Translink Buzzer Blog

TransLink’s 2013 busker auditions start tomorrow!

SYTYCB2013All the busker applications are in, and we have a full house for TransLink’s annual busker competition So You Think You Can Busk? tomorrow! In the two-week call for audition applications, we had nearly 50 musicians apply. These musicians will compete for eight coveted one-year TransLink busker licenses.

The 2013 So You Think You Can Busk Judges:

This year, we’re adding some guest panelists to join TransLink’s Cindy Bromley, Director of Communications and Stakeholder Relations. They are:

Aamer Haleem, co-host of CTV Morning Live

Jonny Staub, co-host of The Beat 94.5 FM’s morning show

Kenneth Chan, Deputy Editor and Social Media Coordinator with Vancity Buzz.

Seven buskers licenses are awarded, and buzzer readers pick the winner of the eighth!

We’re changing things up this year! Our four judges will be scoring the buskers throughout the day tomorrow. After the event finishes around 4 p.m., they’ll huddle in a room determining who will win seven of the licenses.

Who wins the final license to busk? That will be up to readers of the blog! After the judges choose the seven license winners, they’ll identify four candidates to compete for the final license. We’ll be videotaping all the buskers during the auditions. On Thursday, December 5, we’ll post the auditions of the four final candidates on the blog so readers can cast their votes!

Check the blog on Thursday, and vote on who you think deserves to busk on the system! You’ll also want to watch the blog, The Buzzer Twitter channel and the TransLink Facebook page tomorrow because we’ll be posting audition updates throughout the day. Oh, and here’s the news release. This is going to be fun!


Information sessions for Commercial–Broadway Station begin December 5

2013-11-29 Commercial-Broadaway Buzzer(2)

Hear what’s happening at Commercial–Broadway station

Are you one of the 150,000 people who use Commercial–Broadway Station every day? Information sessions for the second phase of upgrades at the station will take place in early December and we want your input!

Visit us in the community

We’ll be out in the community to share information about the station upgrades with our neighbours and passengers who use the busiest station on the network. Join us at one of the three information sessions:

Information Session #1
Date: December 5, 2013
Time: 3 – 6 p.m.
Location: Commercial–Broadway Station, North Station House street level

Information Session #2
Date: December 10, 2013
Time: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Location: University of British Columbia, Student Union Building

Information Session #3
Date: December 11, 2013
Time: 4 – 8 p.m.
Location: Trout Lake Community Centre, 3360 Victoria Drive

Get involved online

Can’t make it to one of the sessions? No problem! We will also have information and a feedback survey posted at December 2 until December 16.

We hope to hear from you soon!

Winter service changes begin December 16, 2013


Check your route before you go!

It’s that time of year again – drum roll please! <<drrruummrroolll>> . Winter service changes come into effect on December 16! For more information, check out the upcoming print Buzzer and Transit Service Changes. Check your route before you go!

For the very latest on transit service conditions be sure to check out @translink or call 604-953-3333.

Preparing transit for winter conditions

I doubt we’ll get this much snow, but you never know!

I doubt we’ll get this much snow, but you never know!

We’ve had a mild Fall in Metro Vancouver and so far the Winter has been the same. However, according to Environment Canada, as of Friday, November 29, Monday could see rain and flurries and Tuesday could bring temperatures as low as minus six.

In anticipation of these adverse weather conditions, TransLink and its operating companies have plans to maintain service as best as possible for the residents of Metro Vancouver.

Employees will be working to maintain expeditious service wherever possible – snow or shine.

As everyone knows,  despite our best efforts snowy weather in Metro Vancouver can create traffic snarls resulting in delays that could spread across the region.

Here are just a few of the efforts we’re taking to help people get to where they are going:


  • Switching 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 havles are heavy which can create some traction problems. Potential Jack knifing may occur.


  • In the evening, three Trolley deicer trucks will spray the entire trolley overhead system if there is a forecast risk of frost or ice.



  • 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 be monitoring the guideway for any large snow fall or drop-offs from the Skytrain cars in order to keep the tracks clear.

SkyTrain (Canada Line)

  • 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.


  • 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. And there are special trains that can keep running on the system which further prevents ice-build up.


  •  New breaking modes for train cars – kind of like ABS on vehicles – to provide traction.

What should customers consider when challenging weather hits the transit system?:

  • Riders need to ensure that they give themselves extra time when heading out on the transit system when weather is nasty. Adverse weather means the entire transit system will be much slower as staff will use extra caution.


  • Buses endure the same road conditions as other vehicles. As a result, they too are not immune to the accompanying perils caused by bad weather.


  • Please be patient with our Operators: they are trying hard to provide efficient and timely service. Schedules will be affected when it snows despite our best efforts.


  • TransLink’s operating companies work closely with each municipality and city to help ensure streets or areas are addressed with snow clearing, salting or sanding.


  • We live in a region with several micro climates which makes it difficult to clear all areas simultaneously. It is possible that some bus routes will have gaps in service – but it could also mean that some areas are aokay.


Together we can help each other get ready for this possible winter wallop! And if you need help navigating your winter commute, remember our Customer Information team is at the ready through @translink and (604) 953-3333. Sign up for transit alerts, plan ahead with and Trip Planner and give yourself extra time on your commute.



TransLink & CMBC support UBC Safewalk Program

TransLink & CMBC support UBC Safewalk Program

UBC Safewalk Program

You may have heard in the media lately about UBC’s Safewalk Program for students on campus.  It’s a free service from the Alma Mater Society of UBC, which provides an escort for students who are walking to any point on campus after dark. Arrangements can be made by phone.

We know that lots of people rely on transit to get to and from campus, so CMBC and TransLink have a few things on the go to support the Safewalk Program.

Several of our bus routes headed out to UBC have added reminders to some of the regular UBC stop announcements that let people know they can call Safewalk for an escort. Bus operators are also distributing Rider Alerts to passengers bound for UBC after dark.

TransLink’s Twitter team is tweeting out Safewalk’s message recommending people on campus avoid walking alone after dark, and encouraging students to call Safewalk for an escort.

TransLink & CMBC support UBC Safewalk Program

99 B-Line Bus

All customers riding buses between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. (anywhere in the transit system, not just UBC) can also make use of TransLink’s Request A Stop program.

If you feel safer getting off the bus at a point between two regular bus stops during these hours, you can “Request a Stop”.

At the bus operator’s discretion, you will be let off if it is safe to do so. Requesting a stop can allow you to get to your destination sooner, and minimize the amount of time you spend walking alone after dark!

However, passengers can’t request a stop on express and limited stop sections of a route.

If you’re bound for UBC on one of our buses after dark, we hope you’ll take advantage of Safewalk – it’s a great service to help you feel safe and comfortable while getting where you need to go on campus.

Introducing Jennifer B!

I ride the SeaBus every morning!

Hi Buzzer Readers! My name is Jennifer Binnington and I’m very excited to be a new member of the TransLink communications team. Having worked in the industry since the start of my career, transportation is something that’s very near and dear to my heart.

Work and life takes me all over Metro Vancouver, and public transit has been my go-to form of transportation. But I like to switch it up sometimes and when I’m not on the bus, SkyTrain or SeaBus, you may find me on my bike or Vespa!

Here are some other tidbits about me:

  • I’ll eat almost anything, except for peas or cereal.
  • I started ballet two years ago as a beginner adult. Right now I’m floating somewhere between beginner and intermediate.
  • I grew up just outside of Toronto but have been very happy to call Vancouver my home for the past eight years.

I’m excited to share TransLink news and project updates with you and I hope you find the stories as interesting as I do!

Custom transit, HandyDART, and the Taxi Pilot Project: what’s going on?

HandyDART vehicle

A HandyDART vehicle on the move.

One of the topics we haven’t often addressed on the blog is the custom transit part of our transit services – HandyDART. HandyDART is a door-to-door shared ride service for people with disabilities.

Just like the conventional transit system, demand is up for HandyDART. People who use conventional transit sometimes experience pass-ups, especially on our most heavily used routes. On HandyDART runs, we can record these as trip denials – a customer requests a trip and there isn’t one available for the time requested.

As demand goes up, so too have HandyDART trip denials, and this is a big concern for us. (It’s worth noting that we started to more accurately record denials data in 2010, which resulted in a marked uptick in the number of denials.) TransLink has been managing this by getting more efficient with operations, including HandyDART (service optimization, anyone?).

Today, HandyDART provides more trips to customers than five years ago – 1.21 million in 2012, compared with 1.17 million in 2008 – using approximately the same number of annual service hours.  3% of all trips were denied in 2012.

Read more »

All aboard for a transit adventure using NEW Trip Planner functions – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!

Screen shots of Edit Trip Plan and other new features.


This past weekend, I took my five-year old, four books and my three-year old on two buses and one SkyTrain. Why? My husband had to go into the office on Saturday morning and we had a family birthday party to attend. It was not ideal to have two cars at the restaurant so the light bulb went on and I thought – why not take transit?

We live in Port Moody and our destination was the Cactus Club on Lougheed Highway. Driving there would take approximately 40 minutes, but I had no idea how long a journey on transit would take or what the route would entail. To the Trip Planner I went, keen with the thought of an adventure.

Two new Trip Planner functions jumped out at me; first, I could select the “Allow More Walking (up to 1km)” option, so that I could catch a more direct bus to my second stop with just a few more minutes of walking; and two, I noticed that there is finally an “Edit Trip Plan” button! This new button allowed me to make changes to my trip plan, without having to reenter my information with each time I made an adjustment – and there were many as I tried to find the most efficient route with the shortest duration.

I also checked out Google Transit tab on TransLink’s Trip Planning page so I could see my route tracked on a map – this I found super helpful.

In the end, we had a great morning on transit, the kids had an adventure and we arrived safely – without tears – at our destination.

In case you missed our review of other transit related apps, check out this Buzzer post from October. Happy travels!

 An ‘Edit Trip Plan’ button is now at your fingertips.

Northeast Sector Area Transit Plan Phase 2 interactive survey is now live

It's time to look long-term transit planning in the Northeast Sector!

It’s time to look long-term transit planning in the Northeast Sector!

Attention residents or riders who travel regularly in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Anmore or Belcarra. It’s time to help us with long-term planning of the Northeast Sector transit plan.

Be Part of the Plan!

The second phase of the Northeast Sector Area Transit Plan (NESATP) starts today! Building on key issues and opportunities for transit in the area learned during the Phase 1, Phase 2 looks to identify a 30-year transit vision for the sub-region. The end result of this four phased plan will be both a 30-year vision and transit priorities for the next 1-10 years.

Take the interactive online survey

We’re doing things a little differently for phase 2. We have a really exciting online interactive tool that lets you act like a planner of transit for the sub-region. First you pick your priorities from a list of important trade-offs required in transit network design.  Next, a series of maps illustrate conceptual scenarios based on different ways the network could change – and show how those scenarios relate to your chosen priorities. After scenarios you can drill down further to different opportunities for the region — all for you to determine!

The online interactive survey will be open until 4 p.m. on Friday, January 6, 2014. Your input, along with financial and technical information, will help TransLink develop the plan, expected to be completed by fall 2014.

Take part in our workshops and drop-in sessions

There will be three workshops in the Coquitlam Centre area on November 25, 26 and 30. Check the Get Involved page for more details including registering in advance.

Riders can also take part in four drop-in sessions on November 22, 25, 26 and 30. Again, you’ll want to check the Get Involved page for more details including time of day and locations.

More to come

Stay tuned! There will be more opportunities for you to give your input on the future of transit in the Northeast Sector coming up in the next phase.

Calling all buskers!

Clips from a few buskers at last year’s audition

For 27 years, buskers have been part of the culture of transit in Metro Vancouver. Since Expo ’86, musicians of every ilk have provided riders with entertainment and a soundtrack to their travels. Buskers help make the six SkyTrain stations in downtown Vancouver more vibrant adding a bit of music and art to the environment.

Busking applications due November 28, 2013

Every year, licenses open up for new buskers to join seasoned veterans already playing on the system. Interested in busking on the system? All you need to do is fill out the application form on the buskers page of the TransLink website.

Busking auditions are December 4, 2013
Once applications are submitted, qualified buskers will be asked to audition. This year, we’ll be holding our auditions at TransLink’s new office at 400 – 287 Nelson’s Court, New Westminster. The event is from 10 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on December 4 and open to auditioning buskers and media only (Sorry, there’s not enough room for more people). However, we’ll be videotaping the event and posting it on the blog and the Buzzer  YouTube channel shortly afterwards.

If you have a moment, take a look at Buzzer coverage of buskers in the past. I’ll be posting more on the auditions as we get closer to the date, including an exciting way for riders to be part of the fun. Stay tuned, and get those applications in!

Links & Tidbits – November 15, 2013

Links and tidbits is our semi-regular roundup of interesting fodder about transportation from the last few weeks or so. If you have links to contribute, put them in the comments, or email us.


  • The South Surrey Park and  Ride and its expansion lot are now open! You may have already seen this on our Facebook page, but here’s a neat time-lapse video that shows the construction process.


  • The pitter patter of footsteps, the clink of coins in the vending machine … wouldn’t it be interesting of the sounds of the transit system were musical? James Murphy has been fighting to turn all New York city subway turnstiles into musical instruments, to create a subway symphony.


  • There’s nothing like a bit of workout before taking transit! Russia has launched a campaign to encourage citizens to be healthier – transit riders now have the option of paying for their subway ticket with 30 squats!


  • Price Tags shares an image submitted by Jim McGraw, of the Bochenheimer Warte U-bahn stop, a major interchange station in Frankfurt, Germany. Interesting design, no?


  • New York subway conductors have a rule: at every stop, they are required to point at a black and white sign to acknowledge the train fully arriving at the station. Two Miami Ad School students take advantage of this rule to put a big smile on the conductors’ faces. Watch the video below and read the full story here.



  • Just for kids! A bus-load of fun for the little ones from two to ten years old, on the Vancouver Tumblebus - a fully fitted gym on wheels with crash mats, monkey bars, a climbing wall, trampoline and more!


  • We’ve all heard of gardens on top of homes or buildings in an effort to bring nature into the urban environment. We even have a tree on top of a building in Vancouver’s West End. But, have you heard of a bus with a rooftop garden? Designer Marc Granen calls his concept Phyto Kinetic.


  • Here’s an interesting story – University of Toronto graduate Samah El-Tantawy has designed new traffic lights that uses strategies from game theory to reduce traffic congestion. Do you think this would work in vancouver?

Buzzer illustrator interview: Russell Alton

Russell and his illustration

Russell and his illustration

Here’s some light and fun reading. As with most of our illustrators of the Buzzer newsletter, we had the opportunity to ask Russell Alton (A.K.A. Chop-Logik), illustrator of our November issue, a few questions.

We really like Russell’s illustration. Here’s a short q and a with Mr. Alton.

Who is Russell Alton?

Russell Alton is organically produced in Smithers, BC, simmered and percolated in Vancouver, then shipped across the globe to be enjoyed by family, friends, at home or at work!
Ask your local distributor about bringing Russell to your area today.

What’s behind the name Chop-Logik?

It’s an insult from one of Lord Capulet’s tirades in Romeo & Juliet, which I was reading in school at the same time as I needed a username for a digital media project. It jumped out, and somehow people began to use it in meatspace as well. There’s now more people that call me Chop than Russell, strangely. ‘Choplogic’ is spurious, illogical, and over-complicated for it’s own sake.

What’s your favourite thing to draw?

The simplest distillation is that I love to draw lines, which might sound a bit absurd. I’m fascinated with the way lines interact & work in concert within an imagined system, where each one informs the balance of the next. My process is letting these systems play out, forming a drawing organically; seeing what sort of character is built, even if it’s just a triangle with a goofy face. My work is very much choplogic in that regard.

How did you come up with your illustration?

Lately, I’ve been on a very geometric bent, which has coalesced into these ‘crystal wizard’ creatures. They are wise summoners from dimensions beyond our grasp. My illustration was an imagining of them inhabiting our space and our world, living alongside us. Of course they would take transit! The SkyTrain is quite the wizardly vehicle, no doubt.

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

I do! I mainly bike to get around, but transit makes connecting to events, people and experiences possible on those one or two days a year when it rains. One of my ventures is handmade greeting cards; I have various shops in Vancouver and out to New Westminster that stock my cards, prints and various sundries and I’m able to reach them all easily with the help of transit. It’s a lifesaver.

What does the future hold for you?

Bright things! More art in more places, more avenues to funnel my creative energy down, more opportunities and experiences around the world. A small amount of utter global domination, but only as a vehicle to spread goodwill, understanding and equality, of course.

Thanks Russell for the interview and the crystal wizards in the illustration!

Remembrance Day 2013 Holiday Service – Monday Nov 11

Remembrance Day is Monday, November 11th.

The Bus, SkyTrain and SeaBus services will run on regular Sunday/holiday schedules.

West Coast Express trains and TrainBus service will not operate.

Veterans ride free on Nov. 11

Remembrance Day

Lest we forget

This applies to Ordinary and Life Members of the Royal Canadian Legion, the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans and the Korean Veterans Association.

Veterans just have to show their membership card to receive free transportation. Free service does not apply to associate members of these organizations.

Free transit service also extends to current members of the armed services including police (including auxiliaries), firefighters, the Coast Guard, BC Ambulance Paramedics and Department of Fisheries and Oceans Officers. They may ride free in uniform or by presenting their badge.

A moment of silence at 11am

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

Remembrance Day Parade reroutes – Monday, November 11

There are a number of Remembrance Day parades around Metro Vancouver. This means that some buses will be rerouted on Monday, November 11. For a complete list of reroutes please check the Alerts and Advisories page.

Transit service on Tuesday, November 12

On Tuesday, all transit modes return to their regular schedules!


Again, for specific info on reroutes, check out the Alerts page on the main TransLink site or call Customer Information at 604-953-3333.

The November issue of the Buzzer is now on the system

A brand new print Buzzer is on the system!

There’s lot of great stuff in this issue. The main subject is about the launch of This interactive website is a great resource, besides the Buzzer of course, for answering all of your Compass Card questions. Read all about it here and by using it yourself.

Regular readers of the blog know all about our annual Halloween photo contest. We included a couple of fantastically inventive costumes in the issue.

TransLink, combined with it’s operating companies and it’s predecessor organizations, has been involved with the United Way for more than forty years, and this year was no different. We’re proud to announce that this year we’ve collected over $200,000 for various community programs and counting!

The TravelSmart program has been busy of late.  This issue included two events, which marked partnering with two cities in Metro Vancouver: both the City of Surrey and Coquitlam joined the program this year! TranLink’s TravelSmart program encourages residents to make more sustainable travel choices, specifically through walking.

A couple of holidays are around the corner. Transit service for Remembrance Day and our Toys for Tots toy collection are included in this issue. More on both of these subjects to come on the blog!

Of course, there’s Contest Corner and Back Issue sections, and that pretty much captures what’s in the issue.

Remember, you can always download the Buzzer as .pdf (including back issues). The other option is to pick it up on the bus, SeaBus or SkyTrain!



Got questions? Ask away at


Exciting news! Starting earlier this week, we have a convenient new way for you to get answers to your Compass questions:

We know you’ve got questions about Compass and we wanted to have an easy way for you to get detailed answers. is just the ticket! is part of our comprehensive Compass education and awareness program to help you understand how to use the system. The site has an automatic smart-search function, meaning answers to some questions will be instantaneous; if someone’s already asked your question, you can instantly see our answer. If not, you can submit it and we’ll post the answer as soon as we can.

The site will work similar to a wiki, meaning the amount of knowledge and information on the site will grow. The more questions you ask, the better will get. Over time, together, we’ll create an enriched site that you can access regularly to get answers and find out more about Compass.

We’ll be jazzing it up too–instead of just answering with text all the time, we’ll also use visual aids like videos, pictures and infographics to help explain things better when it makes sense.

Of course, we’ll keep answering questions through all our usual channels like this blog, Twitter, Facebook, emails and over the phone, but just gives us another  tool to keep you informed.

Check it out and let us know what you think!