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Translink Buzzer Blog

The August Buzzer is now out!

The August 2009 Buzzer is now on all buses, SeaBus, SkyTrain, and West Coast Express!

In this issue, we’ve got info about the Canada Line service launching Monday August 17, plus a list of the Canada Line bus service changes taking place on Monday, Sept 7.

There’s a GoCard reminder and info about Metro Vancouver’s new recycling locator. And Back Issues section talks about fares from 1940.

Again, we are proud to have a cover from Canadian illustrator Kate McLaren. It’s a beautiful illustration — thanks so much Kate!

As always, 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, which stretch back to the heady days of June 2006. (Here’s the direct link to the August issue PDF.)

Remember to enter the FareCard contest too! 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 Monday, August 31 at 9 a.m. to win!

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

Finnish cops grab a CMBC bus driver assault suspect!

Boy, it’s sure great to have the world’s police and firemen here for the World Police and Fire Games. A group of Finnish policemen helped apprehend a suspect in the assault of one of our bus operators!

Here’s the full story from Metro. Great work, guys!

A roundup of Canada Line coverage, while we wait

A Canada Line train!

A Canada Line train!

While we all wait for August 17 to finally arrive, I thought I’d gather up the Canada Line info lying around into one mega post, so everyone can snoop around before they board the trains.

The new SeaBus is in the water!

The Burrard Pacific Breeze, in the water at the Victoria Shipyards!

The Burrard Pacific Breeze, in the water at the Victoria Shipyards!

It’s still being worked on and tested, but our new SeaBus is finally in the water at Victoria Shipyards!

A colleague in our fleet management department sent me this photo last week. Apparently the Burrard Pacific Breeze has a few weeks worth of work before it’ll be complete and able to operate under its own power. I’m told the christening ceremony is usually held immediately prior to the launch of the vessel; but in our case, it was a few days beforehand.

So, right now the ship is still missing seats, ceiling panels, wheelhouse controls, and tons of wiring. They’ve got electricians working 24 hours a day to get the boat wired up and ready to go. And late next month they’ll start doing functional tests!

As well, if you’re interested, my colleague Drew Snider has some more video of the SeaBus christening over at his blog, Vancouver on the Lines. All the christening videos can be found at the TransLink media relations YouTube account.

BePartofthePlan update: the final consultation report, and the 10-year transportation plan

Canada Line is on its way, yay! But I just want to keep you aware of a couple of key things that are still coming down the pipe here.

Remember our BePartofthePlan process — it involved the month-long consultation in June, where we asked for your feedback on transportation plans for the next 10 years?

Well, we’ve finally collected the results of the consultation, and we’re moving forward with the 10-Year Plan process. Here’s a few new things that you might want to be aware of.

Final public consultation report is now online

Our final consultation report is now online!

It outlines how our entire consultation process worked, and summarizes the findings from our in-person meetings and our online game and forum. (At a glance: about 500 people came to our in-person events, and we had over 45,000 visits to the bepartoftheplan website. 3,000 played the “It’s Your Move” game online, and 227 people made more than 1,000 posts in 144 topics)

The main page for the consultation report can be found here. The report is 20+ pages, and also has nine appendixes of reports and other content for you to read.

First steps: the Board approves our 10-Year Plans

Last week, the Board approved the 2010 10-year base plan and two supplemental plans as submitted by TransLink.

Our governing law now requires a review of these plans by the Transportation Commissioner, and then approval by the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation by the end of October.

If no supplemental plan is approved by the Mayors’ Council by October 31st, 2009, the base plan will be implemented immediately.

Okay, now let’s back up a bit so I can explain what this means!

Every year, TransLink is required to come up with a 10-Year Transportation and Financial Plan by law. We must come up with a base plan as our default, and it has to be fully funded by our current resources.

If we’d like to go beyond the base plan, to stave off cuts or even expand, we are allowed by law to come up with supplemental plans. And again, we have to explain exactly where we’ll get our funding from.

So you can actually check out our 2010 10-Year Plan page to read the exact details of these plans. This is what we consulted about during June, and these are the plans your feedback contributed to. (Check out this PDF to see a quick overview of all 3 plans.)

The base plan forecasts drastic cuts: since we don’t actually have a lot of money on hand, we can’t pay for very much service. Here’s a summary, and the base plan in specific.

Of the two supplemental plans, one is aimed at keep us at the current level of service: that’s the one called “Funding Stabilization,” and it increases our current revenue streams roughly $130 million or so, to just cover the funding gap. Here’s the details of that plan.

The other plan, called “On Track,” aims to build toward our region’s Transport 2040 goals. It plans for funding up to $275 million to do modest expansion, through boosting current revenue streams and adding a transportation improvement fee. It also has room to expand up to $450 million, but this would require future funding sources outside our current revenue streams, and those new sources would need approval from the Province. Here is the summary of this plan, and the full details.

If it helps, Jeff Nagel has a pretty good summary over at the Tri-City News. Kelly Sinoski at the Vancouver Sun also has some useful coverage.

Hope this all helps you understand the planning process a bit better!

It’s official: the Canada Line opens Monday, August 17

Say hello to the Canada Line on August 17!

Say hello to the Canada Line on August 17!

As you may have heard already, the Canada Line has an opening date: Monday, August 17!

We’re already planning a huge celebration for the day, where you’ll be able ride the Canada Line for free from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

I’ll have more details to you as things fall into place — but in the meantime, how about a quick poll?


P.S. Check the Canada Line section of the TransLink site for info like travel times, bikes, and more!

Friday fun trivia: name this ticket’s year, part II!

If you like, skip to the end of this post to see another classic transit ticket and tell us what year it’s from!

Results from last week: what years were these tickets from?

Classic bus tickets! Click for a MUCH larger version.

Classic bus tickets! Click for a MUCH larger version.

Last week I asked you to tell me what years these tickets pictured were from.

Eric chimed in immediately with the exact dates, which everybody else to generally agreed with:

The yellow (one zone) and red (two zone) transfers are from 1994, and the green (three zone) transfer is from 1996. The addresses and phone numbers are a hint as well – at some point between 1994 and 1996, BC Transit’s head office moved from Vancouver to Surrey.

(Btw, I loved that Holly and John remembered these as the first tickets they ever used—memories!)

And of course, you guys are correct — according to Doug, CMBC’s farebox revenue manager, those are definitely from the 1990s, and we used those paper tickets until 2001 when the electronic tickets showed up.

Doug also mentioned that the green ticket is actually a West Vancouver Blue Bus transfer, since the phone numbers on the back are slightly different.

As you can tell, we had to order a LOT of these tickets in the past, since these transfers are all customized for a single date, and operators needed a stack of a 1, 2, and 3 zone transfers on hand. Doug in fact said we used to get 250 million per year!

Now with the electronic tickets, however, we use just 20 million per year. The new tickets are more expensive individually, but cheaper overall because we use way less of them.


This week: more trivia! What year is this ticket from?

OK, another ticket item, since I have one around! Can you tell me in the comments what year it’s from? (Something like “late 60s” or “early 70s” is fine, although again, exact year is cool too.)

An old ticket!

An old ticket!

Click it for a MUCh larger version, and here is the back view of the ticket too. And Derek Cheung may have tipped you off last week about this one, but hey, whatever :) Again, next week I’ll have the answer and any background stories I can gather from people in the company!

The Albion Ferry sails for the last time

The Albion Ferry's service years, written on the Maple Ridge dock.

The Albion Ferry's service years, written on the Maple Ridge dock.

It’s the end of an era: the Albion Ferry sailed for the last time today, bringing more than 50 years of service to a close.

The ferry has been connecting Langley to Maple Ridge since June 7, 1957, and its two vessels, the MV Klatawa and MV Kulleet took their last public trips at noon. I hopped on the Kulleet at the Maple Ridge side for its last round trip!

The walk-on passengers and drivers honked horns and cheered for the public leg of the trip to Langley, led by the amazing, super-nice Albion Ferry staff. And hat’s the Albion Ferry staff cheering above as the Kulleet made its last trip back over to Maple Ridge, solely with Albion Ferry, CMBC, and TransLink staff.

(A transition program has been in place for two years to help them find new positions — many are going to SeaBus, some chose to retire, and some chose to try other opportunities.)

We’re so glad to see the service was so cherished—thank you to everyone at Albion Ferry for all your work, and thanks to everyone who rode the ferry over the years.

For more, check out my set of photos over at Flickr, plus several videos at the Buzzer’s YouTube account (here’s a full playlist of just the Albion videos).

Edit: Chris Cassidy has a Flickr set of photos too. I see you got to wear a captain’s hat on the last sailing — nice work Chris!

Edit 2: CJ Stebbing also has a photo gallery at Facebook. I even got into one of the pictures there! And CJ really is super tall.

Weekend transit service: extra SkyTrain service, Critical Mass, and B.C. Day info

A couple of things to be aware of for the weekend!

Edit: Make sure you check the Alerts page for many more events besides the ones mentioned below, including the Vancouver Pride Parade and Dyke March!

SkyTrain ramps up service for the World Police and Fire Games

The enormous World Police and Fire Games is in town, and owing to the opening ceremonies tonight, SkyTrain will run at “rush hour” service levels all evening, with last trains leaving Waterfront Station for King George at 1:15am, VCC-Clark at 12:31am and Lougheed at 1:11am.

The Games will also prompt earlier Sunday service: the first train from King George station in Surrey starts at 6:08 am on Sunday, August 2. But Skytrain will close the system at its regular/Holiday time, with the last Expo Line train eastbound from Waterfront to King George leaving at 12:15 am. The last Millennium Line train leaves Waterfront station at 12:16am.

Critical Mass may cause bus service delays on Friday, July 31

Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) is expecting major traffic congestion and the possibility of lengthy bus delays due to the Critical Mass bike event on Friday, July 31.

Since it’s not a licensed event, a designated ride route and schedule has not been provided to CMBC.
With a designated parade route, decisions can be made in advance specific to the routing of bus service during the period of concern. Without this knowledge CMBC has not been able to set up reroutes and unfortunately doesn’t know when the event will start or end.

CMBC Transit Supervisors will be at the scene following the procession and transit service will be adjusted and or held as required. We do expect if there are road closures, bus service could be compromised.

If you have time sensitive appointments to make, please give yourselves extra time to where you need to go tonight!

B.C. Day holiday service

All transit services will run on a Sunday/Holiday schedule for B.C. Day on Monday, August 3.

Remember, on a holiday, you only need a single zone fare to travel in all zones all day!

As well, on a Sunday or holiday, those with an adult FareCard, West Coast Express 28-Day Pass, or
Annual Employer Transit Pass can take either five children or one adult and four children on transit with them for free. Enjoy the long weekend, everyone!

Good luck to the Transit Police in the World Police and Fire Games!

The 2009 World Police and Fire Games open today, and I just want to send a shout-out to our Transit Police competitors!

Several members of our police force are competing in events such as pistol, karate, archery, hockey, cycling, biathlon, soccer, rifle, 5K race, and the Grouse Grind. About 10,000 athletes representing 55 countries are competing in the Games—it’s a huge international event!

If you’re interested, the opening parade of athletes kicks off tonight, Friday July 31, at Creekside Park by Telus World of Science at 5 p.m. It’s easily accessed by transit: it’s located right between Main Street Station and Stadium Station!

Check out the official website for more info on the opening, as well as for details on the Games events. The Games close on Sunday August 9.

Last sail of the Albion Ferry tomorrow at noon

The setting sun seen from the Kulleet. Photo by <a href=http://fraserferries.fotopic.net/p58874818.html>Duane Cooke</a>.

The setting sun seen from the Kulleet. Photo by Duane Cooke.

The Albion Ferry service is set to close tomorrow, so once again, here’s a reminder to ride it one last time if you haven’t yet.

Tomorrow, Friday, July 31, the final public sailing will be from 12 noon at each side. A special invitation-only final sailing is then set for 12:15 p.m. — the Kulleet will leave Fort Langley one last time for the shores of Maple Ridge.

The christening of the new SeaBus

The Burrard Pacific Breeze, getting ready for its christening!

The Burrard Pacific Breeze, getting ready for its christening!

Last Friday, the new SeaBus—the Burrard Pacific Breeze—had its official christening at the Victoria Shipyards!

Smashing job! SeaBus employee Maureen Hayes stands with husband Stephen (right) and Victoria Shipyards Senior VP Spiro Risvas as she christens the MV Burrard Pacific Breeze, the third SeaBus.

Smashing job! SeaBus employee Maureen Hayes stands with husband Stephen (right) and Victoria Shipyards Senior VP Spiro Risvas as she christens the MV Burrard Pacific Breeze, the third SeaBus.

Owing to tradition, a woman had to christen the SeaBus, so Maureen Hayes, the longest-serving female SeaBus employee stepped up.

Maureen’s worked at SeaBus since 1983 — and her husband Stephen was one of the original SeaBus crewmembers, sailing on the first two SeaBuses when they came to Vancouver from Victoria in 1977!

All the event photos are posted at the Buzzer’s Flickr account, so have a look if you’re interested. There’s a SeaBus cake and a picture of the special belt buckle produced by Victoria Shipyards for the employees who worked on the new SeaBus!

Our media relations guy Drew Snider was also at the event, and he wrote about the ceremony on his blog. There’s also audio from the event posted at the TransLinkInfo YouTube account: video 1, video 2, and video 3.

For more info on the christening, check out the official press release, which includes an in-depth SeaBus backgrounder.

The interior of the SeaBus: it's not quite ready for passengers yet!

The interior of the SeaBus: it's not quite ready for passengers yet!

FYI, the basic ship is complete, but the interiors need to be finished, plus ship testing and staff training still needs to be done. The Burrard Pacific Breeze will come to Vancouver and start serving the North Shore probably around the end of 2009.

(And super neat factoid: as part of the training, the crew has to be able to find their way around the vessel in the dark, in case they have to deal with emergencies involving fire, smoke or a power outage at night!)

Reroutes for the 5, 17, and N6 from Aug 3 to Sept 6

Watch out, downtown trolley riders!

Owing to construction at Granville and Robson, there will be reroutes for the 5, 17 and N6 for about a month: Monday August 3 to Sunday September 6.

Instead of trying to describe the route changes in words, here are some reroute maps kindly provided by CMBC to help you visualize what’s going to happen.

Here we go!

Read more »

Hey, the hybrid buses have hit the streets!

The New Flyer articulated hybrid bus is now on the 99 route!

The New Flyer articulated hybrid bus is now on the 99 route!

The first of our hybrid buses are now on the roads!

Four articulated diesel-electric hybrid buses from New Flyer are now in service on the 99 B-Line route. We’re expecting 39 New Flyer articulated hybrids in total, and they will all be in service by September 2009. (141 hybrids are also coming in from Nova this year!)

The hybrid sticker on the window!

The hybrid sticker on the window!

How can you spot the articulated hybrids? Well, from the outside, the biggest difference is the big grey boxy hump on top of the back section. Regular articulated buses have a tiny little box on their back sections. There’s also a hybrid sticker on the window beside the front door!

And once you step inside the bus, you’ll notice the seats have fancy new vinyl upholstery, just like on the new Mark II SkyTrain cars. David Lam took a picture of the interiors in April: click here to see.

I wrote about the hybrids before and here’s the pluses again: they’ll save 15-20% in fuel consumption, and compared to the older buses, particulate matter levels (the smoke they send out) are reduced by 90-100%. The transmission of the hybrids also provides a smoother ride!

So a big thank you to Leon from our engineering department for passing along the hybrid news! Here’s three more of his photos below.

Read more »

Reminder: transit service for the HSBC Celebration of Light, tonight and Saturday

With fireworks displays set for tonight and Saturday, here’s a friendly reminder to check out my earlier post on transit service to the HSBC Celebration of Light.

You’ll find all the details about extra SkyTrain service, extra bus service and reroutes, plus SeaBus and West Coast Express info (West Coast Express runs a special train to the finale on August 1).

The UK will be doing the fireworks tonight, and China will be up on Saturday. Have fun watching the show!