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Translink Buzzer Blog

Tonight: #531, #595, community shuttle open house at Langley Public Library

You may have seen this in your local papers, but tonight, there will be a TransLink open house at Langley Public Library, 20399 Douglas Cres, from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The open house will discuss the new routes #531 and #595, plus improvements proposed for Langley Community Shuttle routes. (We’re thinking of introducing a new Langley/White Rock Centre route and enhancing existing shuttle routings, frequencies, and hours of operation.)

Please come and review the proposed improvements and share your thoughts!

For further info, please contact Vincent Gonsalves, Community Relations Coordinator, at or 604-453-3043.

Transit on film: Seat Ibiza car commercial

Here’s a commercial for a Spanish compact car Seat Ibiza, shot partly on a Mark I SkyTrain at Waterfront Station in 2006.

First, I don’t speak Spanish so I’m wondering how the polar bear concept relates to the car in question. Could anyone enlighten us on what they’re saying in the ad?

Second: why yes, that is a polar bear in Waterfront Station! Bill Knight, whose many duties include managing film requests and supervising film shoots on our property, has a story to tell about that.

Read more »

Friday fun poll: which type of SkyTrain car do you like best?

If you like, you can skip to the end of this post to answer the Mark I vs. Mark II cars poll.

Results from last poll: eye contact on transit

Last week I asked about your approach to eye contact on transit.

There were 94 votes on this poll, and slightly more than half didn’t worry about eye contact on transit (52%), while the rest tried to avoid eye contact as much as possible (49%).

In the comments, daniel said that he definitely avoids eye contact on transit.

i chose answer number 1. when you make eye contact with someone you feel really awkward. i just try and stare out the window!

However Scott Clayton had a different view:

I usually make eye contact with the people just getting on the bus, and I usually smile at them (unless they look like they’re on drugs)—they often smile back and sit next to me, though we rarely talk.

I usually say “hey” to the person I sit next to when I get on the bus.

Also, I discovered that the Coen Brothers did a short film about eye contact on transit, but on the Paris Metro. Before I give you the link, be warned that the film contains swearing, insults, mild violence, and Steve Buscemi: okay, here it is.

This week’s poll: which type of SkyTrain car do you like best?

This poll was kindly suggested by David Lam. Credit for the Mark I photo goes to ms_cwang at Flickr.

Thought I’d do a SkyTrain question in honour of the interiors post this week. Let me know what you think!

The May Buzzer is out today!

The May 2009 Buzzer is now on all buses, SeaBus, SkyTrain, and West Coast Express!

In this issue we talk about Bike to Work Week, which encourages you to try commuting by bike from May 11-15.

We’ve also got details about the The Bicycle Valet, who provides convenient bike parking at events, plus info about Access Awareness Day, (and the upcoming in-person consultation events), and our new multilingual timetables!

We also have notes on Victoria Day holiday service, an important notice about the temporary closure of the Broadway Station elevator, and an item about the Buzzer’s 93rd birthday (the Buzzer may be creaking in the joints, but it’s still going strong :)

And as usual, it is our pleasure to feature a cover from another fine Canadian illustrator, Andrea Armstrong. I’m really pleased with this illustration — I love the way the colours look like watercolour paints!

As always, if you can’t get the Buzzer on the system, you can always read it in PDF form on our website. Visit our Buzzer PDF archives, which stretch back to the heady days of June 2006. (Here’s the direct link to the May issue PDF.)

Please don’t forget to enter the FareCard contest too: you can win a free FareCard in every issue of the Buzzer. Read the issue, then answer the question right by Monday, June 1 at 9 a.m. to win!

Enjoy the latest Buzzer everyone: comments are welcome below!

TransLink’s Annual General Meeting, Tue May 12, 9am-11am

You’re invited to attend TransLink’s Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, May 12!

It will be held from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Firefighters Hall, 6515 Bonsor Avenue, Burnaby. Our 2008 Annual Report will be available, as will reports from the Board Chair and CEO, and a question and answer period will follow. We look forward to seeing you there!

For more meetings of the TransLink Board of Directors, check out this link for a schedule.

Today: open house for #531 and #399 routes at Semiahmoo Mall

There’s an open house today at Semiahmoo Mall, asking for feedback on two new routes for Surrey, White Rock, and Langley!

The open house is being held until the mall closes at 9pm tonight, and will show service concepts for the proposed #531 White Rock/Langley and the #399 King George Highway/104th B-Line service. Everyone is invited to come down and offer input on the routes.

Also, if you’re interested, Surrey blogger Paul Hillsdon attended an earlier open house on the routes and wrote about many of the details on his blog.

(And so, so sorry for the lateness on this one—I just found out about it today!)

A few more photos of the new SkyTrain interiors

One of <a href=>Chris Cassidy's</a> photos from the new SkyTrain cars.

One of Chris Cassidy's photos from the new SkyTrain cars.

Here’s some more photos if you’d like to see more of the new SkyTrain car interiors.

Chris Cassidy has some photos up at his site, (these are really TrainShots, though :)

George Prior also has photos up at Trans-Vancouver Photos.

And 24 Hours newspaper also has a photo gallery up.

Edit: Richard Eriksson also has a set of photos up at Flickr.

Edit 2: Karen Fung now has a video up at YouTube.


Fleet Overhaul Series, Part 6 of 6: Electronics and high-floor wheelchair lift repair

This little office is where they fix the destination signs for the vehicles.

This little office is where they fix the destination signs for the vehicles.

This is the final article in a six-part series about Fleet Overhaul, the vehicle maintenance centre down at Burnaby Transit Centre. (Check out the earlier articles on the body shop; panel fabrication; the paint shop; high-mileage vehicle work; and the warehouse.)

A little room just to the side of the body shop floor is where the electronic signage is repaired.

The electric shop, where they fix vehicle elements with electronic components.

The electric shop, where they fix vehicle elements with electronic components.

Overhaul manager Jeff Dow explained that they not only fix the signs, but also program them to flash custom messages like “Go Lions Go” or “Countdown 2 Gold,” which the buses showed for the Olympics.

There’s also an electric shop nearby, where electronic components of vehicles are repaired. Defrosters, fareboxes, new electronic motors, circuit boards, and more are taken care of here. (It’s a clean room, so we didn’t get to take an actual peek inside.)

Read more »

Wanted: questions for the Friday fun polls

Does anyone have any questions for the Friday fun polls?

I’m running short on good ideas and I’m certain you all have questions you’d love to ask :)

I only have limited criteria — make it a fun transit culture topic, the questions & answers shouldn’t be too complex, and fewer answer options are better. (It’s a fun poll: we don’t want to make it too hard for people to answer! Or too hard to understand the results once the poll closes.)

Feel free to use the comments or email me if that’s preferable!

Improved interiors for the new SkyTrain cars!

The new SkyTrain car, sitting on the Stadium Station side track.

The new SkyTrain car, sitting on the Stadium Station side track.

Finally, I’m able to share info about the improved interiors for our new SkyTrain cars!

If you don’t know about it, the train pictured above is one of the 48 new Mark II 1300 and 1400 series SkyTrain cars. These 48 cars will be in service by the end of 2009, boosting capacity on the Expo and Millennium Lines by 30%. (Most of these cars are still being built by Bombardier – we only have 6 cars (3 two-car trains) on hand right now.)

We debuted the interiors with a little media event at Stadium Station this morning (a few friends of the Buzzer blog were also able to attend :)

Just as a side note, this new SkyTrain car will be on Stadium Station’s side track for the next while, so attendants can be trained on its new features. So if you’re rolling through the station, you’ll definitely catch a glimpse of it!

But enough dillydallying – on to the interiors! Remember to click on all the photos for much larger versions!

Read more »

Port Coquitlam bus reroutes for the May Day Parade

The 86th annual Rotary May Day Parade is on Saturday in Port Coquitlam. (86 — that’s almost as old as the Buzzer!)

Anyway, this all means some reroutes for buses on Saturday — the C36, C37, C37, C38, 159, and 160. Have a look at the Alerts page on the TransLink main site for all the changes. And enjoy the parade, if you’re going!

Transit on film: The Trial of the Incredible Hulk

Well, this might be the best transit-on-film clip yet —- reader ;-) posted this clip from the Trial of the Incredible Hulk TV movie, shot on a Mark I SkyTrain & inside Granville Burrard Station in the late 80s.

There is one word for this: awesome. Thank you to ;-) for digging this up!

(Also, I have no detail on how this sequence was done, because I don’t know who was in charge of film shoots in the late 80s! If more info gets dredged up I’ll share — and feel free to share any details you might know too.)

Bike to Work Week 2009 gets rolling on Monday, May 11

Try cycling to work during Bike to Work Week, which launches its 2009 edition on Monday, May 11!

Sign up a team online, and win prizes for participation and distance travelled. (A free bike will also be given away every day!)

Plus, the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition (VACC), who runs Bike to Work Week, will set up commuter stations around the Lower Mainland during the week.

Commuter stations have free coffee, snacks, and more prizes, plus mechanics to tune up your bike if needed. (Here’s a look at the TransLink commuter station in Metrotower II last year.)

A huge celebration is also planned for the Seawall near Science World on Friday May 15, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. There will be free food, entertainment, and yes, even more prizes!

Worried about biking with traffic? The VACC offers courses to help get you comfortable on the road. See if your workplace will sponsor a course – the VACC has workshops aimed at safety, comfort, route planning and increasing bicycle knowledge! (Email Diana at the VACC or call 604-878-8222.)

Don’t know the bike routes in your area? Try out UBC’s handy cycling route planner, which I also profiled on the blog.

And if you still need reasons to try biking to work, the VACC has put together a list for you here :)
Read more »

Transit on film: Paycheck

All right, for Monday, here’s a fun item to start your week off.

Paycheck wasn’t exactly Ben Affleck’s finest two hours on film (that was Gigli, right?). But what it does have to offer is extended sequences involving elements of Vancouver transit :)

Hit 1:46 on this trailer and you’ll see Ben running between two of our articulated old MCI Classic buses. Close to the end of the trailer, you’ll also see Ben make a narrow escape from an oncoming SkyTrain.

The buses were shot downtown, and some of the SkyTrain filming was done in Burrard Station. Note that I say “some” and not “all” — the SkyTrain action sequence was actually done in a studio. Here’s the full story from Bill Knight, who, among other things, manages our film requests and supervised the Paycheck shoot on our property.

Ben was actually not present for the scene in the station, it was his double – who really does look like him. The scene of him being chased by a train was shot on a local sound stage, not at SkyTrain. This was a question of time available, safety and logistics. The shots would take too much time within the station – needing multiple nights of filming. We couldn’t have filmed anyways as you would have live power for a moving train. A moving train would have presented too much risk to the actor as well. Logistically it wouldn’t work because there are communications cables in the track area you could trip over plus the LIM reaction rail in the center of the track (which isn’t in their studio version of SkyTrain).

The train is authentic; well at least the first two feet or so! The production company was able to acquire a Mark II end cap for their mockup. In effect, Ben is being menaced by a two-foot long piece of fibreglas with car headlights added! The end of the train used to sit outside in the Vancouver Film Studios yard, visible by trains using the Millennium Line.

Bill also pointed out that this trailer doesn’t contain one crucial scene of Ben sitting at the back of a bus, in which to his immediate left sits a small black and white box marked “The Buzzer”! :)

Friday fun poll: eye contact on transit

If you like, you can skip to the end of this post to answer the eye contact poll.

Results from last poll: saying thank you to transit operators

Here’s the results of the last poll, which asked if you usually say thank you to your bus driver.

There were 192 votes on this poll, and the vast majority (79%) usually say thank you when they get off the bus! The rest (21%) do not.

Obviously the results aren’t representative of the entire service region — this is a fun poll, after all! But it does show that lots of the Buzzer blog’s readers take the time to recognize operators for their work. Peggy even uses it as a learning experience for her son:

Yes, I say thanks and making sure my kids do, too. Sometimes shouting it from the rear makes my teen feel self-conscious, especially if other folks don’t bother. So then we have the conversation about how using our manners might make it easier for other people to follow in our footsteps – step by step we can all create a more civil society!

David Lam also said that a thank you can mean a lot to an operator.

I always try to be nice to transit ops – having to deal with hundreds of different passengers everyday, it’s not an easy job at all! Upon several conversations with different transit ops, and also with a few buddies of mine who drive buses, the biggest challenge is not only traffic and road conditions, but rather how to emotionally overcome the feeling that one is being mistreated and degraded by a handful of people in our community who are often abusive and rude. If all of us can make someone’s day better by giving a little smile and say a simple phrase such as “thank you” before we disembark – why not?

As usual, there were many good comments this time round, including a short debate on whether you should yell “thank you” from the back doors or not: if you’re interested, please do check them out!

This week’s poll: your strategy for eye contact on transit

Transit’s a funny space — it’s a shared area, but everybody still wants a measure of privacy. So in this situation, how do you decide where to look when people are everywhere?

If you avoid eye contact and try to look at other things, feel free to share what those things are. (I personally read a lot of transit ads and try to stare out the window :)