Translink Buzzer Blog

I Love Transit 2013: JJ Lee in the flow

I Love Transit 2013

For our last guest post for I Love Transit Week this year, we’re honoured to have critically-acclaimed writer JJ Lee tell us why he loves transit. JJ is a memoirist and fashion essayist. His book, The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit, was shortlisted  for the 2011 Governor-General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction, the 2012 Charles Taylor Prize for Non-Fiction, the 2011 BC Book Prizes’ Hubert Evans Prize for Non-Fiction, and the 2012 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize. He likes to write when on the SkyTrain.


Image from public archives, A View of the Bridge over the Berthier River (detail), 1785, by James Peachey | James Peachey, Library and Archives Canada, Acc No 1970­188­1501, Collection of Canadiana, W.H. Coverdale, C­045559­museum­of­new­france/daily­life/communications/

Image from public archives, A View of the Bridge over the Berthier River (detail), 1785, by James Peachey | James Peachey, Library and Archives Canada, Acc No 1970­188­1501, Collection of Canadiana, W.H. Coverdale, C­045559

I grew up in Quebec. From an early grade, teachers taught me about the seigneurial system, which essentially transplanted France’s post­-feudal aristocracy to the New World.

Perhaps I made a poor student because I recall little about those lessons except for one compelling image: the rivers.

As the main and most reliable form of transit in New France, the river determined the shape of colonisation. The seigneur, essentially a lord, would rent out salami slice thin plots of land to farmers. Each plot would have its own access to the flowing waters.

Photo of JJ Lee

JJ Lee

I would imagine the canoes and rafts with their pilots calling out to each other or to the people they saw along shore. The breeze, the crack of bulrush stems, and maybe even–and this is from the fertile imagination of a nine ­year ­old–the sounds of shared singing. Maybe even something like Nagez Rameurs (“Pull Together, Paddlers!”), by folk singers Genticorum.

Since then, rivers have been for me about connection, community, and life. Roads only serve some of the same purpose. Sure, everybody gets their little bit of street front, and roads help people go from one place to another, but they aren’t like the great rivers about which I once daydreamed.

On roads and highways, drivers and their friends and families plunge through space sealed in individual capsules. Yielding is simply the act of waiting for your turn. Merging merely works to slip one vehicle behind another.

Not so on the SkyTrain. It is a true confluence. People of all incomes, classes, races, heritages, and languages come aboard and they, heck, I mean “we”, WE ride together.

Some of us ride to get home or get to work or to meet a friend or lover. Our common purpose sometimes only lasts the few minutes between stops, but on the flow of the SkyTrain, we are briefly on the same boat. Love it or not.

I love it.

Recently, I rode the train with a vintage camera around my neck. It was a Voigtlander Vito B camera with an accessory rangefinder. Lots of shiny chrome. Attractive. But definitely limited by an increasingly outdated technology. The camera uses 35mm film cassettes.

Film is such an unfamiliar way of making pictures that I’ve been asked more than once to show or delete a photograph within seconds of pressing the shutter.

Folks, film doesn’t work that way. And as I try to explain this internally, I wither. I think I am an oddball or a crank or out of step with time.

JJ's Voigtlander Vito B camera

JJ’s Voigtlander Vito B camera

But on this ocassion, by chance, I stood next to a young man with an old Minolta SLR. We struck up a conversation. And before long, we were pulling out the backup cameras from our bags.

He showed me his Canon FTb Quick Load with a super sharp 50mm FD lens. I pulled out a giant twin lens reflex camera, the Yashica 635, which dates back to 1959.

We colloquied on film cameras. He told me his was visiting from Japan. He was here to learn English. He loved taking pictures of people on the street. We spoke until he reached his stop. I think it was Nanaimo Station.

I rode on. The SkyTrain flowed on. Another river, the Fraser on my right, flowed on. Random. Serendipitous. Fleeting. Connected.The only thing missing was the faint sound of wind through the bulrush stems.

I Love Transit 2013: An interview with Dr. Patricia Daly

I Love Transit 2013

It’s the I Love Transit Week and we are talking to Dr. Patricia Daly, Chief Medical Health Officer and the Vice President, Public Health for Vancouver Coastal Health. Patricia is originally from Toronto, and has made Vancouver her home for the last 20 years, where she and her husband have raised their three sons. You can follow Vancouver Coastal Health on Twitter at @VCHhealthcare.


Patty Portrait 2013

Dr. Patricia Daly, Vancouver Coastal Health

Why do you love transit?

When I use transit, which usually means I walk about 3 blocks from my house to a bus stop, I am happy that I am getting some physical activity without having to schedule it into my busy day.  I like the fact that I am making a positive contribution to the environment by leaving my car at home.  But what I love most about transit is that it is a much less stressful way of navigating a busy city than getting behind the wheel of my car – I like someone else to do the driving.

What’s your favourite mode of transportation?

I love the Canada Line.  There is a station a block away from my Vancouver office, and it has become my preferred route to get to and from the airport and to meetings in Richmond.

Being an expert in public and preventative health, what exactly is preventative health and why did you choose that area of medicine?

I spent the early years of my medical career working in Emergency Departments, treating patients with many preventable conditions, including diseases related to smoking, alcohol consumption and injuries.  I wanted to work further upstream to prevent these conditions from occurring.  Public health and preventive medicine focus on three areas: promoting good health, preventing diseases and injuries, and protecting population health.

What are the key areas of health promotion?

Health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over and improve their health, by ensuring that the healthy choice is the easy choice. Some of our key health promotion activities include working with municipalities to design neighbourhoods that encourage people to walk, cycle and be physically active, ensuring healthy, nutritious food is readily available to everyone, and initiatives that discourage young people from starting smoking.

What about health prevention?

Prevention activities include such things as immunizing children, injury prevention initiatives, and maternal-child health programs for newborns and their mothers to help everyone get a healthy start in life.  Health protection programs include food safety, water quality and air quality programs to protect the population from contaminants in the environment.

How are health and transportation connected?

We know that if we design neighbourhoods that encourage people to walk, ride bicycles and use transit rather than use cars, that people will be more physically active.  Daily physical activity is very important for maintaining good health and preventing disease.  Also, because many chronic diseases, including respiratory and cardiac diseases, can be caused by or exacerbated by toxins in the air, choosing modes of transportation that are less polluting can also help improve the health of the population.

What can we all do to increase the health of our population?

Encouraging people to be physically active seems like an easy way to improve the health of the population, but the truth is that it can be difficult for people to incorporate the recommended amount of physical activity in their daily routine (60 minutes daily for children and 30 minutes for adults).

Does active transportation factor into this?

Active transportation is any form of transportation that is “human powered”. Encouraging people to use active transportation to get to work, school and run their daily errands is an easy way of helping to achieve physical activity targets.  Using transit is also considered a form of active transportation as people usually walk to the bus stop or transit station, and even 15 minutes of walking each way will allow adults to meet their daily recommendation for physical activity.

What’s an example of a simple transportation choice that can improve the health of the region?

Walking is my favourite mode of transportation. Try walking to one errand a week – if there are no local stores in your neighbourhood, consider those stores near your workplace; I make all my bank and pharmacy visits near my office.  If these ideas don’t work, how about occasionally using the stairs while you are at work?  Employers can help by ensuring stairwells are accessible and inviting.

I Love Transit 2013: An Interview with Brent Toderian

I Love Transit 2013

It’s I Love Transit Week! Today, we’re excited to chat with Brent Toderian, Vancouver’s former Chief City Planner. He is now a national and international urbanism consultant with cities across the globe, as well as the founding president of the Council for Canadian Urbanism. Follow him on Twitter at @BrentToderian.

NEWS: Brent Toderian . Chief City Planner for Vancouver pictured in Sydney.

Brent Toderian, Vancouver’s former Chief City Planner and avid transit fan!

Why do you love transit?

Professionally, I love transit because of the effect it has on the shape and success of cities. It supports, and is supported by, well-designed cities, with density and a rich mixing of uses. Frankly, city-regions can’t work effectively and successfully without effective and successful transit. Transit saves cities a massive amount of space and money and is one of the most effective investments in the future with a well-established return on investment. It contributes to more healthy, sustainable, nimble and economically successful places.

Personally, being a frequent transit user makes me healthier, more socially connected, more connected with my city, and happier. It improves my quality-of-life and saves me a ton of money. Frankly, what’s not to love?

What does transit mean to you?

To me, a well-designed and successful transit system equals freedom and flexibility. The car used to be associated with freedom, but not anymore. High gas prices that will just keep going up, traffic congestion, struggles to find parking–increasingly, the car just means a hassle. However, I can travel to anywhere I need to in my city on transit, easily and inexpensively. That’s freedom.

Transit also means a successful city. It’s very hard to think of a city that I consider successful that doesn’t have a great transit system.

What are your earliest memories of transit?

My earliest transit memories are from Montréal, where my mother’s side of the family lived, and where I spent many months of each year while growing up. I learned to take transit, and love transit on Montréal’s Metro system. I still tend to compare every system I experience with it. I learned how to read visual cues and way-finding, line colour and direction, everything about how to navigate a system first in Montréal. And it’s still one of my favorite transit systems, and cities. Read more »

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.