Translink Buzzer Blog

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.

Congratulations to the #HappyCity contest winners

Thanks everyone for participating in the Happy City contest! Here are some of the photos that won the contest prizes:

We gave away 4 FareCards and some more prizes donated by TravelSmart, Modo, Vancouver Opera, MEC and Vancouver Attractions. We hope these prizes will help you enjoy our beautiful region even more!

 

Phase 2 of the Downtown Bus Service Review begins April 2

 

Downtown Bus Servivce Review

Join us at one of four open houses or complete the online questionnaire.

 

Since our last Buzzer post on the Review,  TransLink and City staff have worked together to develop and evaluate dozens of route alternatives that respond to the themes identified in Phase 1 and take into account the road closures being considered by the City of Vancouver that could affect which streets are available for transit use. Now we want to share the most promising design concepts and get your feedback!

To refresh your memory, our goal is to establish a shared vision for the future of the downtown local bus network. We asked for your input and heard a lot about how getting around downtown by bus could be improved. Service frequency, consistent and reliable routes, access to rapid-transit, and connections between downtown neighbourhoods were identified as four of the top ten themes.

Have your say and get involved!

Attend an open house or fill out the online questionnaire by April 21, 2014. Open Houses are taking place on:

  • Saturday, April 5 - 11 am to 2 pm - West End Community Centre
  • Wednesday, April 9 - 3 pm to 6 pm - Woodward’s Atrium
  • Thursday, April 10 - 3 pm to 6 pm - Roundhouse Community Centre - Great Hall
  • Saturday, April 12 - 11 am to 2 pm – Vancouver Public Library Central Branch – Atrium

All materials presented at the open houses are available on the TransLink website.

 

TransLink turns 15!

Happy birthday TransLink!

Happy birthday TransLink!

It’s birthday time here at TransLink. Yup, it was 15 years ago this month that TransLink was formed as a  multi-tiered governance structure responsible for a fully integrated transportation system across land, rail and sea!

At lot has happened over these 15 years and below are 15 interesting facts you may not know about your transit authority of Greater Vancouver.

15 fun facts about TransLink

1) At its founding, TransLink was unique among North American transportation agencies by being responsible for a fully integrated transportation system across land, rail and sea.

As the first North American transportation authority responsible for both roads and transit, TransLink is responsible for 2,400 lane kilometres of the major road network and five bridges (Pattullo, Knight, Westham Island, Golden Ears, and the Canada Line bike and pedestrian bridge).

 

2) Since 1999, the numbers of people using our transit network has grown dramatically – annual passenger trips have increased by 127 million. In context, the population of Metro Vancouver grew by 15 per cent while passenger trips increased by 56 per cent during the same period.

 

3) People board our buses, trains and ferries about 1.2 million times each weekday, making a total of 970,000 trips each day.

 

4) Geographically, we cover the huge region that is Metro Vancouver – there are over 2,800 square kilometers  in TransLink’s service region! Our transit network includes more than 8,200 bus stops, 200 bus routes, 57 SkyTrain Stations and eight West Coast Express Stations.

 

5) Our buses, trains and ferries stay busy moving our customers – to work, school, medical centres, friends and family. Our transit fleet provides approximately seven million service hours in a year, and our vehicles travel about 167 million service kilometres per year.

 

6) Our rapid transit system was the first fully automated, driverless and unattended rail system in the world. When the Expo Line was completed in 1986, it became the longest automated driverless system globally, a title only recently surpassed by Dubai in 2011.


7) Our bridges help move goods and people across the region. Over 300,000 crossings of trucks, cars and buses cross the Fraser River on TransLink bridges each day. 

 

8) Since 1999, TransLink has added 1,168 new conventional buses, 148 new SkyTrain vehicles, 17 West Coast Express trains and one SeaBus to make space for our growing numbers of riders. Our current fleet consists of 1,900 buses, 300 SkyTrain cars, 50 West Coast Express trains and 3 SeaBuses.

 

9) Since TransLink’s inception, we have expanded all modes in our transportation network. To name just a few, we have added the Millennium and Canada rapid transit lines, built the Golden Ears Bridge, launched the 24-kilometre Central Valley Greenway, and funded construction of the Coast Meridian Overpass in Port Coquitlam.  

 

10) The TransLink logo landed at its current form in 2007, reflecting TransLink’s evolution. At inception, the logo included a reference to the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority, TransLink’s original name, but was simplified when TransLink officially became the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority in 2007.

 

11) We manage a complex transportation network, with assets worth more than $11 billion – including roads, bridges, tracks, guideways, trolley wires, stations, vehicles and bus depots.

 

12) Our AA credit rating has enabled TransLink to raise $900 million from longer-term investors. These funds allow us to invest in the assets and infrastructure of the transportation system we operate. This includes buses, SkyTrain vehicles, road and bridge improvements, and many more physical assets and system upgrades which help us provide a safe and reliable transportation system for Metro Vancouver.

 

13) We introduced the U-Pass BC program in 2003 to 58,000 students. The popularity of the program grew from there and today 125,000 students are enrolled in the U-Pass BC Program.

 

14) The Buzzer blog was one of North America’s first transit agency blogs. Every month there are an average of between 15 – 35 000 page views!

 

15) On the social side, TransLink has over 43,000 Twitter followers, and nearly 10,000 Facebook followers. We work hard to deliver a world-class customer experience throughout our entire system, and our Customer Service Charter is our promise of quality service. We’re committed to giving our customers a service that is efficient, safe, reliable and comfortable.

Wanna know more about the last 15 years of transit and goods movement in Greater Vancouver? Take a read of our press release and follow the link to The Road Less Traveled, a look at TransLink’s journey from 1999 to 2008. We also included a short look back at the last 15 years in the March 2014 print Buzzer.

TransLink in the media: Don’t Touch the Operator

Constable Goodmurphy

Constable Goodmurphy

The safety of our riders and our employees is a top priority for TransLink. This is why today the Metro Vancouver Transit Police launched, Don’t Touch the Operator. This awareness campaign is aimed at those who use our system, but may not have the best intentions for our operators in mind.

With 1800 buses operating in Metro Vancouver and 233 million passenger boardings a year, there’s a lot of activity on our transit system. Although most of the interactions between riders and operators are positive ones, unfortunately, some aren’t and have been in the news of late.

Everyday our operators safely help to deliver this huge volume of people to where they need. But as Constable Kevin Goodmurphy said in the Transit Police media event today, “Violence on transit affects operators and customers” and it needs to stop.

Constable Goodmurphy also mentioned that riders can also help keep the system safe by reporting unacceptable behaviour. This can can be done by calling 911 in an emergency or texting 87-77-77 for non-emergencies. The above video also shows what other measures are being used to make sure our buses are as safe as possible.

I’m curious to know if any of you have called 911 or used the Transit Police texting service to report a transit related situation? Let’s share our experiences so we all can work to make the system as safe as possible!

Safety decals on buses

Safety decals on buses

Spring service changes begin April 14

April Service Changes

Check out our Facebook page each weekday morning for a clue.

 

Psst…Buzzer readers, it’s time to get your umbrella and sunglasses and check your route on TransLink’s trip planner. Spring service changes come into effect on April 14Watch for the bunny on the service changes page and enter to win a HUGE chocolate bunny! What is this, a contest? You got it.

Visit our Facebook page each weekday morning after 8 am for a clue to where the image of the Bunny is hiding on our service changes page. Once you find the bunny, click the image to enter the contest.* Use the #TLbunny hashtag on Twitter or Facebook to let us know what you think about the changes or the contest!

Service change highlights:

  • New 96 B-Line stops at 104th Ave and 140th Street, and at King George Boulevard and 80th Ave.
  • Three new trips traveling from Upper Lonsdale to the Lonsdale Quay have been added, increasing service frequency for the 230 to every 15 minutes.
  • Changes to the C41 improves peak periods connections to the West Coast Express at the Pitt Meadows and Maple Meadows stations.

Seasonal enhancements include:

  • Weekend/holiday SeaBus service increases to every 15 minutes;
  • Two 620 trips each hour, up from one per hour, coinciding with summer ferry service; and
  • Summer-only services like the 150 White Pine Beach and C26 Buntzen Lake.
  • The 9,25,28,41,43,44,84,125,130,143,145, routes, serving post-secondary schools, are modified until September.

For more information, check out the upcoming print Buzzer, tweet @translink or call 604-953-3333. Check your route before you go!

Find the Bunny Contest Terms and Conditions

 

Developers: Use our latest open API to create apps with our regional traffic data

Our Real-Time Traffic Map which uses our newly released Regional Traffic Data System (RTDS)

Our Real-Time Traffic Map which uses data from our newly released Regional Traffic Data System (RTDS)

Well this is exciting. We now have another way for developers to create apps with our data!

Our latest open application programming interfaces (API) is called the Regional Traffic Data System (RTDS) API. Basically, this API provides near real-time data on average speeds and travel times on highways and major roadways in Metro Vancouver.

As shown above, this data is used in our Real-Time Traffic Map to depict varying levels of congestion. The RTDS system data translates to coloured lines showing the speed of traffic which is then overlaid on a Google Map.

I’ll certainly be using this map to help me chose the best route to take when I hit the road on a bus or car. But the potential of this data is farther reaching than this map. It’s not hard to see how developers could make an app that shows congestion on bridges across Metro Vancouver and suggests alternative routes or some other multitude of applications that haven’t been dreamed up yet.

This latest API joins our previous open APIs like our Real-Time Transit Information (RTTI) and our Google Transit Feed Specification (GTFS). Our open data is released in the spirit of sharing information with the public to make apps that our customers want. It gives our users the tools to create even more amazing apps (also see these two app posts here and here) built with our shared and free data.

Are you interested in playing with this new data? If so, you’ll want to check out our developer resources page for a complete list of our developer tools.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what creative developers come up with! Oh, and do share with me what you’re doing on with our API. I’d love to feature your work on the blog!

 

Train2Main Begins in 2 Days!

2014-03-12 Train2Main line diagram

Train2Main service

Hey buzzer readers!

This is a reminder that from March 30 (two days from now) until fall 2014, anyone travelling to or from Main Street-Science World Station will hop on the Train2Main, a special two-car SkyTrain – trains are normally four or six cars long.

Here’s a refresher on the details:

  • Train2Main will provide service to and from Main Street-Science World from Waterfront, Burrard, Granville, Stadium-Chinatown and Commercial-Broadway Stations.
  • Regular four and six car trains on the Expo Line and Millenium Line will operate as normal during this time, except they will not stop at Main Street–Science World Station.
  • Passengers travelling to Main Street-Science World from the east will transfer to Train2Main at Commercial-Braodway station.
  • Passengers travelling to Main Street-Science World from downtown Vancouver will use the Train2Main.
  • Passengers using Train2Main should plan 10 minutes of extra travel time.

Train2Main is necessary to keep Main Street-Science World open during construction as much needed upgrades are made to the station. To learn more, visit www.translink.ca/ontrack. Thanks for your patience!

Choosing the Happy City Lecture Recap

Charles Montgomery presenting at SFU Woodwards on March 26, 2014 Image by Borjana Slipicevic

Charles Montgomery presenting at SFU Woodwards on March 26, 2014
Image by Borjana Slipicevic

 

Hello Buzzer readers! I hope you made it to the lecture Choosing Happy City by Charles Montgomery or watched it via webcast. It was the third lecture in the series “Rethinking Transportation: New Voices, New Ideas”. The lecture was streamed live and the video will be available shortly.

Stephen Rees built a another interesting Storify post of the tweets posted during the lecture. Again, he kindly allowed us to post it here and give our readers a better idea of the what the conversation was about. Kudos to everyone who tweeted during the lecture!

The next lecture is in May. More details to follow – stay tuned!