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Translink Buzzer Blog

The Facts Matter: Investments in your community

TransLink invests in YOUR community

TransLink invests in YOUR community

TransLink invests in your community. Just like the title says!

Since 2012, TransLink has invested $145 million in transit, road and cycling improvements in every community across the region.

TransLink commits funding to municipalities to operate, maintain and rehabilitate the 2,300 km of the Major Road Network (MRN).hpr_muni_investments

The funds go toward necessary work, including street cleaning and snow removal, maintaining streetlights, traffic signals and signs, patching potholes and pavement rehabilitation.

Each municipality receives an amount that corresponds to the amount of MRN roads in its area.

TransLink also has a cost sharing program to contribute up to 50% of eligible capital costs to upgrade roads on the MRN and bicycle infrastructure in the Metro Vancouver region.

Head to The Facts Matter page to find out more ways TransLink has has invested in your community.

You can also read all about it here in the coming weeks as well as on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by following the #TheFactsMatter hashtag.

Transit in the News – April 24

A weekly section about transit making headlines around the globe. Have an article you want to share? Comment below or email us.

Federal budget 2015 targets gridlocked urban commuters with mass transit fund.

Bus drivers in Belfast to take strike action.

Briarwood subway station renamed.

Halifax Transit unveils plan for the future of the region.

TTC CEO says bus driver surplus will be needed by end of year.

MTA subway trains are overcrowded as ridership rises.

Istanbul expands mass transit network with new line.

Shuttle bus deal signed as Victoria cruise ship season starts.

Edmonton considers discounted bus passes for low-income residents.

Victoria transit buses get outfitted with new security cameras.

PEI doctor saves man who fell onto subway track in Washington, DC.

Controversial ads will soon appear on NYC subways and buses.

Apple moves closer to adding public transit to maps app.

 If you’re looking for interesting facts and fun stories about transit, check out our monthly Links and Tidbits series.

Earth Day – celebrating “green” across the system

Earth Day is April 22 Photo courtesy of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

Earth Day is April 22
Photo courtesy of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

Earth Day has always been something near and dear to my heart.

Ever since I saw FernGully: The Last Rainforest when I was nine years old. Remember FernGully??

From that moment, I believed that even the smallest change in our individual lives can make a larger difference. So, I try to reduce, reuse, recycle, cut down on energy usage and choose “green” options in my life wherever I can.

At TransLink, we care about how our operations impact the environment!

The latest green initiative and commitment to environmental sustainability comes from BCRTC – the operating company in charge of SkyTrain.

In an effort to further reduce its energy consumption, BCRTC implemented a project to replace 10 manual heater controls at the Operations & Maintenance Centre (OMC) yard.

In the OMC Yard, 10 of the track switch heaters were manually controlled. Meaning, during the winter months (November 1 – February 28), these heaters were switched on regardless of the conditions, resulting in an inefficient energy use.

Enter Wayside Technical Analyst, Jan Kruger. Jan designed a new system for the Automated Track Switch Heater Controller (ATSHC).

They introduced a single controller that replaced the mechanical thermostats for 37 additional track switch heaters in the OMC yard.

Over the past three years, this project has produced an energy reduction of 2,176,806 kWh, saving $141,493 in energy related costs.

In total, the project allowed 47 yard switches to work more efficiently in terms of both cost and energy consumption, saving about $60,000 per year.

I think Batty, Crysta and everyone from FernGully would be very proud!

CMBC team impresses at the Vancouver Sun Run

Harminder Sun Run

Harminder Sidhu, Operations Supervisor

Ready to feel a bit lazy and completely inspired at the same time?

Over 40,800 runners participated in this year’s annual Vancouver Sun Run, including a team of dedicated Coast Mountain Bus Company employees and family members.

The STC Transit Troopers trained hard and it paid off! The team emerged with first place in the transportation category out of 23 teams!

Harminder Sidhu, Operations Supervisor at Surrey Transit Centre and co-organizer of the team, clocked in at an incredible time of 39:03.

This ranked him 257th overall out of 40,000 people. WOW!!

Harminder is a year-round runner, tracking about 60 to 70km a week.

This is the fourth year a team from our operating companies has participated.

This year, the team was made up of Operators, TComm employees, Transit Supervisors, Mechanics and Operation employees from all around Metro Vancouver.

You can take a look at the entire team’s results below.

Way to go!!
CMBC Sun Run team results

A slightly different look for the Next Bus SMS service

Next Bus mobile

Riders can use the Next Bus SMS service or Next Bus on our mobile site

If you’re a user of Next Bus SMS service, like I am, or if you are considering using the service, this post is for you!

For those of you who are new to this, I’ll break it down for you.

Basically you text the 5-digit bus stop number (the yellow number at the top of every bus stop sign) to 33333 and our Next Bus SMS service will tell you when the next six buses are expected to depart your stop.

Handy, isn’t it?

And, bonus, it’s free for riders to use!

That’s right, TransLink doesn’t charge you for Next Bus SMS — although, depending on your plan, standard carrier text messaging charges may apply.

Now, to keep operating costs associated with Next Bus from being passed on to you, we’ve introduced an advertising-based service.

When you use Next Bus SMS, an ad and/or link may appear, in addition to the upcoming bus times.

This won’t cost you anything, either.

If you don’t want to receive these ads, there’s an easy solution!

Hop on our mobile website for exactly the same Next Bus information.

Happy riding!

Fun poll: Where on transit do you like to sit?

Where do YOU sit?

Where do YOU sit?

I have a bit of a system for my daily commute and how I decide where to sit completely depends on the time of day and my mood.

But I always use what I developed living in Toronto and dubbed “subway science.”

Basically, I try and sit in the same relative area because it is the easiest to get off at whatever stop I’m going to. It’s not really scientific!

In the morning, I try to make things as easy as possible because I’m still half asleep.

I travel before the rush and head East instead of West so I usually get my pick of seats. Lucky, I know!

During these times, I try to snag a single seat near the back of the bus or car on the SkyTrain.

That way, I can zone out, doze in and out of sleep and get out of the vehicle without disturbing others.

However, I feel differently in the afternoons and evenings. I’m definitely more smiley and I feel chatty!

So, this is when I usually like to sit with a buddy. I’ll choose (if I have a choice) one of the double seats, sit on the inside, invite someone to sit beside me and see if they are feeling chatty too.

Sometimes they aren’t. And that’s ok!

On buses specifically, I often try to sit by the back doors so I can leave quickly and not get caught “swimming upstream” to the front door(s).

I know lots of people have similar habits or systems. So,where do you like to be on transit?

Let us know by voting for your choices below, leaving a comment, tweeting us @TheBuzzer, or emailing us at!
*You can choose two answers*

Where do you like to sit on transit?

  • Back of the car or bus for some uninterrupted solitude (38%, 140 Votes)
  • As close to the doors as possible to make a quick getaway (33%, 122 Votes)
  • Single seats only! (24%, 88 Votes)
  • As far away from people as possible (19%, 68 Votes)
  • Near the driver to ask questions and see the road (7%, 27 Votes)
  • Buddy seats - perhaps for an adorable meet cute moment (4%, 15 Votes)
  • Around others to make conversation (1%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 366

The Facts Matter: TransLink’s checklist

The Facts Matter report card

TransLink saved $240 million since 2012

How exactly has TransLink cut costs, eliminated waste and saved money?

Well, take a look at our checklist!

Here are a few examples:

1.   Saved $19 million through bus scheduling and labour efficiencies.
2.   Received more than $2 million in rebates from WorkSafeBC for employee safety practices.
3.   Achieved more than $25 million in transportation infrastructure improvements at no cost to taxpayers.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg!

Overall, since 2012, TransLink has saved an incredible $240 million.Facts matter 240

Want to know the best part? It was all done without cutting service.

Head to The Facts Matter page to find out more ways TransLink has saved money.

You can also read all about it here in the coming weeks as well as on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by following the #TheFactsMatter hashtag.

Vancouver Sun Run 2015


Sun Run photo

More than 50,000 people expected at 31st annual Vancouver Sun Run.

The Vancouver Sun Run is upon us. This Sunday, in fact!

This is Canada’s largest 10K road race and has been such since it started in 1985.

Considering its size, lots of routes will be affected to clear the way for all the participants.

This may affect your transit trip on Sunday so make sure you know before you go!

Our alerts page has the full list detours and changes.

For runners and cheering sections, the Expo and Millennium Lines will start service half an hour earlier.

SeaBus will begin at 7 am running on a 15 minute schedule until 3 pm when it will return to a regular Sunday schedule.

To prevent long line-ups after the Sun Run, SkyTrain riders can pre-purchase return tickets prior to the race.

Portable fareboxes will be set up at Bridgeport, Burrard, Granville, King George, and Vancouver City Centre stations.

They will also be set up at Stadium-Chinatown Station, Granville Station, Vancouver City Centre Station and Yaletown-Roundhouse Station after the race.

For more information and a map of the affected area, take a look at the event posting on the TransLink’s website.

Looking for some inspiration to get ready for next year’s race?
Check out this training blog from the Vancouver Sun.

Transit in the News – April 17

A weekly section about transit making headlines around the globe. Have an article you want to share? Comment below or email us.newspaper-568058_1280

Wilmot Township outside of K-W area, Ontario will be connected by Grand River Transit.

Irish bus services face disruption as of May 1 as the unions vote for action.

Will driverless vehicles make transit obsolete in BC?

New research is emphasizing how important it is for millennials to live where there is a good public transit.

Amsterdam public transit agency aims to have all its transport be emission-free by 2025.

Officials in Illinois call for an increase in Federal transit spending.

Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, to roll out transit plans at public forum.

TTC signs $80M deal with Bechtel to oversee completion of Spadina subway expansion.

Axis Bank will issue co-branded debit cards to the users of Kochi metro system. The cards can be used for both for transit and shopping.

Axis Bank will issue co-branded debit cards to the users of Kochi metro system. The cards can be used for both for transit and shopping.

Axis Bank will issue co-branded debit cards to the users of Kochi metro system. The cards can be used for both for transit and shopping.

Kochi Metro Railway signs deal with Axis Bank for automatic payment cards in Kerala, India.

Washington, D.C. Metro deployed the new 7000 series rail cars this week.

Accessibility rights group files class action law suit against STM and AMT in Montreal.

If you’re looking for interesting facts and fun stories about transit, check out our monthly Links and Tidbits series.

Transit has got you covered for the playoffs!


First round of playoffs start tonight at Rogers Arena

Heyyyyyyyyy Canucks fans! Guess what?

SkyTrain service on both the Expo and Millennium Lines is boosted for the playoffs starting with game one tonight against the Flames.

Additional trains will be in service and will continue if the game goes into overtime.

Don’t worry drivers, we haven’t forgotten about you! The PNE has graciously offered their parking lot – FOR FREE – for those commuting to the game.

Lot #16 is located across from the Playland main entrance. Vehicles can enter lot off Pender Street.

So, forget about crazy downtown game night traffic. Keep your sanity and use the Park & Ride!

Commuters can then hop on a variety of frequent buses that stop near Rogers Arena.

From Park & Ride to Rogers Arena:

  • Catch either the 14 UBC or 135 Burrard Station bus on Hastings at Windermere.
    Buses arrive at this stop every 7-12 minutes.

Return Trip from Rogers Arena to PNE Park & Ride lot:

  • Catch the 135 SFU on Hastings at Cambie Street, or on Hastings at Carrall street. Buses will be operating on 15-minute service at this time.

Looking for other ways to take transit to the game? Know before you go! Take a look at our Trip Planner and find your best route.

Oh, and one more thing…………


John Atkin: SkyTrain Explorer

John Atkin leading a walk on Eveleigh St in Vancouver Photo courtesy of Wendy Cutler

John Atkin leading a walk on Eveleigh St in Vancouver
Photo courtesy of Wendy Cutler

This is the man, folks. John Atkin.

He wrote the book SkyTrain Explorer: Heritage Walks From Every Station and he’s the inspiration for me to walk those walks from Waterfront station to New Westminster station.

I’ve already have one in the can and you can read about my experience here.

I got the chance to sit down for a coffee with John on a rainy afternoon and discuss all things Metro Vancouver, how this book came to be and what he loves to explore.

Why SkyTrain stations?

Because it was arbitrary. *laughs* It came out of a discussion from a series of walks called “How to Look at Neighbourhoods.” It was a little bit of history, a little bit of development. But the idea was to get people out to look. At the end of one walk, someone told me that they wished their area was interesting. Turns out they lived right by the Nanaimo SkyTrain station.

The next walk, we met at the station and they were convinced nothing was there but we walked through a landscape of Vancouver Specials, the evolution of the area and found many fascinating little pockets. At the end of the walk, she was shocked (and pleasantly surprised) that there was all that in her own backyard. Everyone wanted to do another station and so we did!

What lead to the book itself?

After Vancouver Walks (with Michael Kluckner) was published, the publisher asked if I was interested in doing anything else. I said I was doing a few walks from the stations and they said, “That’d be cool!”

Riding the SkyTrain, I was always looking over, out the windows, wondering. When I had spare time I’d be on the train and randomly say, “well, let’s get off at the 4th stop.” Then just look around as I meandered. Turns out, other people wanted to do that too.

Why did you do the Expo Line and only to New West?

It was the original line. What I wanted to do is do that 1985 line. The idea was that we’d do the extension and the Millennium Line for the next one. Local publishing has changed but I do want to finish. I really do want to finish the Expo Line one day.

With the Millennium line, it’s tough right now to draw things out of some areas and stations. But that’s changing. There’s lots of Vancouver influence in those areas. I made tons of notes but I just couldn’t string it together yet. So, maybe if I just wait a long time, there will be lots to explore there!

What were the most interesting spots for you to walk and write about?

Edmonds was really interesting because it was semi-rural at the time. Big lots with small houses. And there was this creeping townhouse culture starting to show up but at the same time old Kingsway was still there. There was also this picture perfect shopping mall right out of the 1960s with an open courtyard and front facing shops.

That was a cool find. Actually, I went out originally and I wrote it all up, a great route. When I came back 8 months later to fact check it had all changed! That was a big development year for them.

Then, I guess, Royal Oak. It was one of those places that hadn’t yet taken off. The landscape was changing even when I was writing the book. At the time you could see grocery store, church, hardware store, house, house, house. It was the interurban stall that existed that just doesn’t now.

What advice would you give someone who wants to follow your guidance with the book… or break out and find their own walks?

It’s about going out and being curious about space. Just be curious. I can’t go anywhere without poking.

If you’re following the book, we published a while ago so you should keep in mind. You may look and think, “Whoops! Where’d that go?” We tried as much as possible in the book to give that indication that things will change. It’s inevitable!

If you’re doing it by yourself, the thing is, you make that decision when you’re out of the station, choose a direction and start walking.

Keep your eyes open. I think so often we’re so busy that we so rarely walk for the purpose of going nowhere.

I like going nowhere! By going nowhere you are really looking at your environment. You can start to see little things like a house may be older because it’s set far away from the street or that is a style very reminiscent of a certain era. Even the most seemingly boring space is interesting.

Part of the reason of choosing the SkyTrain is that it was, as I explained, a completely arbitrary structure.

Most people get on and go from A to B without any thought to what’s in between. It’s that idea of just being curious. As things change and the region develops, I think it’s a good idea to get to know an area that isn’t yours.

Beyond SkyTrain stations and areas in Metro Vancouver, what else do you like to explore?

I’m a big fan of shopping mall design. When we travel, we go to shopping malls.

We were in Beirut and we hiked way off into the Northern part of the city because there’s a new mall that just opened and we wanted to go see it. It had five or six floors but you entered at the top of a big hill and it was built all the way down the hill.

It was open air and you worked your way down the side of the hill in the mall. It was so interesting and something I’ve never seen before.

Malls are more interesting than you’d think. You can tell a lot about an area by the development of their malls!

Thanks to John for the afternoon chat and all the information about the book and our region.

He has definitely sparked a new interest for me and I am truly curious about the sidewalks, buildings, bridges and neighbourhoods of our region.

I can’t wait to get out there for my next SkyTrain explorer walk!

If you’re interested in joining John on one of his varied walks around the region, you can register here.

Stay tuned later this month for my Burrard station adventure.

Have you received your voting package?

Courtesy of Elections BC

Courtesy of Elections BC

The Transportation and Transit plebiscite for Metro Vancouver is in full swing as we approach the one month mark of voting next week.

Have you received your voting package yet?

If you register online, it may take several weeks to receive your ballot from Elections BC.

This is especially important for post-secondary students in the region who are ending their school terms and may be moving.

We encourage everyone to check in or register by phone to ensure you get their ballot with enough time to vote and send it back to be counted.

If you did not receive a voting package, ask for one at 1-800-661-8683 before midnight on May 15, 2015

Confused on how to fill out and return you ballot? Check out this video!

You can take a look at the Mayors’ Council plan for the region on their website.

For the low down on the plebiscite itself and registering, please visit here.

Remember, your completed ballot must be received by Elections BC before
8pm on Friday May, 29, 2015 to be counted.


The Facts Matter: How TransLink spends each dollar

The breakdown of how TransLink spent each dollar in 2013.

The breakdown of how TransLink spent each dollar in 2013.

Just how does TransLink spend each dollar? Well, here’s a handy graphic that answers that question.

As you can see, these 2013 numbers show that the majority of the money is spent on delivering transit and keeping the system in good repair (transit/cycling infrastructure and capital repayment = 89¢). The remainder is spent on making sure people, goods and services can move smoothly on the Major Road Network and the five bridges TransLink is responsible for (roads and bridges = 3¢) as well as making sure the transit system is safe (transit police = 3¢). What’s left goes to administration and preparing for the future (administration and planning = 5¢).

Want to know more about how TransLink invests in transportation and where and how the money is used? You’ll want to check out The Facts Matter page. You can also read all about it here in the coming weeks as well as on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by following the #TheFactsMatter hashtag.

Transit in the News – April 10

A weekly section about transit making headlines around the globe. Have an article you want to share? Comment below or email us.

Hong Kong bus passengers narrowly escape disaster.

Swift Current Saskatchewan’s new transit system is launched.

Calgary launches smart phone transit app.

New section of A-Line metro opens in Prague, Czech Republic.

DC Metro believes they need to accommodate as many as 84,000 daily trips by 2020.

MBTA fares are cheaper than most U.S. cities

Montreal’s transit authority is looking for public input for the system’s future.

Hamilton, Ontario bus drivers reach tentative deal.

Windsor buses begin using NEXUS lane for border crossing.

TTC selects company to handle Spadina Subway expansion completion.

Russian commuters save woman trapped under train.

Beijing seeks new private investment to expand subway.

If you’re looking for interesting facts and fun stories about transit, check out our monthly Links and Tidbits series.

Poetry in Transit interview with Joanne Arnott


Photo courtesy of SFU

Photo courtesy of Joanne’s blog

Poetry in Transit is a partnership with the Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia. Now in it’s 18th year, the program aims to profile talented British Columbian and Canadian poets and provide our customers with poetry to read on their commutes.

Joanne Arnott’s “Wild Seeds” currently one of 20 poems on the system. She took time out of her busy schedule to do this quick interview with us about the poem and herself!

Who is Joanne Arnott?
I am a poet, activist, mother, editor, blogger. I am a correspondent with many diverse writers, and other types of people, and I write up my notes in the form of poetry and essays. I am a synthesizer, noting patterns in the world and seeking to balance the world through word and deed.

Would you be able to tell us a bit more about your poem? What were the inspirations behind it?
“Wild Seeds” is a long poem. I had an intense experience of bonding with a new partner, and many visions and dreams about babies and pregnancy, despite a conscious awareness that pregnancy in the physical realm was not possible. Over the years, I had the experience of love-bonding leading to child-bearing, six times this occurred, and in some sense, my bodymind was deeply challenged to understand other possible outcomes.

At the same time, a couple whom I loved and had spent time with over two decades, was called upon to face illness and death together. I felt very moved to be a small part of the process, to be a part of the intimate web of vitality and witness to the transformative time of passage. I learned a great deal about “how to be” by witnessing the great grace with which both the dying person died, and the surviving partner fostered her loved one through this massive time of change. How she called upon others to support the processes of living, dying, mourning.

The Gulf Islands are referenced in this excerpt, and the poem brings these great questions of birth, death, love—both couple forms of love and the great webs of our friendships and relatedness—into focus.

How would you classify your style of poetry and writing? What inspires you?
My writing is intimate and embodied, engaged, sometimes playful, sometimes wry, sometimes mournful. Free verse that’s informed by music and the speaking voice, often engaging with ideas and a way of seeking how to articulate what is: in writing nonfiction, that intimacy is always there, ‘this is what I think,’ ‘this is what I wonder.’

What’s a ‘great’ poem for you?
A great poem is, for me, satisfying. It is musically or imagistically or in a storytelling way, a whole, and that may be as swift as haiku or as ponderous as a book-long navigation. It is a form of writing or orating that is closely akin to song, or something else more akin to type-setting. What makes it great is its capacity to do what it set out to do, to meet its own goals. If it lingers in the mind, if it settles in the body, if it calls me back: these are possible signs of greatness.

Who’s your favourite poet and/or somebody that has heavily influenced your work?
When I was young I read “Within the Barbed Wire Fence” by Takeo Ujo Nakano. This is a powerful text that presents prose and poetry in such intimately woven circumstance, revealing the importance of truth and the ways that poetry and prose can each articulate aspects of life. It is a Canadian story such as I had never encountered before. Places that I knew, and places I did not know: feelings that I knew, and experiences I did or did not have: this book connected me to my Canadian life and to Canadian literature in a way that other books had not, and showed a way to be or to write that honoured with courage the precise truths of a life.

What does Poetry of Transit mean for you?
It is a relief to find a bit of poetic information nestled amidst the contact numbers and attention-seeking advertisements, a kernel of poetic information as a way to introduce whole new realms (a book, a poet, a way of conceiving of the world) into the ongoing journey.

Poetry of Transit might mean the astrological unfoldment of the ever-new. It may be the rhythmic experience of routines that have the always fresh grace-notes of something unique, something that helps to distinguish one rush hour from the next, or one season for another sample of the same season, lived years before.

Do you take transit? If so, what’s your favourite mode?
I tend to live my life within walking distance of my home. When I venture further, I take public transit. Canada Line, SeaBus, Sky Train, bus routes that branch and web: all good.

Peer into your crystal ball, and tell us what you see for yourself in the future.
I see an impending role as poetry editor for a literary magazine: I see many trips to many poetry gatherings throughout the Lower Mainland, from Dead Poets Society at Vancouver Public Library to Surrey Muse at the Surrey Public Library, and from Cottage Bistro to the Heritage Grill. I see a visit to Nanaimo for the Cascadia Poetry Festival in the spring. I see the official opening of the North Number One Road Pump Station public art project, in Richmond, with school children, elders and artists, and city officials and staff all mingling by the side of the river: hoping for a sun-filled day.

Is there anything you’d like to add or share?
Cultural workers are often economically vulnerable, and poets not the least.

It is greatly affirming for young people to see the work of their parents showcased on public transit.

Metis and other indigenous poets and artists are the strong creative threads through all of our regions, connective tissue in a cultural sense, rooting the tumble of Canadiana to the specificity of this place.

Your time is much appreciated Joanne! You can find more of her work at and join the Poetry in Transit conversation using the hashtag #PoetryInTransit.