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Look, the #125 is going strong so far

The lineup for the #125 at BCIT.

The lineup for the #125 at BCIT.

Hey—the #125, which you might remember as a trial route launched in our December service changes, is actually showing excellent ridership so far. Just thought we’d showcase some pics of the growing lineups hopping on!

Why is the #125 a trial run? The key issue was (and continues to be) bus congestion at the Metrotown loop. With the #125, we were trying to give BCIT riders another option to connect to the SkyTrain line, and reduce the number of buses going to Metrotown. We were going to look for another solution if the bus wasn’t popular, but so far, the bus route is turning out to be in high demand. The #125 was also established partly at the suggestion of our operators, too—great work there!

The #125 runs every 10 minutes on Monday through Friday during peak periods only. Here’s a few more photos.

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CMBC’s Snow Plan

Trolleys stuck in the snow on Main Street, January 4, 2009. Photo by the indefatigable Terry Muirhead. (Thanks Terry for all the photos you send in!)

Trolleys stuck in the snow on Main Street, January 4, 2009. Photo by the indefatigable Terry Muirhead.

Okay, again as requested in the comments from the first entry of 2009, readers Dan, Sungsu and Coffee Barista were interested in seeing the snow plans from SkyTrain and CMBC.

I’ve posted SkyTrain’s snow plan, and now here’s the snow plan from CMBC.

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Well, if it’s not snowing, it’s flooding. How does this affect transit?

(Watch the clip to hear Drew Snider give an update on transit service from 7:15 a.m. — or just read below.)

As many of you might have heard by now, Environment Canada has issued a major rainfall warning for our region until mid-Thursday. Combined with the huge amount of melting snow lying around, that could mean major flooding in Metro Vancouver. (Here’s an article from The Province on the matter, too.)

For us, the anticipated flooding may well cause transit problems thoughout the Lower Mainland today.

As of 7:15 a.m., there are a couple of bus routes already detouring in Surrey:
– #320 turns off Fraser Highway onto 176, then onto 58th Ave (and the reverse in the other direction)
– #395 detours via 64th Ave., 176 and Fraser Hwy.

In North Vancouver, #230 is still turning around at Rockland & Prospect; the #210 is turning around at Dempsey & Underwood: both due to road conditions.

In West Vancouver, the #254 British Properties is still on partial snow route, leaving out St Andrew’s and Bonnymuir. Update at 11:10 a.m.: It’s now back on regular route.

HandyDART is running full service throughout the region, but is encountering some road closures due to high standing water.

Everyone on the system should expect larger than normal passenger volumes, as a lot of private vehicles are still snowed in on side streets. Please dress for the elements and expect the occasional heavy load passup. And a big thank you all for your patience and understanding during this trying time of weather-related woes!

I’ll keep you updated on the Buzzer blog if anything changes. You can also see the latest updates at our Customer Alerts page or our Youtube info stream.

P.S. Feel free to send along any photos of the heavy rainfall as the day continues. I’ll post them up on the blog along with later updates.

Hello 2009! Er… why is the snow still here?

The packed walkway between Commercial and Broadway Stations.

The packed walkway between Commercial and Broadway Stations.

Happy new year to you all on our first day back from Christmas holidays!

It’s a busy day for public transit, as most everyone is back to work or school today, but our crews are working hard to keep the system going. My own morning commute wasn’t too bad. Bus service was a bit slower but definitely consistent, and while Broadway Station was packed (as you can see in my photo to the right), the longer trains were slowly but surely moving the crowds out to their destinations.

And here’s the official transit updates as of 10:30 a.m:

SKYTRAIN
SkyTrain is running longer trains, with wider gaps between them, to get as close to full capacity as possible. All trains are staffed by SkyTrain Attendants for safety purposes. Platform management procedures are in place at Broadway and Metrotown stations.

BUS
Most routes are starting to return to normal as the snow continues to melt and the roads clear. Articulated buses are now back in service on the #3 Main, 98 B-Line and #135 SFU, as well as the 99 B-Line to UBC, which had always been using the longer buses.

Mariner Way in Coquitlam is back open, but there may be some service disruptions still at higher elevations, particularly those areas served by Community Shuttles.

WEST VAN BLUE BUS
#253 Caulfeild has returned to its regular route. All other routes are open, except #254 British Properties – on snow route.

ALBION FERRY
Is operating full service

HANDYDART
Essential services only – medical calls and as many work calls as possible. Remember that, while conventional buses use main roads, HandyDART uses side-streets as well, and may get stuck, as many buses were last night.

Again, thank you all for your patience and understanding during this trying time. Remember you can grab the latest updates at our Customer Alerts page or our Youtube info stream.

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day holiday service and fares

And now, here’s the overview of transit service and fares during the New Year holiday!

For more details, please visit the TransLink website or call 604-953-3333 for more information. (I’m on holiday until Jan. 5, so I won’t be able to respond to your comments.)

New Year’s Eve – Wednesday, Dec. 31

Regular weekday fares until 5 pm, then free service.

Buses will operate on a regular weekday schedule, with extended late-night service on a number of routes.

SkyTrain and SeaBus will extend late-night service by one hour, with the last train and ferry leaving Waterfront Station at 2:20 a.m.

West Coast Express afternoon trains will depart from downtown at 1:00, 3:00, 4:50, 5:30 and 6:20 plus the regular TrainBus service.

New Year’s Day – Thursday, Jan. 1

Regular holiday fares in effect — only a single-zone fare is needed for travel in all zones all day. As well, on a Sunday or holiday, all passengers 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.

Buses, SeaBus and SkyTrain will operate on regular Sunday/ holiday schedules.

There will be no West Coast Express service on New Year’s Day.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Public art hits the road on Main Street

The two sides of the afghan-wrapped articulated trolley that will be travelling the #3 route. (Click for a larger version!)

The two sides of the afghan-wrapped articulated trolley that will be travelling the #3 route. (Click for a larger version!)

Note: I’m still on holiday until Jan. 5. This post was scheduled to launch before I left!

Watch out for an articulated trolley wrapped in an afghan print travelling on the #3 Main route on Monday. It’s the first sign of a Main Street public art program that’s been in the making for over three years.

This program is called 88 BLOCKS • Art on Main, and it’s part of the Main Street Urban Transportation Showcase project, an innovative transportation improvement program launched in 2004 and jointly funded by Transport Canada (through the Urban Transportation Showcase Program), TransLink and the City of Vancouver. (Check out the official Main Street Showcase page for more on the project.)

The public art is just one of many measures in a broad package of improvements being installed to give people a better transportation experience on Main Street.

Urban design, new transit technology, and a fleet of new buses all contribute to a more efficient transit system and make Main Street more welcoming for pedestrians and transit riders, in turn serving the ultimate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

So far, the project has brought Main Street some new street furniture, sidewalk improvements, and the new articulated trolleys on the #3 route. In the coming months the busiest stops on the route will be fitted with next-bus information and on-bus technology will ‘talk’ with traffic signals to help keep the buses on time.

One of the sandwich boards that make up Instant Coffee's permanent Main Street artwork.

One of the sandwich boards that make up Instant Coffee's permanent Main Street artwork.

For the public art program, an artist collective called Instant Coffee is behind the afghan design on the bus, as well as a few more art works that will also crop up on Main Street.

One of those upcoming works is a trolley containing 20 artworks in place of its interior ads, commissioned from artists from North, Central and South America and Europe. You’ll be able to vote for your favourite piece of artwork at Instant Coffee’s website or through text messaging, and the winning card will be blown up and put on the outside of a third trolley in January.

Another Instant Coffee work is a series of brightly-coloured sandwich boards bearing hand-painted slogans permanently installed up and down Main Street.

And in addition to the Instant Coffee installation, 88 BLOCKS will present four more art installations over the next three years, wrapping up by April 2011.

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day holiday service and fares

Here’s the overview of holiday service and fares for this week!

For more details, please visit the TransLink website or call 604-953-3333 for more information. (I’m on holiday until Jan. 5, so I won’t be able to respond to your comments.)

Christmas Eve – Wednesday, Dec. 24

Regular weekday fares in effect

West Coast Express afternoon trains depart downtown at 1:00, 3:00, 4:50, 5:30 and 6:20, plus the regular TrainBus service.

Christmas Day – Thursday, Dec. 25

Regular holiday fares in effect — only a single-zone fare is needed for travel in all zones all day. As well, on a Sunday or holiday, all passengers 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.

Most bus routes will run according to their Sunday/holiday schedules; however, some routes will also run with further frequency modifications.

SkyTrain and SeaBus will run on a Sunday/holiday schedule.

There will be no West Coast Express service on Christmas Day.

Boxing Day – Friday, Dec. 26

Regular holiday fares in effect—see Dec. 25 entry for more info.

Most bus routes will run according to Sunday/holiday schedules. Service frequency will be enhanced for routes that serve major shopping destinations and entertainment venues.

SkyTrain will run according to its Saturday schedule, but will feature more frequent service during midday to accommodate shopping crowds.

SeaBus will run according to a Sunday/holiday schedule, but will extend late-night service according to a Saturday schedule.

There will be no West Coast Express service on Boxing Day.

Merry Christmas and good luck with the shopping!

Retired trolleys make their way to Mendoza

One of our retired trolleys on a flatbed truck, arriving in Guaymallen, Argentina en route to Mendoza.

One of our retired trolleys on a flatbed truck, arriving in Guaymallen, Argentina en route to Mendoza.

Thanks to the kindness of Jorge Luis Guevara, we have pictures of our retired trolleys arriving in Argentina on Friday, Dec. 5!

(Recap for those new to the story: we sold 80 of our retired high-floor trolleys to Mendoza, Argentina. Older stories on the trolleys’ voyage to South America can be found here, here, and here.)

Jorge works for Empresa Provincial de Transportes de Mendoza (EPTM), the transit agency who bought our trolleys. He’s promised to send more photos of the buses during their journey in the Andes, too!

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Version 1.1 of TransLink’s iPhone App is now out

The updated iPhone app features Google Maps integration!

The updated iPhone app features Google Maps integration!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A visit to the Lost Property Office

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

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

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

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

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Update on the retired trolleys sailing to South America

Trolleys being loaded into the cargo hold of the vessel Wisdom. Photo courtesy CTL Westrans Shipbrokers.

Trolleys being loaded into the cargo hold of the vessel Wisdom. Photo courtesy CTL Westrans Shipbrokers.

I’ve received some more info and a few more photos of our retired trolleys being shipped to their new home in Mendoza, Argentina, so here’s an update to my earlier post on the trolleys setting sail.

CTL Westrans Shipbrokers, the shipping company sending the trolleys on their way, told us that the motor vessel Wisdom completed loading and lashing operations for all 80 trolleys on Tuesday Nov. 4, and sailed from Fraser Surrey Docks at 1600 hrs (4 p.m.).

The buses will then be offloaded in San Antonio, Chile, and their estimated arrival date in Chile is Thursday Nov. 27, if all goes well and the weather is good.

CTL also sent along some pictures of the trolleys in the cargo hold, and you can see one of them above. For safety reasons, the TransLink staff and photographers weren’t allowed to go up on the ship, so these are probably the only views of the trolleys inside the ship that you’ll probably see!

Here’s a few more photos from CTL Westrans…

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Thinking ahead: A backgrounder on Transport 2040 and our 2010 10-year plan

TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast gave a speech at the Vancouver Board of Trade this morning, discussing our long-term strategies and the challenges we’re facing as our transportation network grows.

So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to start highlighting the same topics, since we’re actually going to be talking about this a lot over the coming year.

It really might sound kind of sleep-inducing, but please don’t let your eyes glaze over! We’re planning the future of transportation in our region here, and we want you to be informed about what we’re doing and where we’re coming from.

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Retired trolleys set sail for Argentina

A trolley being hoisted into the cargo hold of a ship bound for South America.

A trolley being hoisted into the cargo hold of a ship bound for South America.

We bid a fond farewell to 80 retired trolleys down at the Fraser Surrey Docks this morning.

The city of Mendoza, Argentina bought the trolleys from TransLink this year, and the buses were being lifted into the cargo hold of a ship bound for South America.

We invited the media and some transit enthusiasts out to watch the trolleys get sent off. It was actually quite sad to see such familiar buses go. “It’s like an angel going up to heaven,” one transit fan even said after we watched them lift this bus away.

I took some video and photos of the buses’ departure, and here’s more details on the sale of the buses and the logistics of shipping them to Argentina.

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An update on iMove

Reader xl asked for an update on iMove, the transportation information website launched in November 2007 by TransLink and a number of partners. (xl’s original request can be seen here.)

For those who don’t know, iMove is like a one-stop shop for transportation information in the Lower Mainland. On one map, you can see which roads are under construction, what upcoming events might be blocking traffic (and where), what traffic cameras are seeing around a road you might be travelling on, and much, much more. There’s also transit routes, cycling maps, trucking routes outlined… but you get the picture. Municipalities and other sources update the data on a regular basis.

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TransLink’s iPhone app: an interview with the folks behind it

A screenshot of TransLink's iPhone application - a mobile site optimized for the iPhone.

TransLink's iPhone app - a mobile site optimized for the iPhone

TransLink’s iPhone web application has been out for a while, but since it launched before the blog, I never really got a chance to spotlight it here – until now!

In case you haven’t seen it, just point your iPhone to m.translink.ca. You’ll reach a lovely mobile site where you can access transit info on the go. There’s schedules and maps for all TransLink services, a yellow bar at the top with details on any major service disruptions, and full Metro Vancouver transit maps (just tilt your iPhone sideways).

And you can also access this site from other mobile devices—it’s just optimized for iPhone customers.

I talked to Igor Faletski from Handi Mobility about the development behind the iPhone app and what’s next for it, as well as a bit about his company. Handi Mobility is the company who developed the iPhone application for us, as well as the Next Bus SMS tool and our Facebook application.

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