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Moscow celebrates 75 years of trolley buses

A vintage trolley bus in Moscow's 75th anniversary of trolley buses celebration. <a href=http://74.125.93.104/translate_c?hl=en&sl=ru&tl=en&u=http://vartal.livejournal.com/29314.html&usg=ALkJrhgCXHAX6dfH1hrM3apHz94saadJ_w#cutid1>Photo by Vartal</a>.

A vintage trolley bus in Moscow's 75th anniversary of trolley buses celebration. Photo by Vartal.

Dale Laird from TRAMS passed along some links today showing Moscow’s Nov. 22 celebration of 75 years of trolley buses. They celebrated with a parade of eight vintage and new trolleys, much like we did in August for the 60th anniversary of our trolley buses.

According to this English-language news video from Russia Today, Moscow has the largest trolley bus network in the world, with 1,600 trolleys on the system, 87 routes, and one million riders a day!!

And through the magic of Google Translate, I managed to do a little digging and find a bunch more photo galleries of the Moscow trolley parade.

Here’s one from a user named Gazolin, and one from a user named Vartal, and one from Tov. Amen. (There is a really good chance I’m spelling everybody’s name wrong here, but I do it in the name of trolleys.)

And if you go to this forum page, there’s a huge list of parade photos from a Chinese bulletin board about halfway down the page. Not sure how that happened, but there’s trolley fans everywhere, I guess!

Version 1.1 of TransLink’s iPhone App is now out

The updated iPhone app features Google Maps integration!

The updated iPhone app features Google Maps integration!

Hey, version 1.1 of TransLink’s iPhone app is now available!

Version 1.1 is both an update of our original iPhone app and an update to our mobile site, adding new features and fixing some old bugs. If you have the app installed, it should already be updated on your phone, and you’ll find it includes:

  • Google Maps integration
    Instead of using PDF maps, Google Maps are now integrated into the app. Google Maps are more interactive maps that can display data like bus routes and stops, unlike a static PDF.
  • Full-text search
    You can now search for bus stops using full text, instead of inputting specific bus stop ID numbers. For example, search for “Burrard” and you’ll get a list of bus stops related to Burrard Street.
  • More information about bus stops
    Bus stops are now marked with directional information (westbound, eastbound, etc) to help users figure out which stop on an intersection they are looking for.
  • Location-awareness, to help you find nearby bus stops
    Tap the bus icon and if GPS is enabled on your phone, the app will automatically locate the closest bus stops to you. (This feature was included when the app moved to the App Store.)
  • The Buzzer blog!
    Huzzah! A big hello to all of you who reached the blog through the app today!
  • And of course, multiple bug fixes and interface improvements

As always, our iPhone app and the improvements are the handiwork of Handi Mobility, who develops the app for TransLink. And if you haven’t read it yet, here again is a past interview with Igor Faletski from Handi on the development of the iPhone app. Igor also mentioned why the app is mainly focused on iPhone customers at the moment in another comment thread:

While a lot of phones support Java, only a little fraction of them have data services enabled. On the contrary, 98% of iPhone users actively access the Internet. Moreover, the demographics of RIM and Symbian users in Vancouver do not match the transit rider population in a way that the iPhone does.

We carefully measure the stats of the universal mobile portal at http://m.translink.ca and iPhone users are the absolute majority there, with RIM being in a very distant second place. It’s a priority for us to provide service to everyone, but at the same time we work hard to improve the quality for those who use it the most.

Did you know, by the way, that TransLink is the first Canadian transit system to create its own iPhone app? I found that out from a post by Greg Andrews over at Techvibes. Greg also says that the Toronto and Montreal transit systems have third-party iPhone apps that cost $1.99 and $0.99 respectively. Ours, on the other hand, is free.

Also, here’s a few updated stats on how the rest of our mobile and web services are doing. Woo!

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Something neat: e2 Transport documentary series

If you’re interested in how other cities handle their transport issues, you might want to check out “London: The Price of Traffic,” a new e2 documentary streaming online. (Go to Webcasts and then scroll down the list on the left to select the video.)

e2 is a critically acclaimed PBS documentary series about the innovators and pioneers who envision a better quality of life on earth. The series has already done two seasons on design, urban planning, and energy challenges around the world, and this season, they’re taking a look at transportation.

The London documentary is really well made, and under all its ominous music, there’s a great exploration of the city’s transportation challenges, the controversial congestion charge, plus public space development and Olympic goals. (I didn’t know that the city had consciously pushed Trafalgar Square into being a more accessible public space!)

Anyway, I thought it was pretty fascinating just to see how another city deals with its transportation issues, and I just wanted to share in case you were interested. e2 has four more transport documentaries in the series which I know I’ll take a look at: subjects include Paris’ public bicycle program, Seoul’s restoration of a stream in its downtown core, Portland’s transit oriented developments, and aviation.

And again, this isn’t a TransLink endorsed video or anything, and we’re not affiliated with the developers or their creation—I just thought it was neat! Thanks to Stephen Rees for pointing out this series on his blog.

A visit to the Lost Property Office

The Lost Property Office, located in a corner of Stadium Station.

The Lost Property Office, located in a corner of Stadium Station.

Regular readers will remember that I did a story on the Lost Property Office in the March 14 Buzzer. However, since this blog lets me show you way more photos and details, I thought I’d go back to Lost Property and do an update to that article.

I went down to Stadium Station, where the office is located, and work leader Barb Szumilak gave me another tour behind the scenes. They collect about 4,000 items a month, and really, just about anything you could lose on transit winds up at the office. So next time you leave a shopping bag or an umbrella behind, go down there—they really might have it! Let’s take a closer look.

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Open house for Burnaby Mountain transit exchange

SFU staff, students, residents of UniverCity and other interested parties: come to an open house on Wednesday and bring your thoughts about the future of the Burnaby Mountain transit exchange!

TransLink, SFU and the SFU Community Trust are launching a study to consider the redevelopment of the exchange. With the introduction of the Vancity U-Pass in 2002 and the SFU Community Pass in 2006, transit use has increased significantly and the current exchange at the top of Burnaby Mountain needs to be expanded. And with projects like UniverCity and the SFU Town Centre redevelopment, the SFU area has seen increased growth and more diverse land use.

We’re hoping to create an exceptional urban environment that supports the community’s commitment to sustainable planning, and encourages commuters to choose transit as the preferred mode of travel. We want the hub to be attractive, safe and functional, respecting the campus’ inherent character as well as the urban context of the area, and meeting the needs of the people now and in the future.

So if this affects you, come to the open house—your opinion is crucial to the development of the plan and we want to hear from you. The open house is on Wednesday, Nov. 26 at Blusson Hall, East Campus Road at University High Street. Two sessions will be held: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

At the open house, you’ll get a glimpse of the future of the SFU area, and an opportunity to comment on preliminary plans for a new Burnaby Mountain transit exchange. Plus, you can find out a more about the planning and design process behind the plans. We hope to see you there!

SkyTrain track maintenance on Wed Nov. 26

Late-night Wednesday Surrey SkyTrain travellers, look out! We’re still doing some ongoing track maintenance in the Surrey area, which affects service after 9:30pm on Wednesday, Nov. 26. (This maintenance will also happen on Dec. 3.)

The following service will be in effect for Nov. 26 after 9:30pm:

  • Normal evening service on Expo Line from Waterfront to Scott Road (every 8 min), and Millennium Line from Waterfront to VCC-Clark (every 8 min); combined service every 4 min between Waterfront and Columbia.
  • Reduced frequency between Scott Road and King George (every 16 min). All passengers must change trains at Scott Road.

Passengers going to or from Gateway, Surrey Central, or King George, please allow an extra 10 minutes for your journey!

Congratulations to our CUTA award winners!

A big congratulations to Che Florant and Cameron Irvine, two Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) employees who were honoured by the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) last week!

At CUTA’s fall conference in Windsor, Ontario, bus operator Che Florant received an Employee Excellence Award for helping a single mother who left her wallet on another bus. The wallet had $200 in it, which she was planning to spend on diapers and groceries for her children.

Che helped track down the other bus, but when the wallet couldn’t be found, Che gave the woman $40 out of his own pocket. He refused any repayment, and didn’t tell the company about his actions—in fact, the only reason anybody found out was when the woman’s ex-boyfriend wrote a letter to the company expressing his thanks. The letter included this comment:

I was completely stunned and absolutely amazed! I have lived in Vancouver for 15 years now and I have never encountered such a completely selfless act of kindness before.

As well, Customer Information Supervisor Cameron Irvine won a Volunteer/Advocate Award, for his efforts to help his co-workers and the company give back to the communities they serve—actions that go far beyond his regular responsibilities.

Cam has worked in transit for more than 23 years, and has always been involved with organizing annual company food and clothing drives, and coordinating monthly employee blood-donor drives. And since 1999, Cam has facilitated the United Way “Days of Caring,” a semi-annual community outreach program, and is currently the Chair of CMBC’s United Way Employee Campaign.

This is in fact the second year in a row that CMBC employees have been recognized by CUTA. Last year, transit operator Jas Grewal was honoured with an award for intervening in an attack.

Jas was driving a Vancouver city bus when he spotted a group of four or five boys beating up another. He chased the attackers away with a wheel block, then attended to the boy who was being beaten. The attackers came back, but police arrived as Jas grabbed the wheel block again. It also turned out the victim had a shunt inserted in his brain, and the beating could have been fatal if Jas had not stopped to help.

Again, a big congratulations and thanks for doing such an amazing job, all of you!

Burnaby Santa Claus Parade reroutes on Saturday

Watch out for a Burnaby bus reroute on Saturday: the #106 will be rerouted due to the Burnaby Santa Claus Parade on Nov. 22.

See the customer alert for the exact rerouting of the bus, or the main customer alerts page for a big list of all the upcoming service reroutes.

Bike to Work Week continues: a morning at the Metrotower II Commuter Station

Paul Cheng from TransLink, watching over the treats at the Bike to Work Week commuter station in Metrotower II.

Paul Cheng from TransLink, watching over the treats at the Bike to Work Week commuter station in Metrotower II.

I spent this morning helping at the Bike to Work Week commuter station at Metrotower II in Burnaby! Here’s some photos and commentary about what went down. (You can see my earlier Bike to Work Week posts here and here.)

TransLink staff Paul Cheng and Polly Ng were in charge of the table, with treats from Cafe Elim kindly donated by Ivanhoe Cambridge. We had about 15 to 20 commuters drop by to grab a snack or get a bike tune-up, courtesy of Cap’s Bicycle Shop.

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Response to a Province article linking crime to SkyTrain presence

My colleague Drew Snider has a new post up on his TransLink media relations blog, responding to a Province article that appears to link the presence of a SkyTrain station to a crime wave south of the Pattullo Bridge. Just thought I’d let you know in case you wanted to check that out.

More photos of the Canada Line’s trial run with passengers

A Canada Line train approaches YVR Station, carrying its first passengers from Bridgeport Station on a Nov. 12  trial run.

A Canada Line train approaches YVR Station, carrying its first passengers from Bridgeport Station on a Nov. 12 trial run.

Here’s a follow-up to an earlier post, about the Canada Line’s trial run with its first passengers.

As promised, Alan Dever from Canada Line passed along some more photos of the trial run. He was right about everyone’s fascination with the front window—you can see everybody on the train crowded up in front!

Thanks very much to Alan and the staff from the federal Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities for these photos. Click all the pictures for larger versions: there’s just two more photos below!

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A visit from UCLA and Toyota

Aaron Cohen, a strategic planning administrator for Toyota, joined 25 UCLA students on a trip to study Vancouver's architecture and transportation last week.

Aaron Cohen, a strategic planning administrator for Toyota, joined 25 UCLA students on a trip to study Vancouver's architecture and transportation last week.

Last week, TransLink helped host a really interesting visit from 25 UCLA students. They were here as part of a collaborative program between Toyota and UCLA’s Department of Architecture and Urban Design.

The students were studying the city of Vancouver and its TransLink-managed transportation strategy. As part of their program, the students are creating design scenarios for southern California, and their Vancouver research helps inform that project. (Toyota is providing the transportation expertise, and the firm EDAW is guiding the urban planning element.)

Why Vancouver? I asked Aaron Cohen, a Toyota strategic planning administrator on the visit, and he said that, “Vancouver is one of the key input points where we can observe best practices in architecture and transportation.”

The university collaboration, explained Aaron, is a way for Toyota and UCLA to envision future cities from both an architectural and transportation perspective. Aaron said that Toyota believes the kind of transportation people will need will be largely dictated by the surrounding area, the architecture. So, Vancouver serves as an idea for how future cities might function.

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Bike to Work Week rolls out

The Bike to Work Week banner at the Gilmore commuter station.

The Bike to Work Week banner at the Gilmore commuter station.

As posted last Friday, the first ever winter edition of Bike to Work Week is rolling this week. Polly Ng from TransLink’s Cycling department wanted to share a few photos from the event so far—she helped staff a commuter station near Gilmore Station from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. this morning.

Commuter stations are tents set up along bike routes in the region during Bike to Work Week. (Here’s the locations and times of the stations.) You can take a short break from your ride, have a snack, meet other cyclists, get a TransLink bike map, and join the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition.

Mechanics are also available for tune-ups and small repairs, and Polly says you can also win prizes in a draw at every commuter station, which include bike baskets and bike racks (the kind that go on the back of your bicycle, not bike racks for your car or the street). About 40 to 50 people dropped by the Gilmore commuter station this morning, so those are pretty good odds!

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Longtime Buzzer cartoonist is part of local art show

A cartoon Bob Banks drew for the March 2, 1962 Buzzer.

A cartoon Bob Banks drew for the March 2, 1962 Buzzer.

Just in case you’re interested, Bob Banks, who drew cartoons for the Buzzer from 1954-1976, is currently part of an art show at Heaventree Gallery. The show is called “Art that Barks” and includes art from 15 local artists about the care and welfare of animals. I’m told that Bob has two prints in the show, and they are of his animal paintings. (He does lots of art besides cartooning!) And the name you should look for at the gallery is Robert Banks, not Bob Banks as we all know him.

If you’re curious for a bit more on Bob, I interviewed him in the Buzzer’s 92nd anniversary issue. He’s now 85 years old and still drawing professionally, and simply a wonderful guy with a great sense of humour.

The details on the art show:

“Art that Barks” – open until November 29
Heaventree Gallery
661 E 15th Ave (here’s a Google map)
604-877-1000
Open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday 12-6pm

Thank you to the customer who emailed this in via Customer Relations!

SkyTrain track maintenance on Wed Nov. 19

Late-night Wednesday Surrey SkyTrain travellers, look out again! We’re doing some ongoing track maintenance in the Surrey area, which affects service after 9:30pm on Wednesday, Nov. 19. (This maintenance will also happen on Nov. 26, and Dec. 3.)

The following service will be in effect for Nov. 19 after 9:30pm:

  • Normal evening service on Expo Line from Waterfront to Scott Road (every 8 min), and Millennium Line from Waterfront to VCC-Clark (every 8 min); combined service every 4 min between Waterfront and Columbia.
  • Reduced frequency between Scott Road and King George (every 16 min). All passengers must change trains at Scott Road.

Passengers going to or from Gateway, Surrey Central, or King George, please allow an extra 10 minutes for your journey!