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Translink Buzzer Blog

Easing Congestion in Metro Vancouver: Prices without Subsidies, lecture by Andrew Coyne

The second installment of Rethinking Transportation: New Voices, New Ideas is Feb 25, 2014!

The second installment of Rethinking Transportation: New Voices, New Ideas is Feb 25, 2014!

Hello Buzzer readers. The speaker series Rethinking Transportation: New Voices, New Ideas continues this month with a lecture by Andrew Coyne on February 25, 2014. Coyne is the weekly columnist for the National Post, member of the CBC, The Nathional’s At Issue Panel, and the former national editor of Maclean’s magazine known for his insightful and provocative commentary on political and economic issues.

Coyne’s lecture, Easing Congestion in Metro Vancouver: Prices without Subsidies, will address pricing of roads and transit – a timely issue in Metro Vancouver and other metropolitan areas grappling with the effects of growing congestion. He has written extensively about road pricing as a possible answer to congestion including MacLean’s Magazine.

Coyne takes an approach that pricing road use is the only effective way to induce people to drive less. As road use is at present rationed by time rather than money, other methods such as wider roads, carpooling, synchronized lights, etc. end up inducing people to drive more, since they reduce the time-price of using the roads.

The lecture will take place on February 25 at 7 pm at Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts (at SFU Woodwards), 149 West Hastings, Vancouver. The admission for the lecture is free, but reservations are required. RSVP or sign up for the webcast here.

This is the second lecture in the series Rethinking Transportation: New Voices, New Ideas. The first lecture featured Anne Golden, Chair of the Ontario Transit Investment Strategy Advisory Panel, who spoke about her work with the Transit Panel on making recommendations on transit funding for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area. If you missed the lecture, you can still check out the video here.

With nearly 45,000 people moving to Metro Vancouver every year, the conversation about how we travel in our region becomes increasingly important. The lectures will continue throughout 2014 and the idea is to explore new perspectives on the movement of people and goods in cities, with thought leaders, decision makers, and experts from across North America.

What do you think are the most important, transportation-related, topics we should talk about? Let us know in the comments below.

Do you know someone who would be interested in attending this lecture? Feel free to share this post with your colleagues and friends. For Twitter mentions, the hashtag for the lecture is #movingthefuture.

Buzzer illustrator interview: Bashar Sawalha

Bashar (his head at least) and his Buzzer illustration

Bashar (well, his head at least) and his Buzzer illustration

Here’s some light and humorous reading. As with most of our illustrators of the Buzzer newsletter, I had the opportunity to ask Bashar Sawalha, illustrator of our February issue, a few questions.

I really like Bashar’s illustration and I hope you do to. Here’s a short q and a with Mr. Sawalha.

How would you describe yourself?

I am a writer, comic artist and animator that loves the challenges of aiming for the stars! I have been on the never ending journey of trying to produce my animated television show that will entertain, shock and touch the hearts of people around the world

What’s your favourite thing to illustrate?

I love character interaction! Although it might seem that I only love the horrors in my comic book and web series  “Inquest of Missing Time,” it is the comedic play between the characters that drives me.

How did you come up with your illustration?

Being on the SkyTrain, your eyes always wonder, skimming through the wild colours of the passengers you suddenly stumble, the accidental eye contact has swept you down under, falling in love again is such splendor

Do you take transit? If so, what do you like about it?

I love being on SkyTrain underground because its one of the only places I am free from mobile communication. It forces me to interact with the people around me.

What does the future hold for you?

Many fine steaks, mass control of television and a star on the shiny dirty sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard…

Olympic Memories: Mike Madill


Mike with his souvenir torch and TransLink staff official Winter Olympic jacket

Mike with his souvenir torch and TransLink staff official Winter Olympic Jacket

We’re going back four years in our collective memories and visiting the 2010 Winter Olympic Games for our Olympic Memories series

For this instalment, I sat down for a short interview with TransLink’s VP of Enterprise Initiatives, Mike Madill, and asked him about his experience of the 2010 Winter Olympics and how that experience contributes to his work on Compass Card.

Tell me what you did during the Games.

In 2008, I started in a new role as Vice President, Olympic Transportation for TransLink. I had the privilege to lead TransLink’s core team in terms of doing all of the organizing for TransLink’s responsibilities during the Games. We had an awesome core team.

How do you start something like that?

The first step in planning was to understand what was needed. Some planning started before 2008, but there was lots to be done.

What did you learn from the Games?

I learned so much during the Games. I was working for Coast Mountain Bus Company before that role, so I learned a lot about TransLink and how it worked.

What I learned from my Winter Olympic experience is that you need to have a good, well thought out plan. It needed to include everything. It needed to include not just the operations and how to deliver service during the Games. It needed to include a plan for how to manage the crowds, get people out of their cars and onto transit (transportation demand management) all while accommodating the crowds in downtown Vancouver. The plan also included all the communications, marketing and public education about transit services during the Games.

It was a massive job that took more than just the core team to deliver. The key to making it work as well as it did was for everyone to work together – all of TransLink and its operating company staff working together to make it happen. Everyone was working towards one specific goal. We all had a lot of things on the go. But during the lead up to the event, the Games became the priority, right from the top of the organization. The focus during those 17 days was to make the Games experience great.

We had teams of employees all of over Metro Vancouver helping to support this effort. I think some people who usually only work in an office environment were nervous about getting out and being on the front lines. But once people were outside and mingling with the crowds, most people really enjoyed the experience.

What’s your best memory from that time?

My best memory was probably just the feeling in the streets. The streets were so alive and jammed with people. It was a really positive atmosphere and nice vibe. It was tricky at the beginning for us. We had to work through and adapt to the changes during the first week of the Games. We had to figure out how to manage the crowds at Waterfront Station and other areas. But by the second week, we hit our stride and everything was working. I was out on the system pretty much everyday of the Games connecting with staff and watching it all happen – making sure everyone had what they needed.

The Winter Olympics was obviously a big project to work on. How does that experience relate to your new big project, Compass Card?

Well, learning during the Games how TransLink and the operating companies work really helped. Also understanding the value of good planning and good communication has helped. When looking at the organization internally, understanding the value of good change management has been key. Understanding that employees need to understand what’s going on and giving them the tools to tell others outside of the organization about the changes coming to our transit system is really important. Also, understanding crowds in the transit stations during the Games is helping plan for the transition from our current system to the Compass system.

How was planning for the Olympics different from preparing for Compass Card?

Compass is a lot bigger than the Olympics scope wise. With the Olympics, we had a hard deadline. With Compass, we also have deadlines, but we have flexibility too–if we feel things aren’t right for the customer yet, we can reassess and take the steps and time needed to get it right for customers.

Thanks for the time, Mike!




Expo Line Power Rail Replacement work – late-night shuttle service begins Feb.16

SkyTrain in action!

Hey buzzer readers!

As you may already know, we’re replacing 34 km of original power rail on the Expo Line. The power rail supplies SkyTrain vehicles with power, approximately 650 volts DC.

Work is moving to the area between Waterfront and Stadium–Chinatown and there will be service impacts for people travelling to or from those stations during late-night service.

Beginning Feb. 16, passengers travelling through all stations between Waterfront and Stadium-Chinatown will commute using a shuttle train Sundays through Thursdays after 8 p.m.

  • Passengers travelling west of Stadium-Chinatown must hop off and transfer to a shuttle train. Service east of Stadium-Chinatown will operate normally.
  • Passengers are encouraged to plan for an extra 10 minutes of travel time.
  • SkyTrain services will run as normal during the day, peak times and major downtown events.

SkyTrain staff will be on hand at affected stations to provide directions and assistance. We thank you for your patience and cooperation as we keep our system in good repair for your overall service.

The February 2014 issue of the Buzzer is on the system

The February 2014 Buzzer is on the system free of charge!

The big chunk of content for this issue is devoted to remembering the 2010 Winter Olympics. Oh course, you’ve also been reading this content on the blog. What’s happened with Compass Card is also including in the issue.

The issue coming out on Valentine’s Day also means we added some love to the issue. Besides content about Nina and Jarred’s bus wedding last year, there’s also mention of the #2010olympiclove photo content!

And of course, there’s always the usual favourites including the Contest Corner, Back Issues and Coming Events.

Now all you have to do is pick one up or download it. Enjoy the issue!

Olympic Memories: Jim

asktranslink-memoriesFor this installment in our Olympic Memories series we revisit the 2010 Winter Olympic Games by asking CMBC transit operators about their experiences moving the world four years ago! Written by Jennifer Siddon, Senior Communications Advisor for Coast Mountain Bus Company.



Jim has been a transit operator for nearly eight years. During the Olympics, he like Tim, was  part of what’s called “the spareboard,” which means that instead of having a permanent route to drive, he was available for shifts on an on-call basis. Jim drove a variety of routes including Œtrippers.

Trippers are when extra service is put into place in a specific area to protect against overcrowding following a major event.

Lasting impressions

When asked about his overall impression of the Winter Games, Jim said, “People from all over the world telling me how they would love to stay in Vancouver.”

Jim loved playing tour guide during the Olympics. Jim would get on the PA system to explain the city and the transit system to visitors. He added, “So many people could not believe the features of our [transit] system – how it’s accessible with wheelchair ramps, and, how our buses talk to you (via the annunciators).

Favourite memories: A security checkpoint, hockey gold and Olympic love
The day of the Women’s Hockey gold medal matchup between Canada and the United States, Jim was sent on a tripper to the Georgia Viaduct to help move the anticipated crowds following the game. Because of the secure location, Jim’s bus was subject to a police check, which included a visit from an explosives detection dog.

When the Canadian Women’s team scored to clinch the gold medal, it was like a volcano going off. Jim even dropped his coffee! Then it was like a stampede of happiness as people spilled out of the arena, and left nearby bars and restaurants. Jim could see people, many of them complete strangers, hugging each other and singing O Canada. One couple in particular caught Jim’s eye ­; a Russian man laughing and singing with his arms wrapped around a Canadian woman.

Fast forward a few months later, Jim happened to be in downtown Vancouver on a day off with his wife, when all of the sudden he heard a man with a thick Russian accent call out, “Hey, driver.” It was the same couple Jim had seen that night of the women’s hockey final ­ and wouldn’t you know it, they’d fallen madly in love and gotten married. Talk about a whirlwind Olympic romance!

Thanks for the great memories Tim, Susan and Jim!

Thanks for the great memories Tim, Susan and Jim!

Do you have some fond 2010 Winter Olympic memories? Share them with us in the comments section and make sure to enter our contest!

Olympic Memories: Susan

asktranslink-memoriesFor this third installment in our Olympic Memories series we revisit the 2010 Winter Olympic Games by asking CMBC transit operators about their experiences moving the world four years ago! Written by Jennifer Siddon, Senior Communications Advisor for Coast Mountain Bus Company.



Susan has been a transit operator for 23 years.  During the 2010 Winter Olympics, she drove the 05 Robson/Downtown and the 06 Davie/Downtown.

Lasting impressions

When asked about her overall impression of the 2010 Winter Games, Susan said, “It was so much fun! She added that, “With VIP motorcades, road closures, and reroutes, you had to be flexible to get the job done.”

“Everybody said how clean the city was; how helpful all the drivers were; and, how they couldn’t believe passengers said Œthank you when they got off the bus.”

Favourite memories

Susan admits that originally she wasn’t a big fan of the Olympics, but that once the Games began, the energy and excitement in the city was infectious.

While driving downtown, Susan experienced the electricity created by thousands of people lined up along the streets to cheer on the torch relay, just like how fellow transit operator Tim Chaput described it.

The Olympics was also a fun opportunity for Susan to practice speaking French and Arabic with her passengers.

Susan’s fondest memory of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games is a very personal one. Her sister and brother in-law came to Vancouver from Quebec to be spectators at the Olympics and one of the first things they did was get onboard Susan’s bus. The couple couldn’t stop talking about the beauty of Vancouver. Susan added, “I felt so much pride in our city. It was like we were greeting the world.”

Olympic Memories: Tim Chaput

asktranslink-memoriesFor the next three installments in our Olympic Memories series we revisit the 2010 Winter Olympic Games by asking CMBC transit operators about their experiences moving the world four years ago! Written by Jennifer Siddon, Senior Communications Advisor for Coast Mountain Bus Company.

Tim Chaput

Tim Chaput

Tim has been a transit operator for nearly 20 years. He’s part of what’s called “the spareboard,” which means that instead of having a permanent route to drive, he is available for shifts on a callout or on-call basis. During the 2010 Winter Olympics, that meant he drove the 022 Knight/MacDonald, and routes to and from UBC and downtown Vancouver.

Lasting impressions

When asked about his overall impression of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, Tim said, “People were really blown away by Vancouver. I am really proud of our city and the job we did [getting spectators where they needed to go].”

Favourite memory

Tim said that if he had to choose just one favourite memory of the Games, it would be everything that happened during Opening Day (February 12, 2010).

Torch relay

There were thousands of people lined up along the streets of downtown Vancouver cheering him on! OK, not really. They were lined up to catch a glimpse of the torch relay. But there was so much excitement in the city that it felt amazing to be right at the centre of it.

(Caption for photo: With traffic stopped for the torch Tim had an opportunity to take this picture at Pender & Carrall

With traffic stopped for the torch Tim had an
opportunity to take this picture at Pender & Carrall

Experience of a lifetime

Tim’s bus became a makeshift stage for Musqueam band musicians who dazzled their international audience.

It was Tim’s last trip of the day. He was on the 022 Knight/MacDonald route, starting at the Dunbar Loop.  About 30 members of the Musqueam band, dressed in traditional clothing, and some carrying instruments, boarded the bus to head downtown.

Along the way, Tim picked up visitors from Ottawa, Chicago, Hawaii, Washington DC, and London, England. All were thrilled to be visiting Vancouver for the games and there was a lot of excited chatter on the packed bus. When the bus reached the Burrard Street Bridge, Tim asked the musicians to play. They did.

Tim's pin

Tim’s pin

It was magical. So magical that passengers were disappointed to have to leave the bus. When the band members reached their destination, one of the band members came to the front door of the bus, and without saying a word, handed Tim a pin. By the time Tim had called it a day, he felt like he was walking two feet off the ground.

Do you have some fond 2010 Winter Olympic memories? Share them with us in the comments section and make sure to enter our contest!

A few words from Fred Cummings about last week’s SkyTrain service disruption

If you were on the Expo SkyTrain Line last Wednesday afternoon (February 5) like I was, you might have experienced some delay in service.

Although my trip was only a few minutes longer than normal, for two and a half hours, the disruption of regular service caused varying levels of delays to our riders’ estimated trip times.

Disruptions in service are something TransLink and our operating companies actively try to avoid and we are sorry it happened.

“I want to apologize to our SkyTrain customers who were affected by this unusual incident,” says Fred Cummings, President and General Manager of BC Rapid Transit Company (BCRTC).

Details about the disruption

Starting at around 2 p.m. on Wednesday, an eastbound train encountered a mechanical issue and stopped outside Main Street-Science World Station. BCRTC investigated the incident and found that a part used to connect the problem train to the power supply in the SkyTrain guideway (the tracks), failed, broke off and got lodged between the two power rails that supply the Skytrain with 650 volts DC of power. This prevented the train from continuing on its normal route. A failure such as this can occur if a train encounters a stray object in the guideway, but this particular incident was determined to be the result of a part that was defective or fatigued.

“The recovery from this event was complicated by the equipment that failed being lodged in-between the power rails. I want to assure everyone that the personnel deployed worked extremely hard and as fast as they could to get service back before the evening peak service,” says Fred.

To help alleviate the situation, Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) supplemented service with a bus bridge, and SkyTrain Staff and Transit Police were deployed to help manage the crowds forming at SkyTrain stations.

Despite our best efforts, many of our riders were left frustrated and late for appointments by the delay.

Upgrading SkyTrain

As regular readers of the Buzzer know, SkyTrain is over 25 years old! A number of upgrades to the Expo Line are being carried out as part of OnTrack to keep the system in good repair.

We are always looking for ways to improve our service and making sure our SkyTrain system runs smoothly and on time is a priority.

Olympic Memories: Ian Fisher


Ian wearing his TransLink staff official Winter Olympic Jacket

Ian wearing his TransLink staff official Winter Olympic Jacket

Ian Fisher, Senior Planner of  infrastructure Planning at TransLink, is first up in our Olympic Memories series where we revisit the 2010 Winter Olympic Games! Ian is a transit enthusiast who has some fond memories of those seventeen days that the Greater Vancouver region and Whistler hosted the world!

I worked the entrance of Yaletown-Roundhouse station – two blocks from my then residence. It was terrific to be out in the field talking with customers and passers-by, helping them find their destinations and providing other information.

The neighbourhood was remarkably transformed during the Winter Olympics with the Live Site at David Lam Park, pedestrianized streets in Yaletown, and the general influx of happy people making it feel different. The City felt slightly unfamiliar but very welcoming at the same time.

Another highlight was the Olympic Line – the City of Vancouver’s “streetcar” demonstration line between the Canada Line and Granville Island. The visible delight from most of the riders experiencing a ride on the high-quality, modern trams borrowed from Brussels was great to see.

Do you have some fond 2010 Winter Olympic memories? Share them with us in the comments section and make sure to enter our contest!


Poll: Did you know…

Click here for a large image

Click here for a large image

Every day, I get some really interesting facts crossing my desk and filling my inbox. Some are facts I already know–like how our transit system has roughly 1.2 million boardings each day. Others are facts around transit technology and info about bus routes.  But sometimes I get real gems:

Yesterday, I was sent some info about our Major Roads Network (MRN) that I found pretty interesting. I’m always keen for info about the MRN since I find the conversation about TransLink (online and offline) usually focuses around the transit system.

I dare say some people are unaware that TransLink manages this extensive network of roads in the Greater Vancouver area.So, I thought I’d share this bit of information as a poll to test your TransLink knowledge. Here goes…


UPDATE: The answer is Ensenada, Mexico which is 2,400 from Vancouver! 

If you reorganized TransLink's Major Road Network (MRN) end to end (in terms of lane Kilometers), how far would it reach?

  • Ensenada, Mexico (47%, 53 Votes)
  • Sacramento, CA (38%, 42 Votes)
  • Portland, OR (15%, 17 Votes)

Total Voters: 112

The answer to this question and the results will be posted next week!

A couple of weeks ago, I asked you how we can best communicate with our customers in 2014. I’ve taken your feedback, including your thoughts on announcements, and shared them with the appropriate people in the enterprise.

Part of our look at how best to share information with you is to take a closer look at the info we do share. Some thought has been put into how we can better communicate with the people who live in Metro Vancouver about the integrated transportation system of roads, bridges, buses, ferries and rail. The MRN is an area people are sometimes surprised to hear is part of TransLink’s mandate.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts on sharing info like this? Do you think sharing info like this can help people better understand the integrated network and how TransLink helps people get around every day? Perhaps you have a different idea? Are there other interesting facts you want to hear about? All comments are welcome. Let us know!



Olympic Memories: #2010olympiclove



Sergio from Coast Mountain Bus Company in the 2010 Winter Olympic torch relay!

Sergio from Coast Mountain Bus Company in the 2010 Winter Olympic torch relay!

Tomorrow, the opening ceremonies for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games will be held in Sochi, Russia. When a huge sporting event like this happens, it’s hard not to think back four years when we welcomed the world to Greater Vancouver and Whistler for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games!

For those of us who were here for the 2010 games, this is not only a time to enjoy Winter sport again, it’s a time to remember those 17 days four years ago that made such an impression on so many of us. Looking back through the Olympic and Paralympics Buzzer blog posts from 2010, it’s clear to see that transit played a huge role in moving the large volumes of people who came to Greater Vancouver to take part in all the activities. In fact, we moved over 1.6 million people a day during the first week of the games!

Our Memories

During the duration of these 2014 Winter Olympics (February 7 – 23), we’ll be going back to February 2010 in our collective memories to revisit all the excitement that was our games. This will include impressions from TransLink and operating company staff about their experiences. And I hope, this will include your memories of the games and transit.


We weren’t at the Olympics ourselves. So many of you shot some great photos during the games and we want to share your love of the Olympics with a contest!

Before you enter, please read the contest rules and conditions.

We’re giving away a FareCard for one lucky person who tweets, posts or emails us a photo that falls within these guidelines:

  • A photo of a 2010 Winter Olympic games memory
  • A comment accompanying the image explaining the image
  • Your photo must be submitted no later than February 23, 2013 at midnight.

Here’s how to enter:

  • Email your photo with “#2010olympiclove” (it is almost Valentine’s Day after all) in the subject line.
  • Tweet your photo to @TransLink with the hashtag #2010olympiclove.
  • Post your photo on Instagram with the hashtag #2010olympiclove. Our Instagram page is TransLinkBC
  • Post your photo at with the hashtag #2010olympiclove.

 Photos may be used in the print Buzzer, the Buzzer blog, tweeted by @TransLink and posted on the TransLink Facebook and Instagram page.

Share your Olympic love!




Tapping to transfer with Compass

Here’s a question that’s come up a lot lately: “What happens if I tap in with my Compass Card, but don’t complete my journey within 90 minutes?”

To answer this question, we consulted our Compass Wikipedia. First and foremost, it’s important to distinguish the difference between “transfer time” and “in system time.”

Transfer time is the time you have from when you tap in to start your journey to when you tap in for the final leg of your journey. In the Compass world, the transfer time is 90 minutes, which means you can make as many transfers as you need within 90 minutes and only be charged for one fare. However, if you tap in after the 90-minute transfer time, you’re starting a new journey and will be charged a new fare.

In system time is the time you have on any leg of your journey. In the Compass world, the in system time is 120 minutes, which allows you 120 minutes to complete a single leg of your journey. However, if you don’t tap out during in system time, your journey will automatically expire and a tap after that will require a new fare.

What? Transformer time? Can I have my Compass Card? Did I tap out? Ah…I don’t get it!

Still confused? Here’s an infographic that might explain it better:


Transfer time vs. In system time

You can make as many transfers as you need on buses, SkyTrains, SeaBus, and West Coast Express within the 90-minute transfer time and only be charged for one fare.

Once you tap in to the last leg of your journey, you have another 120 minutes to complete the journey and tap out.

Still have questions? Ask away at

Podcast: Frank Jensen celebrates 41 years as a bus operator

Frank sitting one more time on his bus!

Frank sitting one more time on his bus!

Many people spend less than four years at a job. Not Frank Jensen. Yesterday, Frank took his last trip after 41 years of exemplary service as a bus operator!

It’s not everyday that someone retires after more than four decades at the same job. And last night, Frank’s accomplishments were featured on the CBC Evening News. As you’ll see from video, Frank will be missed by more than just his fellow employees.

I had the privilege of sitting down with Frank and his son and daughter after Frank’s last run on the #405. Take a listen to what Frank and his family had to say.


After I spoke to Frank, his fellow operators and other staff at the Richmond Transit Centre lined up to congratulate him on his accomplishment. Thanks for all the great years, Frank! You’ll be missed!

Enjoy your retirement Frank!

Enjoy your retirement, Frank!

Proposed 2014 service optimization changes are live: Come to an open house or share your input online!

2014 Service Optimization

Have your say in-person or online.


Hey Buzzer Blog readers! Do you ride the 49, 116, 404, 606/608, C15 or C96? As part of Translink’s service optimization program, changes are being proposed to improve these routes. Public consultation will take place from February 3rd to 19th, 2014.

TransLink will host four open houses and you are invited to provide feedback at a location near you. The full details on each of the proposed 2014 bus service optimization changes are now online! Once you’ve had a look at the route changes, fill out the questionnaire and share your feedback!


Attend an Open House:

404 and C96

February 3 – 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

East Richmond Community Hall, Richmond


49 and 116

February 4 – 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Holiday Inn Express-Metrotown, Burnaby



February 6 – 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Parkgate Community Centre, North Vancouver


404 and 606/608

February 13 – 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Ladner Community Centre, Delta


Did you know?

TransLink’s service optimization program is a critical part of managing the transit network to deliver more service with existing resources. In 2012, six million new rides were added to the system without additional investment. As a result, productivity increased by 3.4 per cent and total transit revenue grew by 3.5 per cent. Since the beginning of the program in 2010, more than 292,000 hours, or six per cent of total bus service hours in the region have been reallocated to better serve customers across Metro Vancouver!