Translink Buzzer Blog

#WhatsTheLink: TransLink manages 2,300 lane kilometres of road

That's a lot of road!

That’s a lot of road!

Our first fact about all that TransLink does has been making the rounds on the web this past week. The graphic above shows just how many lane kilometres TransLink is responsible. Unfortunately, we can’t reorganize these roads in the Major Road Network. They’re busy moving people and goods around the region!

You might be thinking that you’ve seen the above graphic before. Well, you’re partly right. We posted a similar image in February. The number of kilometres has been updated for this latest image. Not all the roads we manage are part of the MRN. Therefore, we’ll just have to dream of sunny spots of California rather than Mexico ;).

This first fact has been shared with local blogs along with some stories about the MRN and Kingsway written by yours truly. In case you haven’t come across them yet, here’s a snippet from each. I encourage you to read them in their entirety. Let us know what you think.

Miss 604: Macrons and Kingsway are part of your Major Road Network

Kingsway is a road unlike any other in Metro Vancouver. At first a walking trail for local First Nations, it then became a wagon road in the mid-19th century….Kingsway is also part of TransLink’s Major Road Network (MRN). The MRN is a network of major arterial roads that stretches across the region and connects people and transports goods across municipal boundaries.

Catherine Introligator of French Made Backing

Catherine Introligator of French Made Baking

Walking the north end of Kingsway you find yourself surround by all types of business and people. Coffee drinkers imbibe at coffee shops next to hair salons, eateries and various shops.

One place I stopped in was the unassuming bakery at 81 Kingsway. It was the pastel colours of macarons that caught my eye and the smell of butter that lured me through the doors of French Made Baking. Once inside, I was met by almond croissants hot from the oven and Parisian-accented English.

VancityBuzz: From trail to street, Kingsway is part of our history and the Major Road Network

Have you ever wondered why Kingsway is unlike other roads in Metro Vancouver? Why, unlike most streets in Vancouver and Burnaby, does Kingsway cut across the grid in a seemingly brazen diagonal from the northwest to the southeast?

The answer is that Kingsway is older than most roads in the region. It came into being before our cities were well established and before planners had the bright idea to make a system of roads following a grid design….

Artwork by Sonny Assue, image by Lila Bujold.

Artwork by Sonny Assue, image by Lila Bujold.

In 2012, the City of Vancouver commissioned artist Sonny Assu to design a street marker as part of Vancouver’s 125th Anniversary. What Sonny created speaks to both the collective history of the street as well as the personal history of the artist. I had the opportunity to ask Sonny as few question about his work and the street that inspired it.

What does Kingsway mean to you?

Nostalgia. With certain stretches that seem lost in time, the element of nostalgia that is inherent within Kingsway is probably the most compelling element of the road itself.

Vancouver Observer: Your Major Road Network Leads to Kingsway

If you’ve ever walked along Kingsway, you might think, like I have, of its history…

The community at Kingsway and Main is diverse. People from around the world and close to home have made this triangle of major roads their place of business. That includes Jae, owner and manager of Gene Café

“It’s low key, there’s a good community here and there are regular customers. What Gene is today has naturally built up over the years. I really like that about this part of Kingsway. I’ve only been in Vancouver for a short time, but while I’ve been at Gene, I’ve noticed changes in the area. There are more buildings, and we’re a little busier now than we were a year ago.”

Kingsway and Main 1908 and 2014. Kingsway and Main, 1908. Philip Timms. VPL# 6780 (left), Kingsway and Main, 2014 Robert Willis

Kingsway and Main 1908 and 2014. Kingsway and Main, 1908. Philip Timms. VPL# 6780 (left), Kingsway and Main, 2014 Robert Willis

Storify: #WhatsTheLink: Major Road Network (MRN)

We also had a guessing game on our Instagram page asking you to identify different roads that are part of the Major Road Network. Check out our Storify summary to see the different photographs we uploaded!

Getting to the 2014 BMO Marathon start line

 

runners

The Oakridge/41st Station on the Canada Line is the closest stop to get you to the start line.

 

Kudos to everyone tying up their laces on May 2nd to run 21.2 km or 42.2 km! Whether you are planning to run or cheer, head to the start line in Queen Elizabeth Park via the Canada Line Oakridge/41st Station.

 

Service adjustments:

 

Canada Line: The first train from Waterfront Station is at 4:48 a.m. and from Richmond Brighouse at 5:02 a.m. To prevent line-ups before the event, portable fare boxes will be set up at Waterfront, Vancouver City-Centre and Yaletown-Roundhouse Canada Line stations.

 

Coast Mountain Bus: Regular Sunday service will be provided, with some routes modified at certain times during the day to accommodate the marathon.

 

Shuttle Bus: Translink, in partnership with the Vancouver International Marathon Society, is offering a free shuttle service from Scott Road Station, Lonsdale Quay, Brentwood Mall and Patterson Station to the start line. Space is limited, and is booked on a first come first serve basis.

 

Cyclists: TravelSmart is sponsoring BEST’s Bicycle Valet, which will offer secure temporary bike storage for up to 120 bikes, free of charge. The valet will be open from 6 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Bute Street, between Hastings and Cordova.

 

Reminders:

  1. SkyTrain’s Expo and Millennium Lines, West Vancouver Blue Bus and SeaBus will operate their regular Sunday service. There is no Sunday service on the West Coast Express.

  2. The Train2Main will be in operation for all runners or spectators travelling to or from the Main Street-Science World Station.

 

Make sure to check your route before you go! Sign up for Transit Alerts, visit our mobile site, follow us on Twitter or call Customer Service at 604-953-3333.

#WhatsTheLink

#whatsthelinkIt’s pressure free test time. What is TransLink responsible for?

A)   Public Transit

B)   The Major Roads Network

C)   Five Bridges

D)   The Regional Cycling Strategy

E)   All of the above and more

If you answered ‘E’ you get a gold star!

 

We’re not just transit

Transit is what we are often known for in the region, but TransLink’s mandate covers much more. Today we’re starting a new series called #whatsthelink. It’s all about what TransLink is responsible for in Metro Vancouver and some little known facts about what we do.

Over the next couple of months, we’ll be rolling out one fact a week and sharing it with all of you here. We will also share this weekly fact on our Instagram, Twitter and Facebook channels as well as other blogs. These facts will be accompanied by graphics, photos and maybe even the chance to win some prizes!

Whether you get around by the road, bridge, train, bus, boat and/or bike, the work we do at TransLink has an effect on almost everyone in Metro Vancouver. We want to spread the word about all that TransLink does. We also want to share some of the amazing facts about our transportation system with you.

So join us, learn a little, and share your images and thoughts on the work we do along the way! Want to learn more beyond this series? Check out the TransLink website or our previous Buzzer series, TransLink 101.

Introducing Allen!

Allen

Happy to join the TransLink team!

Hello Buzzer readers! My name is Allen and will be a member of the TransLink communications team over the summer as its Student Communications Assistant.

Receiving that first pack of Concession FareSaver Tickets is a significant milestone for any teenager in Metro Vancouver. It represents an increase in mobility and a new-found ability to travel anywhere by themselves — a taste of adulthood. Since I received my first pack of FareSavers, I’ve become hooked on transit and it is has become my primary means to get around.

Being both a Geography and Communications student at Simon Fraser University has made me appreciative of the important role TransLink plays in the overall livability of our region by reducing our carbon footprint.

Three things about me:

I’m proud to call myself a transit geek and I look forward to sharing my enthusiasm for transit with you all over the next few months!

Links and Tidbits – April 25, 2014

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.

To prepare for his Grammys preformance, Macklemore and producer Ryan Lewis treated some New York City commuters to a rendition of “Can’t Hold Us”.  What a great way to start your morning!

 

  • As reported in 24 Hours, one bus driver witnessed a touching act of generosity this holiday weekend. Upon noticing a fellow transit rider wearing plastic bags on his feet, a man offered him his own shoes and socks. The act of kidness “made my heart melt”, said the bus driver. We also blogged about it yesterday!

 

  • Talk about a bad day! A couple of months ago, rush hour commuters in London were met with extreme delays after a major London Underground control room was flooded with cement. Service was eventually restored to normal but not before images leaked online of signalling equipment submerged in concrete. Oops!

 

  • Here’s some pretty hair raising advertising at work for Swedish pharmacy chain Apotek.

 

  • Local Vancouver blogger, Nathaniel Christopher, shares photos of fresh new seats on his route 135 bus. Mmm… you’ve gotta love that new bus seat smell.

 

  • You never know who you’ll run into on public transit. Here’s a great story from 1981 about a London Underground encounter.

 

  • Here is a great photo of one of our old trolley buses from 1954. (Photo credit: OAChris Flickr). Thanks to our friends at TransLinked for sharing this!

Vancouver Trolley Bus 1954

 

  • Nathan W. Pyle provides us with a few useful etiquette tips we should all keep in mind when riding public transit. He focuses specifically on New York City but I think transit riders everywhere can relate! Thanks again TransLinked!

 

PYa45T2 - Imgurx9uMfvf - Imgur

 

  • Glow in the dark roads are coming to the Netherlands. Streetlights on a 500m stretch of highway in the Netherlands are replaced by glow in the dark road markings in a pilot project.

 

  • From September 30 – October 4, Transport for London asked local poets to help them encourage commuters to be aware and considerate of each other while riding transit. Some great posters were created as well as this “When travelling in London Town” cartoon.

 

TransLink offers passengers more service on race day

Sun Run photo

More than 50,000 people expected at 30th annual Vancouver Sun Run.

 

Ready, set, GOOOOO!!!! TransLink will extend transit services to help runners and their fans get where they need to go before and following the Vancouver Sun Run on Sunday, April 27.

To plan your trips to and from the race, you can visit here, here and here.

The quick facts:

  • Expo and Millennium Lines will leave King George Station at 6:38 a.m. & Lougheed Station at 6:45 a.m.
  • Canada Line will begin service at 4:48 a.m.
  • Coast Mountain Bus will provide regular Sunday service, with detours in effect in the West End and along Georgia Street.
  • The SeaBus will leave Lonsdale Quay at 7 a.m. and every 15 minutes from Waterfront until 2:45 p.m.
  • West Coast Express will depart Mission at 7 a.m. and arrive downtown at 8:15 a.m. The return trip will leave Waterfront at 1 p.m.
  • West Vancouver Blue Bus will provide regular Sunday service, with increased frequency on the 250 in the morning and after the run.
  • BEST’s Bicycle Valet, will once again offer cyclists temporary and free storage at Gate F on the second level of BC Place.

 

To prevent long line-ups after the Sun Run, SkyTrain customers can pre-purchase return tickets prior to the race. Portable fareboxes will be set up at Bridgeport, Burrard, Granville, King George, and Vancouver City Centre stations. They will also be set up at Stadium-Chinatown and Yaletown-Roundhouse stations  for up to one hour after the race. Exact cash fare is required and tickets will be valid until late afternoon.

Due to crowding and safety concerns, cyclists may need to wait to take their bikes on SkyTrain until the crowds clear.

 

For more service information follow TransLink on Twitter @TransLink or call Customer Service at 604.953.3333.

TransLink in the media: An act of kindness on transit

 

The image of kindness

The image of kindness – 24 Hours

Hello Buzzer readers,

We often hear about random acts of kindness on our buses and SkyTrain.

Such is the story that took place two days ago on a bus in Surrey. A young man, who prefers to stay anonymous, saw that another rider was barefoot, took off his shoes and socks and gave them to the barefoot man. Asked about how he was going to get around without shoes, he replied: “Don’t worry about me — I live close by and can walk,” and got off the bus. This generous and selfless act was witnessed by an off-duty bus operator who told this story to the media. As he said to CBC News: “It was very inspiring and very soul-touching for me”.

You can read the original story, published by 24 Hours or watch the CBC News clip.

We are deeply touched by this story and proud that such a genuine and generous act happened on our transit system. Have you witnessed an act of kindness on transit? Let us know and leave us your story  in the comments section.

 

 

Who won the Find the Bunny Contest?

Contest winner

Brian takes home his chocolate prize.

Drum roll please…….. a BIG congratulations to Brian Cook!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Find the Bunny Contest!

We received more than 665 entries since announcing the contest on March 31!

 

Live Chat with The Compass Team on Friday, April 25, 2014

Thanks for all your comments, questions and suggestions about Compass! As the transition continues, we know it’s more important than ever to stay connected and make sure we’re getting you the information you need.

Therefore, starting this month, we’ll offer regular live chats with Compass team members. A different member will attend the live chat each time to answer your questions.

We conducted a survey on Facebook recently to find out your preferred format, and you told us a live chat on our Facebook page was the way to go.

Drum roll please…the first-ever Compass live chat is on! Mark your calendar and join us on Friday, April 25 from 11:30am-12:30pm.

Mike Madill, VP, Enterprise Initiatives

Mike Madill, VP, Enterprise Initiatives

To kick the series off, we’re pleased to welcome Mike Madill, VP, Enterprise Initiatives, to our Facebook page. Mike will be happy to answer your questions about the Compass project, particularly about what you, as a customer, can expect from Compass and the transition.

Bring all your questions and comments and join us for an hour of live interaction right on our Facebook page. If you can’t make it on Friday, please post your questions here and we’ll make sure Mike answers them on Friday. See you Friday!

2014 Easter weekend holiday service

It’s Easter weekend everyone!

Friday, April 18, 2014, is Good Friday. That means transit runs on Sunday/Holiday service for bus, SkyTrain and SeaBus. West Coast will not be running. And don’t forget, Friday is a statutory holiday so you only need a one-zone fare to travel across all zones!

Monday, April 21, 2014, is Easter Monday. That means a return to the regular weekend schedule and regular fares. However, there’s reduced AM and PM peak period service for SkyTrain. West Coast Express will be running trains W1, W3 and W5 westbound and E1, E3 and E5 eastbound. TrainBus will operate its regular weekday schedule.

Have a happy and safe weekend everyone!

Buzzer illustrator interview: Mouki Butt

Mouki and her dancing riders!

Mouki (left) and her dancing riders (right)!

The April 2014 edition of the print Buzzer is on the system and in .pdf! We had the pleasure of working with illustrator Mouki Butt again on the cover of the newsletter. Mouki did her first Buzzer illustration for the October 2010 issue. Once again, she’s captivated us with her cute and stylish work!

Mouki was nice enough to answer a few of our questions about herself, her work and her preferred dance styles.

Who is Mouki Butt?
I’m an illustrator, who loves to draw cute people.

How did you come up with your illustration?

My train of thought was: service changes should be fun…what’s more
fun than a novelty dance?

How does this illustration compare to your first illustration for the Buzzer?
The first one screamed autumn, and I’m hoping this one screams spring!

Do you take transit? If so, what’s your favourite mode?

Yes! I love the Skytrain: it’s quick and the views are so nice.

Have you ever done the service change boogie?
Yes, I’m doing it right now! It’s easier than the Mashed Potato.

Peer into your crystal ball and tell us what you see for yourself in the future.
Plenty of swimming in the ocean (avoiding jellyfish).

Thanks for the great work Mouki!

Compass is no longer just for people with super hearing!

We’ve heard from Beta testers and a few Compass Card users that the volume of the beeps on bus Compass Card readers was nearly impossible to hear—unless of course you have the kind of hearing that would make Superman jealous.

“That’s not OK,” we thought. “We’ve got to send our engineers out ASAP to fix the problem!”

Here’s what we did
System Engineer David Grabowski and his team approached some stakeholders interested in adjusting the volume on the readers. The test group ran through many scenarios to replicate the noisy environment you’d experience when tapping in and tapping out of a bus.

We hear the testing process was quite a production; you name it, there were engines running, fans blowing, horns honking, and Dave yelling. We even suspect pots and pans might have been used liberally to increase the noise level.

Results?
By the end of the testing, there was complete agreement that a volume setting of 9 (out of 10) was needed for our customers to hear the beeps. (The volume for the Compass readers on community shuttles will remain at 6 because the reader is closer to the driver’s head.)

The result of all this was that a new, more robust volume was chosen and Davie and his team went ahead and updated the software on Mobile Validators on all buses to increase the tap volumes.

We’re pretty sure you’ll notice the difference!

 

All you need to do is tap

Tap, tap, tap!

Tap, tap, tap!

Got your Compass Card already? Remember, the best way to tap your card is to hold it flat against the reader until the message on the screen changes.

If this doesn’t work, please call the number on the back of your card or email customerservice@compasscard.ca with as much information as you can (route #, time, bus #, location, error message, etc).

Over the next few months, as we continue to introduce more customer groups to the Compass system, we’ll be working on further fine tuning the system. As always, your input is critical to the success of Compass.

The April 2014 Buzzer is now on the system

Keep your eyes peeled: the April 2014 Buzzer is now on the system! Nearly half of this issue is devoted to April service changes including those for Blue Bus. Remember, you have until April 14th to enter our Find the Bunny Contest!

This month’s cover illustration was drawn by illustrator Mouki Butt. We’ll have an interview with her very soon.

Transit Police launched a campaign this week called Global Guardian and you can read all about it in the Buzzer. Do you want to know more? Checkout the Transit Police  news section for their April 7, 2014 news release for more about the international campaign.

And of course, there’s always the usual favourites included the Contest Corner, Back Issues and Coming Events.

Now all you have to do is pick one up or download it. Good reading to you all!

TransLink turns 15: Preparing for Y2K

BCRTC Control Room Circa 1999

BCRTC Control Room Circa 1999

Let’s go back in time. The year is 1999. Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time” was a global smash hit, the Blackberry 850 was blowing peoples minds by putting emails in the palms of your hands, and last, but definitely not least, TransLink was created!

Those of you who remember the transition to this new millennium will remember the tension that was building as the 90s wound down. Not only did we not know what to call the next decade (I don’t think we ever did land on a good term to define 2000-2009 or our current decade either), there was widespread panic over what our computers would do once the “99″ in 1999 rolled over to “00″ of 2000 (Wikipedia explains this and more better than I can).

The fear for many was palpable. Whether or not you believed that we were heading for digital/analogue/world armageddon, the newly formed TransLink didn’t take things for granted. Someone needed to be on standby in case the world’s worst estimates came true. For the SkyTrain system, that person was Michael Carmichael, IT Network Supervisor for BCRTC.

Michael was a Network Administrator working at SkyTrain Operations and Maintenance Centre (OMC) in 1999. He looked after the IT side of the Y2K bug at SkyTrain. That included desktop computers, servers, networks, and office software. The computers that run the trains were handled by SkyTrain Control.

In the months leading up to Y2K, management at BCRTC were not too concerned that it was going to be a major problem that would cripple SkyTrain. Mike took some precautions, and some computers and software were updated and replaced prior to the “big event”.  All computers were tested three to five months in advance for potential issues by setting the clock forward to see what happened. Three months ahead of Y2K, it was evident that everything was going to be fine.

Mike came to the office on New Year’s eve as a precautionary measure to ensure all the computers and software were up and running when people came back to work. Computers that run SkyTrain are rebooted at 2 or 3:30 a.m., so the plan was for them to check for problems at that time, but the system had already been tested with no issue. If there had been an issue, SkyTrain attendants and Control Operators would have been there to take care of it.

What happened?

“It was just me alone from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. It was actually quite boring, but I did hear some celebrating and screaming in the control room at midnight. I didn’t go up there, though,” says Michael. What was happening was an impromptu New Year’s celebration that broke out in SkyTrain Control at midnight.

Michael reflects on that time, “We actually have more issues with Daylight Savings Time than we ever did with Y2K. Y2K was basically a non-event.”

Yes it was Michael, but I, for one, am glad he was there, just in case.

A shot of what things looked like around 1999 in SkyTrain control

A shot of what things looked like around 1999 in SkyTrain control

 

All about Compass

Woohoo! We’ve reached 10 million taps since January 1. Thank you very much for your support of the Compass project.