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The December 2014 issue of the Buzzer is on the system

December 2014 BuzzerThe final issue of the Buzzer in 2014 of now on the system!

Much of it is dedicated to the winter service changes, which begin on Monday, December 15. Highlights include 10 new stops for the 116 to better serve Burnaby’s growing Big Bend industrial area, new trips and bigger vehicles on select routes to reduce overcrowding and serve more customers.

Winter is coming – December 21 to be exact! We’ve already had our first taste of snowfall and more could be on the way, so we have some tips on how you can stay up-to-date and navigate your winter commute.

What’s a sure sign of the holiday season in the Lower Mainland? Sightings of our Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle! They are now out and about spreading the holiday cheer throughout Metro Vancouver. Tweet us your pictures and post them to Instagram using the hashtag #ReindeerBus!

On December 6 and 13, in exchange for a new unwrapped toy, you get a ticket to ride the West Coast Express Santa Train! The holiday season is also wonderful time for celebration and Transit Police has tips on how you can stay safe.

There’s also information about holiday transit service! Christmas Day and Boxing Day will operate on a modified Sunday/holiday schedule to better reflect demand. As always, rides will be free on New Year’s Eve from 5 pm until the end of service. New Year’s Day service will be a normal Sunday/holiday schedule.

Starting on December 6, Train2Main will no longer operate, which means you can take any train to Main! The Burrard Otter II made its maiden voyage on December 1. 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 February 2015.

Author: Allen Tung

TransLink 101: What is an express and pick-up/drop-off only bus?

TransLink 101 blog feature series banner

We’re going back to basics again with TransLink 101—explaining TransLink and its operations!

One of our buses carrying an 'express' designation

One of our buses carrying an ‘express’ designation

Express and pick-up and drop-off only are both stopping procedures for our bus routes.

“Express for the most part in the Lower Mainland really means limited stop. There are large gaps between the bus stops, such as on the three B-Line routes,” explains Katherine McCune, Manager of Service Planning at Coast Mountain Bus Company.

“These buses stop at major transfer points for customers, but do not stop at every stop located on the corridor. They offer a travel advantage over local service.”

Bus routes, such as the 160 and 503, are pick-up and drop-off only provide directional express-type service.

“Both these routes offer local stops along a portion of the route to collect customers and then at a point they become express and only drop off at major transfer points,” Katherine says.

“The reverse trip only picks up on the return trip. This ensures that customers to a particular area will have space on the bus to get there. Customers in the area the bus is travelling through are then encouraged to use the local services already available so they do not fill the bus and exclude those customers that are destined for the terminus.”

Katherine continues, “For example, someone wanting to go from Surrey Central to Clayton Heights has several travel options to get between the two locations. A customer from Aldergrove to Surrey Central does not have the same options and has only the one bus to rely on.”

What does it mean when I see an ‘Express’ designation on a route such as the 135 or 49?

“The buses are programmed to show 135 SFU / Burrard Station, but some operators like to add the express to make sure customers are aware that it is slightly different from a regular route,” Katherine says.

The 135 is different because it serves local stops between Simon Fraser University and Renfrew Street in Vancouver, but beyond that, it becomes a limited stop service all the way to Burrard Station.

On the 49, select trips are an ‘Express’ because they do not serve the Champlain area on 54th Avenue. These are extra trips put in to allow us to better serve and meet the demand of Langara College and the University of British Columbia during the school year.

Still have questions about why your bus says ‘Express’ on it? Ask our awesome drivers!

Author: Allen Tung

The September 2014 issue of the Buzzer is on the system

September 2014 BuzzerHurrah! The September 2014 issue of the Buzzer is now on the system!

I Love Transit Week was from August 25 to 29 this year and we have lots of highlights from our I Love Transit Camp and vintage bus event as well as your submissions and tweets to share with you!

We also hit 50,000 followers on Twitter! 50,000 high fives to our 50,000 followers. We love ya!

Transit Police has some advice for you when travelling with children on transit and we have information on Thanksgiving Day service. Transit will run on a Sunday/holiday schedule on October 13 and it will be a one-zone fare across all zones!

A reminder to students: GoCards from last school year are valid until October 31 and new ones will be issued to students once school is back in session. The card gets you concession fares on all TransLink services in Metro Vancouver. Just make sure you have it with you when travelling on the system.

And no Buzzer is complete without our usual favourites – Contest Corner, Back Issues, and Coming Events!

Pick up your copy today on your favourite bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus, and West Coast Express route or by downloading it here.

Author: Allen Tung

The August 2014 issue of the Buzzer is on the system

August 2014 Buzzer CoverThe August 2014 issue of the Buzzer is now on the system and much of it is dedicated to the fall service changes, which will take into effect on Monday, September 1.

There’s a lot of changes round, so be sure to check your route before you go! Among them, new trips are being  introduced to the 135, 143, 319 and C92 to reduce overcrowding. Service on the 4 and 7 trolley bus routes also returns to Powell Street.

September 1 is also Labour Day – that means service will run on a Sunday/Holiday schedule.

It’s back to school time and Transit Police has some simple of advice for you, “If you want to keep it, secure it.”

We also have an update on the Burrard Otter II, which arrived on July 31 after a 24-day journey from Singapore to Vancouver. Its unload from the heavylift carrier was documented in this neat time lapse video!

And always, the Buzzer is complete with the usual favourites like Contest Corner, Back Issues, and Coming Events.

Pick up your copy today on board your favourite bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus, and West Coast Express route. You can also download it by clicking here.

Author: Allen Tung

Enjoy more bus and train service this BC Day long-weekend!

Photo by Jay Siggs

Photo by Jay Siggs

Ready for the long-weekend? There will be additional bus, SeaBus and train service on August 2nd, 3rd and 4th to help you get where you need go, safely and comfortably this BC Day long weekend.

Details on all the specific service changes for the Celebration of Light finale, the Pride Parade and BC Day can be found by visiting our Calendar of Events. Please check your route before you go and allow plenty of time to get to and from the downtown corridor, given the additional volume during these events.

 

Just a couple of notes:

  • To show our appreciation for customers, we’re offering a fare holiday on BC Day! This includes Bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus and HandyDART services.
  • Scheduled power rail maintenance work will affect service on the Millennium and Expo lines from 8 pm to the end of service.
  • The Train2Main will be in operation for those travelling to or from the Main Street-Science World Station. See OnTrack for more details.
  • Transit Police will deploy additional officers to ensure that everyone is able to travel to and from the event safely. You can text all non-emergency reports to Transit Police at 87-77-77 or     call 604.515.8300. In case of an emergency, always call 9-1-1.

 

For transit service information throughout the summer, sign up for Transit Alerts, visit m.translink.ca, follow @TransLink or call Customer Service at 604.953.3333.

Author: Angela Salehi

The 2013 Bus Service Performance Review is live!

2013 Bus Service Performance Review

TransLink investment in bus service is helping meet regional growth needs

 

Okay transit enthusiasts, it is that time of the year where TransLink’s Service Planning department takes stock of how the bus system performed the year before and summarizes it in a Bus System Performance Review. Woohooo! Right?

Here are the quick highlights:

  • Customers boarded TransLink buses 228 million times in 2013, up eight million or 3% since 2010.
  • More customers are riding the 215 bus routes across the region and productivity in boardings per service hour has increased by 6%.
  • Bus productivity remained steady in 2013, despite a slight decline in overall ridership compared to 2012. This is in part a result of service optimization, which shifts service to better match demand and optimizes bus schedules.
  • South of Fraser saw the largest increase in service – with an 11% over the last three years, partly due to new services like the King George B-Line and 555 over the Port Mann Bridge, introduced to meet growth in that region.
  • South of Fraser experienced the highest growth in annual passenger boardings of 4.3 million between 2010 and 2013.
  • Since 2010, Bus ridership grew by 10% or more in Ladner/South Delta/Tsawwassen, Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows and Richmond.

This review helps identify trends and opportunities for improvement by looking at the performance of the whole bus system, in smaller regional areas, and for each route. Ultimately, this information informs TransLink’s service optimization program, which helps to provide more service to more people across the region with the resources available .

Curious how TransLink manages the transportation network? Check out the Transit Network Primer.

Here is our post on the 2012 Bus Service Performance Review.

Author: Angela Salehi

Friday fun poll results: There’s no clear-cut favourite bus!

Friday fun poll results: Do you have a favourite TransLink bus to ride?

We asked the Buzzer blog readers two weeks ago if you had a favourite TransLink bus to ride.

It was a tight race between New Flyer Industries bus models XD40/XDE60D40LF/C40LF/D60LF, and E40LFR/E60LFR.

Each commanded 27 per cent, 25 per cent, and 20 per cent of the votes respectively.

Gennifer said her favourite buses were the Orion Vs and New Flyer XD40s/XDE60s because they are the only buses on the fleet with air conditioning.

I voted for the Orion V in the poll, because I really like the comfortable seats and A/C, but I also really like the Xcelsiors, mostly also because they’re air conditioned.

Reva agreed, adding the wide aisles and seating arrangement are a nice touch.

The Xcelsiors are great… quiet, solid, ride as smooth as silk. Nice bonus features include wide aisles, sensible seating arrangement with lots of seats to choose from, and A/C. Also the chrome wheels are a nice touch. If the entire fleet were replaced with Xcelsiors I would not be disappointed. :)

Juan and ‘o‘ voted for their favourite bus today, but also chimed in with their all-time favourite buses.

My all time favourite would be the High-Floor D40′s. I remember riding them on route 340 as a kid ot my dentist appointments.

D40 LF- Detroit S50 all the way! (grew up with these in richmond.) otherwise, the (now scrapped) NFI D40 were pretty sweet with their detroit 2 stroke 6v92TA’s Also the E901A/E902s, as well as the modern trolleys

Didn’t get a chance to vote in the poll? It’s not too late! Let us know in the comments section.

Author: Allen Tung

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.

Author: Angela Salehi

Bus service improvements coming to West Vancouver on April 5

West Vancouver Blue Bus

West Vancouver service changes come into effect on April 5!

Hey Buzzer readers – do you remember when we told you about the North Shore Area Transit Plan in a post back in 2012?

To refresh your memory, public consultation began in the fall of 2010 and concluded in the summer of 2012. The upcoming changes respond to what we heard from more than 2,500 North Shore residents and stakeholders during the North Shore Area Transit Plan public consultation process.

Drum roll please….on Saturday, April 5, TransLink and West Vancouver Transit will implement the following improvements:

250A Dundarave/Vancouver

  • Significant increase in weekday AM and PM peak period service increases to every 7.5 minutes, from Dundarave to Vancouver.
  • Weekday off-peak period and weekends/holiday buses increases to every 10 minutes.

251 Queens and 252 Inglewood

  • The current one-direction service along both routes will be replaced by a two-direction service with 51 new stops long Queens and Inglewood.
  • Service will operate every 30 mins during peak periods and every 60 mins in off-peak periods.
  • Customers who travel to downtown will transfer at Dundarave or Park Royal.

For more details on the consultation process visit the North Shore Area Transit Plan.

Author: Angela Salehi

Bus Driver Appreciation Day 2013 at Vancouver Technical School

Can you small the hot cocoa?

Can you smell the hot cocoa?

What a morning I had watching students at Vancouver Technical School handout hot chocolate to #9 bus route operators!

Every year in December, students give out hot chocolate and a little gift to each mid-morning bus operator that stops in-front of the high school.

I’m told the tradition was started by a teacher at the school nearly twenty years ago and has been going strong ever since. The excitement was palpable this chilly morning filled with sing-a-longs to Christmas music classics. Students got out of bed early to get the hot chocolate ready to go for 7:00 a.m. And Judging from the honks from each bus and smiling operator the effort was greatly appreciated.

For a bit of history and a look at past years of the program, you’ll want to read these past two (2011 and 2012) blog posts.

A big thanks to all of the students and staff at Vancouver Technical School who were involved in this incredible slice of annual holiday cheer!

Spot the Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle Contest and help TransLink spread some holiday cheer!

TransLink Reindeer Bus at Pan Pacific

The Reindeer Bus at Pan Pacific

You may have already seen these two cheerful transit characters around Metro Vancouver. The Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle have been making there way on different routes in Metro Vancouver since mid-November and will continue to be in service into January. Have you spotted them yet?

The Reindeer Bus’ most recent public event appearance was visiting the Christmas Wish Breakfast, hosted by the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau at the Pan Pacific Hotel on December 11, 2013 (see picture). That particular Reindeer bus had Santa, Mrs. Claus and the bus operating elf Sparky inside.

The festive threesome also visited mystery stops between December 10-13 throughout Metro Vancouver; and will be part of the Toys for Tots campaign run on December 19-20. Both the Reindeer Bus and Community shuttle will deliver two buses full of new, unwrapped toys to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau as part of its employee-driven Toys for Tots program. Toys for Tots was created in 1985 by a group of eight BC Transit bus operators out of the Surrey Transit Centre. TransLink and its employees are invited to donate to the cause throughout November and December.

Spot the Reindeer Bus or Shuttle and Win one of two monthly January 2014 FareCards!

Want to win? Send your picture our way of the Reindeer Bus or Shuttle in one of three ways:

1. Tweet it to @TransLink with the hashtag #TLReindeerBus.

2. Email it to thebuzzer@translink.ca and make sure to include #TLReindeerBus in the subject line.

3. Post it on our Facebook page with hashtag #TLReindeerBus.

* Remember to read our terms and conditions to get the specifics – contest terms and conditions.

We’ll be randomly drawing two winners on these dates:

Draw #1 will be on Friday, December 20, 2013. Cutoff for entries will be 11:59 p.m. on December 19, 2013.

Draw #2 will be on Friday, December 27, 2013. Cutoff for entries will be 11:59 p.m. on December 26, 2013.

There you go. Get those camera and phones out and snap some holiday transit magic and you might be getting an early or late Christmas present for your trouble!

Photo by Laura Wilby

Photo by Laura Wilby

Author: Angela Chang

Santa to keep steering the sleigh…er, bus

Santa, Mrs Clause, Sparky the elf and the Reindeer bus!

Santa, Mrs Claus, Sparky the elf and the Reindeer Bus!

It’s that time of the year for candy canes, ginger bread houses and Santa Claus. Speaking of the jolly old elf, he’s been the subject of some media attention of late. Santa shows up on a number of routes including the #27 Kootenay Loop/Joyce Station run which sparked media coverage.

Just to be clear, we love Santa, we love the holidays and we love our riders! We’ve heard about your love of seeing Santa on this route and we would like to let our riders and the public know that we will continue to allow our bus operator to wear his Santa suit while on duty. We recognize that we underestimated how much our riders valued his holiday spirit and it was certainly never our intent to offend the public.

Where can you see holiday cheer on the transit system?

The Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle (November 2013 – January 2014)

The Reindeer Bus, Sparky the bus operating elf and Jiana from TransLink

The Reindeer Bus, Sparky the bus operating elf and Jiana from TransLink

The Reindeer Bus has been driving various routes across Metro Vancouver since November. Recently, the bus made a public appearance at the Christmas Wish Breakfast, hosted by the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau at the Pan Pacific Hotel on December 11. Santa, Mrs. Claus and the bus operating elf Sparky have also periodically been visiting mystery stops this week throughout Metro Vancouver. Here’s some fun facts about the program:

  • Since 1985, Coast Mountain Bus Company annually decorates one bus and one Community Shuttle to resemble a reindeer. This year it will operate from November 12 to January 1.
  • The Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle visit a number of holiday celebrations including local agencies likethe Canuck Place and Ronald McDonald House (December 9-12).

Toys for Tots

The Reindeer Bus and shuttle are a part of the Toys for Tots campaign. Here’s some info about the program:

  • Created in 1985 by a group of BC Transit bus drivers, Toys for Tots allows TransLink employees to donate newly unwrapped toys or money to the less fortunate.
  • Last year, Toys for Tots delivered 2,709 toys to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau with the grand total of 57,968 since the launch of the program.
  • In addition, $300 cash was contributed to the donations, totaling $42, 822.86 since 1985.
  • The entire supply of donations to be delivered to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau agencies from Monday, December 9 to Thursday, December 19.

Canada Line Blanket Drive (November 22 – November 23)

We were part of the fifth annual Drive on the Line campaign -partnership between Blanket BC Society and the Canada Line – that took place along the Canada Line on November 22 – November 23.

  • This year, the two-day blanket drive collected 8500 blankets, exceeding the last year’s record of 6200 blankets.
  • All donated items are distributed evenly to shelter programs and organizations that work directly with most vulnerable individuals and families throughout Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, and this year, Vancouver Island.

West Coast Express Santa Train (December 7 and December 14)

Now in its 17th year, this is an annual toy-drive that collects toys on behalf of the Christmas bureau, serving communities in the Northeast sector including SHARE in the Tri-Cities, the Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society, and the Christmas Bureau in Mission.

This year on Saturday, December 7 and December 14, riders will be able to ride the special train in return for a newly unwrapped toy.

Want more seasonal cheer? Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle contest coming soon!

Keep watching the blog for a fun contest you can take part of if you see the Reindeer Bus or Community Shuttle!

Buzzer illustrator interview: Rory O’Sullivan

Rory and his Buzzer illustration

Rory and his work!

Here’s our long-awaited interview with May 31, 2013 Buzzer newsletter illustrator Rory O’Sullivan. We were super pleased to have Rory make our summer issue really speak to the season. That big orange sun really warms our hearts!

Who are you and what do you like to do?

I’m Rory O’Sullivan and I’m a designer and illustrator. When I’m not doing either of those I like to write, record and play music. And when I’m not doing that I like to sit quietly in a dark room.

Do you take transit? If so, what’s your favourite route/mode of public transit?

I can be found on pretty much any bus travelling Main Street and also frequent the Canada Line. My favorite station is Waterfront.

What can we expect from you in the years to come?

I’m working on a couple children’s books – one of which will be out this fall. You can see my design and illustration work at roryosullivan.com and hear some music at elizabethelizabeth.ca.

Haven’t picked up the issue yet? You can always download it as a .pdf or pick it up on the bus, SkyTrain or SeaBus.

How did TransLink’s buses perform in 2012? Our new report has all the details!

TransLink 2012 Bus Service Performance Review

The cover of TransLink’s 2012 Bus Service Performance Review. Click to read the report!

The latest review of TransLink’s bus system is out today!

It’s a report called the 2012 Bus Service Performance Review, and it shows that bus ridership increased in 2012, while costs per trip dropped. That’s good evidence that our bus service is more cost-effective than ever, and that our bus service optimization measures are working.

To get really specific on the numbers: we’ve found the number of bus trips taken per revenue hour has increased 3.4 per cent, while the average cost per trip dropped by 2.2 per cent. Please do check out the full review if you’d like the all the details and stats!

About the Bus Service Performance Review

We first produced a Bus Service Performance Review in 2011, and now every year we examine bus data to track to understand trends in ridership and bus productivity.

With buses making up more than 80 per cent of TransLink’s transit services, the review is a key tool to inform service optimization, or evidence-based decision making on how to best use bus resources—a process that involves extensive public consultation.

The review examines three key indicators on three levels: the entire system, eight sub-regional areas, and for every bus route. Have a look at our Bus Service Performance Review Document Library to see current and past reviews, plus detailed reports on every route in the system!

Read on to see a handy infographic that describes our overall results. Take a read and feel free to share it with others!

Read more »

Ask TransLink: transit planner Mary Riemer talks bus bunching, route numbers, inspirational cities, and more!

asktranslink

From April 15 to May 10, you can Ask TransLink! We’re spotlighting one TransLink staff member every week and inviting you to ask them questions about their work. Find out all about the series.

Mary Riemer, transit planner!

Mary Riemer, transit planner!

We’re winding down on our week asking questions with Mary Riemer, transit planner extraordinaire—and here’s a recap of what she’s been up to in her Ask TransLink post!

Why do buses “bunch up” at bus stops?

Mary took on a question from Sheila about why buses sometimes arrive very close together at bus stops!

I am curious why, between Alma & Granville, the #9 and the #14 always come at the same time?
It would be much more helpful to have them spaced. It is very disappointing to miss them both when the traffic light is against me as I try to cross Broadway at Vine or Yew.

Hi Sheila. I can relate to how missing your bus can be frustrating! While the #9 and the #14 are scheduled at different times, they are subject to a multitude of external forces such as unpredictable traffic patterns, resulting in bus bunching! (arriving at the stop at the same time – I touch on this a bit more in my answer to Eric about the #20 ) In this case, it is largely due to the fact that they are both frequent services, serving a high demand corridor with destination anchors at either end and high turnover along the route. The good news is that these are characteristics of an effective and productive service, and we can work with our operating company to address any chronic bus bunching between the #9 and #14 to make them work even more efficiently together!

How do we choose route numbers?

SS asked about how we pick numbers for new routes. Here’s what Mary said.

I’m also wondering about how route numbers are determined for new routes.

This is an interesting question. Historically, streetcars in Vancouver were named for the corridor or street that they served. As they were replaced by trolley busses, they maintained these service numbers. Across the region, most services are numbered for the destinations that they serve. We also try not to reuse numbers for new routes that have been used in the past. As for community shuttle route naming, TransLink has recognized that the vehicle type is not necessarily tied to the level of service provided, and therefore are moving away from the #CX naming.

How are we dealing with population growth South of Fraser?

From our Facebook live chat, Haruo Chikamori asked about how we are dealing with the growing population in the South of Fraser area. Here’s what Mary had to say.

How is Translink going to deal with the influx of population growth on the South Side of the Fraser? It seems as though the transit situation there is regressing there rather than moving forward. Surrey is one of the fastest growing population centers in the Lower Mainland. The Transit Plan has not been finalized, the extension of the Skytrain into Langley has been planned, but not finalized. Buses are driving by full while people wait on the sidelines and buses have been cut.

Hi Haruo! We know that the South of Fraser is growing rapidly and we have been doing as much as possible to increase service. We recently issued the Surrey Rapid Studies, looking at different alternatives. You can check them out here.

Through our Service Optimization program we have been increasing service in the South of Fraser as much as possible given our funding situation. We recently introduced the #555 Port Mann Express and later this year we will be introducing the 96 B-Line on King George Boulevard! -mary

What transit systems can Vancouver learn from the most?

And also from Facebook, Brandon Yan asked a great question.

I think Vancouver has a fantastic transit system but do you have any city in the world where you look to them and go “yeah, they get transit”? Who could Vancouver learn from the most?

Hi Brandon… Metro Vancouver has some unique characteristics, some cities we can look to and learn from include Hong Kong, Portland, and San Fransisco. While there are cities with fantastic transit systems like London, it is hard to compare their system with ours because there are so many differences between their urban fabric and ours. – mary

Get your questions in by noon today!

If you’ve still got questions, Mary will be available to answer until noon today, Friday May 10, 2013! Submit your questions on her Ask TransLink page, and she’ll get the answers for you.