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Translink Buzzer Blog

Links and tidbits for Fri Nov. 12

I support alternative transportation! And yes, that extends to brooms :) Taken by donnamatrix and used with permission!

Just a couple of tidbits and links rounded up about transportation in the past week!

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

Next steps for Evergreen Line and more: an update on TransLink’s potential 2011 supplemental plan

Moving Forward, the plan recommended by our Board, includes the improvements on the map above. Click for a much larger version!

Here’s an update on TransLink’s proposed supplemental plan for 2011, which focuses on funding for the Evergreen Line, the North Fraser Perimeter Road, and several other key projects in our region.

So what’s new?

  • Our Board of Directors has reviewed and approved our two proposed 2011 supplemental plans, and is recommending that the Mayors’ Council approve the version of the plan called Moving Forward, which funds the Evergreen Line, North Fraser Perimeter Road, and a wealth of other transit improvements.
  • Owing to TransLink’s cost-cutting and efficiencies, there is room in the TransLink budget to cover funding for the first year of the Moving Forward plan. So the Board is recommending that TransLink covers this first year, giving the region and the province a year to develop a new revenue alternative to support the remainder of the plan and replenish our reserve funds.
  • However, if an alternative cannot be found, the Mayors’ Council must agree to approve a property tax increase for 2012 to cover the remaining costs. This has to be in place or else the supplemental plan will not be considered fully funded by the Regional Transportation Commissioner.
  • Also, here are some background documents that may be of interest:

What’s in the recommended 2011 supplemental plan?

In addition to the Evergreen Line and the North Fraser Perimeter Road projects, there are substantial improvements here for all major sub-regions of Metro Vancouver, including the Northeast Sector, South of Fraser, North Shore, Richmond, Vancouver, Burnaby and New Westminster.

The region-wide improvements and upgrades outlined will translate into:

  • A nine per cent or 425,000-hour annual bus service increase by 2013, with approximately half of those hours bound for South of Fraser
  • An eight per cent increase in total transit service hours by 2015 resulting from 138,000 of new annual rapid transit hours
  • An eight per cent increase in transit boardings by 2015, equal to 30 million rides per year
  • A drop in vehicle kilometres travelled per capita by 2015; a reversal of historic trends

You can find more information in this backgrounder, or take a look at the full details of the Moving Forward plan in this PDF.

Also: what’s a supplemental plan?

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

A supplemental plan has to do with our long-term planning process. First, by law, we are required to come up with a base plan every year that states how we will operate for the next three years, plus an outlook on services for the next seven years. The first three years of this base plan must be fully funded by our current revenue streams.

If we want to spend beyond this base plan—to expand, for example—we are allowed by law to come up with supplemental plans, which then must be approved by our Board, reported on by the Regional Transportation Commissioner, and approved by the Mayors’ Council. But we have to explain exactly where we’ll get our funding for this supplemental plan, and we need to outline what we are going to spend it on. Which is why the topic of the property tax and such keep coming up.

So what’s next?

Now the Regional Transportation Commissioner must review and report on the 2011 supplemental plan, and then the Mayors’ Council will vote on it in their next meeting, slated for early- to mid-December 2010. I’ll have more info as it comes!

Remember, you can check out the 2011 Supplemental Plan site and this past Buzzer post on the 2011 planfor much more detail.

And here are some links to media coverage so far:

Remembrance Day 2010 holiday service and parade reroutes

A reminder that it is Remembrance Day on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010, so all transit services will run on a Sunday/holiday schedule. There will be no West Coast Express service, and AirCare facilities will also be closed on the holiday.

And regular service will resume on Friday, November 12!

Parade reroutes

Every year, there are several Remembrance Day parades around the Lower Mainland, which will mean some bus reroutes on Thursday. Here’s a handy list of the parades and the routes they will affect.

Remembrance Day Parade in Victory Square, Vancouver
3, 5, 6, 8, 16, 10, 20, 50, 135, 160, 210, 211, 240

New Westminster Remembrance Day Parade

North Burnaby Remembrance Day Parade
C1, C2, 129, 130, 135

Langley Remembrance Day Parades

North Vancouver Remembrance Day Parade
229, 230, 232, 240

For specific info on these reroutes, check out the Alerts page on the main TransLink site.

Veterans ride free on Nov. 11

Veterans also ride free on all TransLink services on Nov. 11, in recognition of Remembrance Day.

The concession applies to Ordinary and Life Members of the Royal Canadian Legion, the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans and the Korean Veterans Association. Veterans just have to show their membership card to receive free transportation (and sorry, associate members aren’t eligible).

A moment of silence at 11 a.m.

All TransLink services—meaning Coast Mountain buses, West Vancouver Blue Bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus, and Community Shuttles—will also observe a period of silence at the stop they reach closest to 11 a.m. on Remembrance Day.

Don’t forget our group ride offer

And 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.

History tidbit: how to transfer buses in 1974

From 1974: the rules about how to transfer between buses in Vancouver!

Michael Taylor-Noonan, editor of the Transit Museum Society newsletter, passed along this interesting tidbit from a route map published in April 1974. It describes a set of complicated rules around transferring buses!

It seems the ticket system in the 1970s allowed you to travel in one-direction only, which made for specific rules about how one could transfer without violating the one-way policy. Michael wasn’t aware of the exact details about how the system worked, but provided this basic description: 

Some major cities allowed transfers only when the routes intersected, but because of the layout of Vancouver’s downtown with buses operating on parallel streets, the restrictions allowed transfers to nearby buses. Of course you couldn’t start to walk if you missed the bus, because the transfer would no longer be valid when the next bus came along.

So, over to you: can anyone shed a bit more light on the transfer system of the 1970s and how it worked, exactly? A few kind folks have provided a nice explanation of the 1990s transfer system in the past—is it similar?

The Buzzer wins Best Blog at the 2010 APTA AdWheel awards!

The Buzzer's APTA AdWheel award certificate!

Some lovely news: the Buzzer blog was named Best Blog at the 2010 American Public Transportation Association (APTA) AdWheel Awards!

To be specific, the Buzzer blog took the Best Blog prize among “public transportation systems with more than 20 million passenger trips annually,” which means we’re the top blog among the largest public transit systems in North America. The AdWheel Awards celebrate the best in marketing and communications from APTA members, so it truly is a wonderful honour to win!

I should mention that it’s not TransLink’s first time winning an AdWheel Award. In 2009, we won Best Internet Homepage for, and Best Public Relations/Awareness or Educational Campaign for our Transit Secure ads. And in 2007 we won Best Campaign for a series of lovely recruitment ads.

But yes, this year is the blog’s chance to shine—so thanks so much to APTA, and thanks to everyone who makes this blog a part of your reading! The blog would not be so successful without you!

(PS: Here’s the full list of 2010 AdWheel winners, in case you’re curious :)

Farecard naming contest: last day to enter!

Get your suggestions into our contest! You’ve only got until midnight tonight, Monday November 8, to submit a name for our electronic fare card, coming in 2013.

Key things to remember:

  • The winner gets an iPad and in 2013, an electronic fare card loaded with a year’s worth of transit
  • You can enter as many times as you like!
  • If you need contest inspiration, here’s a list of farecard names from other places, and the top 10 most entered names in our contest!
  • The winning name will be selected in December 2010 by our board, and announced shortly thereafter. (For complete details on how the process works, see the rules and regulations.)

Don’t delay! Enter now!

(If you’re curious, btw, we have over 45,000 entries in the contest so far: but don’t let that stop you! That’s not every word in the dictionary by a long shot :)

Fun poll results: 80% do move as far back as possible when standing on a bus

In last week’s fun poll, I asked whether you move as far back as possible when you’re standing on a bus.

And well, this poll really struck a chord! There were 201 votes on the poll and a whopping 68 comments on the post, at last count!

The results of the poll were clear: 80% said they do move as far back as possible, while just 20% don’t. (Yes, this is a fun poll and probably not representative of all riders out there!)

In the comments, the discussion was rich and varied—here’s a selection that hopefully recap the majority of what was said.

First, a lot of people indicated that their answer was somewhat “No… but yes,” depending on the situation. Abeo sums it up nicely:

If there aren’t that many people standing up already, I will hang around near the doors, much easier to let people pass you there than when standing all the way in the back. If it is crowded, I will go to the very back, of course.

But there was a huge reaction from those who typically try to move as far back as possible, regardless of the situation! For example, here’s Alan Robinson:

I’m very happy this question has come up. If I’m standing, I move as far back as possible, mostly as an example to others. I wish I didn’t have to do this, as the ceiling at the back is a little low for me. Don’t make me bonk my head, MOVE TO THE BACK OF THE BUS PEOPLE!

This segued into a discussion of the strange phenomenon where people just get frozen by the sight of the stairs, or stop halfway through a bus even though the back is empty. For many, this hugely frustrating behaviour warranted special action in the name of justice. Here’s Jacob:

[W]hen the bus is full, I’m one of those people who would do anything to get to the back of the bus, like push, and shout, and point, and glare, and make people take their backpacks off, and people think Im crazy, but I’m just trying to help those poor people standing out in the rain.

Reva had a point along the same lines:

I like to intimidate — I mean encourage — the person(s) creating the bottleneck at the stairs to either move back, or stand aside so others can go up there. I am not beyond forcing my way past people who won’t move when I say “excuse me please.” The funny thing is, once one person moves up the stairs into the back of the bus, many others follow.

And Eric noted that people who block the way sometimes have no idea they’re doing anything wrong:

The “Please move to the rear of the bus” is not clear, and very unpersuasive. Regularly, the driver has to shout it to whoever is in the bottleneck. But that person always has an ipod in his ears, and cant hear anything.

There were a few solution-oriented comments. zack pointed out that the Toronto system has stickers on its vehicles telling people to move to the back of the bus. Cow and peter b pointed out that the buses with three-door boarding always fill up nicely at the back, since people can enter closer to that section. And Dan T noted a (temporary) solution from a resourceful driver:

One innovative idea courtesy of my 84 driver the other day – the new Nova buses have the ability to fold up all the seats in the front area – the driver asked all the students in the front to stand and fold their seats, and voilà, instant room for about 8-10 extra standing people. Of course, this only worked from UBC, because the second someone needs to sit in the front area… it doesn’t work so well anymore.

Finally, the No side had fewer comments on the post, but when they did, there were some good reasons for not moving. For example, here’s Jo-Anne:

No. I don’t move right to the back anymore because my balance is not what it used to be and my arthritis keeps me from stepping up the stairs at the back. Any minute that bus could lurch and my knees would be toast. So, I move to where I can find something to hang onto and then I HANG ON! Let the more able move right to the back.

Anyway, once again: thanks to everyone who took the poll! As always, check out the full list of comments to see what everyone thought. I’ll have a new question next week!

Fall back to standard time, Sun Nov 7

It’s that time of year again! Remember to set your clocks back one hour on Sunday, Nov. 7 at 2 a.m..

If you’re travelling around that time, please bear in mind that our transit services will finish their Saturday night service on the Daylight time (ie. the original, non-adjusted time that you started your day with). Then Sunday scheduled service will start on the new Standard time.

The November 2010 Buzzer is now out!

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

This issue talks about Bike to Work Week, which was on this week from November 1-7! We’ve also got an item about the 15th anniversary of West Coast Express, a reminder to enter the electronic fare card naming contest by Monday, November 8, and a note about our award-winning public consultation game!

You can also find out about car sharing through services like ZipCar and the Cooperative Auto Network—there’s a handy map of car share locations near SkyTrain stations. And there’s a bit about the CUTA 2010 Fall Conference, which we will be hosting in November!

Again, we are happy to have a cover from a local illustrator: this time it’s Katrina Espeveidt. Thanks Katrina!

And if you can’t get the Buzzer on the system, you can always read it in PDF form on our website. Visit our Buzzer PDF archives, or grab this direct link to the November 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 Monday, November 29 at 9 a.m. (sorry: the issue incorrectly says Oct 29!). We’ll pick a winner from all the correct answers, and he or she will be notified by phone shortly after the draw.

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

Links and tidbits, Thu Nov 4

Spotted: someone brought their own seat on the SkyTrain! And a lovely chair it is. (I assume she was carrying it home :)

Tidbits and links about transportation near and far!

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

Contest inspiration: the 10 most entered names in the contest so far

Our farecard naming contest closes at midnight next Monday, November 8, 2010, so make sure to get your names in! An iPad, plus a year of free transit in 2013 could be yours for the taking.

So far, there are 30,000 entries in the contest, but don’t let this faze you. As you have probably guessed, lots of people have entered the same names, and there’s plenty of room for more.

As well, to possibly help inspire you, I did a bit of wrangling with Excel and hashed out a rough list of the most entered names in the contest. In no particular order, they are:

  • Green
  • Salmon
  • Coast
  • Orca
  • Whale
  • Totem
  • Otter
  • Canuck
  • Lobster
  • Go

Lots of single word wonders! Well, hopefully this will help get those creative juices flowing. Go opposite, go bigger, go smaller, pick something slightly similar but not the same. Remember, you can enter as many times as you like, so all the names you come up with are fair game.

For more inspiration, check out this earlier post on farecard names in other places. And then of course, enter the contest!

Heads up: TransLink’s Twitter pilot project for November 2010

Update, February 11, 2011: Yay: our Twitter pilot has been permanently extended!

Update, February 1, 2011: The Twitter pilot has been extended to the end of February 2011! Things are looking positive for the indefinite extension of the pilot—stay tuned for more!

Jan 10, 2011 update. Just wanted to say the pilot is definitely continuing to the end of January—we continue to seek budget approval for keeping the program going indefinitely! Here’s the post about that.

Dec 8, 2010 note: OK, here’s the in-depth results post about the pilot!

Dec 3, 2010 note: Owing to great results, we have decided to extend the Twitter pilot for the month of December! The hope is that we will continue the pilot indefinitely, but funding approval is still ongoing. I’ll have a more in-depth post on the results up in the next few days—stay tuned!

If you don’t know about it yet, TransLink offers a popular Twitter account ( where you can get breaking news and key service updates.

And starting today—November 1, 2010—the TransLink Twitter account will be getting a boost in staffing and content, owing to a pilot project with our Customer Information staff.

For the month of November, the Customer Information team at our call centre will help provide updates to the TransLink Twitter feed, supplying the latest transit service news and info as it happens.

A member of the team will update the account from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 pm., and will also take a crack at answering customer questions if possible. As well, they will be updating the yellow alerts strip on the TransLink mobile site,

Why are we doing this?

Well, to be honest, the chief goal is to bring better service to our customers! In the past, the TransLink Twitter account has been one place where customers have been very happy with receiving service notifications—especially during times like the Olympics, or during service outages across the system. We want to build on that success.

The month-long pilot also helps us get an idea of how Twitter and similar services might integrate into our current customer service processes. It also helps more of our staff venture into the world of social media, which is fast becoming a vast new channel for customer service.

And don’t worry, amid all this we haven’t forgotten our other services—Customer Information is still updating alerts on the website, as well as the customized alerts that you can receive via e-mail or SMS.

Your feedback will help

If you follow the TransLink Twitter account, please keep an eye on how things are going this November and let us know what you think. As this is a pilot, we’d love to know what is working for you and what isn’t, so we can improve! I’ll make sure to post another note before the end of November, to remind you to let us know what you think of the pilot.

Happy 15th birthday, West Coast Express!

It’s the 15th anniversary of West Coast Express today: November 1, 2010!

Yep: it was November 1, 1995 when West Coast Express set off on its maiden journey, connecting commuters along a 69 km stretch from the northeast sector to downtown Vancouver. (Here’s the Feb and Oct 1995 Buzzers announcing WCE!)

Since then, the average ridership for WCE has doubled! That’s an amazing 10,500 people per day now riding the trains, from a start of just 5,000 a day—and the service even carried its 30 millionth rider last Monday.

Small wonder, though: since 1995, West Coast Express has been much beloved by customers, and they’ve added more service over the years to try to keep up with demand. There’s TrainBus, a bus service that takes customers along the West Coast Express route, a service boost that started in April 2008, extra Olympic trains in February 2010, and seven new rail cars this year.

Celebrate with West Coast Express, 3 p.m. to 6:20 p.m.!

As I’ve mentioned, throughout October, West Coast Express has been celebrating with contests and giveaways on its very own blog. But today, November 1, 2010, you can join them in person for a special party to celebrate and win prizes!

Join the West Coast Express team at Waterfront Station from 3-6:20 p.m. today, and you’ll be able to spin a wheel and enter a raffle for some anniversary prizes. As well, the 30 millionth rider, chosen last Monday, will be awarded with a year-long pass for West Coast Express and the rest of the TransLink system… congrats!

If you join in and snap some photos, I’d love to share them on the blog: feel free to e-mail them to Unfortunately I’m sick and working from home today, so I won’t be able to get out there myself—but many happy returns to West Coast Express! Here’s to 15 more years!

Friday fun poll: when standing on a bus, do you move as far back as possible?

Sitting in the back of the bus!

We haven’t done a transit riding behaviour question in a while! So here’s one about moving to the back of the bus. I caught this tweet at the start of this week:

Hate it when people are passed up and there’s empty space at the back of the bus. #movetotheback @translinkless than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry®

Which prompts the following question:

When you're standing on a bus, do you try to move as far to the rear as possible?

  • Yes (80%, 161 Votes)
  • No (20%, 40 Votes)

Total Voters: 201

If you’re a “Yes,” well done, and let us know if there are any further tips to maximizing the passenger space! And if you’re a “No,” please do share why you try to avoid the back of the bus. Is it an exit strategy thing?

Reminder: fill out the Surrey Rapid Transit questionnaire today by noon!

Just a quick note to say fill out the Surrey Rapid Transit questionnaire, if you haven’t already!

Word from the web team is that it will be closing at NOON today, October 29, 2010, so get your input in now!