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Guest post: Vancouver Transit and Art

Ink illustration by Peter R. Bach.

Ink illustration by Peter R. Bach.

Here’s a lovely change of pace from all the Canada Line stuff. This is a guest post by Jason Vanderhill, who is an avid artist and photographer, as well as designer of several transit buttons that you might have in your collection.

Over the past year or so, I’ve taken up a new hobby. Call it SkyTrainSpotting in Fine Art, I am essentially looking for cameos or references to Vancouver transit in fine art.

Of course, I’m not limiting myself to SkyTrains, but I am trying to limit the scope as much as possible to public transit, just to remain focused. Thus far, my search has brought together scenes featuring the SkyTrain and surroundings, TransLink buses, a Seabus, and even a Coastal Renaissance BC Ferry. To be clear, I’m not always purchasing these artworks, as much as I would like to. I am, instead, making note of the work, keeping an eye on the artist’s work for future consideration.

One of the first pieces I did acquire was a print of an ink illustration of Vancouver’s skyline prominently featuring a Seabus, illustrated by graphic designer Peter R Bach of Burnaby.

The illustration (shown above) was part of a series of 6 prints showcasing Vancouver cityscapes and architectural landmarks. Peter passed away in 2006, but I’ve learned from the artist’s family that he came to Canada in 1979 and did these illustrations between 1982 and 1984, showcasing Vancouver Pre-Expo! Some pretty dramatic changes have occurred to the skyline since then!

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Weekend transit service: extra SkyTrain service, Critical Mass, and B.C. Day info

A couple of things to be aware of for the weekend!

Edit: Make sure you check the Alerts page for many more events besides the ones mentioned below, including the Vancouver Pride Parade and Dyke March!

SkyTrain ramps up service for the World Police and Fire Games

The enormous World Police and Fire Games is in town, and owing to the opening ceremonies tonight, SkyTrain will run at “rush hour” service levels all evening, with last trains leaving Waterfront Station for King George at 1:15am, VCC-Clark at 12:31am and Lougheed at 1:11am.

The Games will also prompt earlier Sunday service: the first train from King George station in Surrey starts at 6:08 am on Sunday, August 2. But Skytrain will close the system at its regular/Holiday time, with the last Expo Line train eastbound from Waterfront to King George leaving at 12:15 am. The last Millennium Line train leaves Waterfront station at 12:16am.

Critical Mass may cause bus service delays on Friday, July 31

Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) is expecting major traffic congestion and the possibility of lengthy bus delays due to the Critical Mass bike event on Friday, July 31.

Since it’s not a licensed event, a designated ride route and schedule has not been provided to CMBC.
With a designated parade route, decisions can be made in advance specific to the routing of bus service during the period of concern. Without this knowledge CMBC has not been able to set up reroutes and unfortunately doesn’t know when the event will start or end.

CMBC Transit Supervisors will be at the scene following the procession and transit service will be adjusted and or held as required. We do expect if there are road closures, bus service could be compromised.

If you have time sensitive appointments to make, please give yourselves extra time to where you need to go tonight!

B.C. Day holiday service

All transit services will run on a Sunday/Holiday schedule for B.C. Day on Monday, August 3.

Remember, on a holiday, you only need a single zone fare to travel in all zones all day!

As well, on a Sunday or holiday, those with an adult FareCard, West Coast Express 28-Day Pass, or
Annual Employer Transit Pass can take either five children or one adult and four children on transit with them for free. Enjoy the long weekend, everyone!

Reminder: transit service for the HSBC Celebration of Light, tonight and Saturday

With fireworks displays set for tonight and Saturday, here’s a friendly reminder to check out my earlier post on transit service to the HSBC Celebration of Light.

You’ll find all the details about extra SkyTrain service, extra bus service and reroutes, plus SeaBus and West Coast Express info (West Coast Express runs a special train to the finale on August 1).

The UK will be doing the fireworks tonight, and China will be up on Saturday. Have fun watching the show!

TransitDB: a prizewinning Vancouver transit website

Carson Lam, all dressed up for the Microsoft FTW Ultimate App Throwdown.

Carson Lam, all dressed up for the Microsoft FTW Ultimate App Throwdown.

At the end of June, UBC computer science student Carson Lam emerged victorious in Microsoft’s FTW Ultimate App Throwdown, a programming contest pitting a student project against a professional one.

What was Carson’s winning project? TransitDB, a super handy implementation of TransLink’s transit data!

Check out the site: you can see bus routes mapped onto Google Maps, the next buses leaving from each stop at a bus loop on a single page, and an RSS feed of current system alerts.

The site is quite prescient—many of its features are actually already being put together for the TransLink website! But we’re still absolutely thrilled to see great developers building great tools to help our customers out, and we’re working to make our data accessible to all developers so they can do even more (really!).

For more, here’s a Q&A with Carson, explaining bit more about TransitDB, the Microsoft contest, and where he and the site might end up next.

Read more »

Friday fun trivia: what years are these tickets are from?

If you like, you can skip to the end of this post to see some classic transit tickets and tell us what year they’re from!

Results from last poll: how many stop numbers have you memorized?

Last week I asked how many stop numbers you know by heart.

And okay, at 75 votes this wasn’t our most popular poll ever. But in this poll, both extremes got the most votes.

45% said they had one number memorized, while 33% said they knew 5 or more numbers by heart. 11% knew two numbers, and 5% each knew 3 or 4 numbers.

The lack of votes could certainly be because I forgot to include “zero” as an option. There was a big outcry in the comments suggesting this would have been an popular choice! As Catherine Winters describes:

Seriously, there’s no “zero” option? :) I have them stored in my phone’s SMS app, so at least I can copy and paste the last few, but honestly, my route isn’t regular enough that I can rely on that. I’ll have to make do with good old fashioned sign reading, I’m afraid.

David also voted for zero:

I’m another zero. I know when to catch the bus that goes past my street and rarely use any of the other routes. When I need another bus I’ll check the schedule online ahead of time at home/office or, on those rare occasions when I get to SkyTrain and find it’s not running, I just go to the bus stop and wait. I see no point texting in those cases; it won’t make the bus come any sooner.

Sorry guys! I’ll do better next time. Basically, nine of 18 comments in total said “zero” would be their choice: you can read those and all the rest at the original post.

This week: trivia! What years are these tickets from?

OK, since we might all have poll fatigue by now, I thought I’d try something different: transit trivia!

Check out the tickets below: can you tell me in the comments what years they are from? (I’m really just looking for a rough estimate like “late 60s” or “early 70s” — although if you can tell me the exact year, that’s cool too.)

Classic bus tickets! Click for a MUCH larger version.

Classic bus tickets! Click for a MUCH larger version.

Here is the back view of the tickets, if you want to see those too. Next week I’ll have the answer and any background stories I can gather from people in the company :)

Summer spot: the Main Street Farmers Market

The Main Street Farmers Market in Thornton Park, near Main Street SkyTrain Station!

The Main Street Farmers Market in Thornton Park, near Main Street SkyTrain Station!

As you might recall, I wanted to do some posts highlighting summer destinations you can get to on transit. So here’s one: the new Main Street Farmers Market!

Map of the market location.

Map of the market location.

The market is held every Wednesday from 3pm to 7pm in Thornton Park, which is just next to Main Street SkyTrain Station.

It used to be at Riley Park near Nat Bailey Stadium, but they moved it this year to serve more people at a more accessible location.

It’s a great new place to stop on the way home for fresh dinner ingredients — and there’s even bike delivery service in case you buy too much!

You can grab the SkyTrain to get there, or use bus routes 3, 8, 19, and 22, which stop at Main and Terminal. It’s also close to several bike routes: you can use Cycle Vancouver to plan a route there.

And catch it while you can: the Main Street market will only be open from June 10 – October 21. More about the market and its organizer, the Vancouver Farmers Markets, can be found here.

If you have a transit/bike-accessible summer spot to nominate, email me!

Transit service to the HSBC Celebration of Light, Wed July 22

Fireworks from the HSBC Celebration of Light!

Fireworks from the HSBC Celebration of Light!

We’ve scheduled service to help you get to and from the HSBC Celebration of Light fireworks festival on Wed July 22 (Canada), Sat July 25 (South Africa), Wed July 29 (U.K.), and Sat August 1 (China).

SkyTrain will operate at “rush hour” service levels for the evening, with last trains leaving Waterfront Station for King George at 1:15am, VCC-Clark at 12:31am and Lougheed at 1:11am.

Extra trains will be available in case there are customers still inside stations when the last scheduled trains leave – no one will be left behind!

Also, due to expected crowds, bicycles may be restricted westbound to downtown at the discretion of transit staff when trains are crowded, and will not be permitted on SkyTrain after 10pm on fireworks days until crowds have cleared. If you’re biking, travel early and avoid the inbound peak of 8 pm to 9:30 pm. As you likely know, bikes are limited to two per SkyTrain car, and please be mindful of the safety and comfort of other passengers.

West Coast Express will run a special train on August 1 only (that’s finale night). The train will leave Mission City Station at 7:00 pm and return from Waterfront at Midnight.

SeaBus will have both vessels in operation throughout the evening: 15-minute service will run between Lonsdale Quay and Waterfront station until 12:15am on Wednesdays and 12:45am on Saturdays.

West Vancouver Blue Bus will also provide more buses from Dundarave and Park Royal. Buses returning to West Vancouver will load east of the regular bus stop (nearer to Stanley Park) at Georgia and Denman.

For buses, please note that several bus routes will be re-routed away from the immediate area of the fireworks in the evening, so you’ll need to walk a few blocks to get to your viewing point after:

  • #5 Robson will go as far as Denman and Georgia
  • #6 Davie will terminate at Davie and Thurlow
  • C21 Beach will go as far as Beach and Hornby
  • C23 Davie will go as far as Davie and Thurlow
  • #22 Knight/Macdonald will use Granville Street Bridge, 4th Ave., Burrard and Cornwall in both directions

Transit supervisors will be on-hand to decide if additional buses are needed. And as always, Transit Police and Transit Security will assist Vancouver Police in crowd management, particularly on transit vehicles. A zero-tolerance policy for drugs, drunkenness and open liquor will be maintained.

The HSBC Celebration of Light remains one of the premier events in the Metro Vancouver calendar, and we are happy to help as many people enjoy it as possible!

The Central Park Line: the very first interurban in greater Vancouver

A map of the Central Park Line,  outlined on a 1936 Wrigley's transit map supplied by the <a href=>Burnaby Village Museum</a>.

A map of the Central Park Line, outlined on a 1936 Wrigley's transit map supplied by the Burnaby Village Museum.

Today, I’m pleased to present a brief look at the Central Park Line, one of the interurban lines that used to run in the Lower Mainland.

(If you’re not familiar with the interurbans – electric railways that ran between cities – you can check out this earlier blog post on the history of the interurbans in greater Vancouver.)

Again, Lisa Codd, the curator at the Burnaby Village Museum, helped me put this article together. It’s a continued collaboration to explore transit history and Burnaby’s archival holdings!

Read more »

Canada Day celebrations and transit service

Canada Day revellers at Canada Place! (Thanks to Canada Place for the photo!)

Canada Day revellers at Canada Place! (Thanks to Canada Place for the photo!)

I’m still on holiday: this is a scheduled post!

Canada Day is coming up, with festivities happening all over the region! And we’ll be ramping up transit service to connect with many of the events.

On Wednesday, July 1, SkyTrain will run on Saturday hours, a bump up from Sunday/holiday service, with lots of capacity to take people to Canada Day events in downtown Vancouver.

That includes the annual Canada Day fireworks show from the Burrard Inlet Fireworks Society. And this year, Canada Place will be holding their first ever Canada Day Parade at 7 p.m. starting at West Georgia and Broughton Street.

SeaBus will run on 15-minute frequency in the afternoon and evening for the fireworks, and will extend service until 1:22 a.m.

If you’re heading to the Surrey Canada Day festivities at Cloverdale Millennium Amphiteatre, SkyTrain will make connections with extra CMBC service at Surrey Central to get you to the party.

And extra shuttles from Cloverdale after the fireworks are expected to get you back to Surrey Central station well before the last SkyTrain departure to Waterfront at 12:38 a.m.

Also, you can see all the bus reroutes in effect on Canada Day on our Alerts page. Buses affected include the C21, C23, C43, C44, C93, 98B-Line, 228, 229, 230, 232, 240, 401, 402, 407, and 410. (The Steveston Salmon Festival and Yaletown Grand Prix are also on July 1!)

For trip planning, try the TransLink website, Google Transit, or our customer information line at 604.953.3333.

Have a happy Canada Day, everyone!

A tour of the Central Valley Greenway: a major new bike and walking path through three municipalities!

A section of the Central Valley Greenway in New Westminster.

A section of the Central Valley Greenway in New Westminster.

I don’t know if you know about this, but after more than six years of development, the Central Valley Greenway is launching on Saturday, June 27!

What’s the Central Valley Greenway? It’s a new 24-kilometre pathway through Vancouver, Burnaby, and New Westminster. (Here’s the Greenway page on the main TransLink site.)

That means you can now walk or cycle on a dedicated path from Science World to New Westminster Quay, with all sorts of parks, shopping, worksites, and major transit hubs along the way. (Most of the trail is accessible to wheelchairs, skateboarding, and in-line skating, too.)

It’s a new, high-quality backbone for the regional cycling network, helping our region cut greenhouse gases and encouraging alternative modes of travel.

But more than that—the Greenway is just a really great walk or bike ride!

And to show you just what I’m talking about, I’ll do a picture/video tour of the Greenway here. (The route is still not totally finished, but I got to bike the route a few weeks ago!)

Just bear in mind that this will be a highlights tour. For more detail, check out the Buzzer’s Flickr set of Greenway photos, which illustrates the entire route and provides lots of commentary and instructions on the trickier bits.

Read more »

Olympic mascots take over transit

Miga and Quatchi behind the wheel of a bus.

Miga and Quatchi behind the wheel of a bus.

Miga and Quatchi, two of the Olympic mascots, were caught on transit at an event a few days ago!

I don’t think they’ve actually qualified as conventional bus operators, so don’t expect to see them on your route any time soon :)

Thank you to the Olympic Transportation team for passing these snaps along!

Quatchi plays with a miniature bus at Surrey Transit Centre.

Quatchi plays with a miniature bus at Surrey Transit Centre.

Local band spotlight: The B-Lines

The B-Lines playing the Cobalt on May 8. Left to right we have Scotty Colin on Guitar, Ryan Dyck on vocals, Bruce Dyck on drums and Adam Fothergill on bass. Photo by <a href=>Matt Day</a>

The B-Lines playing the Cobalt on May 8. Left to right we have Scotty Colin on Guitar, Ryan Dyck on vocals, Bruce Dyck on drums and Adam Fothergill on bass. Photo by Matt Day!

A few weeks ago, a co-worker told me about this local band called the B-Lines.

“Really? Are they named after the transit service?”


Which meant the Buzzer blog had to interview them. And Ryan Dyck, the B-Lines’ lead singer, was kind enough to call and tell me all about the band and its name.

(You may have read a slightly shorter version of this in the June Buzzer, btw!)

Read more »

Golden Ears Bridge will officially open on June 16

The Golden Ears Bridge opens Tuesday, June 16!

The Golden Ears Bridge opens Tuesday, June 16!

Our CEO Tom Prendergast announced the Golden Ears Bridge opening date this morning: Tuesday, June 16!

That’s just two days after the bridge’s opening celebration on Sun June 14!

And for 30 days after its June 16 opening, the bridge will be toll free for all traffic.

Give it a try—it cuts travel time by 20-30 minutes when you’re travelling between Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows to Langley or Surrey. Just remember that QuickPass electronic tolling starts after 30 days: you’ll need to register your vehicle to start paying the toll. (You can already register your vehicle now: more than 2,000 have registered so far!)

A map of connections to the Golden Ears Bridge. Click for a larger version.

A map of connections to the Golden Ears Bridge. Click for a larger version.

The six-lane Golden Ears Bridge is a TransLink-owned project, and it will really improve the movement of people and goods throughout the region.

For pedestrians and cyclists, two-metre-wide sidewalks line each side of the bridge, linking with municipal cycling and pedestrian networks on both sides of the river.

Plus we’re also launching a new bus service to connect these communities over the bridge—the #595 Langley Centre/Haney Place express route, which launches on June 22. I’ll have more info on that as it comes to me!

And for more info on the Golden Ears Bridge, check out this earlier post from the Buzzer blog, or the QuickPass website.

Pattullo Bridge repaving work starts Sun May 31: means evening and weekend closures

A very important alert for all our customers who use the Pattullo Bridge.

Repaving work will start on Sun May 31, which means the bridge will be closed during weeknights (8 p.m. to 5 a.m.) and weekends (8 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday). Barring weather delays, the work is expected to take two to three weeks.

Please be aware that when the bridge is open during weekdays, some parts of the deck will be rougher than others. A 30 km/h speed limit will be in place at all times until the work is complete.

As well, the N19 Surrey Central/Downtown NightBus, the only one of two routes currently using the Pattullo Bridge, will be re-routed from New Westminster Station via the Port Mann Bridge, 152nd St., 108th Ave. and the King George Highway to Scott Road Station before resuming its regular route. (Final arrangements for the 321 route have not yet been figured out — I’ll keep you posted.)

If you ride this bus, please expect an extra 10 minutes’ travel time in each direction. SkyTrain will run regular evening and weekend service, with additional cars available to meet extra demand if needed.

It really sucks to close the bridge like this, but the repaving work is important and we need to get it done! Here’s some more detail on why the repaving is needed from the official press release:

Work will begin May 31 to repave the Pattullo Bridge. Over the past three years, TransLink has done extensive maintenance work on the 72-year-old structure, including repainting and foundation scour protection (to prevent the piers’ being eroded by the Fraser River), and now the deck will be repaved. Removing and replacing the asphalt will make the road surface smoother and will allow the condition of the underlying concrete bridge deck to be assessed.

“It’s vital to keep the Pattullo Bridge in as good condition as possible while we plan, design and build the new crossing over the next several years,” says TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast. “We did get an inadvertent ‘head start’ during the emergency closure in January, and now it’s time to finish the job.” Following the fire, which destroyed the timber support structure in January, approximately 20 per cent of the paving work was done while the new span was put in place.

The bridge was paved in the 1980s using asbestos-modified asphalt which must be removed carefully. To complete the work as safely and quickly as possible, the bridge will be closed to all traffic while the work is underway. The closures will take place weeknights (8pm – 5am) and weekends (8pm Friday – 5am Monday). Barring possible weather delays, the work is expected to take two to three weeks. Motorists, pedestrians and cyclists should plan alternate routes, such as Port Mann Bridge or Alex Fraser/Queensborough Bridges, for night time and weekend travel.

The work has been scheduled for the early part of June to make use of a “window” when traffic is generally reduced over the bridge. Most post-secondary institutions have finished classes, and the “summer driving season” has not yet begun. It’s also the time of year that is most likely to be dry and not very hot – two conditions necessary for this work. While approaches to the bridges will be closed, there will be access to businesses on the south side of the bridge.

Friday fun poll: have you ever fallen asleep and missed your stop?

If you like, you can skip to the end of this post to answer the sleeping on transit poll.

Results from last poll: running for boarding transit vehicles

Last week I asked about whether you run to catch a boarding transit vehicle.

And after 175 votes, 62% of you said Yes and 38% said no!

The comments were really interesting. Tsushima Masaki said it was dependent on the situation — if it’s an infrequent bus, that’s when you run. However, ;-) said he didn’t run often because more frequent service and better mobile access to scheduling makes it easier to predict when you should be at the stop, so you can plan ahead. And Steven expressed that frantic running for transit could in fact be dangerous for many—drivers, passengers, pedestrians, etc!

We also got a few interesting observation/tips. Here’s Dave2 regarding waiting for the SkyTrain:

Broadway/Commercial is too crowded, and if I miss an E/B Millenium line train I’ll just resign myself to a 5 minute wait for the next train. What gets me is people that run for a W/B train at Broadway in the AM rush…trains dwell there for 45 seconds so usually I just casually walk on after the runners have passed, and if the train leaves it’s only 90-100 seconds until the next one.

And George had a few more thoughts:

I have also noticed that generally drivers on the less frequent, evening, and community shuttle routes are more likely to wait for a running passenger. That makes sense since waiting for another 30 mins would waste so much time. Furthermor I think if you are the last passeneger to enter a bus, you should quickly look back to see if someone is running to catch the bus and maybe you could kindly hold up the bus for that person. Someone did that for me and it’s really appreciated.

Again, Eric, who suggested this poll, wrote a post on his blog explaining why he doesn’t run for buses: his thoughts are very similar to mine, actually. And many more comments can be found at the original post, as always.

This week’s poll: have you ever fallen asleep and missed your stop?

Well, have you?

Also, if you have fallen asleep on transit, did you pass several stops before you woke up? (Personally I fall asleep on transit a lot, but I’ve never actually missed my stop!)