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Fun poll results: 30 per cent of you chose the London Underground as your favourite transit system around the world


The Tube earns the top spot Photo courtesy of Doug88888

The Tube earns the top spot!
Photo courtesy of Doug88888

A few weeks ago, we asked the question, what is your favourite public transit system around the world? And we have the results!!

189 of you voted in this poll and the winner, as the title of this post suggests, is The Tube! It doesn’t just have to do with Paddington station, does it? I love that bear.

transitpollchartWe loved getting so many responses! Besides the options in the poll, there were tons of comments on the blog and Facebook about other favourites. Including Portland’s Metro Area transit, The Bus transit system in Honolulu, the Amtrak Cascades that spans across the Pacific Northwest, the Singapore SMRT, Los Angeles’ Metro and the Adelaide Metro.

So with this feedback, I’m curious. What do you value most in a transit system to make your favourites, your favourites?

Let us know by voting for your favourites below, leaving a comment, tweeting us @TheBuzzer, or emailing us at!

What do you value most in a transit system?

  • Frequency of vehicles on routes (53%, 42 Votes)
  • Varied routes across a region (23%, 18 Votes)
  • Always on time (8%, 6 Votes)
  • Safety (6%, 5 Votes)
  • Cleanliness of vehicles and stations (4%, 3 Votes)
  • Friendliness of operators (3%, 2 Votes)
  • Accessibility (3%, 2 Votes)
  • Cost (0%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 80

Buzzer illustrator interview: Christel Chan



Christel with her illustration for the February Buzzer

Another Buzzer issue means another ridiculously talented artist illustrated the front page! Christel Chan captured our theme for the February issue perfectly, showing the modes of transit we use across the region in a really bright and fun way! (Jealous. I can barely draw plausible stick figure!)

We got a chance to ask Christel a few questions about herself and her work:

Who is Christel?
I am a fourth year Illustration student at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. My website is

How did you get into drawing and illustrating?
I’ve been drawing all my life so I cannot really pinpoint a time when I “got into it”. However, I wasn’t aware of Illustration as a field until I started at Emily Carr University.

What’s your favourite thing to draw?
Portraiture. I love studying faces and capturing them in 2D…it is very satisfying.

What tools do you like to use?
Recently I have been very interested in oil painting, but for a more graphic approach, I like using my tablet on Adobe Illustrator. Both media are very flexible which I enjoy.

What’s your favourite route or mode of transit?
I take transit everyday to and from school. Since efficiency is important to me (I am from Hong Kong, after all), the 99 B-line is my favourite bus line because it’s frequent and fast.

What’s next for you in the land of art?
I am graduating this May and I aspire to be a freelance Illustrator for publications and children’s books. I would also like to cultivate a gallery practice.

Thanks Christel! Pick up your copy of the February 2015 issue today on the bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express or download it here. The next issue of the Buzzer will be out April 2015 – that means the next illustrator interview will be then too!

Poetry in Transit interview with Catherine Greenwood

Catherine Greenwood

Catherine Greenwood

Poetry in Transit, now in its 18th year, aims to profile talented British Columbian and Canadian poets and provide our customers with poetry to read on their commutes.

An excerpt from Catherine Greenwood’s “Charity” from her book, The Lost Letters, is one of 20 poems on the system this year – 10 poetry car cards on buses and 10 transit shelter ads. She took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions from me about her poem and herself!

Who is Catherine Greenwood? 
Wife, cat-wrangler, paper-pusher, collector of hotel soaps, reader of gothic novels, belated-birthday card sender. I live in Esquimalt and work for the Ministry of Justice.

Would you be able to tell us a bit more about “Charity?” What were the inspirations behind it?
I was working in a community services thrift store when someone I’d known in elementary school walked in, needing a coat The bus card titled “Charity” is an excerpt from a longer poem about this encounter on the theme of the return, with its attendant questions of recognition, as in the biblical story of the prodigal son or the return of Odysseus from his long journey. There’s a loose pattern of end rhyme — returns in a technical sense — and alliterative meter throughout. It seemed fitting to use archaic style in piece that felt like a fairytale.

How would you classify your style of poetry and writing? What inspires you?
I write narrative poems in varying styles. I don’t usually set out to achieve a particular form but my poems often end up in a shape fitted to each particular piece, eleven-line stanzas for example, sometimes with end rhyme, almost always with metaphors and internal sound effects.

What’s a ‘great’ poem for you?
I’m going to quote my answer to this question from another interview, because it still holds for me: “A great poem is affecting, stirs something up in the reader, yields new dimensions and revelations on successive readings, yet retains its essential mystery.”

Who’s your favourite poet and/or somebody that has heavily influenced your work?
I absorb many influences. In my most recent book, The Lost Letters, there is an animal section that may echo British nature poet Jeremy Reid; a section about Heloise and Aberlard that intentionally adopts a particular metaphor-saturated voice inspired by American poet Amy Gerstler’s work; I also had Stephen Mitchell’s translations of Rilke in mind while writing some of the other poems. I can’t choose a favourite poet.

What does Poetry in Transit mean for you?
A poem from my first book The Pearl King and Other Poems was on Poetry in Transit, and there’s a lovely story about that – apparently the poem, “Exile”, a very short love poem about the pain of being separated, sparked a conversation between a couple of strangers who ended up getting married and having the poem read at their wedding. Perhaps someone reading “Charity” might be spurred to consider what lies beneath a person’s appearance – if it generates a moment of contemplation or empathy in a commuter or two, that would be an unintended but nice consequence of having the poem shared so widely.

Do you take transit? If so, what’s your favourite mode?
I take the bus to work every day, and I have done so for over thirty years, from different residences to different jobs. I’ve come to know some of my fellow commuters as well as I know my co-workers. When I’ve had to drive, I’ve found parking expensive and a nuisance, and then in winter there’s warming up the car in the morning and scraping off frost –who has time for that? My husband and I went a couple of years without a car in our current location, and I realize that I prefer to live in an area with public transit. It’s liberating.

Peer into your crystal ball, and tell us what you see for yourself in the future.
Fiction is in my future. I have a big, back-burnered project I’m psyching myself up to return to working on. Hopefully some travel around BC related to that project, and very likely a trip to England and France in springtime with my husband. It’s a time of transition and change, which is challenging but exciting.

Thanks for your time Catherine and we look forward to reading more of your work! Join the Poetry in Transit conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #PoetryInTransit.

From planning department to transit centre: A three-month experience


Michelle Babiuk presenting a Safe Driving award to bus operator George Economou on his B-line 99 route.

Meet Michelle Babiuk. She’s the one in the hat, above. Hi Michelle! She is a TransLink transportation planner in Infrastructure and Network Management. But for the past few months, she’s taken on a different, temporary role. That of operations supervisor out of the Burnaby Transit Centre.

While working closely with the depot manager in her planning position, it was suggested that it might be a good experience for her to get out there and see what drivers and supervisors experience every day. So she did! It’s three months later and she’s learned a lot that she will be taking back to the planning department at TransLink. We sat down with Michelle to talk about her experience.

Why did you take a secondment to become an operations supervisor?

My thought was, the more I see on the ground, the better I can plan. On the infrastructure and network design side, you can understand how operators are using the system and what their experiences are. The more you understand what people do out there the more you understand what you’re seeing in the data. This allows you to better plan or design something that is realistic. Drivers have a lot of information we don’t and that’s very valuable.

I also wanted to learn the rhythm of a day at a transit centre. What do the supervisors do? What do the operators do? What are the potential communication touch points and tools that we can use to reach people? We want to get information back from them because they have suggestions just like the public does. We also want to find the best way we can get information out to them.

What have you learned while in the supervisor role?

The most interesting thing I’ve learned is what it is like to work with a mobile workforce. I have a large number of operators that work all different shifts and some you see very rarely. That’s why it’s important to get out there on the routes and interact with them to give and receive information.

Day to day, that was one of the challenges. I think the staff here work really hard to be out meeting people on their buses in the evenings, on weekends and if they can find a spare minute, during the day. The operators really appreciate it. When you deliver awards on the bus, people get really excited! They feel like you’re seeing their reality by being on the bus with them.

What will you take from this experience back to your planner role?

The easiest thing to action from what I’ve learned from my time here is communications. Understanding what opportunities there are here to increase communication and how information spreads. We can be out there and be visible with information sessions – like the ones CMBC planning and scheduling do now four times a year.

I’ve seen other ways information gets shared, like a paddle stuffer. So anyone starting their shift picks up their paddle [wooden boards with daily route info and more] and gets anything you need to tell them. You can’t relay a ton of information that way, but you can let the operators know what’s going on with certain projects and how they can give feedback.

We’ve also been exploring the idea of getting out in the evenings and doing some work at bus loops. Operators can spread the word from those interactions, too. It’s about learning what works for all sides, how to ask questions and provide information that resonates with operators.

Getting out of the office to visit Michelle at a transit centre was a great experience for me, too!

It was such a pleasure to meet George, hear his stories from the front lines and see what happens before the buses get out on the road. Understanding how he and other operators interact with our riders is so valuable. The more opportunities we have to hear what operators and riders are saying, the better we can work together to make positive changes across the system.

Thanks so much for the interview, Michelle and good luck heading back to the planning team!

Links and Tidbits – February 27, 2015

Links and tidbits is our semi-regular roundup of interesting fodder about transportation from the last few weeks or so. If you have links to contribute, put them in the comments, or email us.

Check out these amazing video clips of every day commuters from Berlin based photographer Adam Magyar.

»  These people boogied down on funky Friday on a train in Perth, Australia.

»   Buzzer blog reader Barry wrote in and sent us a great link to 10 global Transportation Maps. Thanks Barry!

»   ALLLLLLLLLL ABOARD!!!!!!!! What if the SkyTrain had a conductor? Pix-Elated films finds out!

»   Dating got extra speedy on the LA Metro this year with their Red Line speed dating event just in time for Valentine’s Day!

»   Good Samaritans saved the day in Florida when a local bus driver passed out behind the wheel.

»   Buzzer blog reader Mike sent us his own post about Japanese rail in light of our latest Buzzer blog poll on world transit systems. Scroll to the Oct 14, 2014 entry to check it out!

»   Helen Mirren is one classy lady. The actress has been spotted numerous times looking elegant, as always, taking the NYC subways with great transit etiquette!

»   The TMNT to the rescue! Watch the heroes in half-shells save LA transit!

»   Transit has been all up in the Twittersphere lately! Take a look at the best and worst of public transit Twitter accounts.

»   Remember this epic Danish commercial for their buses? Well, they’re back at it and making the bus cool again with this latest ad.

»   The CEO of IBM is getting behind he idea of greening transit worldwide suggesting joint policies to make the change happen.

»   The mayor of Seattle is getting rid of the option to turn right on red in the downtown core as a part of his vision zero plan.

»   Baby, it’s cold outside! Boston’s public transit stood still after a series of intense winter storms dumped record amounts of snow in the area. Makes you appreciate the rain… almost.

»   After New York’s MTA launched their sassy ad campaign to remind riders of public transit etiquette, San Francisco’s BART is on highlight as people are asked their biggest pet peeves on the system.

»   The age old rivalry of car versus transit has been tested. From Surrey to downtown Vancouver, transit will get you there faster!

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

The first issue of the Buzzer in 2015 is now on the system!Feb-2015-Buzzer

Much of it is dedicated to the information regarding the Transportation and Transit Plebisicite taking place from March 16 through until May 29th of this year.

Transit Police are changing the way they patrol the system. Customers can expect to see more officers at major stations and they will be basing their patrols from the busiest stations and bus loops.

There’s also information about some things to keep an eye out for on the system. One is the new high visibility vests you’ll see our SkyTrain attendants sporting. Another is the prototype bus safety barrier that will be on select routes out of the Burnaby Transit Centre.

CelticFest and Cherry Blossom Festival will be in full swing this spring and you can find the all details in this issue.

TravelSmart encourages us all to make a change for good by choosing active and sustainable transportation more often. The great photo included in this section is by Steve Chou. You can see the full, colour version and what the TravelSmart booth looks like here.

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

Happy reading! Pick it up today on the bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express or  download it here. The next issue of the Buzzer will be out in April 2015.

Pink is the new black on Pink Shirt Day 2015


Pink Shirt Day is February 25, 2015

Pink Shirt day is about respect. It’s about donning our rose-coloured clothing on February 25th and standing up to bullying in all its forms.

It all started with two Nova Scotia high school boys in 2007. They saw bullying of a younger, new student when he wore pink to school on the first day of classes. The older boys protested his harassment by convincing dozens of classmates to wear pink in solidarity and the event has snowballed in the best possible way! You can read about the original movement here.

Australia, The United States and The United Kingdom have all adopted their own anti-bullying days. The dates and the locations may change, but the message stays the same: We will not tolerate bullying behaviour in our schools, workplaces, communities or on transit.

TransLink is committed to this cause on and off the system. To show our support for anti-bullying efforts, you may see our Transit Police Officers, SkyTrain attendants and other uniformed staff wearing the Pink Shirt Day button and even some Transit Operators sporting some pink hues on buses around Metro Vancouver.

Come on out to CKNW Orphans’ Fund’s Pink Shirt Day event at London Drugs Plaza (Granville & Georgia Street) on Wednesday morning to meet Transit Police Chief Neil Dubord. He will be there to help spread the word about what TransLink is doing to deter bullying on the system and show support for anti-bullying efforts.

Looking for more ways to support Pink Shirt Day? Check out for a list of locations selling buttons and businesses holding fundraisers with proceeds going straight to Pink Shirt Day. On Twitter, follow @pinkshirtday and #PinkShirtDay.



Transportation and Transit Plebiscite: March 16 – May 29, 2015

plebiscite vector

Transportation and Transit Plebiscite: March 16 – May 29, 2015

Plebiscite. Referendum. Transit tax. These words have been on everyone’s lips for the last few weeks, months even. Because Metro Vancouver registered voters are being asked to cast their ballots from March 16th until May 29th of this year to decide if they support the 0.5% Metro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Tax. The tax would be collected with the provincial sales tax.

Why is this happening, you ask? Well, with one million new residents arriving in Metro Vancouver over the next 30 years, we need to get our transportation system ready for growth — and lots of it! The region’s mayors have developed a transportation and transit plan to meet this growth.

Take a look at what this would mean:

  • A 25% increase in bus service, including 11 new B-Line rapid bus routes across the region
  • Increased service on SkyTrain, Canada Line, SeaBus and West Coast Express
  • Maintaining and upgrading the region’s major roads
  • A new Pattullo Bridge
  • Light rail transit connecting Surrey Centre, Guildford, Newton and Langley
  • An extension of the Millennium Line, tunneled below Broadway in Vancouver, from VCC-Clark station to Arbutus Street
  • Investments to improve safety and access for cyclists and pedestrians

You can see more on the Mayors’ Council website.

You decide

All registered Metro Vancouver voters will vote by mail-in ballot between March 16 and May 29, 2015. To register, or update your information, contact Elections BC at  or call 1-800-661-8683.

TransLink Twitter Customer Information team gets rave reviews!

TransLink Customer Information Twitter team earns top nods in new study

TransLink Customer Information Twitter team is top notch!

Public Transit and TransLink has been all over the Twittersphere lately because of some great news! According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Southern California and published in the Journal of American Planning Association, our very own Customer Information Twitter team has been ranked #1!

The Twitter team behind @TransLink has only 140 characters to help, direct and inform thousands of riders every single day. They respond in real-time to customers’ questions and complaints from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

After analyzing over 60,000 tweets to and from major North American transit authorities, the study found the Twitter community were “nicest” to TransLink, with a majority of tweets posted using positive language. The team calculated a “mean sentiment score” for each authority, looking at the amount of positive and negative comments made about local transit.

The research also showed that personal touch is what’s most important when dealing with online complaints. If a transit authority randomly pushes out impersonal tweets, they receive mostly negative comments in return.

TransLink’s Twitter persona is very personal, highlighted by the use of initials (e.g. ^ck and ^jd for Customer Information Work Leaders Candace Kennedy and Jason Davidson), good cheer and sometimes a little sympathy.

This is no easy task! Most of the tweets are about ways in which our customers’ commutes will be negatively affected — track maintenance, detours, elevator outages, and other unavoidable issues.

So, huzzah for the Twitter team and their amazing efforts! Huzzah, I say!

Check out some more information in Wired Magazine and The Georgia Straight. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, @TransLink and say hi to the fabulous CI team!

Metrotown Station elevator out of service Feb. 26

Hey buzzer readers!

2015-02-19 Metrotown elevator post

Accessibility upgrades are underway at Metrotown Station

With site preparation works underway, the contractor is preparing for construction of the Metrotown Station and Exchange Upgrades to begin. In the first phase of construction, crews will focus on building the new Centre Stationhouse, including new elevators and stairs. In order for this work to happen, the elevator at Metrotown Station will be taken out of service for approximately one year beginning Feb. 26.

UPDATE Two bus shuttles will service the station 

While the elevator is out of service, two bus shuttles will service the station for passengers who require the use of an elevator.

  • Passengers with disabilities can take a HandyDART shuttle between the Metrotown and Patterson HandyDART stops.
  • Passengers travelling with strollers can take a Community Shuttle to Metrotown Station from Patterson or Royal Oak Station.

The shuttles will run approximately every 15 to 20 minutes during the following times:

  • Monday to Friday: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Sundays & holidays: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Here's where the HandyDART shuttle stops are

Here’s where the HandyDART shuttle stops are

Demand for the shuttles is expected to be high; passengers taking the services should allow for extra time when planning their travel, especially during peak periods.

We realize that many of our customers will be affected by the elevator closure, which was the best solution to avoid a full closure of Metrotown Station. We thank everyone for their patience while we complete these much-needed upgrades. When complete, the station will be more accessible, safe and secure, and improve the experience of the thousands of people who use the station every day.For more information about the Metrotown Station and Exchange Upgrades, visit

Friday fun guest post: Crushed Cheerios finds adventure on the Expo Line

Lots to see and do along the Expo Line!

Lots to see and do along the Expo Line!

We’re very pleased to have a guest post this week, which is part one in a three-part series. Tasha, the author behind the mommy blog Crushed Cheerios, took her two boys along the Expo Line to see what they could see and do what they could do! She has some great ideas and suggestions for loads of fun that can work for families using the TransLink system around Metro Vancouver. Stay tuned for her adventures on the Millennium and Canada Line coming soon!

SkyTrain Line Adventures: Expo Line

Looking for fun things to do around town?

Hop on the train and pick one of the many stations along the line to explore!

Waterfront Station :

  • SeaBus – The SeaBus runs every 15-30 minutes and goes from Waterfront to North Vancouver. The ride itself is a favourite of my toddlers but there’s also the Lonsdale Quay to explore, including a ball pit (free entry!) upstairs and some shops to browse. A short walk away is a park with views of the water with many boats and container ships going past.
  • West Coast Express Train – While we’ve never gone on the train, we love watching it arrive and depart the station! It’s a commuter train and only runs during weekdays in peak directions so we’ve never taken it. It also has a (separate from the SkyTrain/bus) fee and from what I’ve heard, not stroller friendly. You can watch it from the walkway that leads to the SeaBus.
  • Harbour Centre – Take a trip to the top and view Vancouver from high above the crowds!
  • Canada Place – Stroll around Canada Place / Seven Sails. Depending on the time of year, you can see the cruise ships coming into port. The Olympic Cauldron is a short walk. And there’s access to the Sea Wall if you’re up for a longer walk.

Granville Station :

  • Vancouver Public Library – They have an expansive kids section with a small little play area (best for the younger-than-3-years group) and have many story times or activities for children.

Stadium Station :

  • Chinatown – Take a walk and get immersed in the culture. There are night markets during Summer months.
  • False Creek – A great place to walk to see the boats and dragon boaters. You can walk for kilometres in either direction along the smooth, flat, paved paths that have many parks along the way.

Main Street / Science World :

  • Science World – We have memberships for Science World and we go frequently. There is lots to do and see and touch!
  • Ferry Ride – A fun ride! You can take the ferry from next to Science World and go to Granville Island (technically not walking distance from a skytrain station – so I won’t go into much details but there’s the Kids Market and lots of buskers, magic shows, etc to look at. In the summer, there’s a water park. And there’s a few playgrounds to visit throughout the year)

Broadway Station :

  • Commercial Drive – Plenty of interesting shops to browse through. There’s a few kids stores that carry things that aren’t found in the big box stores, like TRU and Target etc.
  • Trout Lake – Community centre with drop ins, pond and playgrounds.

Patterson Station :

  • Central Park – Playground, walking trails, duck pond and an outdoor swimming pool. Lots to do!

Metrotown Station :

  • Metrotown Mall – We love to go on the train that goes from one end of the mall to the other. A few times, we’ve gone to the mall JUST for the train ride! It’s small though – no strollers allowed on busy days. Sometimes when it’s quieter, the conductor will allow you to fold your stroller and put it in one of the train cars. We also like to go wander through Toys R Us and the Disney Store. There’s also three Starbucks and two Tim Horton’s there… Just saying.
  • Bonsor – There’s a playground and skate park. While we’ve never found the skate park empty to let Dean roam, he does enjoy watching people do tricks (and bails!) on the ramps. The playground is perfect for his age (2.5 years old) but also challenging enough to keep older kids busy!

Edmonds :

  • Taylor Park / Byrne Creek / Ron McLean Park – Just off of Edmonds SkyTrain station is three park areas combined in one place! Playgrounds, wading pool (summer months when a park leader is on site), trails and fields!
  • Edmonds Community Centre – It’s about a 20 minute walk, but well worth it! There’s a great indoor pool – We drive past two pools from our house to this pool because it’s amazing! It’s warmer than most and it has a lazy river and a kids play area. There’s drop in programs there. And they also have a free indoor playground that’s not usually too busy.

New Westminster Station :

  • Shops at New Westminster – Right at the SkyTrain station, there is numerous shops and places to eat. Spud Shack is one of my favourites! There’s also two Starbucks and a Tim Horton’s at the station. On the concourse level, there is a play area for children with slides. It’s covered from the rain and has heaters for those cooler days.
  • Quay boardwalk – This is our “go-to” outing. We take a walk along the boardwalk to any (and sometimes all) of the three parks. There’s sand volleyball fields, sandy “beach” (think a gigantic sandbox) to sit under umbrellas, lots of benches and chairs to stop for a snack. It’s flat and paved so my son LOVES speeding along with his bike. It’s decently straight so I can keep sight of him, even when he leaves me in the dust. And there’s frequently trains that go by – we always love watching them from close up! There’s also the…..
  • River Market – There’s a few shops and some places to get food. There’s an upstairs area for younger kids (0-4 years old, I would say) The Circus School is great, but they don’t have very many drop-in time slots. Though, it’s still neat to watch the classes as they learn to do fancy aerobatics!

Surrey Central Station :

  • City Centre Library – This library is walking distance from us. We LOVE going here, even if we don’t have our books to return to get new ones! There’s lots to do and explore inside. The library’s children section has fun rocking chairs, benches with treasures to view through peepholes, activity wall-mounts and pillows to cozy up on.


There’s plenty of other parks, walking distance from the SkyTrain stations that I haven’t listed but there’s just too many!

Do you and your family have any other favourites?


Interview with interim TransLink CEO Doug Allen

TransLink interim CEO, Doug Allen

TransLink interim CEO, Doug Allen

Unless you’ve been completely unplugged for the past few weeks, you’ll know that we had a leadership change here at TransLink. Doug Allen has joined TransLink for six months as our interim CEO. Mr. Allen comes to TransLink with years of experience in leadership roles and he isn’t new to the transit scene, either. From 2011 to 2014, he served as President and CEO of InTransit BC, which built and operates the Canada Line, linking YVR and Richmond to downtown Vancouver.

So, in order to get to know him better, we sat down with him to ask him a few questions about himself and what he foresees in the coming months.

The Board of Directors says that they made this move to restore public confidence. So how will you go about restoring public confidence in your new role?

The CEO has to come in with a very strong plan of action to have a good fresh look at everything and decide what is right and decide what needs improvement. So once you’ve decided where you can make improvements, you make them. And you try to ensure that our service is extremely good, reliable, and of high quality –  that’s clean and safe. It’s not one person that will do that, it has to be the whole team at TransLink. The CEO sets the tone.

Where do you think you will be making changes?

I have to take to look at everything that’s important. Every major issue. I have to understand it; I have to have a sense of if it’s being managed properly or not. I have to ensure that the right people are accountable for their actions around those major initiatives. Then if we need to make some changes, we make them and move forward.

What are the key things you will focus on as interim CEO?

One of the key things is service delivery. My tenets are: reliability, quality and safety. If you can deliver well on these on a consistent basis, then the customers will be happy, and our other partners can have a strong supportive response as well.

How do you think your experience, specifically when it comes to the Canada Line, will help you in this role?

The Canada Line is viewed by many as the best public-private partnership operating in the country and that’s a pretty large statement. Going back to my three tenets, Canada Line was – and is – delivered in a highly reliable fashion, it is high quality, and it’s clean and safe. They’ve done a really great job of delivering. That’s what I aim to bring to TransLink.

Two major issues in the public’s mind right now are executive pay and the SkyTrain shutdowns last summer. What do you think you can do to address these issues?

When a new CEO comes in, he has to look at everything, including compensation. In terms of the SkyTrain shutdowns last summer, there was an independent review that made 20 recommendations that TransLink is now working to implement. I’m going to have a good look again at the review and how we’re doing at implementing the recommendations.

There is some speculation that CEO change at this time has to do with the referendum and getting a YES vote. What do you think?

My responsibility is to lead a sound and solid organization, and set the platform for the new permanent CEO. That’s my focus.

What is your favourite way to travel around Metro Vancouver on transit?

I take the #84 to VCC Clark and then take the SkyTrain to the TransLink offices at Sapperton. I use all modes of transit – and I think we have a great system here in the Lower Mainland.

Love is in the air… and on transit!

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Today is Cupid’s Revenge… sorry, no, that’s not it… It’s Valentine’s Day. Yes! That’s right! Love and hearts and little chubby babies with wings shooting arrows. So, considering today is supposed to be super schmaltzy, we decided to scour the region online and off looking for some not-so-typical love stories.

Besides the fabulous “I saw You” section in the Georgia Straight, which I read religiously, a lot of people actually meet their SOs on transit.

Remember the beautiful wedding of Nina and Jarred that took place on the bus because that’s where they met? *sigh* Love can definitely be in the air across the system.

Check out this romance we found that started on one of our SkyTrains! Laura submitted the story below as her entry in the Cupid’s Crush contest through our friends at the Vancouver Observer in a bid to win the ultimate Valentine’s Day package from Summerland Waterfront Resort & Spa.

Turns out, her tale of SkyTrain soulmates won first prize! Take a read, warm your heart and if you’re single, keep your eyes peeled the next time you take transit. You never know, your next great love may only be a transit trip away. But really, let’s remember what the most important thing is about Valentine’s Day… HUGE sales on chocolate come February 15th!!

“I had just moved from a small town down to the city a couple weeks before I met my man, Mike. I’d gone to a Christmas party with my cousin and was taking the SkyTrain home. It was one of the first times I was taking the SkyTrain alone, and I had a drink or two (no no, I was not drunk!), so I wasn’t completely confident finding my way home. 

There was a very handsome man in a nice jacket sitting a couple empty seats away from me.  I snuck a few peeks thinking I was being sneaky (but have recently found out he had seen me peeking in the reflection in the window).  

The SkyTrain stopped at the station before my stop and the doors wouldn’t shut again. After a few minutes I got up the guts to ask what we should do. It was an instant spark.  He had a wonderful smile and we shared some laughs.   

The SkyTrains started running again, but only going the opposite direction I needed to go, so I had to go all the way back around the track. We sat together and told each other about ourselves and ended up almost at my stop again. I finally realized he hadn’t gotten off at his stop and asked him where he lived. I was headed to New West and he was headed downtown! He’d taken the train all the way around with me to make sure I was going to find my way home – what a sweet heart! He ended up walking me right to my front door.  He leaned in for a hug and I went in for the thank you kiss.  

A few days later I took him to a movie to thank him for making sure I got home. Today we live together with our four month old daughter, Lillianna, and dog Tank. Now when the SkyTrain breaks down, I remember that maybe these things happen for a reason and somebody else is finding their Prince Charming.”


Fun Poll: What is your favourite public transit system around the world?

U-Bahn in Berlin Eberswalder Strasse, Germany Photo courtesy of Andreas Adelmann

Berlin’s Eberswalder Strasse, Germany
Photo courtesy of Andreas Adelmann

Any globetrotters in the mix? As I mentioned in my first post,  I love to travel! When I do, I take public transit. It’s cheap, it’s (usually) easy, it connects you to the people of the area and it goes everywhere!

Sure, it can be a bit daunting your first trip, particularly if you don’t speak or read the language but as Blanche DuBois said, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” Most people are extremely helpful in this regard. You’d actually be surprised how many people are willing to come to your aid when you have that confused look, furrowed brow, clutched map and general aura of panic.

Now, I definitely have my favourites among some of the more popular transit systems around the globe but what I really want to know is YOUR favourite!

Let us know by voting for your favourites below, leaving a comment, tweeting us @TheBuzzer, or emailing us at!

What is your favourite public transit system around the world?

  • London – Underground or "Tube" (30%, 57 Votes)
  • Hong Kong – MTR (22%, 42 Votes)
  • Tokyo – Metro (14%, 27 Votes)
  • New York City – Subway (13%, 25 Votes)
  • Paris – Metro (8%, 16 Votes)
  • Berlin – U-Bahn (7%, 13 Votes)
  • San Francisco - BART (6%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 189

The SIMPLE art of transit network design


Planning transit – tougher than it looks!

It is a rainy morning at the Vancouver Transit Centre. I’m sitting with a room full of colleagues and five pots of coffee. What do we all have in common? We are all keen to better understand the considerations and strategy behind transit network design…and although we all work for TransLink, none of us are actual transit planners.

As an introduction, our fearless instructor Jarrett Walker performs a soliloquy on ridership, density, frequency and demand. His poetry makes us feel at ease. As he presents us with the network design challenges for the course, we are confident that we can find the solutions. Even without the academic training and years of experience, we are certain that using the tools we’ve only just been taught will be “s-i-m-p-l-e”.

We work in groups to plan multiple transit networks over the two-day course. Our tool kit includes a map and a spreadsheet filled with mathematical equations. Our fictional city map showed land-use patterns, population density, landmarks and major roads and bridges. We have a budget and the spreadsheet helps us keep track of how many buses and at what frequency we can afford.

I realized during the first challenge that I had underestimated the difficulty of the task. I thought I was using common sense to plan an efficient network. I chose a population dense area and identified a number of destinations: the airport, the shopping district, the hospital. I was planning for how a single person could get to each landmark. I assumed that because these were community destinations it would make sense to have frequent service. But I was wrong. When it was time for the trip test – getting a fictional rider from multiple arrival to destination points– all the networks were put to the test.

The network that was most efficient did not focus on single trips; it was designed to connect people from high density areas to as many destinations as possible while maximizing the budget. This was my “Aha!” moment. It was not enough to get the fictional Jane to the airport and hospital, the network had to also get her to the soccer field, her office building and the pet store. Turns out, with finite resources there are mathematical trade-offs and balancing the competing needs to provide access and offer direct and frequent service is not “s-i-m-p-l-e” at all.

The course is over and I’ve put away my design pens. The next time I think “gee, I wish I could take transit to the grocery store, but I have to walk a few blocks and it is slower than taking my car,” I’ll take a minute to remember. I’m going to remember that unless many people in my neighbourhood are traveling to the grocery store, post office and hospital every day, throughout the day, there may not be the ridership demand to justify having a high frequency service to accommodate my whims to take the bus to the grocery store.