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Translink Buzzer Blog

Metro Vancouver Mayors’ Council vote to approve the “Moving Forward” supplemental plan

Image of many forms of transit

Look for changes to the system in the not so distant future

Today, the Metro Vancouver Mayors’ Council voted in favour of the “Moving Forward” supplemental plan.

This means that TransLink will be acting on specific plans to improve the transit system beginning in 2012.

Here’s a breakdown of the changes coming in the near future:

Added service

“Moving Forward” includes 415,000 hours of annual service. It is anticipated that 180,000 hours of annual service will be added in 2012. Approximately half of the additional hours will be allotted to improve SeaBus frequency during off-peak hours, and more than half of the service improvements made in 2012 will be made South of the Fraser River where the need for service is great. This includes White Rock to Langley bus service (30 minute service) and the launch of the  King George Blvd B-Line service, including about 7.5 minute service between Guildford Exchange and Newton Exchange and 15 minute frequency between Newton Exchange and White Rock Centre.

Main Street SkyTrain Station

Improvements to the Main Street SkyTrain Station, which needs increased capacity and accessibility to keep up with the significant residential and commercial growth in the area, will begin in 2012.

Over crowding, pass ups and UPass BC Routes

TransLink will be working with its operations teams to determine the most effective way to improve service and reduce overcrowding and pass ups. The data collected from the launch of UPass BC in September of this year will help determine how to plan these routes in the future.

Roads and cycling

TransLink will work with the region’s Major Roads and Transportation Advisory Committee to set standards and determine eligible projects for roads and cycling improvements.

Evergreen Line

TransLink, the Province and the Evergreen Line project team will be moving ahead with the RFP process. Work will be done to plan  for improving capacity and flow at Commercial-Broadway SkyTrain Station in order  to accommodate the new customers that  the Evergreen Line will bring.

King George Boulevard B-Line

The project is in the planning stages and is anticipated to be functional in 2012.

Highway 1 Bus Rapid Transit

Coinciding with the opening of the new Port Mann Bridge, this service will be in place by 2013.

What to expect in the years to come

Through 2012 and 2013, TransLink will be phasing in the highest priority projects while maintaining financial responsibility. Hiring and training new staff and buying new buses takes time, so you can be sure that some of these improvements won’t happen overnight. Expect 63 new vehicles to be added to the fleet in 2013 in order to accommodate the additional services to come.

There’s a lot of work to be done in the years ahead. I’ll be bringing you updates as I get them on the progress of these plans.

The October 2011 Buzzer and Chanda Stallman: Buzzer illustrator interview

The cover of the October, 2011 Buzzer and the artist, Chanda Stallman

The cover of the October, 2011 Buzzer and the artist, Chanda Stallman

This month's Buzzer!

This month's Buzzer!

This month is devoted to more sustainable transportation options to single-occupancy private car use. Oh, and the colour is orange to represent the change in season. 

If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, you can always download The Buzzer in .pdf form. We have almost all the editions dating back to 1916!

If you’ve read my post on TransLink achieving gold in sustainability, you’d know that we are the first transit authority in North America to reach this level. I included some interesting graphs to illustrate just how this was achieved.

Carpool Hero is a big initiative for TransLink this month. TravelSmart is offering up some nice prizes for people who tell us why their carpool (a.k.a. ride-share) is worthy of winning. This month’s Buzzer gives tips on how to start a carpool of your own including the website that can find people for you to carpool with and even lend you the vehicle to do so.

Besides a note about holiday hours being in effect for Thanksgiving day, the Back Issues section looks at how sustainability really wasn’t a buzz word in 1952. The cartoon by Dill (I’m doing some research into this bygone Buzzer illustrator) shows a British Columbia Electric Railway Company Ltd. Reddy Kilowatt talking to his Uncle Sam-ish “cousin” bragging that Canadians use more energy than Americans do! Contest Corner, Coming Events and a short blurb on the August Buzzer blog poll round out all the news you can use in this month’s Buzzer. Now for the cover.

The illustrator this month is Chanda Stallman. She did a great job incorporating Carpool Hero and sustainability into a fun and playful look. I asked Chanda a few questions about herself and her work, and here’s what she had to say:

Tell us about yourself and your art.
I am an designer and artist living in Vancouver. When I’m not doing computer stuff, I draw, collage and make handmade sketchbooks.

What was your inspiration for this illustration?
My inspiration was living in Vancouver in October. It’s beautiful and a lot of fun with Halloween!
Is autumn your favorite month?
It is actually. I love the change in the colours. I get inspired to make new projects to take me through winter.
Are you a transit user?
I am! I mostly take the bus, but with the Canada Line, I find I take the SkyTrain more often now. It’s fast!
Do you wear a cape when you ride a bike?
I haven’t yet… but who knows, I may have to change that.

Happy third birthday, Buzzer blog!

Wow, it’s been three years already?

hree candles for the Buzzer blog!

Three candles for the Buzzer blog!

Yup, October 6, 2008, was when the very first Buzzer blog post was published. The ambition was to give the most up-to-date information on transit issues and to create a forum for two-way conversation between TransLink and its customers. Over the years, the blog has grown in followers, look and content. This past year, the blog has documented transit history, the naming of our new smart card,  Burnaby Mountain Gondola – phase 2, Surrey Rapid Transit – Phase 2, the new mobile site, I Love Transit Week, and the 25th Anniversary of SkyTrain to name just a few. We also surpassed 13 000 comments just the other day!

My stint as editor is nearly halfway through (Jhenifer is currently away on maternity leave), and there’s still a lot I have planned as editor. These past six months have been a great learning experience about the many things in which TransLink is involved. I now feel I can start introducing some new ideas on top of the great regular features like Friday Fun Polls, Links & Tidbits, etc. One of the new items I have planned is a transit etiquette campaign I’m hoping I can share soon.

Thanks to all of you for your patience in waiting for replies to your comments. Besides the blog and Buzzer newsletter, I also contribute to our Facebook Page, Twitter handle, Foursquare Account (just starting to reinvigorate that one) as well as webinars and all sorts of online communications work for TransLink. So, suffice it to say that I’m busy but loving the gig! Finding the right person to answer your questions may take a little time, but I wanna make sure I get you the right answer.

On this third birthday, I’d like to give thanks to all the Buzzer readers who contribute their time and insighful thought to the conversation. This is truly a mature and nurturing community, and I’m thankful to be a part of it.

Here’s to another great three years of the Buzzer blog!

The results of the September “How do you spend most of your time on transit?” poll

The last poll was such a gas that I think I’ll be doing a poll at least once a month. This time around, I shortened the entry time from two weeks to 11 days, and there were still 371 polls taken!

This is how Buzzer readers voted how they spend their time on transit.

This is how Buzzer readers answered how they spend most of their time on transit.

Knowing that people usually do more than one action while on transit, I asked the question, “How do you spend ‘most’ of your time on transit?

Some of the results were predictable, like how more than half of respondents spend their time either looking out the window or listening to music most of the time on transit. Seventeen percent of respondents said they read most of the time, which I thought might have received more votes but still seemed within reason.

What I was most surprised by was how only person said watching videos was something they did most of the time on transit. I added this option since it’s something I see more and more people doing during my commute. Another surprise was that so few respondents chose having a conversation as the thing they do most on transit (in person or on the phone). This made me think about how the transit habits of Metro Vancouverites compare to the those of inhabitants in other cities. For example, I took a bus in Seattle a few years back and couldn’t fail to notice how many people were chatting with one another. It’s interesting to see how different places can be sociologically even when they are only a few hundred kilometres away.

Interestingly enough, the options “I people watch”, “I access the Internet” and “I daydream” each had 9% of the answers cast. I would have thought that accessing the Internet would have received more votes with the undeniable increase in smartphones. I know that this is the option I would have chosen for this poll. Perhaps people do access the Internet a lot but not as much as other options.

Four per cent of respondents answered that they sleep on transit. Again, I think this is good reflection of the habits of the region. Visiting Japan many years ago, I would say that early in the morning and late at night people sleeping on transit was the norm not the exception. Maybe it’s just that Buzzer readers using transit in Metro Vancouver are better rested.

Now that the first part of this poll is done, the second and final part is next. Part 2 of the poll will be up a week this Friday. As mentioned, it will delve into why we do what we do on transit. Thanks again for taking the poll!

Kids ride free for International Walk to School Week, Oct 3-7, 2011

International walk to school week!

International Walk to School Week!

If you’re an elementary or secondary school student, there’s really no better time to get to know the transit system in Metro Vancouver than the week of October 3-7. That’s because this week is International Walk to School Week (iWalk), and children in kindergarden through Grade 12 ride for free (high school kids need a valid GoCard to ride free while kindergarden and elementary school kids don’t)!

Last year, over 40 countries were involved in iWalk. TransLink has been part of the movement since 2007.

The idea behind the week is to build a strong sense of community by encouraging kids to walk to school and to get to know their transit systems. It’s also about finding alternatives to private automobiles.

Schools and teachers have taken advantage of iWalk in the past to get out of the classroom and take their students on field trips using the transit.

Have you are your child participated in iWalk before? If so, please do share any tips that you may have that can make the week go smoothly.

If you’re a teacher and want to take your class on transit, here are a few helpful tips to make the most of your journey:

  • Take your classes during “off-peak” hours between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
  • Use TransLink’s online resources like to plan your trip. No one wants to get lost on a field trip day!
  • Find out if other teachers in your school are planning trips at the same time and what route(s) they plan to take.

So, there you have it. Enjoy your free rides on the systems, kids! It makes me wish I was a kid again.

TransLink reaches gold in sustainability

In June, I told you about CMBC’s (Coast Mountain Bus Company) Idle Free campaign. CMBC was recognized by CUTA (Canadian Urban Transit Association) for reducing CO2 emissions for the entire fleet.

Trish Webb, Director of Corporate Sustainability

Trish Webb, Director of Corporate Sustainability

That initiative was one of many elements that have contributed to an enterprise-wide initiative to be more sustainable as a transit authority. Recently, these efforts have been acknowledged by APTA (American Public Transportation Association) resulting in TransLink becoming the first ever member to reach the gold level of the APTA Sustainability Commitment!

What this means is that among 77 transit authorities and affiliated organizations, including the transit organizations in New York, Montréal, Toronto, Seattle, Los Angeles and Portland, TransLink ranks the highest in sustainability.

Three key markers of sustainability helped TransLink reach gold level status:

  • Cutting diesel fuel use by 1.28 million litres; in large part due to the Idle Free campaign
  • Curbing energy use in facilities by 16 per cent per passenger kilometre through energy retrofits and other changes to improve energy efficiency
  • Reducing CO2e (Equivalent Carbon Dioxide) emissions per passenger kilometre by 18 per cent as a result of ridership increases, the addition of 180 hybrid buses to the fleet and commuters choosing less carbon-dependent transit options such as the new Canada Line

The total energy savings in 2010 were equal to 4000 fewer tones of greenhouse gases (CO2e) and 58 fewer tonnes of Criteria Air Contaminants emitted over 2009 levels, at a time when ridership increased 10 per cent.

To better understand the APTA Sustainability Commitment and TransLink’s approach to sustainability, I spoke with Trish Webb, TransLink’s Director of Corporate Sustainability. Read more »

Friday Fun Poll: How do you spend most of your time on transit?


Do you read on transit?

I found the last poll so interesting, fun and popular that I thought I’d keep the poll vibe going with a fresh one. This time around, I’m curious about human behaviour on transit. We’ve had polls on what people do when waiting for transit, whether people read what others are reading on transit and what people read when riding transit, but we’ve never asked the bigger question: How do you spend most of your time on transit?


Do you chat on transit?

There are many things to do on transit. I won’t try to capture them all in this poll. I’ve created answers I imagine cover the majority of activities people perform while getting from a to b.

How do you spend most of your time on transit?

  • I look out the window (28%, 104 Votes)
  • I listen to music (23%, 84 Votes)
  • I read (17%, 62 Votes)
  • I people watch (9%, 35 Votes)
  • I access the internet (9%, 34 Votes)
  • I daydream (9%, 32 Votes)
  • I sleep (4%, 13 Votes)
  • I have a conversation (with someone on transit or on the phone) (1%, 4 Votes)
  • I watch videos (0%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 371

The comments on the last poll were arguable more interesting than the poll itself, so I really look forward to reading your thoughts on your habits on transit in the comments section.

This poll is actually a two-parter. This part (Part One) is devoted to what you do on transit. The next poll will be about the motivations behind those activities (to think about your day ahead, meet people, work, etc.)

Okay. Enough of the preamble. Let the polling (and comments) begin!

Burrard Station elevator out of service starting Monday, September 26th

If you're using Burrard Station this upcoming Monday, please take note of changes to elevator accessibility due to construction.

I don’t usually write about construction at SkyTrain stations, but this particular upgrade is worth noting since it has to do with accessibility to the system.

Starting on September 26th, the elevator at the Burrard SkyTrain Station will be out of service and “non-accessible” for roughly four months.

The reason for the closure is due to construction of the new faregate entrance hall. It’s all part of OnTrack, which will provide many upgrades and repairs to the SkyTrain system over the next two years.

If you normally use the Burrard elevator, you’ll need to use the elevator at Granville, Vancouver City Centre or Waterfront Station instead as of Monday, September 26th. On weekdays, the #44 connects Burrard Station with Waterfront starting at 6:37am (from Waterfront on route to Burrard) to approximately 8:25pm (Burrard on route to Waterfront). Check the bus schedule for specific times in between.

It’s an inconvenience for sure, but the payoff will be a working FareCard system that will better integrate transit, make it safer and easier to use as well as provide more value through better collection of revenue and changes in fare calculation.

Links & Tidbits for September 19, 2011

Here’s a gem of a 1976 Montreal Métro video that’s been making the rounds on the Internet of late. Thanks

Washrooms on the system

Public toilet sign

Do you want to see more washrooms on or near the system?

Where are the washrooms on the system?

That’s a good question. If you’re taking the SeaBus or West Coast Express, then washrooms are available in the fare paid zone or the trains themselves. As for SkyTrain and bus loops, the simple answer is there aren’t any washrooms for “official” public use.

From time to time, parents who need to change their children’s diapers, the elderly or people with disabilities can ask an attendant to use the staff facilities. But this limited access to washrooms isn’t ideal since an attendant needs to wait outside while the washroom is in use. This takes staff away from other duties including attending to potential emergencies.

Why aren’t there more washrooms on the system?

The conversation of adding washrooms has been one TransLink has had in the past both internally and with the municipalities TransLink services. To date, there are a few public washrooms near SkyTrain stations like the automated washroom near the Main Street SkyTrain station operated by the City of Vancouver.

The public toilet outside of the Main Street SkyTrain Station

The automated public toilet outside of the Main Street SkyTrain Station

Then there’s security. We all would like to use washrooms that are safe. There’s also the issue of vandalism and washrooms being used for illegal or inappropriate activity. This could mean adding security personnel and/or security mechanisms.

Of course, the addition of any washrooms to the system would come with a significant cost. TransLink’s current funding doesn’t cover additional washrooms, and the Moving Forward Supplemental Plan, which Metro Vancouver mayors will be voting on October 7th, doesn’t include the cost of adding washrooms either. Money to pay for washrooms would, therefore, need to be found elsewhere.

Are there washrooms on other transit systems?

Transportation agencies tackle the washroom question differently. TransLink’s Public Information Officer, Drew Snider, put together some numbers that help to compare the system in Metro Vancouver to other systems in North America and beyond.

Portland doesn’t provide public restrooms and neither does Calgary. Edmonton has restrooms at eight of its 15 LRT stations,  four out of 25 exchanges and plans to include restrooms to future transit exchanges and LRT stations. Toronto has 10 washrooms in a total of 69 stations. Paris has washrooms in 37 of its 370 Métro stations. There’s no direct surveillance for those washrooms, but they are located in stations where rail personnel are usually present and there are video cameras working in the area.

Of note is that where systems have a large number of station restrooms, they’re almost always heavy-rail commuter systems, serving long-distance customers.

The number of washrooms found in other transit systems

The number of washrooms found in other transit systems

What to do about washrooms on the system?

That’s the big question! It’s hard to refute the benefits of having washrooms on or near the transit system. After all, nature doesn’t always call when we want it to. As pointed out in The Globe and Mail, access to washrooms is “no joke”, so it’s important to have the discussion.

There’s also the issue of priorities. Are adding washrooms more important than maintaining and improving the system to keep up with demand?

I’m curious what Buzzer readers think about the issue. Is adding more washrooms to the system important to you? If so, how do you think they should be implemented, and by whom?

The results of the August “Do you say ‘Thanks’ to bus drivers?” poll

The results are in for the “Do you say ‘Thanks’ to bus drivers?” poll. It seems most Buzzer readers say “Thanks” to bus drivers, but not always. This has overwhelmingly been the most popular Buzzer poll to date! Like the poll “When did you first ride the SkyTrain?“, saying “Thanks” to bus drivers is something many readers can relate to.

The results of the poll

The results of the poll

It’s also a phenomenon that’s not just experienced in Metro Vancouver. Verbally thanking your bus driver is something our readers have heard in Oxford and London (England), Paris, Brussels, Denver, New York,  San Francisco and in parts of Ontario. People may say “Merci” in Montreal, but judging by this comment on the TransLink Facebook page, I’m not sure if it’s a popular custom.

Comment from Facebook

Comment from Facebook

Always say “Thanks”

Going by the comments, those people who always thank the bus driver may be doing so because they truly want to express their gratitude. Some may also see driving a bus as a difficult job that deserves praise. Sally’s comment is a good reflection of this.

Sally: “Not only do I says “Thanks” but I look them in the eye so they know I mean it! I wouldn’t want to drive the 351 in the bus lanes – cars are always creating havoc. So yes, “Thanks” to all the drivers!”

Sometimes say “Thanks”

The “Sometimes camp” seems to be mostly divided into two groups. One group likes to say thanks, but when on articulated or over-crowed buses, they either feel their “Thanks” won’t be heard, or they don’t want to shout it out.

Bobo: “I think shouting from the back of the bus is sufficiently rude to cancel out the politeness of the “Thank you”. So I only say thanks when I don’t have to shout to be heard.”

The other group takes the actions/attitudes of bus drivers into consideration before deciding if they will say “Thanks.”

J: “If the bus driver doesn’t seem interested in my stepping on the bus, I’m not necessarily inclined to say ‘Thanks’ when I step off.”

Jacob: “If the driver does an great driving job (doesn’t accelerate too fast, waits for seniors to sit down, doesn’t leave Stops 1 minute early etc…) I say “Thank you” If the driver just does his job, I say “thanks” And if the driver does a bad job, I don’t say anything.”

The rest of the people who commented “Sometimes'” were either a combination of the two groups, or they mean to always say “Thanks” but sometimes forget.

Never say “Thanks”

There weren’t many of you, but Miguel wasn’t afraid to buck the trend.

Miguel: “They should thank the passengers. Just like any other business. I don’t thank the barista at Starbucks, he thanks me.”

A few people agreed with me that once you hear someone else say “Thanks”, it catches on, and you find yourself thanking bus drivers when you never did before.

Well, that about covers  the matter of saying “Thanks” to bus drivers. I guess you can’t verbally thank the SkyTrain since it’s driverless (you could, but it really wouldn’t do anyone or anything any good), and it’s harder to thank the operators of the SeaBus and West Coast Express in person.

I’d like to say thanks to all of you for taking the poll and helping me and others learn how well spread (or not) this custom really is and why people feel compelled (or not) to thank bus drivers.

New ways to find your way: An interview about TransLink’s new transportation wayfinding strategy

New ID sign at the Bridgeport Bus Exchange

New ID sign at the Bridgeport Bus Exchange

TransLink’s Joanne Proft, Project Manager in Infrastructure Planning, said something interesting when I spoke with her and Jeff Deby, a Project Planner in Infrastructure Planning, about some new wayfinding initiatives rolling out this week: “How many times have you been to an unfamiliar city and don’t want to use the bus system because the level of information is complicated?” I had to pause and think about it. When I was in Portland last year, I didn’t think twice about using the streetcar since it seemed easy and hard to make a mistake when planning my trip. I did take a few buses, but I found it more difficult in navigating compared to the streetcar and asked others waiting at bus stops about routes and times since there were no schedules or maps available for me to reference.

Whether you’re new to Metro Vancouver or have lived here for years, wanting to improve people’s experience using transit is the impetus behind a widespread change in bus stop wayfinding across the entire system that starts this week. This latest strategy to make transit easier and more efficient for users started just before the 2010 Winter Olympics. The transit “T” (telling people from a distance and close up that this is a transit facility) was installed at most SkyTrain and Canada Line stations downtown as well as the Marine Drive, Bridgeport and Richmond‐ Brighouse bus exchanges. The bus stops at these later Canada Line stations were also outfitted with a prototype of a information panel replacing the information tubes we’ve had for years.

New this week

This week the first initiative of the strategy starts with new ID signs to accompany the prototype of new information panels at the Marine Drive, Bridgeport and Richmond‐ Brighouse bus exchanges. Basically, the new ID signs build upon what we already have by adding the “T”, listing the different service types available and providing the name of the stop and bay number if applicable.

Prototype of Our New Information Panels

Prototype of our new information panels

The idea of adding the ‘T’ (which will identify all transit facilities in the future) is to make stops more visible and unify the identity of transit across the system. Having different modes of transit like regular, limited, NightBus or B‐Line, informs users of the service provided. Providing the name of the stop (e.g. Marine Drive Station or Laurentian Crescent—Sheridan Ave) along with the stop and bay number when applicable helps to identify the stop itself.

The information panels will convey much more information than the info tubes currently do. Depending on the stop, TransLink is working on panels of one to three sides. So far, panels can contain all or some of these elements:  A list of key stops, zones, local area walking maps as well as schedule times in larger type than currently found.

These first bus IDs and info panels are just the beginning of bus stop wayfinding improvements that will be rolling out over time. The intention is that once old IDs and tubes are due to be replaced, these new IDs and panels will take their place.

Now, I know some readers (if you’ve indeed read this far) may find this level of detail fantastic, while other may find it overloading. If you’re asking yourself what this is all about, why we need it and what wayfinding is exactly, then you’re not alone. I put those and other questions to Joanne and Jeff. Here’s an excerpt of our conversation. Read more »

Our new mobile website is live! main page main page

After a lot of planning, work and some testing (thanks again, Buzzer readers), the newly upgraded mobile website is finally here!

The new Next Bus

If you logged onto recently, you would notice that the page looks different. Not only has the page been redesigned, there are two new services provided: Next Bus and Favorites. Oh, and there is also a twitter feed at the bottom of the main page. When you click onto the new Next Bus feature, you’re taken to the “Where’s My Bus?” page. From here, you can either enter the bus stop number (if you know it), or you click on the “Find My Stop” button on the right. If you enter a stop number, your next choice is to have your search displayed as a map or as text (having it displayed as text is great if your cell phone isn’t a smart phone).

Finding you stop step 1

Finding you stop step 1

If you don’t know your stop number, then the “Find My Stop” button takes you to a page that allows you the intersection or popular location for your location. This page accesses the same functionality that is used when using Trip Planner. Once you’ve chosen your desired stop, you can chose either a map or text display of your search.

The Real-Time map

Oh, the map. I love looking at it. Anyway, once you’re at the map view, you’ll see a red pin showing the bus stop you searched for and the buses (illustrated by a blue and white icon) that service that particular stop. The route number is displayed in the bus icon’s window. The arrows indicate the direction of the route that bus is on. Above the red pin is a bubble showing the details for the stop number that the user searched for including the stop location and number, the bus route numbers and their schedules for that stop.

Map view of Next Bus

Map view of Next Bus

“Real Time” means you’ll see the actual location of the bus. For this release of the beta, you’ll be able to cross-reference the scheduled time of the bus with bus’ actual location. Each bus is equiped with a GPS that updates its location every two minutes. Because each bus is running on its own clock, not all buses will update at the same time. In order to update the location of the bus on the map you’ll need to manually “Refresh” the map by using the “Refresh” button at the top of the screen or your browser’s “Refresh” button.


Click on the "Add to favorites" button to save your route

Click on the "Add To Favorites" button to save your route

This first release of the mobile site saves your favorite route by using the Trip Planning function. Once you’ve chosen the trip option you prefer, you can click on the “Add To Favourites” button. Currently, you’ll be able to store up to four favourite routes.

What your favorites screen may look like after you have used the Trip Planner function a few times

What your Favorites screen may look like after you have used the Trip Planner function a few times

You’ll also notice that the favourites function also stores the last four searches you’ve performed using Trip Planner (both to and from your desired destination).

Trip Planner, Schedules, Fairs, Rider Info, Buzzer Blog, Alerts and Contact Us

All these functions on the mobile site are the same as on the TransLink website or similar to what we had on the old mobile “App” site (with the exception of the “Save To Favorites” button in Trip Planner). You’ll notice that much of the text has been chopped down to the essential information in order to fit on most mobile devices. As mentioned previously, the release of the new mobile site is in beta version.

The mobile team is still working out some bugs and plans on rolling out updates and new features in the months to come including being able to search by route and multiple bus routes according to your location as well as adding real time arrival times to the schedules. The plan is to start with basic functionality and build upon that foundation. Please also remember that this first release of the mobile site works best with iPhones (3G, 3GS, 4). The mobile team is working on making the site work better with other smart phones and operating systems  . As usual, I’ll be forwarding comments to the mobile team, so go out on the system and try it out!

The September 2011 Buzzer and Ed Spence: Buzzer illustrator interview

The cover of the September, 2011 Buzzer and the artist, Ed Spence

The latest issue of the Buzzer is now on buses, SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express! Well, many of them are. The issue got picked up by drivers and attendants on Friday and gets distributed throughout the week starting today. If you are anxious to get your hands on a copy and can’t find it yet, you can always download a pdf. This month, the Buzzer is primarily devoted to September service changes. Due to the City of Vancouver deciding if the 800 block of Robson Street would remain open or not at the time the issue when to the printer, I wasn’t able to include the return to regular service info for both the 5 and N6. So, please note:

5 Robson/Downtown
N6 Downtown


Effective Tuesday, September 6: the 5 will return to its regular routing in the downtown core, from Robson onto Granville northbound to Hastings and then Richards southbound back to Robson. The Burrard/Pender detour will be discontinued.
The N6 Downtown will also return to its regular routing (eastbound Robson, then northbound Seymour).

Also in this issue is info about student transit passes, Moving Forward workshop dates, TransLink and the partnership between the United Way of the Lower Mainland, a recap of Bus Stop Hop 2011 and the usual Contest Corner, Back Issues and Community Events sections.

Ed Spence is the artist this time around. I found myself staring at the drawing with a big smile on my face for some time. I stumbled upon Ed’s work recently and fell in love with his varied styles. He kindly answered a few of my questions about himself and his work.

Tell us about yourself and your art.

I’m essentially a small-town kid who was drawn to the city by its bright lights. I won’t say where because it’s a secret gem that ideally will never change. I’d like to return when I’m 60 and see the same candy bar wrapper stuck in the storm drain. As for my fine art, it takes many forms. It is sound, performance, video, photography, painting, installation… basically anything I want it to be. Whatever feels right for the project.

Ed's Buzzer front cover artwork

Look at that kid skate without a care!

Why did you choose a guy on a skateboard as your illustration?

I chose to do a skater because I wanted to illustrate a supplemental mode of transit. A skateboard is something you can easily pack around the city, carry onto the Skytrain and use as a way of getting between your destination and the transit station. I am a skater and have been since I was 13 years old, so I have a special affinity for the lifestyle. There is a sense of freedom I get when seeing someone tearing down the street on a small piece of wood with wheels, and I wanted to communicate that in this illustration.

Your illustration is kinda fun and cartoony? Is your other work like this?

My illustrative work varies quite a bit. Sometimes it is quite serious and has a different aesthetic altogether. The content depends more on the clients’ expectations than anything else. It’s mostly about pleasing them. My fine art practice, which is a completely different beast, allows me to be more selfish—to really delve into some abstract concepts that might not have any practical application beyond evoking thought or triggering conversation.

Are you a transit user?

Yes, I like that it gets me out of my car. I really don’t like driving in the city. Driving truly ruins my day half the time. Good people turn into monsters when they get behind the wheel and I see that in myself. I find my day more enjoyable when I don’t have be on the lookout for over-caffeinated maniacs swerving into my lane.

Labour Day holiday service, Mon Sept 5, 2011

Wooohooo, It’s Labour Day on Monday, September 5, 2011. That not only means it’s a holiday for many of us, it also means that buses, SeaBus, and SkyTrain will be operating on a Sunday/Holiday schedule. West Coast Express operates no trains 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.

As well, on Sundays and statutory holidays, you can use your FareCard to take five other riders with you for free. That means you can take one more adult and up to four children with you. 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:( )