Translink Buzzer Blog

I Love Transit 2013: Doot doola doot doo… Nardwuar loves transit!

I Love Transit 2013

Nardwuar at SXSW 2013

Nardwuar (right) with Fred Armisen at SXSW 2013. Photo by John Biehler on Flickr.

Oh man, you guys! Look who’s talking transit with us this year: it’s Nardwuar!

For those who don’t know, Nardwuar is a music legend both in Vancouver and beyond. He’s been running his radio show on CITR since 1987, leading his band the Evaporators since 1986, and—oh yeah—doing completely stunning interviews with just about every famous musician you’ve ever heard of, and more! Here’s just a taste of his amazing interview repertoire.

So we’re so happy Nardwuar let us turn the microphone on him for I Love Transit Week 2013, getting the scoop on his experiences with Vancouver transit. Here’s what he told us!

Read more »

I Love Transit 2013: Buzzer illustrator interview: Jane Koo

I Love Transit 2013

The August Buzzer newsletter illustration and an illustration of the artist herself

The August Buzzer newsletter illustration and an illustration of the artist herself

The illustrator of the I Love Transit 2013 Buzzer newsletter is Jane Koo. Jane’s drawing of our multiple modes of transportation in Metro Vancouver is not only striking and beautiful, it’s four panels long and designed to be coloured!

Jane’s fantastic work, which you may remember from her previous Buzzer illustration, has also been adapted for our Facebook, YouTube and Twitter pages for the entirety of the week. And if you’re one of the lucky people to get a ticket to I Love Transit Night, you might see Jane’s work on a few other items.

Jane was nice enough to answer a couple of my questions. Here’s a little more about the artist herself:

Who is Jane Koo?
I’m a graphic designer living in Vancouver. I like soft poached eggs and riding my bicycle.

How did you come up with your illustration?
I took a bit of inspiration from the motto of Vancouver‹By Sea (via Seabus), Land (via bus), and Air (via SkyTrain, sort of… Right?) We Prosper!

Have you ever made an illustration to be coloured before?
Not really. I really hope it’s colouring-friendly!

Why do you love transit?
It’s so quick to get to the airport from the city centre via Canada Line. I’m amazed every time.

What does the future hold for you?
(Hopefully) more drawings for TranSlink and but for now, squeezing as much ocean swimming as possible before the summer is gone!

Thanks for the great illustration Jane. We love it!

I Love Transit 2013: Nina and Jarred got married on a TransLink bus!

I Love Transit 2013

TransLink bus wedding

Nina Schmidt and Jarred Greff got married on a TransLink bus on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 6, 2013!

Well, we’ve got the best story ever for I Love Transit Week. The lovely Nina Schmidt and Jarred Greff were happily married on a TransLink bus today!

It was a huge surprise for their friends and family. Jarred and the 30+ wedding guests were picked up by the bus at a different location, and the bus drove everyone to Canadian Memorial Church to ostensibly pick up Nina. But Nina walked right onto the bus and they got married on board instead.

So why the bus? Nina and Jarred first met on board the #3 Main, making transit a hugely special place for them. You may have read their story in the August 2 Buzzer, but here it is again:

Finding love on the #3 bus

by Nina Schmidt

On Wednesday, April 18, 2012 around 11:40 a.m., Jarred and I met for the first time on the number 3 bus going up Main Street. I was sitting in the folding accordion-like section when Jarred walked by and sat down a couple metres away from me. We couldn’t stop making eye contact. Then he stood up and sat down to the closest available seat to me. We had about three stops to talk before I had to get off the bus. We didn’t exchange numbers, but he told me he worked at Main and 23rd. With the encouragement of good friends, I chased him down at work later that day. A couple days later, we went on a 22-hour date and we’ve been inseparable ever since.

It sounds cheesy, but I would call it love at first sight, something I definitely didn’t believe in at that point of my life. But Jarred and I are perfect for each other, and we are so blessed and thankful.

There is never a week we don’t talk about our first meeting on the bus. It’s just so random. I had to run after that bus that day, and Jarred didn’t plan on taking it, but he was running late to work. What are the chances that a girl from Germany and a guy from the prairies would meet on a bus and fall deeply in love?

The media came out to help capture their special day too: here’s articles from the Vancouver Sun, CBC, Huffington Post BC, 24 Hours, The Province, Metro News, Chilliwack Times, and the Ottawa Citizen.

Here’s a few snaps from the wedding! And a huge congratulations to Nina and Jarred!

TransLink bus wedding

Nina Schmidt and Jarred Greff step off the TransLink bus after their ceremony, August 6, 2013.

TransLink bus wedding

Nina Schmidt and Jarred Greff interviewed by the media on board the TransLink bus after their ceremony, August 6, 2013.

I Love Transit 2013: Say hi on the bus today!

I Love Transit 2013It’s I Love Transit Week. And what better way to say you love transit than to say hi to a bus operator! Bus operator, Brian Revel, sent us this short post. 

Come join us, even for a few minutes, to connect with your fellow travelers while we make our way between Stanley Park and Metrotown.

Photo of bus operator Brian Revel

Say hi to Brian and your fellow riders on transit today!

So many people live lonely lives in Metro Vancouver, but it might surprise them to know that wearing ear buds shuts so much of this great world, and some amazing people, out.

Take a moment to say Hi to the person beside you. It might just be a brief encounter or a friendship that lasts a lifetime.

You’ll find us on the #19 from 12:45 until 8:15pm. You’ll also find us at

I Love Transit 2013: A new day of Metro Vancouver transit activity video!

I Love Transit 2013

Last December the good people at STL Transit shared with us the fantastic video called One day of activity for TransLink (Metro Vancouver transit). They obviously love transit and thought that they would share their latest update to that video (above) with Buzzer readers during I Love Transit Week!

This updated version is super-imposed on a Lower Mainland map and features highlighted SkyTrain and Westcoast Express routes, tails for the Westcoast Express Trains and added colors for SkyTrains and B-lines.

We thought the original was great, but they’ve really outdone themselves with this one! What do you our Buzzer readers think of it?

The August 2013 Buzzer is now on the system

I Love Transit 2013The I Love Transit edition of the Buzzer newsletter is now on the system!

As you may guess, most of the issue is devoted to all the things we love about transit. Like last year, half of the issue is actually a image that you can colour! Not only that, if you colour the Buzzer and send it into us, you could win one of two FareCards up for grabs. Not into colouring? Well, there are plenty of other I Love Transit contests on the blog as well as through TravelSmart.

The love continues on the flip side of the issue with an extremely cute story about a nice couple who met on the #3 bus and have fallen madly in love. If that wasn’t cute enough for you, there’s a story about a young boy of five years-old who says he WILL be a bus operator when he grows up and like to guess which number/line the buses and SkyTrains he sees out of parent’s car window.

We rounded out the issue with our usual FareCard contest, back issue and coming events.

Do you want numerous chances to with FareCards, read about love, transit, history and BC Day holiday service? Well, you’ll just have to pick up the latest issue or download the .pdf!


I Love Transit 2013: Welcome all! Enter to win great prizes!

I Love Transit 2013

Welcome to I Love Transit Week 2013, everyone! Yep—it’s the one week we take out of the year to celebrate what we love about transit!

From August 5-9, 2013, your favourite transit blog will be serving up great interviews, essays, and rider submissions sharing all your transit love.

As usual, we’ll have also contests and prizes to thank you for riding transit! This year, we’re giving away five monthly Farecards, and one $100 MEC gift card. Here’s how you can win with us this week.

Enter to win a $100 MEC gift card

To enter to win the MEC gift card, register at with promo code ilovetransit and pledge to take one less car trip per week! You can actually enter for the entire month of August: the winner will be drawn and announced by Tuesday, September 3, 2013.

Colour to win one of two FareCards

Colour the picture in the August 2 print Buzzer, then email us a picture of your entry or mail it to us at #400 – 287 Nelson’s Court, New Westminster BC, V3L 0E7!

You can also enter this contest for the entire month of August, We’ll do two draws for FareCards on Aug 30: one for kids aged 13 and under, and another draw for everyone else. Winners announced on the blog and newsletter!

Tweet, Instagram, or comment to enter three draws for FareCards this week


Our Twitter winner is @bonchance2010!

Our Instagram winner is danceswithpucks, who submitted the following photo with the caption “@translinkbc #ilovetransit because I can relax and enjoy the scenery without stressing over driving.”

Our blog winner is Ann, who wrote a simple “I love transit because it is efficient.” It is!

Congrats to all our winners!

To win one of three FareCards from August 5-9, just enter through Twitter, Instagram, or right here on the blog.

We’ll do one FareCard draw per channel at 1 p.m. on Friday, August 9, 2013!

Enter through Twitter

  • Log on to Twitter and send a tweet to the TransLink Twitter account that includes and completes this sentence: “@translink #ilovetransit because….”
  • An acceptable entry (on many levels): “@translink #ilovetransit because The Buzzer is a publication of unparalleled quality”
  • But this is NOT acceptable as it has no hashtag: “@translink i love transit!”
  • This is also NOT acceptable, because it doesn’t include the right hashtag: “@translink #iluvtransit because I like sitting in the captain’s seat on SkyTrain!”

Enter through Instagram

  • Log on to Instagram and snap a great photo of transit, with the caption “@translinkbc #ilovetransit because….”
  • Please note that we’re @translinkbc on Instagram, not translink!
  • See the Twitter examples above for entries that will and will not work for the contest.

Enter through the Buzzer blog

  • Leave a comment on this post that completes the sentence: “I love transit because…”

Rules and answers for the online FareCard draws

  • One entry per person per day for each channel. Yes, you can enter up to five times per channel!
  • All entries should follow our participation guidelines.
  • The FareCard will be for one, two, or three zones, depending on where the winner travels.
  • We’re going to do the random draws on Friday, August 9, 2013, at 1 p.m. for each channel. We’ll announce the winners on the blog, Twitter, and Instagram!
  • To be fair to everyone, one person cannot win all three draws. So, if we draw your name for one of the channels, you will be excluded from the other two FareCard draws.
  • For pros: if you set your Instagram photo to also tweet out via Twitter and include @translink AND @translinkbc somewhere in your caption, you can enter both the Twitter contest AND Instagram contest through just one photo. Sweet!

Good luck everyone!

Roads and Bridges: Restaurants along the Major Road Network

roads and bridges bannerWe’ve been devoting a handful of posts to the roads and bridges TransLink is responsible for in the region. For the basics on TransLink’s roads and bridges, check out the Managing major roads and bridges in Metro Vancouver post from our TransLink 101 series and check out the roads and bridges series to read the other posts.

For this final post in the series, Angela, our student communications assistant, is sharing her love of food and where to find it along the Major Road Network (MRN). Besides spending her summer at TransLink, Angela is also part of the team over at, Vancouver’s food adventure network. We thought it would be great to marry her love of food and transit in one post. Enjoy!


Richmond – Deer Garden

3 Locations: 8580 Alexandra Road, Richmond | 3779 Sexsmith Road, Richmond | 6270 Fraser St. & 47th, Vancouver

Deer Garden Signatures is a popular favourite. They are renowned for their signature fish soup noodles, and have two locations in Richmond: Alexandra Road, and Sexsmith Road in Union Square. Deer Garden also opened a new franchise in Vancouver last year on Fraser St. and 47th.

For $8.50, you get to choose your own soup base, noodles, two toppings, and a hot or cold drink. Portions are huge, and I love the variety of different toppings to choose from. My personal favourite soup base is the Tomato & Pumpkin Fish Soup with Rice Noodles.

Tomato & Pumpkin Fish Soup at Deer Garden. Photo Credit: Curtis @ Foodobyte

Tomato & Pumpkin Fish Soup at Deer Garden. Photo Credit: Curtis @ Foodobyte

Downtown Vancouver – Nook Restaurant 

2 Locations: 781 Denman St., Vancouver | 1525 Yew St., Vancouver

Nook is located just off Robson Street on Denman Street. They also recently opened a new location in Kitsilano. Whenever I visit, I usually order the specials of the day, which are usually chalked onto a blackboard. They have never disappointed – always a mixture of refreshing ingredients, yet with the most flavourful and delicious pizzas and pastas I have had in the city. I especially appreciate their use of fresh arugula – it really adds a bit of punch to the pizza!

Be forewarned: the restaurant is quite cosy and does not take reservations. For larger parties, they recommend visiting their sister restaurant Tavola, right around the corner.

Nook Restaurant

Nook Restaurant

West Vancouver – Fraiche Restaurant

2240 Chippendale Road, West Vancouver

Fraiche Restaurant is located just off the Trans Canada Highway 1 in West Vancouver. It features Pacific Northwest cuisine, with a stunning panoramic view of the Lions Gate Bridge and surrounding areas. The menu offers Ocean Wise (thumbs-up!) and gluten-free options – a bonus for those with diet limitations! Although a little more on the luxurious side of fine dining, it’s worth dropping by for a visit for a fantastic view of Vancouver and beautifully prepared cuisine.

My favourite dish is the Maple Glazed Sablefish – rich, succulent, and delicious!


Enjoy a beautiful panoramic view at Fraiche Restaurant

Enjoy a beautiful panoramic view at Fraiche Restaurant

Burnaby – Han Ju Tofu Hot Pot

4500 Kingsway (Crystal Mall)

This little hole-in-the-wall, Han Ju, is located just outside Crystal Mall in Burnaby, also within walking distance from Metrotown.  Their hotpots are affordable and delicious,  and their Korean Style BBQ bowl is an excellent choice of comfort food – it includes rice, spicy tofy, pork, egg, bok choy, cabbage, and a small soup broth on the side. A particularly refreshing drink is their lychee drink: cool, crisp, and sweet. The BBQ bowl and lychee juice have become my usual order at this little spot after a long day of shopping at Metrotown!

Korean Style BBQ bowl at Han Ju Tofu Hot Pot

Korean Style BBQ bowl at Han Ju Tofu Hot Pot

Kitsilano – Café Régalade 

2836 West 4th Ave, Vancouver

Tucked in the Kitsilano area, this French restaurant, Café Régalade, works wonders with their cuisine. Their brunch menu items are great – lots of variety for a friendly price. Their Healthy Breakfast option comes with two boiled eggs, low fat yogurt, fruit salad, home made granola, choice of milk, and dipping soldiers. For dinner, their Duck Breast a L’Orange is incredible – each tender bite of duck is soaked in a rich orange sauce that is beautifully balanced between sweet, tart and a touch savoury.

Café Régalade

Café Régalade, on West 4th Ave.


These are just a few of my favourite go-to places in Vancouver! There are so many amazing restaurants in this vibrant city. Seeing as I am still slowly exploring my way into other areas of Metro Vancouver, such as Surrey, White Rock, and Coquitlam, what great places would you recommend?

What are your favourite restaurants within the Major Road Network?

Reminder: it’s I Love Transit Week from August 5-9

I Love Transit 2013


Our fifth annual I Love Transit Week starts up next week from August 5-9, and we’ll have stories, prizes, and more every day. See the poster above for exactly what’s happening and share it with your friends!

I Love Transit Night is SOLD OUT

You heard that right. After a nice article in 24 Hours, I Love Transit Night, our evening of transit fun and games, registered the maximum attendance of 200 people as of Tuesday, July 30. It’s truly amazing!

We now have a waitlist of 50 people just dying to get in, so if you’re already registered and you know you won’t make it, please do cancel your tickets so others can attend.

We’re so sorry everyone can’t get in, but we’re excited that so many of you want to come join us! Can’t wait to see you there!

Roads & Bridges: Cycling infrastructure

roads and bridges bannerWe’re devoting a handful of posts to the roads and bridges TransLink is responsible for in the region. For the basics on TransLink’s roads and bridges, check out the Managing major roads and bridges in Metro Vancouver post from our TransLink 101 series. Check out the roads and bridges series to read the other posts.

Roads and bridges aren’t just about buses,cars, trucks and pedestrians; they’re also about bicycles! TransLink has been working towards making cycling a realistic and viable travel option by planning and funding support for bikeways and other cycling infrastructure. For this installment of our series, I spoke with cycling devotee, Helen Cook. Helen is a planning manager in our Roads Department. I sat down with Helen for a few minutes right after her commute to work on her bike.

How long have you been with TransLink?

Helen and her bike

Helen and her favourite mode of transportation.

Helen: I’ve been with TransLink since our inception in 1999. Previously, I worked for BC Transit as a transit planner.

Have you always been passionate about bikes?

Helen: Indeed, I have. I’ve been a cycle commuter since I first moved to Vancouver to go to university and continued when I started working.

Did you focus on bikes while at BC Transit?

Helen: There wasn’t much of a cycling program there per se, but I did have some responsibility for studying and doing some feasibility work for putting bike racks in front of the buses. Over time, I worked with BC Transit to retrofit and install bicycle racks on all the buses. Getting bike racks on all the buses in the region didn’t actually happen until after TransLink was formed.

How does cycling fit into your current role at TransLink?

Helen: he cycling program fits within the Roads Department because it’s largely based on roads infrastructure. TransLink is interested in promoting cycling as a viable mode of travel, and  the ways that we help to promote that is through guidance to municipalities through the Regional Cycling Strategy and Implementation Plan  as well as providing funding to those municipalities for cycling infrastructure as well as including cycling into our own infrastructure, which includes the transit system and the bridges that we own. We make sure that cyclists can access all of our own infrastructure. TransLink also produces the Metro Vancouver Cycling Map, and delivers education and encouragement for cycling through the TravelSmart program.

What are some cycling infrastructure of note that TransLink is directly involved in?

The Canada Line bike bridge

The Canada Line Pedestrian-Bicycle bridge
















Helen: When I think of specific infrastructure, I think that the Canada Line Pedestrian-Bicycle Bridge has been great for cycling. There’s a dedicated crossing for both cyclists and pedestrians. It’s accessible from both Richmond and Vancouver and bike routes lead to both sides. It goes a long way to improving the comfort of crossing that part of the Fraser River.

We’re also currently undertaking an operational review of how we can improve our customer experience in terms of cycling as it pertains to our buses, SkyTrain and SeaBus and West Coast Express. Are there things that we can do to make operations safer? Are there things that we could be doing with the vehicles in relation to best practices? These are questions we’re aiming to answer.

Are there any cities or organizations that you look to for inspiration when it comes to cycling infrastructure?

Helen: Well, TransLink is a leader in North America when it comes to accommodating bicycles on transit. One of the places we look to for inspiration or ideas is in regards to bicycle parking. Cities like Portland and Chicago have introduced what are called bike cages or secure bike parking areas. These are separate rooms in a station or separate buildings near a station where cyclists can park their bikes securely on a rack using their own lock while having access to the area with their transit pass.

So these are different than the bike lockers we currently have on the system?

Helen: Yes, our lockers are a program we introduced years ago and are now considered standard equipment at the stations. However, we’d like to make bike storage even more accessible. Our lockers currently require obtaining a key, and you need to sign up for them for at least three months via a rental payment. Secure Bicycle Parking areas are designed to be accessible by many people through use of an electronic entry that can be monitored remotely, much like office access or elevator access cards.

Are there plans to have these rooms on our system?

Helen: Yes, we are preparing to install one at King George Station as a pilot project. We recently received capital funding to install that, and we have a project manager working on finalizing the design. The hope is to have this Secure Bike Parking structure, which will have permeable walls with electricity and video monitoring, finished for spring 2014. We have a lot of bike lockers at King George Station, and they’re usually full and sometimes there’s a waiting list. So, we’re hoping that this new facility, which is more efficient in terms of design of space that it takes up on the plaza, can accommodate all of our new cycling customers and some of the existing ones.

Is TransLink in touch with the City of Vancouver about their new public bike share system they plan to put in place in 2014?

Helen: Yes, TransLink conducted a public bike share feasibility study in 2008/9. After we published this study, Vancouver City Council became interested in bike sharing systems and it looks like they’re on the road to making it happen. Our feasibility study identified the City as the most likely part of the region where Bike Sharing could be successful. Since our study, the City did their own due diligence and investigation and research and have agreed that they are the right organization to implement a bike sharing system.

TransLink supports their decision to move forward with a bike sharing system. We have a Regional Cycling Strategy and a public bike sharing system is identified as a good way to encourage more cycling in the region. One of the ways it encourages more cycling is that supports spontaneous cycling travel. It also allows people to experiment with cycling and hopefully will lead them to discover that they’d like to cycle more. After a few years into implementation, other cities with a public bike sharing systems have seen noticeable upticks in the number of cyclists and bike sales.

What about the Evergreen Line and cycling?

Helen: Since early on in the process of making the line a reality, we’ve been working with the province to maximize access for bikes and we’ve identified road improvements that can be done in conjunction with construction of the line. We’ve also worked with the municipalities involved in the line to synchronize Evergreen Line construction with municipal cycling plans and pedestrian improvements as much as possible.

There are a few intersections that will see improvements for both cyclists and pedestrians as a result of the Evergreen Line. There are also a few slightly off-the-guide-way cycling routes which will also be in place once the line opens. We don’t have the same opportunities with the Evergreen Line as opposed to the Expo Line in terms of clear right of ways. However, we have identified parallel routes to the line which can be used by cyclists.

Have you noticed any major changes in how cycling is viewed over the fourteen years that you’ve been at TransLink?

Helen: Things have changed a lot. I think TransLink and many other transit agencies are far more interested in accommodating cyclists on transit systems. I see a lot encouragement of cycling to transit. The goal of our bike parking program is to encourage people to use their bicycles as part of the system. This shift towards increased incorporation of cycling into the transit system is also the result of more transit employees cycling to work.

Thanks for the interview Helen!

For more info on bikes and TransLink you’ll want read our past posts as well as the cycling and bikes on transit pages on the TransLink website.


Farewell, dear friends: Jhen’s leaving TransLink

Jhenifer Pabillano, Buzzer editor


I’ve got some big news to share with you today—I’ll be leaving the Buzzer and TransLink as of Friday, August 9, 2013!

I’m off to join the City of Vancouver, helping manage the City’s social media program as their new Social Media Coordinator. It’s a huge new role and I’m very excited to join their team.

But after five years with TransLink, it’s definitely not an easy change.

I’m so proud to be the Buzzer blog’s founding editor, and so proud I shared stories from the Olympics, from our control centres and garages, from transit conferences near and far, through podcasts, video, and more. And I’m so proud this work has earned TransLink real recognition from Mass Transit Magazine, and APTA in 2010 and 2012.

Most of all, I’ve loved getting to know the intelligent, committed, and wonderful customers we serve, and it’s an understatement to say I will sorely miss every one of you. It has been a true privilege to be a part of your lives for so long.

It’s a wonderful comfort, though, to leave you in the capable hands of Robert, as the main editor, and Borjana, Jiana, Angela, Tina, Pamela, and Stefanie as contributors–the wonderful new Buzzer crew who have joined me in the past little while. They’re all brilliant folks, and will continue to do great things at TransLink for years to come!

Again, my last day is August 9, so I’ll get to say goodbye to everyone during I Love Transit Week, which I’m so happy to have created back in 2009 :) If you’d like to stay in touch, you can find me at my personal website,, or @jpabillano on Twitter.

Goodbye, everyone, and thank you for everything! I’ll miss you all, but I won’t be too far away.

Fare tariff changes several programs

I’d like to share some important news about recent decisions affecting TransLink’s fare tariff policy.

As a result of a review of the TransLink Board of Director’s examination of discounts and programs in our bylaw tariff, several programs will be discontinued.

Here’s a link to the media release regarding this news.

The changes to the tariff include the discontinuation of the following:

  • Employer Pass Program effective January 1, 2014. This program provided an extra 15 per cent discount to members and required a 12 month commitment. Customers can continue to purchase monthly passes.


  • FareSaver tickets will begin transitioning out as early as January 1, 2014. A discount on regular fares will be provided within the new stored value option for Compass Cards.


  • Free travel for family members of monthly pass holders on Sundays and holidays effective January 1, 2014.


  • West Coast Express 7-day pass effective January 1, 2014. Existing ticket machines will begin transitioning out in November.


  • West Coast Express 28-day pass effective January 1, 2014. Customers will be able to purchase a calendar monthly pass. Existing ticket machines will begin transitioning out in November.


  • West Coast Express $1 fee for bikes. Customers on West Coast Express can now transport bicycles for free.

These changes are intened to create more equity and fairness in the system; TransLink took a good, hard look at our programs to determine which ones still make sense. With these changes, riders will see fairer discounts to their fares – on all modes of transit throughout the region.

TravelSmart will continue to work with companies, municipalities and customers to promote healthy and sustainable transit options for riders. For more information on these changes, check the tariff changes FAQs.



Roads & Bridges: Getting to know Westham Island

roads and bridges bannerWe’re devoting a handful of posts  to the roads and bridges TransLink is responsible for in the region. For the basics on TransLink’s roads and bridges, check out the Managing major roads and bridges in Metro Vancouver post from our TransLink 101 series. Check out the roads and bridges series so far.

West end of the Westham Island Bridge truss

West end of the Westham Island Bridge truss – image courtesy of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

For this installment of our roads and bridges series, we look at one of TransLink’s oldest assets, Westham Island.

Officially opened on March 29, 1910, Westham Island is the oldest of the five bridges TransLink owns and operates. Operated by TransLink since 1999, The over 100-year-old bridge is also the narrowest TransLink bridge and one of few remaining bridges containing wood components in Metro Vancouver. Located over Canoe Pass, which is in the Fraser River Estuary, the structure connects Westham Island with Ladner and the Municipality of Delta.

The bridge is comprised of thirty timber stringer approach spans, a Callender-Hamilton swing-span steel truss, a steel C-truss, and a timber Howe truss, with  partial single-lane operation. The  swing span can swing 90 degrees to allow boats to pass.

I sat down with Bob Moore, Bridge Operations Manager for TransLink, and asked him a few questions about the historic bridge.

Tell me about the bridge.

Bob: The bridge is part steel, part timber. Part of the bridge is a steal truss, like you find in the Pattullo Bridge. Another part is a timbre truss, which is highly unusual these days but typical of similar bridges built in the early part of the last century. The remainder of the bridge consists of heavy timber stringers. It’s a swing span bridge, which is also unusual.

Bob holding a sign to a TransLink meeting room with the same name as the bridge.

Bob holding a sign to a TransLink meeting room with the same name as the bridge.

How do swing span bridges work?

Well, it sits on bearings. When ships want to pass through the channel, they radio ahead to our person in the operating booth for the bridge, and they go out onto the deck and press the button to make the bridge swing open. At this time of the year, the operating booth is fully manned. As we get into the winter, there are certain hours of operation.

What types of boats usually pass by the bridge?

It’s mainly fishing boats and some pleasure boats as well. I’ve actually seen a houseboat go through there. There is a houseboat community right near the bridge. On average, the bridge is opened roughly seven or eight times a day. It’s a vital link to the island. There are many farms on the island, and trucks need the bridge to get their goods on and off. Mind you, there is a load limit to the bridge of 50 tons, which means you can’t bring a semi-truck over it.

How is the bridge maintained?

We have a maintenance contractor who is out there weekly making any repairs that are needed. Because of these heavy trucks and the fact that the deck is wooden there is some regular maintenance needed. That replacement includes fixing and replacing parts of the deck, the rubbing rails and curbs on the side, etc.

How long can a bridge like the Westham last?

Well, it’s a swing span bridge, so there are moving parts that can rust or wear out. However, if it was designed and maintained well from new, it could  last almost indefinitely (with timely maintenance and rehabilitation). The deck on the bridge can feel a little loose because it’s made of timber which dries up during the summer. The workers will then go in and tighten the deck up on a regular basis.

Tell me about the future of the island.

About six months ago, we commissioned a report to look at the cost of three different scenarios: (1) to keep maintaining the bridge for the next ten years, (2) to keep maintaining it for the next thirty years, and (3) to look at replacing the bridge entirely. We have that report now, and we’re reviewing it to see  what we’ll do with it.

Thanks for the time Bob!

If you haven’t visit the bridge yet, it’s worth a trip. The unique look of the bridge has attracted camera crews of TV, films and commercials over the years. That includes  new TV series, Bates Motel, has been shooting on the bridge recently.

Have you ever gone over the bridge? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Share you Westham Island story in the comments section below.








Introducing Borjana!



Hi Buzzer readers. My name is Borjana and I recently joined TransLink to support the work of the Regional Transportation Strategy team. I love the work this team has done on preparing for how we’ll travel in Metro Vancouver in the next 30 years and I’ll be sharing those ideas and plans with you. I already posted about the Regional Transportation Strategy twice here and here.

I’ve been a transit commuter for years and so far I’ve used SkyTrain, buses, West Coast Express and Seabus to get to work. You can probably tell I moved quite a bit, right? My favourite commute option is SeaBus because of the stunning views of the coast line on a sunny day. My transit commute is great for reading. It’s so great I sometimes get so absorbed with a book and I miss my stop!

I hope you’ll enjoy my future posts.

Transit service for Caribbean Days July 27, 28, 2013

photo of woman in Carnival costume as Caribbean Days

Jump on the SeaBus and enjoy Caribbean Days! Image by Veesha Sonachansingh

Caribbean Days is a weekend of tropical rhythm, cuisine, carnival and culture. Called the largest Caribbean event on the local calendar, TransLink is increasing service to accommodate these two days that attract tens of thousands of people.

Here are the service changes:

July 27, 2013 - The SeaBus will run every 15-minutes starting at 9:15 a.m., then every 10-minute service 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and then every 15-minutes until 11:45 p.m.

July 28, 2013 - The SeaBus run every 10-minutes from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Scheduled arrival/departure times will be maintained, with the 3rd boat slotted in-between.  The SeaBus will run its regular summer Sunday service before and after increased service.

The Festival is held at Waterfront Park in North Vancouver, just east of the SeaBus Terminal at Lonsdale Quay. For location, travel info and more you’ll want to check out the Caribbean Days website.

I haven’t attended the days myself, but I’m planning to this weekend. I’ve been told Saturday is more focused on adults while Sunday has a lot for kids to do. Enjoy the fun this weekend!