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Translink Buzzer Blog

February 22, 1890 – the beginning of transit in B.C.

streetcar Fort St Victoria 1890s

Streetcar on Fort St., Victoria – 1890s Courtesy of BC Archives

“Let’s go back, let’s go back, let’s go way on way back when…” – Aretha Franklin

To February 22, 1890.

This is such an important date for the province because this day in history marks the launch of public transit in British Columbia!

It all started in Victoria with four small electric streetcars, two routes and nine kilometres of track laid down the centre of the city by The National Electric Tramway and Light Company.

Streetcar No. 5 Victoria - 1898 Courtesy of BC Archives

Streetcar No. 5 Victoria – 1898
Courtesy of BC Archives

This was only the third electric streetcar system in Canada at the time.

Vancouver wasn’t far behind! Four months later on June 26th, the first car went for a ride all the way down Main St. and on June 28th, the whole 9.6 kilometre system was in service.

We celebrated the region’s 125 years of transit milestone this past summer!

The next major transit launch was in New Westminster a year later with interurban trams connecting to downtown Vancouver through Burnaby which created easy travel for residents of different cities to explore the region.

These first benchmarks in B.C.’s transit history began over a century of transit expansion in the province.

It is so valuable to know where we’ve come from to see where transit can go in the future!

We salute those early transit pioneers that paved the way (sometimes literally) for BC Transit and TransLink to be here today and provide transit service to British Columbia!

You can learn lots more about transit history by visiting the BC Archives.

Author: Adrienne Coling

Links and Tidbits – February 19, 2016

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.

Check out the poem!

Check out the poem!

»   Ed Konrad wrote this ^ poem about transit. Thanks for sharing!

»   ICYMI: Walter White drives the 135 bus! NBD!!

»   Warms the heart to hear stories like this! In Calgary, a bus operator stopped her bus to help out a person in a wheelchair stuck in the snow.

»   In Vancouver, our own CMBC operator, Eileen Ryan, helps some Syrian refugees with a ride home.

»   Imagine if all subway lines across the globe all connected. Now, look at this!

Vancouver infographic V3-page-001
»   We’ve come a long way, baby! Happy 30th anniversary, SkyTrain! That’s right, paid service for the Expo Line began on January 3, 1986!

»   Looks like we aren’t the only Canadian transit system who has some furry friends on board!

»   I have no idea what is behind this but it gives some good advice… if your bus driver is really just 5,000 bees in a trench coat!

»   This man put down his smartphone (not a bad idea now and then!) and picked up a pad a paper to make observations about his commute. Does anyone else do this?

A Twitter Haiku about Compass

A Twitter Haiku about Compass

»   This bus driver in Ireland went above and beyond. Not only did he help this elderly passenger off his bus but also tied her shoes!

»   Two retired Brill trolley buses in Thunder Bay hope to get a new home with an area transit museum. Fun fact, they’re originally from BC!

»   A brief history of subway etiquette campaigns. Methinks we should all give these a read now and then!

»   Japan’s transit is pretty cool already. Throw in the fact that each station has a different departure melody? That’s just a whole other level of awesome!

Valentine's Day may be over for another year but check out this SkyTrain dating map from Elite Singles!

Valentine’s Day may be over for another year but you can still check out some of these dating hot spots with your SO using this handy SkyTrain dating map!

»   Art can really change your mood. Across NYC subway stations you can find numerous station specific murals adding some colour and art to the everyday!

»   Now, I’ve seen subway maps imagined as Nintendo worlds. But, how about Nintendo game worlds turned into subway maps?! I love them all! *nerd alert*

»   A different type of busker. Get upclose and personal with the NYC Subway beat boxer, Verbal Ase.

»   Roya the destRoya proves that she can serve with her fierce breakdancing in the NYC subway!

»   Miss me, Kiev? In Ukraine, the dastardly Sherlock villain, Moriarty, showed up via a computer hack to surprise unknowing transit riders.

»   Vancouver isn’t the only city that stripped down for no-pants transit rides in January!

»   Get in your Delorian for this way back playback: GOCard pamphlet from 1989!

View post on

»   GOT and transit fans unite in this one awesome photo!

»   Meet the new TransLink CEO, Kevin Desmond!

»   It’s nice to see that Blanche Dubois isn’t the only one who can rely on the kindness of strangers, right here at home.

»   This ^ Valentine’s Day inspired video proves that sometimes, all you need is love!!

Author: Adrienne Coling

Metrotown Station upgrades update

Double elevator shaft being lowered into place.

Up and over! The new double elevator shaft being lowered into place at Metrotown Station.

Construction continues at Metrotown Station and Exchange!

We are upgrading Metrotown Station to improve accessibility, capacity, safety and security at one of the busiest stations in the SkyTrain system.

Some of the changes include new escalators, stairs and elevators to improve access for all our customers, improved bus connections and integration between buses and SkyTrain and more access to and from the platforms, just to name a few!

Project status update

Here are some highlights of the work that has taken place over the past few months:

  • Demolition of the station continued.
  • Hoop trusses were constructed and installed to provide structural support for the platform’s roof.
  • Construction of three new elevator shafts in the Centre Stationhouse continued, which included:
    • Fabrication of steel structural elevator shafts.
    • Partial demolition of platform roof, creating holes for installation of the new elevator shafts.
  • Installation of new elevator shafts.
    • Shafts were lifted by crane over the guideway and lowered in through the holes in the roof and platform.

During the weeks of January 17 and 24, you may have noticed that SkyTrain single tracked between 9 p.m. and end of service from Sunday to Thursday.

This was necessary to ensure crews could safely install the elevator shafts and hoop trusses over the tracks without trains running below.

Here are some behind-the-scenes pictures of that complex work:

What to expect

Our top priority is the safety of the public, passengers, employees, and contractors. Due to the nature of construction activity, we recognize there will be impacts to the public, including noise, traffic impacts, and changes to SkyTrain service and station access.

Below is a summary of the short-term work that passengers and neighbours can expect:

  • Continued construction of three new elevator shafts in the Centre Stationhouse, which are expected to be open towards the end of 2016.
    • Until then, the HandyDART and Community shuttles will continue to operate.
    • The HandyDART shuttle operates between the Metrotown and Patterson Station HandyDART stops for passengers with disabilities.
    • Passengers travelling with strollers can take a Community Shuttle to Metrotown Station from Patterson or Royal Oak stations.
  • Installation of a temporary staircase from the west side of the platform down to street level, allowing the existing emergency exit to be demolished in preparation for the new west stationhouse.
  • Demolition work at the station will continue.
  • Noise associated with large construction projects, including nighttime work with varying levels of noise while trains are not operating will continue.

We appreciate your patience as we complete these important upgrades to Metrotown Station.

Be sure to stay tuned for additional updates throughout the project!

Got questions?

We’re here to listen!
Customer Service: 604.953.3333
Monday to Friday: 4 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Overnight Customer Service: 1.866.979.0930
Monday to Friday: 12:30 a.m. to 4 a.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 11:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.

For more information visit or

Author: Jennifer Morland

Meet the TransLink Buskers: Nikita

Sure, you’ve seen (or heard!) the buskers around the system, but I want to know more! Don’t you??

Nikita Afonso Promo Photo

Best of the Okanagan 2015: Best Local Musician winner and TransLink busker, Nikita Afonso

Where do they come from? How did they get into music? Why do they want to be a part of the TransLink Busker Program? And so much more!

These burning questions leads us into a new series on the blog where we interview and profile your favourite SkyTrain station buskers!

First up is Nikita Afonso.

When I heard Nikita in the auditions, I was impressed by not only her talent but her experience at such a young age!

She’s had two CDs, shared the stage with Keith Urban (um, megastar anyone?) and was voted South Okanagan Best Local Musician for 2015.

What made you want to audition for the busker program?

Throughout high school I used to busk every Saturday morning at the local farmers market in the Okanagan. Busking is a great, relaxed way for me to share music and hopefully as some joy to those passing by, and it is also a great way to meet new people.

How many years have you been playing music/singing?

I have been singing and playing guitar for almost seven years. I first started with an all-girl band when I was in elementary school. Being the only one with a true passion to continue after a couple years with the band, I then took private singing and guitar lessons to learn more about my craft and also songwriting, which I love! I started performing around town at local coffee shops which then snowballed into festivals and more.

What is your favourite type of music/artist/band to play?

My favourite artists to listen to and cover right now are Miranda Lambert and Joni Mitchell. I love their songwriting and their melodies are so catchy and beautiful.

All-time favourite song? (It’s a tough one, I know!)

This IS a tough one… I would have to say A Case of You by Joni Mitchel. I don’t think I will ever get sick of that song.

What can riders passing by your busker location expect to hear and see as you perform?

Those taking the trains can expect to hear lots of familiar covers ranging from The Beatles to Johnny Cash to TLC and also current top 40 hits from Ed Sheeran to Miranda Lambert.  I will also be mixing in some fun, upbeat originals songs!

Be sure to check out Nikita’s YouTube channel to see much more of her musical talent!

Stay tuned to the Buzzer blog for more busker fun in the coming months as we profile other artists in the program!

Author: Adrienne Coling

Fun poll results: 35% of voters started taking transit very early in life!

20160216080914The votes are in… 226 votes to be exact!

The question? When did you start taking transit?

The answers varied, but the front runner ended up being the youngest ages! Between birth and five-years-old garnered 35% of the vote. That’s so awesome!

In second with 22%, we have school-aged children between 6 and 12 years of age and following close behind for third are the teenage years at 21%.

What I loved so much about this poll was reading all the comments on the blog and on Facebook as to why you started taking transit when you did.

Here are some of the stories riders have shared:

“I’ve been riding I was about 2, my mom was one of the very few women drivers back in the early 80s. My son took his first bus ride when he was 4 days old. He’s a year old now and still a daily rider.” – Arwen

“I live in Surrey and my boyfriend lives in Coquitlam, neither of us drive. I started taking transit when I started dating him just over a year ago. I have to transfer 4 times taking buses and SkyTrains but if it weren’t for transit our relationship wouldn’t be possible. <3”Sam

“After moving halfway across town, transit allowed me to continue going to the same high school when I was a teenager. Using the Upass through university was a great, affordable way to get around, and then taking transit to work once I graduated helped me to avoid the expenses associated with owning a car. Although I bought my first car when I was 26, transit is still my preferred mode of transport.”Cody

Thank you to everyone who voted and shared their transit history with us!

Do you have ideas for a fun poll? Comment below with your suggestions!

Author: Adrienne Coling

TransLink staff helps reunite owner and iPad

Lorraine Johnson

Lorraine Johnson

Lorraine Johnson was having a hectic day a few weeks ago.

Among other things, she was in the midst of buying a new condo with a lot of details to be sorted out.

She was preoccupied with it all. So, perhaps it was no surprise that the Coquitlam woman forgot something on the bus as she was heading to the airport to catch a flight to Qualicum for the weekend.

After leaving Coquitlam, she caught a connecting bus at Metrotown to Richmond.

But when she got off the bus in Richmond, she had her carry-on bag with her but the tote bag she usually looped around the handle was gone.

“I looked at the suitcase, and no tote bag and the bus was pulling away and I thought… oh no… and not being able to do anything about it,” Lorraine said.

The tote had a number of things of importance, most notably her iPad. Lorraine walked up to where another bus was waiting to ask for help, and spoke to Nigel Clare.

“He talked me off the cliff,” she says with a laugh. “I didn’t know the specific bus number, but I told him the route number and the time we left Metrotown. He took my number and my name. He also gave me a transfer and underlined the Lost & Found number on the back.”

She took a cab to the airport because she was running late and when she arrived at the South Terminal she got a phone call from a Transit Supervisor, saying “we have your bag.”

“I said ‘I’m considering having a heart attack,’” Lorraine recalls. “He said ‘please don’t do that!’”

Nigel Clare

Nigel Clare, CMBC bus operator

She was even more surprised when he said he’d be able to bring the bag out to her personally. Her flight was leaving soon and she was anxious he wouldn’t make it in time.

But shortly after, he arrived with the bag. Lorraine showed him her ID and described in a little more detail what was in the bag – including the yogurt, cheese stick and apple – before he handed it over.

Lorraine says she’s quick to offer feedback, including when service isn’t up to standard. However, in this case, she felt everyone from the bus driver to the Lost & Found staff to the Transit Supervisor offered service that was “over and above expectations.”

“I had dinner with six friends that night and told them ‘I have a great story to share!’”

And we appreciate Lorraine sharing her story with us.

Lose something on transit? Fear not!
Contact the Lost Property Office to see if your item has been collected.

Author: Chris Bryan

Meet Jordan – our newest Buzzer contributor!

Jordan Keim

Jordan Keim

Hello Buzzer Blog readers – although you may have seen a few of my posts already, I am excited to be officially introduced to all of you!

I joined the TransLink communications team in October last year, and I will hopefully be posting to the blog and interacting with all of you on a regular basis.

I hate to admit it, but prior to joining TransLink my exposure and knowledge about transit was fairly limited. The past few months have been quite exciting for me; having this opportunity to learn about all things transit has been a great experience.

I grew up in a small community in BC’s northern interior with a pretty dismal transit system (which I never used), and after moving to North Vancouver three years ago – I still drove my car a lot.

How times have changed! I live in Vancouver and take transit everywhere – I haven’t driven my car in over a year. I can now say that I fully appreciate how incredible (and complex) Metro Vancouver’s integrated transit network really is.

I am excited to share new stories with all of you and keeping you in the know on TransLink projects and initiatives.


Author: Jordan Keim 

Pattullo Bridge rehabilitation begins April 29, 2016

The Pattullo Bridge

The Pattullo Bridge

The Pattullo Bridge is in need of some TLC!

This is one of the oldest bridges in the region and comprehensive rehabilitation work is needed to maintain road safety and bridge functionality.

Work will begin on April 29, 2016 and continue until October 3, 2016.

This necessary construction will help to extend the life of the bridge until a new one can be built to replace it.

What to expect

Between April 29 and Oct. 3, 2016 drivers can expect the following:

  • The bridge will be closed from the evening of April 29 (8 p.m.) to the morning of May 2 (5 a.m.) to allow crews to set up for construction work. The bridge will also close from the evening of Sept. 30 (8 p.m.) to the morning of Oct. 3 (5 a.m.) for crews to remove equipment.
  • From May 2 to Sept. 30, the bridge will remain open with one lane in each direction.
  • Truck access will be maintained
  • The bridge will be closed to all traffic two nights a week and one weekend a month. Be sure to read our closure schedule (navigate to the closure schedule tab) for details about upcoming closures.
  • Pedestrians and cyclists will still be able to use the bridge, even during evening and weekend closures.
  • Minor vehicle incidents on the bridge will cause significant delays and potentially a full bridge closure.

How to prepare

The Pattullo Bridge is one of the busiest crossings in Metro Vancouver and increased congestion and delays are expected in the area during construction.

Travel times are dependent on the street and time of day. Drivers taking the Pattullo Bridge should plan an extra 20 to 40 minutes of travel time in the morning peak period and 10 to 30 minutes in the afternoon peak period.

Pattullo Bridge users should start planning ahead and thinking of alternatives which may be faster, such as:
• Using other crossings
• Traveling outside of peak periods

Six additional parking locations near New Westminster Station, Scott Road Station and Surrey Central Station have been identified, in addition to existing Park and Ride lots, to make it easier for drivers to connect to transit. Additional service hours have also been added to the 101, 104, 128, 155, 340 and the 410 bus routes.

What we are doing

Work will focus on essential deck repairs to address some sections of the bridge with concrete degradation that occurs over time. Crews will:

  • mill off the asphalt surfacing from the deck;
  • remove all deck concrete down to the top layer of rebar;
  • repair concrete delamination (deterioration of concrete), clean or replace rebar; and
  • repave the whole deck area with a concrete overlay.

Please plan ahead and expect delays during this process.

We thank you and appreciate your patience while we do this important work.

For more information and travel resources visit

Author: Adrienne Coling

TransLink gets a new CEO!

Kevin Desmond

**Update – see videos below and at the bottom of the post**
We will be streaming live via Periscope with our new CEO Be sure to follow us at 11am. You can view the video now!

You can find the media release here

TransLink is pleased to announce the appointment of Kevin Desmond as our new Chief Executive Officer.

Kevin Desmond comes to us from King County Metro Transit where he is the General Manager.

That’s just a stone’s throw over the border!

Kevin has been with King County since 2004, overseeing a mix of transit modes, including buses, trains, vanpools and paratransit vans, as well as leading their almost 5,000 employees.

During his time at Metro Transit, they launched light rail and streetcar service, several bus rapid transit lines, grew transit ridership by 44 per cent and rolled out the ORCA Card — much like Metro Vancouver’s Compass Card!

Prior to Metro Transit, Kevin was Vice-President of Operations and Development at Pierce Transit in Lakewood, Washington, Chief of Operations Planning for New York City Transit and was a Deputy Director in Mayor Koch’s Transportation Office and Assistant Commissioner for the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission.

On top of all that, he is a member of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA Board of Directors and the first chair of APTA’s Sustainability Committee).

Talk about a transit-filled resume!

And how will he be getting to and from work, you ask?

Well, he plans to relocate his family to New Westminster where he will be able to walk, bike to work, or take a short SkyTrain ride to TransLink’s head office!

Please help us welcome our new CEO who will be joining us starting March 21, 2016.

Author: Adrienne Coling

Testing all gates closed at more SkyTrain stations

Gates closed testing at Sapperton Station

All gates closed testing continues at Sapperton Station today

We are moving forward with full gate closure testing at many more stations over the next few weeks!

Reports from tests so far have been great with riders using Compass fare products and others being exposed to it and learning how to use Compass tickets.

Like our previous tests, we will have SkyTrain Attendants, Customer Service Attendants and supervisors on both sides of the fare gates to make sure everyone is able to get through. If you show up to the fare gates using old fare media (FareSavers or bus tickets), staff will replace it with a Compass Ticket.

Have you been through fare gates that are all closed yet? Questions about testing the gates? Comment below!

Author: Adrienne Coling

First phase of running rail replacement work complete!

You may have noticed in the past few months that the Expo Line has been undergoing some major maintenance work!

As part of that maintenance, we have been replacing major sections of rail along the 30 year old track.

The first phase of the work began last August and has just been completed – replacing 4,550 linear metres of rail at three locations.

Here’s what has been replaced so far:

  • 700 linear metres of rail along the outbound curve east of Edmonds Station
  • 950 linear metres of rail along the inbound curve west of Edmonds Station
  • 2,900 linear metres of rail along the S-curve between Commercial–Broadway and Main Street –Science World stations.

We will be continuing the rail replacement work this summer.

This work is critical to keeping our system in a good state of repair.

Thanks for your patience while we complete this necessary maintenance on the SkyTrain system!

Author: Jordan Keim

TransLink named one of BC’s top employers for 2016!

2016 bc top employers

Sabrina, Project Manager with Engineering and Project services and Dan, Director of Fleet Technical Support for CMBC are just two of the amazing employees at TransLink and its operating companies

It is my absolute pleasure to announce that South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority (aka TransLink) is one of BC’s top employers!

The Vancouver Sun announced the winners in special edition on February 6, 2016, which includes the reasoning behind the selections.

Our almost 7,000 employees across the enterprise support the transit and transportation system in roles ranging from transit operators to support staff, as well as positions in customer service, engineering, planning, marketing and much more!

BC employers pamphlet

12th annual BC’s Top Employers 2016

Take a look at the criteria by which companies are chosen for this award:

Employers are evaluated by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers using the same eight criteria as the national competition: (1) Physical Workplace; (2) Work Atmosphere & Social; (3) Health, Financial & Family Benefits; (4) Vacation & Time Off; (5) Employee Communications; (6) Performance Management; (7) Training & Skills Development; and (8) Community Involvement. Employers are compared to other organizations in their field to determine which offers the most progressive and forward-thinking programs.

We work hard to deliver a world-class customer experience throughout our entire system every single day.

We’re committed to efficient, safe and reliable service and are so proud to be amongst the other great employers in the province on this list!

Author: Adrienne Coling

Name the new Transit Police dog


This puppy was one of the most fun subjects we’ve ever had the pleasure to work with!

Meet the newest member of the Transit Police. She’s a 10-months-old chocolate lab with amber eyes and a playful disposition. She joins three other dogs on the force, and her job will be to help sniff out suspicious packages left on the system.

I say ‘she’ because she doesn’t have a name yet. Think you have a great name for the newest member on the force? Well, here’s your chance to name her!

The Transit Police are asking students from K thru 12 to provide a name they think would be perfect for the puppy. The contest runs until February 12, 2016 at midnight.

The student who provides the winning name will win a visit to their school from the puppy and her police officer handler for a presentation, as well as a bag of special goodies.

Entries should be submitted to:

Family Day holiday service, February 8, 2016

Transit can take you where you need to go this Family Day!

Transit can take you where you need to go this Family Day!

Monday February 8th is Family Day! Whatever you’re planning to do, why note take transit to do it!

Dont forget! Because Family Day is a holiday you’ll want to know about the change of service below.

Buses, SkyTrain and SeaBus – will operate on the Sunday/Holiday schedule on Family Day, Monday, February 8, 2015. Sunday/Holiday fares will be in effect.

West Coast Express will not operate on Family Day.

All services will be back on their regular weekday schedules, Tuesday, February. 9.

Know before you go!

Use the Trip Planner to check your route and schedule times prior to leaving. The information noted here is subject to change. For the latest and most up-to-date information, bookmark on your mobile device so you can know on the go. Customer Information can be reached at 604.953.3333 or tweet us @TransLink.


Are you planning on taking transit to Family Day Event on Monday? Comment below and let us know where you’re headed!

Author: Robert Willis

Shelter buses and last weeks’ fire in Langley

Photo by: Dan Ferguson/Langley Times

Our bus and driver were on hand during a fire to help 25 people get temporary shelter. Photo by: Dan Ferguson/Langley Times

You’ve heard of bus shelters but how about shelter buses?

A shelter bus is a bus from the CMBC fleet that is dispatched from Transit Communications (T-Comm) out of the Surrey Transit Centre to local emergencies where people are being displaced.

The bus provides much needed, safe and warm protection for residents in cases such as a fire, until it is deemed safe to return to their homes.

Not only that, but emergency personnel will often meet the victims right on the bus and if temporary shelter is needed, the bus will then transport the affected people to a hotel.

“Coast Mountain Bus Company has very good working relationships with all of our emergency responders. Shelter buses are requested by Police or Fire Crews throughout Metro Vancouver. When they are requested, we prioritize this request to provide a bus to the incident location,” Derek Zabel, Duty Manager of T-Comm.

This past weekend there was a bus dispatched to a fire in Langley where approximately 25 people took shelter in the bus after they were evacuated from their homes.

This fire was one of four in the month of January to which we dispatched a bus to serve as a shelter.

Two others included the evacuation of a seniors home with approximately 100 tenants in Vancouver, and in Maple Ridge, seniors at the Kanaka Creek Lodge were relocated to a hotel after a fire hit their facility.

We deploy these buses because they can be of great use and comfort for those who are in crisis.

Zabel says this is a service that has a larger effect than just the shelter.

“It is a very important service that we have and if we can assist or help our emergency response teams in these situations, it forms a larger sense of community.”

Author: Adrienne Coling