Translink Buzzer Blog

Merry X-Mas and Happy New Year from the Buzzer!

What we lacked in colour coding we make up for in Christmas decorations.

What we lacked in colour coding we make up for in Christmas decorations.

From our Buzzer family to your family, we wish you all a happy and safe holiday season and 2014. Thanks for reading and contributing to the blog in 2013!

We’re celebrating 40K followers on Twitter!

We reached 40,000 followers of the @TransLink Twitter account! We’re super excited about the attention and engagement of our customers on Twitter. To celebrate we randomly gave away four FareCards to followers who tweeted the #TL40K hashtag and completed this sentence, “I’m grateful for…” Have a look at what you (our transit customers!) shared with us. We here at the Buzzer are grateful too — for all you loyal readers of course! #TL40K

 

Buzzer blog editor away over the winter holidays

I'll see you all in 2014!

I’ll see you all in 2014!

I’m taking a break from the blog to catch up with family over the winter holidays. I’ll be back in mid-January. But don’t worry, Jennifer, Angela and Jiana will be watching things while I’m away.

This year was a big one and 2014 looks even bigger with Compass Card, a new SeaBus, station upgrades and so much more. Thanks Buzzer readers for making 2013 a great one!

2013 Holiday Transit Service: Christmas & Boxing Day

Sparky the Elf and Santa!

Sparky the Elf and Santa!

Hello Buzzer readers!

With the winter holiday season soon approaching, the holiday service schedule will begin on Christmas Eve (Tues, Dec 24).

On Christmas Day (Dec 25), buses, SeaBus, and SkyTrain will be running on Sunday/holiday schedules. Some routes will be adjusted to reflect customer demand. The West Coast Express and TrainBus service will not operate.

Boxing Day (Dec 26) will have an enhanced holiday schedule for buses, SeaBus and SkyTrain, especially on routes to popular shopping destinations!

Services returns to their normal schedules on Friday, December 27.

You can find all the details on the Winter Holiday Service Schedule page. For the very latest news on transit service conditions or for more details, visit or call:

 

Please Note: The Buzzer blog is on holiday until at least Thursday, December 27, 2012. Tina and Stefanie will be checking in, but brand new content (we have scheduled some content over the holidays) won’t be online until the new year.

We wish all of our Buzzer friends a safe and happy holiday season!

Santa taps to the North (shore)

Santa 01

Who wants to be on Santa’s “nice” list? We sure do! That’s why, when Santa came flying into town to do some work recently, and he asked to try out a Compass Card, we could hardly say no.

We gave him a card, told him the basics, answered his questions, and had him tap, tap, tap away as he travelled on buses, on SkyTrains, on the WCE, to the end of the SeaBus, over at the North Shore.

Here’s what he said about the card.

Buzzer: So, Santa, what do you think of the Compass Card?

Santa: Ho, ho, ho! Well, I think it’s just jolly fabulous! It’s really easy to use and, since I’m only in town for a few days in December and a couple of weeks of vacation in the summer,  I like that I can load it up with Stored Value and use it when I want—it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Buzzer:  What about your elves, do you think they’ll use it?

Santa: Well, my elves don’t always come with me, but when they do, they have lots of running around to do, picking up toy-making supplies and tools and whatnot. It’ll probably make more sense to put a DayPass on the card for them.

Buzzer: And Mrs. Claus?

Santa: Well, Mrs. Claus likes to come with me in the summer, but she usually stays for the whole month while I head back to the North Pole. She’ll probably get a Monthly Pass on her card when she comes so she can come and go as much as she likes.

Buzzer: I’ve heard your elves can be somewhat mischievous; do you worry about them losing their cards?

Santa: Ho, ho, ho! That’s true! They’re always pulling pranks and up to something.  They certainly keep things interesting—and it wouldn’t be the first time they lost something.

Buzzer: I hear you. Well, if they register the cards, they’ll get Balance Protection, just in case.

Santa: Excellent!

Buzzer: What are you looking forward to about the Compass Card?

Santa: Well, the elves have been trying to get me using the computer the last few years. Being way up at the North Pole, I’m looking forward to firing up the the ol’ machine and poking around on the website. I hear I’ll be able to load passes and Stored Value on my cards from there?

Buzzer: Yep. That’s right. Do you have any questions for us?

Santa: Just one: do the reindeer need cards too?

Buzzer: Sorry, Santa. There’s no reindeer allowed on transit.

Santa: Oh well. Thanks so much for letting me try it out. Ho, ho, ho!

Gearing up transit for snowy commutes

Have a happy holidays on transit everyone!

It’s cold out there, make sure you’re prepared before you leave home!

Snow is in the forecast for tonight and we’re busy making sure our customers have a safe trip to work, school or even local mountains!

Here’s what you can do to prepare for a potentially snowy commute.

  • Sign up for transit alerts so we can let you know if there are changes in the transit schedule.
  • Follow our customer information team @translink or phone (604) 953-3333.
  • Plan ahead with m.translink.ca and Trip Planner and give yourself extra time on your commute.
  • Be aware that more people than usual take transit on the days when it’s snowing – common transit courtesy applies even more on these days!
  • Dress warmly on those cold and snowy days when you’re heading out to get on transit!

Here’s what we’re doing to ensure our service runs efficiently in the snowy weather:

We’re always monitoring. Winter weather forecast monitoring means more staff can be quickly deployed and more trains can be added to service so riders can get on their way.

Buses

  • Three trolley de-icer trucks will spray the entire trolley overhead system if there is a forecast risk of frost or ice.
  • If needed, we’ll switch out articulated buses for traditional buses. Although articulated buses are great for turning and maneuvering throughout our streets in Metro Vancouver and allow for quick movement of large numbers of passengers, when traveling up hills or on streets that have poor conditions, the back halves are heavy which can create some traction problems.

SkyTrain

  • The power rail is de-iced in the winter as well as the collector shoes on the trains. If it snows overnight, SkyTrain will run trains throughout the night to keep tracks clear.
  • De-icing stations will be set up in covered areas and tunnels to prevent ice and snow compacts on the trains. Measures are also taken to make sure switches are protected from freezing.
  •  Staff will monitor the guideway for any large snow fall or drop-offs from the SkyTrain cars in order to keep the tracks clear.

SkyTrain (Canada Line)

  • Anti-icing and sanding measures are used to ensure the power rail and tracks are clears of ice. In fact, three vehicles have modifications to provide ice-slicing, de-icing and sanding.
  • New breaking modes for train cars – kind of like ABS on vehicles – to provide traction.
  • There are special trains that can keep running on the system which further prevents ice-build up.

Do you have any tips for commuting in the snowy weather from a rider’s perspective?

Bus Driver Appreciation Day 2013 at Vancouver Technical School

Can you small the hot cocoa?

Can you small the hot cocoa?

What a morning I had watching students at Vancouver Technical School handout hot chocolate to #9 bus route operators!

Every year in December, students give out hot chocolate and a little gift to each mid-morning bus operator that stops in-front of the high school.

I’m told the tradition was started by a teacher at the school nearly twenty years ago and has been going strong ever since. The excitement was palpable this chilly morning filled with sing-a-longs to Christmas music classics. Students got out of bed early to get the hot chocolate ready to go for 7:00 a.m. And Judging from the honks from each bus and smiling operator the effort was greatly appreciated.

For a bit of history and a look at past years of the program, you’ll want to read these past two (2011 and 2012) blog posts.

A big thanks to all of the students and staff at Vancouver Technical School who were involved in this incredible slice of annual holiday cheer!

The December 2013 Buzzer is now on the system!

Note: the December 2013 Buzzer is on the system free of charge (as usual)! You’ll want to note that this issue also covers January 2014. The next issue will be in February 2014.

The majority of content for the December issue is devoted to winter bus service changes. The full list of changes are in the Buzzer newsletter as well as on the TransLink website.

The cover illustration was drawn by local artist Zach Bulick! We’ll have an interview with him up very soon.

Also in the issue is info about the Compass Card, the United Way and the Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle contest.

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. Good reading to you all!

TransLink employees raise $346,445 in support of the United Way

The TransLink family joins together for a great cause.

The TransLink family joins together for a great cause.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of employees in the TransLink family, we once again supported the annual United Way campaign, raising a big $346,444.70!

  • A gift of $1.00 every day over a year provides 36 hampers of food to vulnerable pregnant women and      parents of young children
  • A gift of $1.80 every day over a year engages 20 children in a school-based bullying prevention program
  • A gift of $3.30 every day over a year provides accessible community gardening plots to three seniors with disabilities
  • A gift of $5.00 every day over a year provides a range of supports to ten unpaid seniors caregiving for a loved one, ensuring that they are not alone and isolated

United Way of the Lower Mainland invests in more than 150 agencies to deliver over 450 programs and services to help children, families and seniors in 26 communities in Metro Vancouver, the Sea to Sky corridor and the Sunshine Coast.

This contribution will go a long way in helping families and individuals in need in our community. For more information about how contributions to the United Way are helping to make a difference in the lives of so many in our community, we invite you to visit the United Way Lower Mainland website.

“I am extremely proud of the commitment that employees across the TransLink enterprise have dedicated to the campaign this year. We have been strong supporters of the United Way for over 40 years because they have the ability to address problems facing many people who live in the communities we serve.”  - Cathy McLay, United Way Campaign Cabinet Transportation & Shipping Co-Chair and TransLink Chief Finance Officer and Executive Vice President, Finance and Corporate Services

“TransLink really demonstrates their commitment to support and improve their communities by supporting the United Way. Without the funds raised by organizations like TransLink, we wouldn’t be able to do the work we do helping prevent social problems like child poverty, bullying, and senior isolation across the Lower Mainland.” - Michael McKnight, President & CEO of the United Way of the Lower Mainland

Spot the Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle Contest and help TransLink spread some holiday cheer!

TransLink Reindeer Bus at Pan Pacific

The Reindeer Bus at Pan Pacific

You may have already seen these two cheerful transit characters around Metro Vancouver. The Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle have been making there way on different routes in Metro Vancouver since mid-November and will continue to be in service into January. Have you spotted them yet?

The Reindeer Bus’ most recent public event appearance was visiting the Christmas Wish Breakfast, hosted by the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau at the Pan Pacific Hotel on December 11, 2013 (see picture). That particular Reindeer bus had Santa, Mrs. Claus and the bus operating elf Sparky inside.

The festive threesome also visited mystery stops between December 10-13 throughout Metro Vancouver; and will be part of the Toys for Tots campaign run on December 19-20. Both the Reindeer Bus and Community shuttle will deliver two buses full of new, unwrapped toys to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau as part of its employee-driven Toys for Tots program. Toys for Tots was created in 1985 by a group of eight BC Transit bus operators out of the Surrey Transit Centre. TransLink and its employees are invited to donate to the cause throughout November and December.

Spot the Reindeer Bus or Shuttle and Win one of two monthly January 2014 FareCards!

Want to win? Send your picture our way of the Reindeer Bus or Shuttle in one of three ways:

1. Tweet it to @TransLink with the hashtag #TLReindeerBus.

2. Email it to thebuzzer@translink.ca and make sure to include #TLReindeerBus in the subject line.

3. Post it on our Facebook page with hashtag #TLReindeerBus.

* Remember to read our terms and conditions to get the specifics – contest terms and conditions.

We’ll be randomly drawing two winners on these dates:

Draw #1 will be on Friday, December 20, 2013. Cutoff for entries will be 11:59 p.m. on December 19, 2013.

Draw #2 will be on Friday, December 27, 2013. Cutoff for entries will be 11:59 p.m. on December 26, 2013.

There you go. Get those camera and phones out and snap some holiday transit magic and you might be getting an early or late Christmas present for your trouble!

Photo by Laura Wilby

Photo by Laura Wilby

 

So You Think You Can Busk? – and the winner is Patrick Jolicoeur!

SYTYCB2013

 

The online vote to pick the eighth and final transit busker license for 2014 is now complete! All four candidates really rallied their troops to get the vote out, but in the end Patrick Jolicoeur was the winner of the eighth and final transit busker license with 34% of the vote!

We’d like to thank all the buskers who came out for the auditions. Now watch out and listen up for Patrick and the other seven successful musicians on the system in the new year!

For those who haven’t watched it yet, here’s Patrick’s winner audition!

Winter service changes start today!

Take note everyone!

Take note everyone!

The new 188 Port Coquitlam Station/Coquitlam Station provides direct connections between Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam, extending transit service options to community destinations in the growing Burke Mountain area.

TransLink introduces the new 178 Coquitlam Station/Port Moody Station peak-only service to provide a direct connection to/from the West Coast Express commuter rail service. The 159, C28, C29, C30 and C38 routes will also be modified.

There are also changes at the Brentwood Exchange to allow for the redevelopment of Brentwood Town Centre. The 25, 123, 130, 134 and 136 have been relocated to temporary street locations.

For more information, check out the print Buzzer and the full list of Transit Service Changes. Check your route before you go!

Have more questions?? Check out @translink or call 604-953-3333.

#TL40K Twitter contest. What are you grateful for?

I'm grateful to be part of the Buzzer community!

I’m grateful to be part of the Buzzer community!

It was only this February when we were celebrating reaching 30 000 followers on Twitter. Now, we’re on the cusp of reaching 40 000! Our Twitter handle, @TransLink has been extremely popular since we started really getting going with tweeting during the Winter Olympics and the channel became officially staffed in February 2011.

To celebrate both the 40 000 follower milestone and the festive season, we’ve put together a contest.

Get on Twitter and do the following to win one of four January FareCards

First off, you’ll want to read the #TL40K terms and conditions. Next, complete this tweet – “I’m grateful for…” and include the hashtag “#TL40k”. Here’s an example:

@TransLink I’m grateful to be part of the Buzzer community! #TL40K

December is a time when many of us give thanks for family, friends, Santa on transit…all sorts of things!

A winner will be randomly chosen on December 23, 2013

We’ll be collecting tweets until December 22, 2013, and randomly choosing four winners the next day.

Oh, and staff who tweet for @TransLink will be tweeting all week about what they’re grateful for, including yours truly – ^rw.

Thanks to all our followers! Next milestone: 50K!

Santa to keep steering the sleigh…er, bus

Santa, Mrs Clause, Sparky the elf and the Reindeer bus!

Santa, Mrs Claus, Sparky the elf and the Reindeer Bus!

It’s that time of the year for candy canes, ginger bread houses and Santa Claus. Speaking of the jolly old elf, he’s been the subject of some media attention of late. Santa shows up on a number of routes including the #27 Kootenay Loop/Joyce Station run which sparked media coverage.

Just to be clear, we love Santa, we love the holidays and we love our riders! We’ve heard about your love of seeing Santa on this route and we would like to let our riders and the public know that we will continue to allow our bus operator to wear his Santa suit while on duty. We recognize that we underestimated how much our riders valued his holiday spirit and it was certainly never our intent to offend the public.

Where can you see holiday cheer on the transit system?

The Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle (November 2013 – January 2014)

The Reindeer Bus, Sparky the bus operating elf and Jiana from TransLink

The Reindeer Bus, Sparky the bus operating elf and Jiana from TransLink

The Reindeer Bus has been driving various routes across Metro Vancouver since November. Recently, the bus made a public appearance at the Christmas Wish Breakfast, hosted by the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau at the Pan Pacific Hotel on December 11. Santa, Mrs. Claus and the bus operating elf Sparky have also periodically been visiting mystery stops this week throughout Metro Vancouver. Here’s some fun facts about the program:

  • Since 1985, Coast Mountain Bus Company annually decorates one bus and one Community Shuttle to resemble a reindeer. This year it will operate from November 12 to January 1.
  • The Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle visit a number of holiday celebrations including local agencies likethe Canuck Place and Ronald McDonald House (December 9-12).

Toys for Tots

The Reindeer Bus and shuttle are a part of the Toys for Tots campaign. Here’s some info about the program:

  • Created in 1985 by a group of BC Transit bus drivers, Toys for Tots allows TransLink employees to donate newly unwrapped toys or money to the less fortunate.
  • Last year, Toys for Tots delivered 2,709 toys to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau with the grand total of 57,968 since the launch of the program.
  • In addition, $300 cash was contributed to the donations, totaling $42, 822.86 since 1985.
  • The entire supply of donations to be delivered to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau agencies from Monday, December 9 to Thursday, December 19.

Canada Line Blanket Drive (November 22 – November 23)

We were part of the fifth annual Drive on the Line campaign -partnership between Blanket BC Society and the Canada Line – that took place along the Canada Line on November 22 – November 23.

  • This year, the two-day blanket drive collected 8500 blankets, exceeding the last year’s record of 6200 blankets.
  • All donated items are distributed evenly to shelter programs and organizations that work directly with most vulnerable individuals and families throughout Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, and this year, Vancouver Island.

West Coast Express Santa Train (December 7 and December 14)

Now in its 17th year, this is an annual toy-drive that collects toys on behalf of the Christmas bureau, serving communities in the Northeast sector including SHARE in the Tri-Cities, the Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society, and the Christmas Bureau in Mission.

This year on Saturday, December 7 and December 14, riders will be able to ride the special train in return for a newly unwrapped toy.

Want more seasonal cheer? Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle contest coming soon!

Keep watching the blog for a fun contest you can take part of if you see the Reindeer Bus or Community Shuttle!

The BC Parkway repaving is complete!

cyclist near Southridge

Cyclist heading north near Southridge Drive

Back in late October, we shared the news that the BC Parkway was to undergo some much needed improvements, since its opening 27 years ago.

The BC Parkway is 26 km of multi-use path that connects Surrey, New Westminster, South Burnaby, and Vancouver. Because it is a multi-use path, it is important to make the parkway safe and accessible for all kinds of travelers, whether you are walking, cycling, or running around wagging your tail (can’t forget our furry friends!).

The 2013 BC Parkway repaving project is now complete! We’ve fixed up a few areas that were previously rough or unpaved:

  • North and south of the Southridge Drive overpass, near the Burnaby/New Westminster border
  • Between Imperial Street and the Metrotown SkyTrain Station
  • South of Southpoint Drive
  • South of Rumble Street
  • West side of London Place

Based on input we heard during the BC Parkway Upgrades conceptual design, TransLink is planning to do more state of good repair work on the BC Parkway in 2014. We’ll keep you posted!