Translink Buzzer Blog

Central Valley Greenway opens on Saturday, June 27

The Central Valley Greenway along Great Northern Way in Vancouver.

The Central Valley Greenway along Great Northern Way in Vancouver.

Mark your calendars, people — the Central Valley Greenway opens this Saturday, June 27!

The Winston Overpass near Sperling SkyTrain Station.

The Winston Overpass near Sperling SkyTrain Station.

Come out from noon to 3 p.m. for a family-friendly celebration at the Winston Overpass, near Sperling-Burnaby Lake SkyTrain station.

Festivities will feature ribbon cutting, a children’s booth, free BBQ, a unicyclist, dance performances and lots of interactive booths!

Cycle, walk, or take transit to the event: hop the Millennium Line to Sperling Station, and walk over the Winston Overpass to the celebration.

And come early and do a Greenway bike tour with the VACC, or a walking tour with Vancouver Parks and Recreation. (Bike tours are at 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., and walking tours are at 10:30 a.m. — check the TransLink website for where to meet.)

If you haven’t heard already, the Greenway is a new 24-kilometre cycling and walking path through Vancouver, Burnaby, and New Westminster. Check out the Buzzer’s virtual tour of the greenway for more!

Also, check out our new PDF map of the entire route. Grab the map here (5.4 MB)! (Quick disclaimer: this isn’t the exact final version yet, but the map part should be accurate. An optimized printable version will get onto the TransLink website too.)

As well, I just want to mention that we’ve been hearing a lot from you about signage on the path, and we are working with the Cities to get the signage up consistently along the route. We’ll make sure your comments are forwarded to them so they can check them against their design. And we are anticipating that the signs should go up pretty quickly, and definitely in time for next Saturday!

Hello #595, welcome back C26: June bus service changes start today

The new #595 route connects Langley Centre to Haney Place over the Golden Ears Bridge.

The new #595 route connects Langley Centre to Haney Place over the Golden Ears Bridge.

The June seasonal bus service changes start today—which includes the launch of the new #595 route, connecting communities over the Golden Ears Bridge!

The #595 Langley Centre/Haney Place is a limited-stop run serving the Walnut Grove Park & Ride, Haney Place, and Langley Centre. It also stops at Maple Meadows Station when West Coast Express is running.

It’s a single-zone trip entirely within zone 3, and the bridge toll fee is covered in your fare. Generally, from Monday to Friday, the #595 travels every half hour from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on weekends and hoildays, it runs from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Here’s the route map and timetable.)

Edit: Just saw that the Ridge Meadows Post took the 595 this morning and wrote about it!

June also heralds the return of the C26 Buntzen Lake Special/Coquitlam Station Special, providing summer weekend/holiday service between Buntzen Lake and Coquitlam Station. You can take the C26 to the lake on weekends until September 7.

All the June seasonal service changes can be found in the June Buzzer—-but since there weren’t very many of them, I’ll just repeat the info below.
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One week left for the BePartofthePlan discussions

Just wanted to send out another reminder to join in our BePartofthePlan discussions and give us your thoughts on the region’s transportation future.

The consultation period closes on June 30, so you have one more week to send in your feedback as of today.

There’s a few key ways to talk to us:

  • First, play It’s Your Move online, which is our consultation exercise/game. Pick transport priorities for the region, choose your preferred existing funding options, and rank the future funding options we should pursue.
  • You can also visit our consultation discussion boards. Answer the “sticky” questions I’ve posted in each forum, and feel free to post your own discussion topics too.
  • Or come to one of our in-person consultation forums this week. Our CEO Tom Prendergast will be at all three of the events, so you can talk to him about your questions and concerns. Plus you’ll get to play the “It’s Your Move” game in small groups. Here are the dates and locations of the forums:
      Monday, June 22, 2009
      6:30PM – 9:00PM
      Evergreen Cultural Centre
      1205 Pinetree Way
      Coquitlam, BC

      Tuesday, June 23, 2009
      6:30PM – 9:00PM
      ACT Centre
      11944 Haney Place
      Maple Ridge, BC

      Wednesday, June 24, 2009
      6:30PM – 9:00PM
      Richmond Cultural Centre
      180-7700 Minoru Gate
      Richmond, BC

Again, check out our BePartofthePlan consultation website for more on the in-person events, including maps and tentative schedules for each meeting.

(If you can’t make it, you might follow Ken Hardie’s Twitter — he’s going to the events and tweeting about what’s going on there.)

After the consultation period is over, your thoughts are collected and reflected in our plans, which are then presented for approval to our Board by August 1, as well as the Regional Transportation Commissioner and the Mayors’ Council.

And finally, if you’re curious, here are the Buzzer blog’s past posts discussing the 10-Year Plan.

Jot Kailay wins the One in a Billion contest!

Jot Kailay with TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast and Province publisher Kevin Bent. (Look at the size of that FareCard!)

Jot Kailay with TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast and Province publisher Kevin Bent. (Look at the size of that FareCard!)

The 10 contest finalists together---Carla Shore, Julie Hanson, Alexandra Wood, Jot Kailay, Colleen Gorrie, Frances Galea, Elvira Zampieri, Sandy Keith and Yvonne Pendree. At the back we have Province deputy editor Fabian Dawson; SkyTrain president Doug Kelsey, TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast and Province president and publisher Kevin Bent.

The 10 contest finalists together---Carla Shore, Julie Hanson, Alexandra Wood, Jot Kailay, Colleen Gorrie, Frances Galea, Elvira Zampieri, Sandy Keith and Yvonne Pendree. At the back we have Province deputy editor Fabian Dawson; SkyTrain president Doug Kelsey, TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast and Province president and publisher Kevin Bent.

Last Friday, we drew a winner from 10 finalists in our One in a Billion contest: Mr. Jot Kailay!

The contest, organized together with the Province newspaper, celebrated SkyTrain’s milestone of one billion passenger trips this year.

Jot’s 100-word contest entry talked about a whole train joining in with a little girl’s rendition of “If You’re Happy And You Know It”: all of the 10 finalist entries can be found on the Province’s site.

And as the grand winner, Jot took home was $1000 and a year of transit passes. Our nine runners-up won a free monthly pass for up to three zones of travel. Thank you to everyone for entering and congratulations to the winners again!

Friday fun poll: how many cities have you tried transit in?

If you like, you can skip to the end of this post to answer the poll about riding transit in other cities.

Results from last poll: collecting tickets

Last week I asked whether you collected your tickets and passes.

And out of 122 votes, the majority said they collect passes solely for the income tax deduction (56%). 39% say they just collect passes in general, and just 15% didn’t collect their tickets at all.

Well, I guess a tax cut is a great incentive to hold on to your pass! Although here’s why David Arthur saves his tickets:

I find they make nice bookmarks – at the moment, I’m using several Vancouver passes, a Toronto transfer, and a pair of Swedish railway tickets for this purpose.

And Dora said ticket collection sometimes just sort of happens.

These days I collect my passes for the tax deduction, but for a while when I was in high school/university I’d just randomly keep my transfers or passes. Sometimes I’d use a transfer as a bookmark for a while, but usually I’d just take my transfer (the old newsprint tear-off ones), folded into a little packet so I could stick it in the corner of my pocket, and put it in a box…by the time I moved out from my parents’ house and finally got rid of them, I had the equivalent of a shoebox full of folded-up transfers from high school and summers, and two years of monthly passes from university before the UPass program started at UBC.

But Nimo from Argentina gave us a reminder that smartcard technology will definitely replace our current tickets and passes — perhaps a reason to hang on to a few, if you’re nostalgic. Nimo wrote that his system only has plastic RFID tickets now: here’s a picture of the ticket and machine on a bus.

Have a look at all the comments at the original post.


This week’s poll: have you been on transit in other cities?

Since I was just in Chicago riding trains all over the region, I thought I’d put the question to you guys: how many cities have you tried transit in?


Feel free to share which cities you have been to in the comments!

Buzzer in Chicago no more: plus a transit soap opera

DEEP DISH PIZZA. Thank you, Chicago.

DEEP DISH PIZZA. Thank you, Chicago.

The APTA conference was over yesterday, so I’m headed home now. By this time on Monday, I’ll be writing from TransLink HQ in Burnaby again. Goodbye Chicago — it’s been a blast!

Also, while this has nothing to do with Chicago, David Lam sent me a video that just needs to be shared for some Friday fun.

SBS Transit, one of Singapore’s transit operators, partnered with a TV company to produce a wacky soap about bus drivers in 2003 or so.

Here it is: “She Drives Me Crazy”!

Have a great weekend, everybody!

10-Year Plan workshops in Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Richmond, June 22-24

There are three 10-Year Plan workshops coming up next week — come by if you can!

Monday, June 22, 2009
6:30PM – 9:00PM
Evergreen Cultural Centre
1205 Pinetree Way
Coquitlam, BC

Tuesday, June 23, 2009
6:30PM – 9:00PM
ACT Centre
11944 Haney Place
Maple Ridge, BC

Wednesday, June 24, 2009
6:30PM – 9:00PM
Richmond Cultural Centre
180-7700 Minoru Gate
Richmond, BC

At the workshops, you’ll play the It’s Your Move board game with others and select your transportation priorities and funding options for our future. (You can play the game online too.) And you’ll be able to discuss our draft 10-Year Plan, plus ask our executives and public consultation staff about our budgets and other issues.

Check out our BePartofthePlan consultation website for more information on these events, including maps and tentative schedules for each meeting.

Also, for more info, here’s the Buzzer blog’s past posts discussing the 10-Year Plan.

And you also might want to follow Ken Hardie’s Twitter too — he’s going to the events and tweeting about what’s going on there!

Buzzer in Chicago: Six hours, 10 trains, 11 trips—looping the loop in Chicago!

The map of our 6h train tour around Chicago. Click to see it in detail.

The map of our 6h train tour around Chicago. Click to see it in detail.

What do transportation professionals do for fun? A six-hour train trip on all the region’s rail services, around Chicago and back to our hotel again!

Tours like this have been held at the last two APTA rail conferences – they’re the brainchild of Tom Hickey, from the Houston transit authority. (You might see him in my photos: he’s wearing a hat.)

And for the past 10 years, Tom’s held these tours at APTA operations planning workshops, too. Those versions can be more intense – one tour around Oregon took two and a half days! (People drop in and out of the tour as it goes on: Tom describes the tours as a “transit death march.”)

But this tour was for lightweights — it was called Looping the Loop, and employees from all the services joined us for the trip (or parts of it). We heard system history and stories, and enjoyed a great tour of the Chicago area.

Here’s an illustrated rundown of the tour – I’ll keep it as concise as possible!

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Golden Ears Bridge + Google Maps

The Golden Ears Bridge!

The Golden Ears Bridge!

A few people have asked why the Golden Ears Bridge isn’t on Google Maps yet, so I thought I’d share what our web staff have said:

For Google, it is up to TeleAtlas as they provide the basemap. A request has been made but they will not say when it will be updated. It is the same for the other major supplier of basemaps, Navteq. Users are encouraged to visit teleatlas.com and navteq.com to report changes to encourage them update the basemap sooner rather than later.

So, just let TeleAtlas and Navteq know that you’d like to see the Golden Ears Bridge on there!

Buzzer in Chicago: Train simulators!

We got to try out Metra’s train simulators on a technical tour yesterday! (I’m in Chicago for the APTA rail conference this week, if you didn’t know.)

Metra is Chicago’s commuter rail service, similar to WestCoast Express. They have five simulators that replicate each of their different train types, to teach new engineers how to drive.

And man, these things are awesomely real. Check out the video and watch how the views in the front and side windows all move seamlessly together. There’s even a rearview mirror, replicating exactly what you’d see behind you! (Tom, an instructor from Metra is the one talking.)

If you’re curious, SkyTrain has simulators for both MK I and MK II cars – I haven’t been down to try them yet, so I don’t know how similar they are to the Metra ones.

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Buzzer in Chicago: TransLink presents at the conference, plus updates on other light rail lines

Cloud Gate in Millennium Park (also known as the bean).

Cloud Gate in Millennium Park (also known as the bean).

Just thought I’d kick this post off with a picture of something that isn’t a train or in a hotel this time!

Chicago’s Millennium Park is very near the hotel, and the Cloud Gate sculpture is enormously popular. As you can tell, people were all over it.

To recap, for those who don’t know: I’m at the APTA rail conference in Chicago this week, and I’m promoting the 2010 rail conference in Vancouver to our colleagues.

Yesterday the conference officially opened, and here’s what the TransLink and SkyTrain staff were up to at the sessions. (Nope, they’re not at Cloud Gate above!)

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Photos of the Golden Ears Bridge celebration this weekend

The crowded bridge deck at the Golden Ears Bridge opening celebration! Photo by CJ Stebbing.

The crowded bridge deck at the Golden Ears Bridge opening celebration! Photo by CJ Stebbing.

In honour of the Golden Ears Bridge opening this morning, I thought I’d share some photos of the celebration this past weekend.

And if you have photos you’d like to share of the Golden Ears — from the celebration, this morning’s commute, or otherwise — feel free to email me or leave a comment in this post.

10-Year Plan workshops in White Rock tonight, Burnaby tomorrow, North Van Thursday

Yikes—in all the Chicago/Golden Ears excitement I have been remiss in reminding you guys about the 10-Year Plan workshops in your area! So here’s the next three workshops:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009
6:30PM – 9:00PM
White Rock Community Centre
15154 Russell Ave.
White Rock, BC

Wednesday, June 17, 2009
6:30PM – 9:00PM
Fire Fighters Centre
6515 Bonsor St.
Burnaby, BC

Thursday, June 18, 2009
6:30PM – 9:00PM
Lonsdale Quay Hotel
123 Carrie Cates Court
North Vancouver, BC

At the workshops, you’ll play the It’s Your Move board game with others and select your transportation priorities and funding options for our future. (You can play the game online too.) And you’ll be able to discuss our draft 10-Year Plan, plus ask our executives and public consultation staff about our budgets and other issues.

Check out our BePartofthePlan consultation website for more information on these events, including maps and tentative schedules for each meeting.

Also, for more info, here’s the Buzzer blog’s past posts discussing the 10-Year Plan.

You also might want to follow Ken Hardie’s Twitter too — he’s going to the events and tweeting about what’s going on there!

Golden Ears Bridge traffic tips for the opening week

The Golden Ears Bridge opens Tuesday, June 16!

The Golden Ears Bridge opens Tuesday, June 16!

We’ve just sent out this press release and I wanted to make sure you all saw it!

TransLink’s new Golden Ears Bridge is expected to open sometime in the early hours of tomorrow morning when the barriers come down on all of the entrances and exits. By the morning rush hour period, the bridge will be handling regular commuter traffic between Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows and Langley/Surrey for the first time.

Motorists are advised to expect traffic delays for the first few days as commuters get accustomed to the new entrances and exits and as sightseers take advantage of the 30 day toll-free period to make their first trips over the Golden Ears. TransLink has arranged for additional police traffic management to assist motorists as they sort out their new travel patterns. Traffic engineers will be monitoring the bridge and the road system to see if any adjustments to signals or wayfinding are needed.

Based on the overwhelming public interest on Sunday at the bridge completion celebration, TransLink is asking motorists who don’t necessarily have to travel in peak commuting times to shift their trial runs if possible. All drivers headed to the bridge are advised to listen to radio traffic reports for updated information.

Motorists wanting to be among the first across the bridge are advised that it is not expected to open right at midnight tonight.

In the weeks to come, those who expect to use the Golden Ears on a regular basis should either register their vehicles or order a transponder to qualify for a lower toll charge. TransLink recommends ordering transponders on-line or by phone rather than going to the QuickPass offices. With the next 30 days toll-free, there will be lots of the transponders to arrive in the mail. Links and phone numbers are available at www.translink.ca.

Operations staff at the Golden Ears Bridge would also like to advise motorists that there is still some completion work underway that could result in some short term lane closures over the coming weeks.

Buzzer in Chicago: tidbits about the conference and Chicago transit

The APTA rail conference registration sign in the Chicago Hilton. I’m currently in the registration room, promoting Vancouver’s 2010 conference to other transit agencies and industry folks!

The APTA rail conference registration sign in the Chicago Hilton. I’m currently in the registration room, promoting Vancouver’s 2010 conference to other transit agencies and industry folks!

Hi everyone! I see you all had a busy weekend what with the Golden Ears celebration and all. As for yours truly, I’m writing from the APTA rail conference in Chicago this week!

Me at the booth!

Me at the booth!

TransLink is hosting next year’s rail conference, so I’m sitting at a table promoting it to our colleagues in the registration room.

This is the first time I’ve been to an APTA conference, and the response from transit professionals about TransLink and our city is pretty amazing. (Also amazing: the number of different American accents here. Wow!)

Things I’ve heard from other delegates so far, spanning from Toronto to Texas to Taipei (and this is all true, I swear):

  • “You guys got a really good guy in Mike Shiffer.” (Mike’s our new Vice-President of Planning, and originally from Chicago.)
  • “TransLink? That’s Tom Prendergast, right? He’s a great guy.” (Tom’s our CEO!)
  • “We love your trolley system!”
  • “TransLink? That’s great—we’re really looking to your system as we develop our transit system.”
  • “Vancouver! That’s my favourite city!”

(By the way, we brought the transit buttons from I Love Transit Week, and people are super into them! Although some do ask “What’s MKI and MK II”?)

Panoramic of the registration room from my table. The Chicago Transit Authority is across from me, giving delegates info about the city and system, and at right is the APTA registration booth.

Panoramic of the registration room from my table. The Chicago Transit Authority is across from me, giving delegates info about the city and system, and at right is the APTA registration booth.

There are so many people are here from an astonishing array of places. Virtually every transit system in Canada and America is represented, plus people from France’s national railway, South Korea, Tokyo, and more.

The conference really lets everyone come together to share knowledge, and connect with others about all different aspects of running a rail system—technical, customer service, leadership, and much more. Here’s the full session list if you’re curious. (PS: there are also APTA conferences for buses and other specialties too.)

There are also going to be some great behind-the-scenes tours put on by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and others. I’m going on three tours and these will make up the bulk of my posts from Chicago – I’m pretty excited about them!

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