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Translink Buzzer Blog

Look, the #125 is going strong so far

The lineup for the #125 at BCIT.

The lineup for the #125 at BCIT.

Hey—the #125, which you might remember as a trial route launched in our December service changes, is actually showing excellent ridership so far. Just thought we’d showcase some pics of the growing lineups hopping on!

Why is the #125 a trial run? The key issue was (and continues to be) bus congestion at the Metrotown loop. With the #125, we were trying to give BCIT riders another option to connect to the SkyTrain line, and reduce the number of buses going to Metrotown. We were going to look for another solution if the bus wasn’t popular, but so far, the bus route is turning out to be in high demand. The #125 was also established partly at the suggestion of our operators, too—great work there!

The #125 runs every 10 minutes on Monday through Friday during peak periods only. Here’s a few more photos.

Read more »

Regional Commissioner approves TransLink’s customer survey and complaints processes, with conditions attached

Martin Crilly, TransLink’s Regional Transportation Commissioner, plays an independent advisory and approval role in TransLink’s governance structure. (Here’s a link with a diagram describing how his role relates to the Board and others.)

Among many things, the Commissioner is responsible for approving of TransLink’s customer complaints processes, and today he made an announcement stating that he’s approving of those processes, with a few conditions attached.

As the press release describes:

Overall, the Commissioner found that TransLink’s current customer survey process enables TransLink to gather meaningful customer feedback and input, and act on it. Mr. Crilly’s approval order also notes that TransLink conducts customer satisfaction surveys more frequently than the statutory minimum of one year, and that its survey process compares favourably with other Canadian transit operators.

The Commissioner’s approval of the current customer complaints process is conditional on TransLink demonstrating over the coming year that it is identifying patterns and trends in customer complaints, reporting them to its respective Boards, and tracking progress in addressing the causes of complaints.

Check out the Commissioner’s website for the full investigation into our complaints processes. (There’s even a 17-page PDF available with immense detail on the complaints structure from all our subsidiaries, if you like detail.)

CMBC’s Snow Plan

Trolleys stuck in the snow on Main Street, January 4, 2009. Photo by the indefatigable Terry Muirhead. (Thanks Terry for all the photos you send in!)

Trolleys stuck in the snow on Main Street, January 4, 2009. Photo by the indefatigable Terry Muirhead.

Okay, again as requested in the comments from the first entry of 2009, readers Dan, Sungsu and Coffee Barista were interested in seeing the snow plans from SkyTrain and CMBC.

I’ve posted SkyTrain’s snow plan, and now here’s the snow plan from CMBC.

Read more »

Pantsless riders hit subways worldwide

All right, here’s a pretty funny transit-related tidbit that caught my eye this morning.

On Saturday, Improv Everywhere, a well-known public space performance art group in New York City, held its eighth annual No Pants! Subway Ride in New York City. Estimates say 1,200-1,500 people showed up to ride the subway pantsless this year! (Everybody wore underwear by the way–the point was to make people laugh, not to make them angry.)

This is slightly NSFW, so don’t click if your boss is strict — but here’s the NYC NYC 2009 report and the general overview of their mission. The event was held simultaneously in many other cities too: in Toronto, 300 people showed up to ride their subway pantsless.

Improv Everywhere has also done other transit-related performances in the past, including the Human Mirror, where pairs of twins dressed identically and sat across from each other in an NYC subway car, seriously confusing passengers who happened to hop on.

Downtown Vancouver reroutes for Monday

Just a heads up about Monday, Jan. 12 reroutes owing to Canada Line construction in downtown Vancouver.

Bus service will be re-routed off Hastings between Richards and Howe Streets on Monday, Jan. 12 between 7am and 1pm (or otherwise required).

This temporary re-route affects the #10 Granville, #16 Arbutus, #135 Burrard Stn and #135 SFU (via off Hastings onto Richards, Pender and Howe); #160 Vancouver and #160 Port Coquitlam Stn (from Burrard Stn via Pender and Seymour to Hastings).

(NB: We can expect general traffic in the vicinity to be congested as a result of this lane closure on Hastings.)

You can get the full details of the reroute at the Customer Alerts page discussing this road closure.

Poco Pete, the raccoon at Port Coquitlam Transit Centre

Poco Pete, the raccoon who has taken up residence on a bench at Poco Transit Centre.

Poco Pete, the raccoon who has taken up residence on a bench at Poco Transit Centre.

So, with all this bad weather, a raccoon has taken up residence on a bench at the Port Coquitlam Transit Centre! The staff has taken to calling him Poco Pete. (You may have seen Pete’s story in the Province too the other day.)

Apparently Pete showed up on Tuesday morning seeking refuge and spent all day on the transit centre’s bench. His den has likely been flooded or frozen over.

The staff put a container with bleach underneath the bench to see if the smell would drive him away, but Pete has just simply moved further down the bench. Options to send him on his way are tricky — SPCA and Wildlife Rescue say Pete is not an injured or sick animal, so unless he is inside someone’s home, there is nothing they can do. The other option is to call a pest control company but it has been stated that that can be traumatizing for the animal. So for now, while the bad weather persists, he’s sleeping on our bench.

By the way, the centre has taken precautions to keep Pete away from staff. A barrier has been put up to prevent him from getting close to the staff who might be using a nearby swipe card reader. For the most part, however, Pete apparently just sleeps all day, with a few breaks in between to groom himself.

Pete has in fact always lived in the vicinity of Port Coquitlam Transit Centre area, as he’s been spotted for years living off the centre’s dumpsters and garbage cans. Staff originally nicknamed him PT Raccoon for Poco Transit Raccoon—over time, the name become shortened to just Poco Pete. Hopefully once the bad weather recedes, he’ll be able to go back home!

SkyTrain’s snow plan

The snowy 29th Avenue SkyTrain station on Dec. 24, 2008. Photo courtesy kind reader Bill Kinkaid!

The snowy 29th Avenue SkyTrain station on Dec. 24, 2008. Photo courtesy kind reader Bill Kinkaid!

In the comments from the first entry of 2009, readers Dan, Sungsu and Coffee Barista were interested in seeing the snow plans from SkyTrain and CMBC.

CMBC is still working on getting us their plan, but SkyTrain has sent along their plan to me already. So here it is!

Read more »

New federal funding helps expand our fleet and service!

Stockwell Day, Canada's Minister of Public Safety, gets behind the wheel of one of our low-floor diesel buses. Minister Day attended our event on behalf of John Baird, the Transport and Infrastructure Minister.

Stockwell Day, Canada's Minister of Public Safety, gets behind the wheel of one of our low-floor diesel buses. Minister Day attended our event on behalf of John Baird, the Transport and Infrastructure Minister.

We held an event at the SeaBus maintenance centre today, and federal and municipal leaders helped us announce $186.4 million in new federal Gas Tax funding for TransLink over the next two years!

The new funding will support the purchases of:

  • 146 conventional buses
  • 34 articulated trolley buses
  • 23 Community Shuttles
  • 55 HandyDART buses
  • 38 SkyTrain Mark II cars

As well, in 2009, the funding will provide $10 million for the $54 million SkyTrain Operations and Maintenance Centre expansion, and in 2010, the new Maintenance and Transportation Training Centre (MTTC) in Maple Ridge will receive $50 million of the nearly $165 million cost.

You can grab the full press release and backgrounder here for more info.

Read more »

Rainfall warning continues: some detours being made

Well, if you hadn’t heard already, weather related problems and flooding may cause problems thoughout the Lower Mainland today.

So far, just a few bus routes have been affected on the system:

  • #230 is still turning around at Rockland & Prospect.
  • #210 is turning around at Dempsey & Underwood.
  • #502 Aldergrove is detoured due to flooding on the Nikomekl River.
    • From Langley Centre – regular route to 56th and the bypass then left on Langley Bypass, right on Glover Rd, right on 216th, left onto 56th ave, then regular.
    • From Aldergrove – regular route to 216th and 56th, then continue straight on 216th, left on Glover Rd, left on Langley Bypass, then right on 56th ave and regular route.

I’ll keep you posted as things develop. You can also check out our Customer Alerts page or the Youtube info stream, as always.

Well, if it’s not snowing, it’s flooding. How does this affect transit?

(Watch the clip to hear Drew Snider give an update on transit service from 7:15 a.m. — or just read below.)

As many of you might have heard by now, Environment Canada has issued a major rainfall warning for our region until mid-Thursday. Combined with the huge amount of melting snow lying around, that could mean major flooding in Metro Vancouver. (Here’s an article from The Province on the matter, too.)

For us, the anticipated flooding may well cause transit problems thoughout the Lower Mainland today.

As of 7:15 a.m., there are a couple of bus routes already detouring in Surrey:
– #320 turns off Fraser Highway onto 176, then onto 58th Ave (and the reverse in the other direction)
– #395 detours via 64th Ave., 176 and Fraser Hwy.

In North Vancouver, #230 is still turning around at Rockland & Prospect; the #210 is turning around at Dempsey & Underwood: both due to road conditions.

In West Vancouver, the #254 British Properties is still on partial snow route, leaving out St Andrew’s and Bonnymuir. Update at 11:10 a.m.: It’s now back on regular route.

HandyDART is running full service throughout the region, but is encountering some road closures due to high standing water.

Everyone on the system should expect larger than normal passenger volumes, as a lot of private vehicles are still snowed in on side streets. Please dress for the elements and expect the occasional heavy load passup. And a big thank you all for your patience and understanding during this trying time of weather-related woes!

I’ll keep you updated on the Buzzer blog if anything changes. You can also see the latest updates at our Customer Alerts page or our Youtube info stream.

P.S. Feel free to send along any photos of the heavy rainfall as the day continues. I’ll post them up on the blog along with later updates.

Hello 2009! Er… why is the snow still here?

The packed walkway between Commercial and Broadway Stations.

The packed walkway between Commercial and Broadway Stations.

Happy new year to you all on our first day back from Christmas holidays!

It’s a busy day for public transit, as most everyone is back to work or school today, but our crews are working hard to keep the system going. My own morning commute wasn’t too bad. Bus service was a bit slower but definitely consistent, and while Broadway Station was packed (as you can see in my photo to the right), the longer trains were slowly but surely moving the crowds out to their destinations.

And here’s the official transit updates as of 10:30 a.m:

SKYTRAIN
SkyTrain is running longer trains, with wider gaps between them, to get as close to full capacity as possible. All trains are staffed by SkyTrain Attendants for safety purposes. Platform management procedures are in place at Broadway and Metrotown stations.

BUS
Most routes are starting to return to normal as the snow continues to melt and the roads clear. Articulated buses are now back in service on the #3 Main, 98 B-Line and #135 SFU, as well as the 99 B-Line to UBC, which had always been using the longer buses.

Mariner Way in Coquitlam is back open, but there may be some service disruptions still at higher elevations, particularly those areas served by Community Shuttles.

WEST VAN BLUE BUS
#253 Caulfeild has returned to its regular route. All other routes are open, except #254 British Properties – on snow route.

ALBION FERRY
Is operating full service

HANDYDART
Essential services only – medical calls and as many work calls as possible. Remember that, while conventional buses use main roads, HandyDART uses side-streets as well, and may get stuck, as many buses were last night.

Again, thank you all for your patience and understanding during this trying time. Remember you can grab the latest updates at our Customer Alerts page or our Youtube info stream.

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day holiday service and fares

And now, here’s the overview of transit service and fares during the New Year holiday!

For more details, please visit the TransLink website or call 604-953-3333 for more information. (I’m on holiday until Jan. 5, so I won’t be able to respond to your comments.)

New Year’s Eve – Wednesday, Dec. 31

Regular weekday fares until 5 pm, then free service.

Buses will operate on a regular weekday schedule, with extended late-night service on a number of routes.

SkyTrain and SeaBus will extend late-night service by one hour, with the last train and ferry leaving Waterfront Station at 2:20 a.m.

West Coast Express afternoon trains will depart from downtown at 1:00, 3:00, 4:50, 5:30 and 6:20 plus the regular TrainBus service.

New Year’s Day – Thursday, Jan. 1

Regular holiday fares in effect — only a single-zone fare is needed for travel in all zones all day. As well, on a Sunday or holiday, all passengers with an adult FareCard, West Coast Express 28-Day Pass, or Annual Employer Transit Pass can take either five children, or one adult and four children on transit with them for free.

Buses, SeaBus and SkyTrain will operate on regular Sunday/ holiday schedules.

There will be no West Coast Express service on New Year’s Day.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Public art hits the road on Main Street

The two sides of the afghan-wrapped articulated trolley that will be travelling the #3 route. (Click for a larger version!)

The two sides of the afghan-wrapped articulated trolley that will be travelling the #3 route. (Click for a larger version!)

Note: I’m still on holiday until Jan. 5. This post was scheduled to launch before I left!

Watch out for an articulated trolley wrapped in an afghan print travelling on the #3 Main route on Monday. It’s the first sign of a Main Street public art program that’s been in the making for over three years.

This program is called 88 BLOCKS • Art on Main, and it’s part of the Main Street Urban Transportation Showcase project, an innovative transportation improvement program launched in 2004 and jointly funded by Transport Canada (through the Urban Transportation Showcase Program), TransLink and the City of Vancouver. (Check out the official Main Street Showcase page for more on the project.)

The public art is just one of many measures in a broad package of improvements being installed to give people a better transportation experience on Main Street.

Urban design, new transit technology, and a fleet of new buses all contribute to a more efficient transit system and make Main Street more welcoming for pedestrians and transit riders, in turn serving the ultimate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

So far, the project has brought Main Street some new street furniture, sidewalk improvements, and the new articulated trolleys on the #3 route. In the coming months the busiest stops on the route will be fitted with next-bus information and on-bus technology will ‘talk’ with traffic signals to help keep the buses on time.

One of the sandwich boards that make up Instant Coffee's permanent Main Street artwork.

One of the sandwich boards that make up Instant Coffee's permanent Main Street artwork.

For the public art program, an artist collective called Instant Coffee is behind the afghan design on the bus, as well as a few more art works that will also crop up on Main Street.

One of those upcoming works is a trolley containing 20 artworks in place of its interior ads, commissioned from artists from North, Central and South America and Europe. You’ll be able to vote for your favourite piece of artwork at Instant Coffee’s website or through text messaging, and the winning card will be blown up and put on the outside of a third trolley in January.

Another Instant Coffee work is a series of brightly-coloured sandwich boards bearing hand-painted slogans permanently installed up and down Main Street.

And in addition to the Instant Coffee installation, 88 BLOCKS will present four more art installations over the next three years, wrapping up by April 2011.

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day holiday service and fares

Here’s the overview of holiday service and fares for this week!

For more details, please visit the TransLink website or call 604-953-3333 for more information. (I’m on holiday until Jan. 5, so I won’t be able to respond to your comments.)

Christmas Eve – Wednesday, Dec. 24

Regular weekday fares in effect

West Coast Express afternoon trains depart downtown at 1:00, 3:00, 4:50, 5:30 and 6:20, plus the regular TrainBus service.

Christmas Day – Thursday, Dec. 25

Regular holiday fares in effect — only a single-zone fare is needed for travel in all zones all day. As well, on a Sunday or holiday, all passengers with an adult FareCard, West Coast Express 28-Day Pass, or Annual Employer Transit Pass can take either five children, or one adult and four children on transit with them for free.

Most bus routes will run according to their Sunday/holiday schedules; however, some routes will also run with further frequency modifications.

SkyTrain and SeaBus will run on a Sunday/holiday schedule.

There will be no West Coast Express service on Christmas Day.

Boxing Day – Friday, Dec. 26

Regular holiday fares in effect—see Dec. 25 entry for more info.

Most bus routes will run according to Sunday/holiday schedules. Service frequency will be enhanced for routes that serve major shopping destinations and entertainment venues.

SkyTrain will run according to its Saturday schedule, but will feature more frequent service during midday to accommodate shopping crowds.

SeaBus will run according to a Sunday/holiday schedule, but will extend late-night service according to a Saturday schedule.

There will be no West Coast Express service on Boxing Day.

Merry Christmas and good luck with the shopping!

I’m away until Mon Jan. 5

Just a quick note to remind you that I’m away for Christmas holidays, returning on Monday, Jan. 5.

So you don’t get a crazy serving of spam comments over the holidays, all comments will be moderated for the next two weeks. Sorry about this – if you write in, your comment will appear after Jan. 5!

In the meantime, for the latest service updates, check in on the TransLink Youtube service update stream, or the current operating conditions page on the TransLink website.

For customer information, call Transit Customer Information at (604) 953-3333, 7 days a week, 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

If you have any service complaints or want to just give feedback, give Customer Relations a call at (604) 953-3040, or use this handy form.

Have the happiest of holidays and I’ll see you in the New Year!