ALERT! More info
Translink Buzzer Blog

Links and Tidbits – December 18, 2015

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.

Rudolph reindeer bus

Our very own Rudolph ready to drive the Reindeer Bus!

»   TransLink continued the wonderful tradition of gathering thousands of toys for less fortunate children in the Lower Mainland with our Reindeer Bus!

»   From bus routes to humble abode. This Georgia couple turned an old bus into a house!

»   Serial bus thieves? They exist! You think he would’ve learned his lesson after 10 or 20 arrests!

»   It’s like… a lava lamp. Have some time to kill? Watch this oddly fascinating, real time transit tracker in Germany.

»   A new study suggests that living near transit lines may be good for your mental health!

»   From mind to body! A Japanese study found commuters who take the bus have a lower risk of heart disease and stroke than people who drive.

»   This TTC operator is making the most of his bus break with some push ups!

»   Riders who get stuck on downed trains in NYC can request a late-to-work slip from the MTA. Last year’s count? 100,000!

»   Germaphobes beware!! Take a look at what bacteria are lurking on a subway pole. Lucky you, there are pictures.

»   You have goat to be kidding me…

»   Talkin’ ’bout my generation. In Bostonl, millennials love transit!

»   You know nothing, Jon Snow. We’d LOVE to sit next to you and your posters on the bus!

»   We may have crows but Teipei has cranes!

»   This is like SkyTrain Inception. Thank you to @wetcoastlife for the share!

»   Washington pokes fun at the different types of “transit haters” in their region.

»   Lump. Throat. Watery eyes. These types of transit interactions truly warm my heart!

»   Waste not, want not! London’s old tube cars are being transformed into traditional rail trains for Northern England.

»   Read minds with a new virtual reality experience in the New York subway system!

»   Daycare on a train? How exactly are you going to get the kids to leave? Playtime is WAY better than getting off at your stop! (In reality, I think it’s more likely that this was a converted retired transit vehicle).

Play pen transit car
»   TTC throwback to the first bus route in Toronto and on a double decker no less!

»   FINALLY! I think those grates are scary enough without getting your heel stuck!

»   This new app guides visually impaired riders through London’s Underground through audio instructions. The future is now!

»   The ultimate showdown in transit mapping: Google vs. Apple.

»   Avoid waiting for trains in NYC by walking to your station. This chart shows you how much you’ll burn!

»   At Union Square station in NYC you can find this guy playing a mean sax, dancing like no one’s watching and using transit! That’s my kind of triple threat!

Author: Adrienne Coling

Buzzer blog editor away over winter holidays

It's been a fun 2015!

It’s been a fun 2015!

Hi everyone! I’ll be away from the blog for a couple of weeks.

But don’t worry! Adrienne and Laura will be minding the shop in my absence.

That said, they’ll both be busy while I’m away so reply to comments may take a little longer than usual.

I’ll be back on the blog in the new year!

We have a lot of great stories to share including Talking Transit, Compass and much more.

Happy holidays to you all and here’s to an exciting 2016!

Author: Robert Willis

Vancouver Technical Secondary Students bring holiday cheer to bus operators (again!)

It was a bit chilly this morning, but that didn’t stop Vancouver Technical Students from getting up early to hand out goodies to our bus operators!

An annual tradition, Van Tech students have been giving hot chocolate and small gifts to bus operators on the last day of school before the holiday break for the past 19 years. (For more info on how the event got started you can check out our post from 2011. )

This year was no exception as students decked out in Santa hats greeted buses as they pulled up in front of the high school.

Handing over special Van Tech mugs and hot chocolates to surprised bus operators, the students wished our operators a Merry Christmas and thanked them for their service throughout the year.

With the holiday music in the air and students singing and dancing with homemade signs that read “HoHoHotChocolate” and “Thank You TransLink” the event was truly a heartwarming affair.

Thanks to all the Van Tech students for another wonderful event and for treating our bus operators to some holiday cheer!

You can check out previous posts of this event from 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Happy Holidays!

Author: Laura Tennant

 

Toys for Tots is back for another holiday season!

Toys on the ReindeerBus

The Reindeer Bus filling up with toys.

Toys for Tots is a wonderful program where you can donate new, unwrapped toys or money to the less fortunate to brighten their holiday season.

Created by a group of BC Transit bus drivers, we have been donating to this cause since 1985!

Last year, Toys for Tots delivered 3,559 toys to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau with the grand total of 66,267 since the launch of the program.

Reindeer bus

Sparky the elf delivering our promissory note of 3,000 toys!

Nearly $700 was also contributed to the donations, totalling $43,939.96 since 1985.

This year, we started our collection on November 26 when we promised 3,000 toys to the program!

The donations are being collected today and tomorrow by Santa and Mrs. Claus (plus Sparky the elf!) at TransLink head office and all the operating companies.

The toys will be loaded onto the Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle and be delivered to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau agencies on December 17.

Here are some pictures from the Toys for Tots pick up from TransLink head office at Sapperton in New Westminster!

Check out the video from last year!

Author: Adrienne Coling

 

Get ready to surf (WiFi) with SeaBus

Beginning today, Shaw Go WiFi will be available to all SeaBus passengers at both the Waterfront and Lonsdale Quay terminals – for FREE!O15-1320_SeabusDom_Roof_BurrardBeaver_252x324_Lamar_Page_1

We have partnered with Shaw Communications to provide strong WiFi connectivity for our SeaBus customers and – the best part is – this service improvement is being made with no cost to taxpayers!

Just wait! It gets better…

Following the initial launch of Shaw Go WiFi in our SeaBus terminals, this partnership will also see Shaw Go WiFi installed on all TransLink SeaBuses in the coming months.

Passengers who are not Shaw customers can enjoy Shaw Go WiFi access by selecting ‘ShawGuest’ from the list of available WiFi settings, and following the on-screen instructions to connect. All Shaw Internet customers have complimentary access to all SeaBus hot spots as part of their subscription.

We understand that customers want a fast and reliable WiFi connection when they ride transit, and this is a step we are taking to improve our customers’ experience with our services.

So sit back, relax and enjoy complimentary WiFi. Happy surfing, folks!

Check out our Mobile Services page for more details on this and other mobile service tools.

Author: Jordan Keim

Compass 101: Remember to switch to Compass for your Monthly Pass!

Starting January 2016, all Monthly Pass holders must use a Compass Card.

You can load a Monthly Pass on your card on the 20th of each month online at compasscard.ca, at Compass Vending Machines, in person at the Compass Customer Service Centre or by phone at 604-398-2042.

Benefits of having your Monthly Pass on Compass include online purchasing, balance protection in case of loss or theft and autoload.

Autoload means you don’t have to get to a fare dealer or a SkyTrain to load your pass each month!

This feature is also available with Stored Value on your Compass Card.

Remember!

All Compass Card users are required to tap in on buses and in and out on SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express to ensure the correct fare is charged.

You can find more information at translink.ca/monthlypass.
More Compass questions? Ask away at askcompass.ca!
Check out our Compass 101 playlist on YouTube.

Author: Adrienne Coling

Buzzer illustrator interview: Kalena Mackiewicz

Kalena and her illustration!

Kalena and her illustration!

Our December issue of the print Buzzer was illustrated by the talented Kalena Mackiewicz.

She not only captured the holiday spirit, she wrapped it up! Her bright and brilliant illustration perfectly embraced our winter service changes while still offering a festive seasonal feel.

To learn more about what makes Kalena tick, I checked in with her for a quick interview.

Who is Kalena Mackiewicz?

I’m originally from Calgary, but now live in North Burnaby. I’m an Emily Carr University alumni and have perfected making cabbage rolls in a slow cooker.

How would you describe your illustration style?

My style stems a lot from my experience with cartooning and animation. I like my work to have humour and colour, and seem as if it’s going to come to life any second. The style of illustrations I do now are kind of like if a rainbow bouncy castle was a sophisticated art gallery.

What tools do you use?

I work entirely digital with a tablet for the final work, but the initial idea phase is all hands on. I do pen doodles on napkins or receipts using markers, crayons and hi-lighters.

Your Buzzer cover literally gave the gift of transit! What was the inspiration behind your illustration?

When you’re a kid, opening the biggest present is the most exciting! My main influence was those commercials for cars with the big red bow that are always on around Christmas. I also thought it would go well with the new Compass Card ads.

Do you ride transit? If so, do you have a favourite mode?

Since I moved here in 2005, I’ve used transit almost every day. It’s my ride! I’ve travelled by bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus and Aquabus, but still have yet to try the West Coast Express.

Any fun plans for the holidays?

Riding the West Coast Express!

Thanks Kalena!

If you haven’t got a copy of the latest Buzzer you can download it here.

Author: Laura Tennant

Jump aboard the TRAMS bus to see the holiday lights!

TRAMS xmas2

Strings of street lights, even stop lights, blink a bright red and green!

It’s December which means holiday lights are out in full force!

But how could one possibly see them all??

Fear not! Our friends The Transit Museum Society (TRAMS) would like to invite you to jump aboard the historic 4107, a 1982 General Motors bus, for a two-hour tour, passing by some of the most colourfully decorated homes in Vancouver and Burnaby.

You have eight chances to go! December 11, 12, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23 and 27.

TRAMS xmas1

The bus getting a holiday makeover!

Tickets:

Adult: $20
Senior/student (14-21): $15
Children (2-13): $5

Members of TRAMS will receive a $2 discount for all members of their travelling party.

The bus will depart from 29th Avenue SkyTrain Station at 7 pm on each of the dates above.

More information is available on the TRAMS website and if you’re interested in attending you can register online!!

Author: Adrienne Coling

The December 2015 issue of the Buzzer is now on the system

Much of this issue is dedicated to Winter Service Changes.

There is update from Compass for Monthly Pass users. Remember! December is the last month to use a traditional paper FareCard. Starting January 1st, all Monthly Pass users will be required to load their pass onto a Compass Card.big

Also in this issue is a quick wrap up from our Transit Network Consultation survey and some winter safety tips for pedestrians from Transit Police.

And as always, we have our favourites – Contest Corner, Back Issues and Coming Events!

Happy reading! Pick it up today on the bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express or you can download it here.

The next regular issue of  the Buzzer will be out in April 2016!

Author: Adrienne Coling

SkyTrain turns 30 today!… (Whaaaaaat?)


Flashback Friday: a SkyTrain promo video from 1984 

Today, on a sunny winter day 30 years ago, Premier Bill Bennett proudly announced the opening of SkyTrain – forever changing the face of transit for Metro Vancouver – crazy, huh?

1985skytrainbanner

SkyTrain bursts through a banner on its very first day in service: Dec 11, 1985!

The inauguration of SkyTrain was huge – so huge in fact, that there were three events in one day (lucky!).

Following the opening ceremony at Waterfront Station, the first SkyTrain car was radioed to the platform, broke through a ceremonious ribbon and then continued its maiden voyage – attending two more celebrations – one at Metrotown Station and the other at New Westminster Station.

The original line – named Expo Line – was a legacy project of Expo ’86 and connected downtown Vancouver, Burnaby and New Westminster. Passengers then had the ability to travel from Waterfront Station to New Westminster Station in just 25 minutes – half the time it would have taken to travel by bus!

Following the December 11, 1985 inauguration, SkyTrain entered free service—the system was launched with huge fanfare and eight days of free rides, before officially going into paid service on January 3, 1986.

Over the coming decades, Metro-Vancouver’s rapid transit system would see exponential growth with extensions to the Expo Line, the creation of the Millennium Line, the addition of the Canada Line and our soon to be Evergreen Extension (an extension of the Millennium Line).

Let’s look at some of our major milestones in the last 30 years:

  • 1986 SkyTrain opens for regular revenue service
  • 1989 – 1994 – three Expo Line expansion projects built – adding service to Surrey with King George Station as the terminus station.
  • 2002 – Millennium Line officially opens – operating along the Expo Line to New Westminster Station and adding new service between Columbia Station and Commercial-Broadway.
  • 2006 – Millennium Line service is extended to its current terminus station, VCC-Clark.
  • 2009 – Canada Line opens connecting downtown Vancouver with Richmond and YVR airport.
  • 2017 – The Evergreen extension of the Millennium Line, connecting Coquitlam and Port Moody, through Burnaby, to Vancouver with a one seat ride, is scheduled to open.

From a modest 22 kilometres track carrying roughly 50,000 passengers a day to 15 stations, SkyTrain has grown to a mammoth rapid transit system. We now operate 68 kilometres of track with 47 stations and transport roughly 250, 000 passengers per day, AND when the Evergreen Extension opens, we will have the longest fully automated rapid transit network in the world – with 79  kilometres of track and 53 stations.

Were you at SkyTrain’s inauguration or at any other of the milestone events or have a favourite memory of SkyTrain? We would love to hear from you – comment below!


Going to Town – 1985 SkyTrain project documentary 

 

Author: Jordan Keim 

Fun Poll! Which transit apps do you use?

transit app

Right to left: Live Transit, Bus Tracker and City Mapper screen shots

Ever since the release of our transit data in 2012, new transit applications (apps) based on TransLink’s open API have been popping up on a regular basis.

TransLink’s mobile website, m.translink.ca, can get you similar info as many of the new apps, but I thought I’d check in with the Buzzer blog readers to see what everyone is using these days.

Before diving into the poll, why not go over a few transit apps and maybe a mobile site, to see what they’re all about?

While it would be awesome to do an overview of every app listed on our mobile phone applications site, I thought it might be more useful to highlight just a handful and add in a few new ones for good measure.

Here we go!

Transit App

Transit AppThis app is beautiful in its simplicity. Basically, this app uses your smart phones GPS to find out where you are and displays all the available transit and their departure times. You can plan your trip, set reminders and get notification about service disruptions as well as book ride shares in case you decide not to take the bus.

If you already know where you are going, this app maybe all you need.

Available for iPhone and Android devices.

Radar for Metro Vancouver Buses

radarLike the Transit App, this app is like a simplified version of nb.translink.ca.

Radar is great if you know what route you want to take, but need the schedule. Simply type in the route number, and it shows all of the buses running the route in real-time.

Available for iPhone and iPad.

Transit DB

transitdbTransitDB is a quick and offline guide to public transit in Metro Vancouver.

This mobile site has full offline schedules for all bus routes and stops, first and last departure information and helps you find nearby bus stops. Transit DB also lets you keep a list of your favourite bus stops, see route diagrams and has information on station and stop accessibility and other transportation contact numbers (i.e. Taxi).

Unfortunately, this lil’ guy does not have real time bus schedules or trip planning capabilities.

City Mapper

City MapperCity Mapper won App of the Year in 2014 and is an urban transport app that uses open data to help you get around.

Features include live departure times for buses, real-time TransLink service alerts from Twitter and multi-modal planning from departure to arrival. You can also save home and work locations and get directions to those places from anywhere.

There’s also a feature that estimates the calories you’d burn if you decide to ditch transit and opt to walk or bike instead!

Available for iPhone and Android.

Bus Tracker

bus trackerTransLink Bus Tracker is a mobile web app that lets you view bus arrival times using on-board GPS coordinates.

This free app enables multiple bus selections for each stop and has a find me feature that allows you to search for nearby bus stops. The app also lets you use Google Maps to track your next bus. Frequently used buses and stops can be saved for quick access.

Compatible with iPhone, Android and tablets.

Live Transit

Live TransitThis app lets you view the real-time GPS location of any bus in Vancouver, or look up the scheduled arrival times at any stop in the lower mainland.

You can select your preferred routes from a filterable list and check out real time bus locations, arrival time predictions and static schedule arrival times.

Only available for Android devices.

Google Maps

Google MapsWhile not specifically a transit app, good ol’ Google Maps app is a useful way to track Vancouver transit.

This app offers real-time transit information like predicted departure times, transit directions and maps, live traffic conditions and offers automatic rerouting to find the best route. Google Maps also features voice-guided GPA navigation for driving, biking and walking, so you can see how far your destination is from your stop!

Google Maps is available on iPhone, tablets and Android devices.

Poll time!

Do you use any of the above apps? Take the poll and let us know which is your favourite!

If your app of choice is not listed, tell us in the comments section what  you use to get around the city!

Which transit apps do you use?

  • Transit DB (40%, 50 Votes)
  • Transit App (38%, 48 Votes)
  • Google Maps (38%, 47 Votes)
  • City Mapper (13%, 16 Votes)
  • Radar for Metro Vancouver buses (10%, 12 Votes)
  • Live Transit (6%, 8 Votes)
  • Bus Tracker (3%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 125

Find the Compass Elf, take s-ELF-ie and win!

Compass Elf

Meet the Compass Elf!

During this time of year we see a lot of elves helping out the big guy in the red suit, but this is no ordinary elf.

THIS is the Compass Elf!

From December 14 to December 18 you have the chance to get a free Compass Card ($6 value) on SkyTrain!

Here’s how:

  • Spot the Compass Elf along SkyTrain lines and stations
  • Take a s-elf-ie with the elf
  • Tweet your s-elf-ie and tag @TransLink with the hashtag #CompassElf

We will be giving away 10 Compass Cards per day.

So, get out there next week and make a new elfy friend to win!

 

More BC Parkway renovations are complete!

new wayfinding sign 1 crop

New wayfinding signs along BC Parkway show the distance to your destination!

It’s update time!

More BC Parkway renovations have been completed!

Here’s a quick look at what’s been improved:

  • Wayfinding signs along the whole 26 kilometre length that include destinations and distances
  • Lighting, crossing safety and accessibility improvements in key areas
  • Pavement rehabilitation of approximately 2.6 kilometres in particularly rough segments

BC Parkway is an important facility for pedestrians, cyclists and wheelchair users in the region.

The path connects Surrey City Centre, New Westminster, South Burnaby and Vancouver and provides a facility for walking and wheeling around the area.

Continual improvements to the facility help keep the parkway in good condition and increase the safety and accessibility of the path while allowing users to get around with greater ease.

Make sure to read our past BC Parkway posts to see the progress with these improvements. See you on the parkway!

Author: Laura Tennant

Talking Transit: Tell your transit story!


Lisa is someone who told us her story. What’s yours?

We all have our transit stories!

From our regular bus routes and stations to where we like to sit; favourite places to visit to secret transit tips for a smooth ride. Transit is a big part of many people’s lives in our region!

With that in mind, we are starting a new profile series on the blog with video, audio and interviews with riders just like you!

Everyday transit user or just an occasional rider, we want to hear your transit story and how it is a part of your life.

Profiles will be shared here on the Buzzer blog, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Interested in participating?
Email us with the subject line “Talking Transit” to get started!

*We will try our best to include all stories but we may not be able to feature everyone*

Today’s forecast…holiday service schedules and winter service changes!

holiday_lcd_880x660
Winter is just around the corner and we’re getting into the holiday spirit by rolling out our holiday service schedules and winter service changes.

These seasonal changes include:

  • A two-week holiday schedule – December 21, 2015 to January 3, 2016;
  • Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve schedules; and
  • Winter service changes – starting January 4, 2016.

Don’t forget that service changes can affect many routes, so know before you go and use TransLink’s trip planner to check if your route has changed.

Let’s take a look at some of the highlights:

  • Routes serving schools and post-secondary institutions adjusted to better reflect ridership during two- week special holiday schedule.
  • Christmas and Boxing Day will run on a Sunday/holiday service schedule. Some routes modified to provide more frequent service.
  • Free service on New Year’s Eve after 5:00 pm until 5:00 am on January 1 – with extended bus service hours.
  • Welcome back bus service along Capilano Road starting January 4, 2016 as part of our winter service changes.

Want to know more information? Check out the upcoming print Buzzer and our service changes page.

How else can you stay in touch? Sign up for Transit Alerts at translink.ca/alerts, visit translink.ca, follow @TransLink or call Customer Service at 604.953.3333.