So why have you used or not used the bike racks? Do you find you want to know more before trying it out? Jean mentioned that a couple of people think an instructional video would be a good idea — what does everyone else think? As well: if you ARE an intrepid bus bike rack user, can you share any good tips for loading/unloading?

(Incidentally: I should mention that there are two styles of bike rack out there, and as far as I know, our staff are aware that some of the newer racks are a bit more difficult than the older racks. You can read more about what fixes we have asked for in this past comment. Also, while you’re visiting that past comment, check out the bike rack rap video!)

Congrats to the winners of our 2010 Bus Roadeo!

News1130 interviews Lothar Greczmel, winner of our 2010 Bus Roadeo driving competition!

Coast Mountain Bus Company held its 34th annual Bus Roadeo last Sunday, September 12!

The roadeo is an annual fun event for our bus operators and their families, and there’s a driving skills competition and a mechanical skills competition for employees to show their stuff.

The big winner of the driving competition was Lothar “Lowfloor” Greczmel, who also won last year, and the winning mechanical team was made up of Lenora Stenersen, Richie Wenzlaff and Sebastian Przestacki. Congratulations to all!

Have a look at Frank Luba’s story about the roadeo in the Province for more — sadly I was still on holiday and wasn’t able to attend in person. As well, you can check out my post about last year’s roadeo for some more insight!

Links and tidbits for Tue Sept 14

T is for Transit! Gorgeous photo by jmv.

I’m back and slowly returning to the swing of things—there’s some long-term, non-blog projects I’m working on lately, so you’ll have to pardon my pace for the next little while!

Nonetheless: here’s some collected tidbits and links for all of you once more! If you have any items to suggest, or a photo to showcase on these posts, e-mail me at thebuzzer@translink.ca! I really need good photos. I’m not going to lie.

HandyDART booking agent turns routine call into a heroic act

Satveer!

I’m still away on holiday until Monday September 13! But I’m proud to present this story by Tyler Heshka from Coast Mountain Bus Company’s internal communications team, about a HandyDART staff person who went the extra mile.

The TransLink family always goes the extra mile for the customer, but sometimes our employees do very extraordinary things. If it wasn’t for the actions of a HandyDART booking agent last month, a customer calling to cancel her ride could have lost her life.

Nursing student Satveer Berar has been working as a booking agent for HandyDART for just over a year while completing her studies. On July 26, a woman called and wanted to cancel her HandyDART ride to a doctor’s appointment due to illness. Satveer immediately noticed the caller was having difficulty breathing, and asked her to describe her symptoms.

The caller said she was experiencing chest pains and shortness of breath, which made Satveer realize this was potentially more serious than the caller realized. Thinking quickly, she offered to call an ambulance on behalf of the caller who politely declined. However, after some reassurance, Satveer talked the caller into letting her call an ambulance to come check on her. She then hastily called the BC Paramedics with the caller’s address and symptoms.

Nine days later, the woman called HandyDART to express her sincere appreciation for Satveer’s assistance on the day she called to cancel her ride. She explained that by the time the ambulance arrived at her house, she had suffered a heart attack. She was hospitalized for over a week . If it wasn’t for Satveer’s heroic act, the customer wasn’t sure she’d still be here today.

The HandyDART call centre is located in Surrey and employs approximately 65 full-time and casual employees. On average, the call centre takes between 1700-1800 calls every day. One of HandyDART’s goals is to enhance the lives of the people they touch by helping them be independent. Satveer’s actions are just one example of how HandyDART employees improve the lives of their customers every single day.

Thanks for doing such an amazing job, Satveer — and thanks for sharing her story, Tyler!

Reminder: trolley buses are back on Granville today, Tue Sept 7

One of our old trolleys driving down Granville Street, before the Canada Line construction began in 2006.

Note: I’m still on holiday, returning Monday Sept 13! This is a scheduled post I prepared in advance.

Just a reminder: the trolley buses are back on Granville starting today! Make sure you check this post for all the details on the move.

Labour Day holiday service, Mon Sept 6

I’m still on holiday! This is a scheduled post.

It’s Labour Day on Monday, September 6, 2010, so buses, SeaBus, and SkyTrain will be operating on a Sunday/Holiday schedule. West Coast Express operates no trains or TrainBus on Monday.

Remember that the whole transit system is a single zone on Labour Day, so zone fares are not in effect! That means if you buy a one zone ticket, you can use it to ride through all three zones.

Also, don’t forget our group ride offer: on Sundays and statutory holidays, you can use your FareCard to take five other riders with you for free. That means you can take either a) one more adult and up to four children with you, or b) up to five children. The offer applies to the Adult FareCard, West Coast Express 28-day Pass, or Annual Employer Transit Pass. (It doesn’t apply to Concession Passes, sadly.)

Tips for smooth travel during the first weeks of September

Update: I’ve pulled the videos down as Reva has raised a couple of questions about privacy in the comments. Let me investigate and see if I can get them back up.

I’m still on holiday! This is a scheduled post.

Happy September! Let’s kick off the month with some useful travel advice.

Check out the video of the fall 2009 transit crowd above — we’re barrelling into that time again! So I’ve dug up some travel tips from the archives as the rush begins in the first few weeks of September.

Have a look these posts for some useful info about travel times, routes to UBC, and more. If it’s old hat to you, please share it with someone who might find it useful!

Find out more details on the September 2010 bus service changes too, which all take effect on Monday September 6 unless otherwise noted.

Check out one more time-lapse crowd video of the 99 from last October below—plus if you have any tips to share, please feel free to comment away!

(In case you’re curious, our planning department filmed these videos to help with their work :)

Info sessions on the West Vancouver bus-only lane on Marine Drive, Thu Sept 2 and Sat Sept 4

A West Vancouver Blue Bus at Georgia and Granville in downtown Vancouver. Photo by sashafatcat.

I’m still on holiday! This is a scheduled post.

You’re invited to learn more about the bus-only lane on Marine Drive in West Vancouver!

As you may know, an eastbound bus-only lane is being built on Marine Drive, starting just west of the Village at Park Royal to Taylor Way. The reason: no more traffic lanes can be added to the bridge, and taking transit is the only way to move more people over the bridge. (Buses make up two per cent of bridge traffic, but move 28 per cent of travellers, and increasing transit’s share of the road will help increase capacity.)

Info sessions about the lane are planned at Park Royal Shopping Centre from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the following dates:

Thursday Sept. 2 @ North Mall centre court near Aveda
Saturday Sept. 4 @ South Mall in front of Latitude

The West Vancouver Bus Lane is part of the $40 million Marine Drive Transit Priority Improvement Project, which also includes replacing the old Capilano River Bridge with a new three-lane bridge, adding a bus lane in North Vancouver and improving Marine Drive.

For more information, contact Vincent Gonsalves, Community Relations Coordinator at TransLink, at vincent.gonsalves@translink.ca or 604-453-3043. You can also check out the info session page on the main website for more.

A bit about the U-Pass BC program starting this fall

I’m still on holiday! This is a scheduled post.

With the school year fast approaching, I thought I’d put up some more info about the new U-Pass BC program that comes into effect on September 1.

In June 2010, the Province of British Columbia announced its new U-Pass BC program, offering a universal bus pass to students at all publicly funded post-secondary institutions.

However, be aware that this doesn’t mean all students will be handed a U-Pass the minute they step on campus. It’s not mandatory for schools to take part, and schools without a U-Pass need to first follow their own process (usually a referendum) to get their student body to approve of joining the program.

Check out our U-Pass BC page for all the details — I’ve also copied up some of the key information here.

So where’s my U-Pass?

Students and schools now eligible to join the new U-Pass BC will need to do a few things before they get their transit passes:

  • Students have indicated they want to hold a referendum (or follow the proper process according to their student society’s constitution) to approve their entry into the U-Pass BC program at the monthly rate of $30, which will rise to $35 per month on April 1st, 2013.
  • If approved, Schools will need to set up their processes to administer the program
  • Students, their schools and TransLink will all sign a standard contract that includes each signatory’s rights and responsibilities for the program.

Student societies and schools that are ready to start this process now could have their new U-Pass BC programs up and running as early as this coming January. Students already participating in the current program will have their U-Pass as usual in time for the fall session.

Students at Langara College and Capilano University will see their monthly U-Pass rate drop to $30 per month effective September 1. Students at UBC and SFU will keep their current program and their U-Pass rates until this time next year.

By September 1, 2011, all participating students and schools will need to be on the new U-Pass BC program. This means UBC, SFU, Langara College and Capilano University students will need to hold a referendum and approve the new program so that their student societies can sign the standard contract along with their schools and TransLink.

For more, again check out the U-Pass BC page, where you can see the U-Pass BC brochure, FAQ, and read the official press release.

And if you have questions, please write to u-pass@translink.ca!

Away for two weeks: back Mon Sept 13

Just a note to say I will be away on holiday for the next two weeks! A few posts are scheduled go up while I’m away, and I’ll be back to answer your comments and e-mails on Monday, September 13.

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

  • Follow the TransLink Twitter account for updates on our service, plus breaking news
  • Transit alerts can also be found at the TransLink alerts page
  • Complaints, commendations, or other informational inquiries can be directed to TransLink customer service
  • For our transit information line, call 604-953-3333
  • And for an instant time machine to 1996, try this website! :D

The September 2010 Buzzer is now out!

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

This issue focuses on the fall service changes that start September 6. Trolley bus service is back on Granville Street, and we’ve managed to get the whole map of changes into the issue, on top of the entire list of service changes.

There’s also back-to-school info about the U-Pass BC program and Go Card photo sessions.

There’s also a couple of photos from the cupcake celebration on Canada Line’s first anniversary! Also, there’s a quick reminder about our partnership with the Vancouver Aquarium: $2 off admission with a valid transit ticket!

Again, we are happy to have a cover from a local illustrator: this time it’s Joan Gurney. Great work, Joan!

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. (Here’s the direct link to the September 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, September 24 at 9 a.m. — we’ll pick a winner from all the correct answers.

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

Two new West Coast Express train cars are here!

Our two new West Coast Express train cars!

Two of our new West Coast Express (WCE) train cars are now here!

We have seven of these train cars on order for 2010, thanks to investment from the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia, as well as our own funding. The two new cars are the first to arrive, and were unveiled to the media today at the VIA Rail station near Main Street. (WCE cars are maintained at VIA Rail—we’re also currently investing in upgrades to their maintenance facilities.)

The new arrivals bump the West Coast Express fleet to 44 passenger cars, up from the current 37. That’s room for 2,000 riders a day, which translates into a 20 per cent increase in capacity—West Coast Express currently carries a daily average of 10,500 today, more than double its initial ridership of 5,000 a day.

The two cars here are currently undergoing testing, and we expect to put them into service in early September. The rest of the cars are still being made by Bombardier in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and are slated to arrive by the end of October and start service by the end of the year.

The new cars have some new improvements, including a new paint scheme (it’s blue instead of purple now), a revised bike area that provides more seating, and automatic doors to let you pass between train cars!

Check out this press release for more information, and see the rest of this post for more photos and video!

Read more »