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Translink Buzzer Blog

New Canada Line trains increase service for customers

First wave of new trains will carry up to 800 more people per hour at peak times. (left to right: Scott Norris, YVR’s vice-president of commercial development; Hedy Fry, Member of Parliament, Vancouver Centre; Malcolm Brodie, Mayor, City of Richmond; Bowinn Ma, Parliamentary Secretary for TransLink; and Kevin Desmond, TransLink’s CEO)

Four new Canada Line trains begin service today, increasing customer capacity by 15 per cent during peak hours. The brand-new trains will provide more space, frequency and comfort to customers.

These are the first of 12 new trains, which are being rolled out as part of Phase One of the Mayors’ 10-Year Transit Expansion Plan. Once more trains are in service later this year, there will be a total increase in capacity of approximately 35 per cent compared to 2019 service levels.

Delivered through the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund (PTIF), this $88 million investment is funded 50 per cent by the Government of Canada, 33 per cent by the Province of British Columbia, and 17 per cent by TransLink.

To support this increase in service, the Canada Line Operations and Maintenance Centre was upgraded and three additional escalators were installed at Canada Line Stations in 2019. This $36 million investment was also funded through PTIF.

The remaining trains are in the process of being delivered from Hyundai Rotem in South Korea. Upon arrival, the new trains will go through testing and commissioning before being certified for revenue service later this year. Read more »

New maps and signs help improve wayfinding at YVR–Airport Station

New bilingual signs at the YVR–Airport Station letting customers they can head straight for the faregates if they have a contactless Visa, Mastercard or American Express credit card.

New bilingual signs at the YVR–Airport Station letting customers they can head straight for the faregates if they have a contactless Visa, Mastercard or American Express credit card.

We’ve made it easier for tourists, many who are first-time transit users in Vancouver, to find their way from the Canada Line’s YVR–Airport Station!

We want to be the best hosts that we can be, so that’s why we teamed up with YVR to improve signage at YVR–Airport Station to help customers decide what transit fare they need and how to pay for it. There’s now:

  • Bilingual awareness signage conveying Tap to Pay benefit for travellers
  • Maps with colour-coded fare zones
  • Signage with fares to popular tourist destinations

With better signs, our hope is more customers will skip the lines for a Compass Vending Machines, head straight to the faregates and use Tap to Pay option to pay their transit fare using a contactless Visa, Mastercard or American Express credit card. For customers who are purchasing a fare from Compass Vending Machines, new colour-coded maps help with identifying fare zones for popular destinations such as the outlet mall, ferry terminals and cruise ship terminals.

New colour-coded maps on Compass Vending Machines makes trip planning easier for transit users at YVR–Airport Station.

New colour-coded maps on Compass Vending Machines makes trip planning easier for transit users at YVR–Airport Station.

New colour-coded maps on Compass Vending Machines makes trip planning easier for transit users at YVR–Airport Station.

Previously, Canada Line Attendants would sometimes have to help customers calculate the fare to popular tourist destinations such as downtown Vancouver, Canada Place and the ferry terminals. Now, with better signage, it’s clearer and all our customers can have a better experience at the YVR–Airport Station – and we’re still always there to help!

But the best part of all? The new signage was installed December 17th, 2019 – so we were ready for all of our city’s visitors this holiday season!

Author: Mohak Sood

Your questions answered about snowy weather preparations

Today is an extreme travel day and our transit system hasn’t escaped the impact of the snow.

We’re receiving a high volume of enquiries about transit conditions, so we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions by you, our customers, on social media.

Don’t forget! Sign up for Transit Alerts to be notified about updates, changes, and disruptions to the transit services you take:

Q: How’s SkyTrain preparing?

A: SkyTrain Attendants are onboard all trains monitoring the tracks to improve reliability on the system by limiting emergency braking triggered by heavy snowfall. We also run trains throughout the night to keep the tracks clear and used a special train to spray de-icer on the power rails. On the Millennium Line, we’re operating four-car trains instead of the usual two-car trains to increase capacity, but that will mean longer than usual waits for customers.

Read more »

Smart lockers coming to SkyTrain stations

A rendering of what the future PigeonBox locker at Stadium–Chinatown Station could look like.

A rendering of what the future PigeonBox locker at Stadium–Chinatown Station could look like.

TransLink has selected PigeonBox, a smart locker service, as the first winner of the 2019 Open Call for Innovation on Customer Services and Amenities. The Open Call for Innovation solicited proposals for new services for customers as they travel through the transit system.

With the new PigeonBox smart lockers, beginning this spring, customers can have their deliveries sent to lockers at three SkyTrain stations: Joyce-Collingwood, Stadium-Chinatown, and Commercial-Broadway.

“We are always looking at creative ways to utilize our transit spaces so that we can better serve our customers,” says TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond. “The last round of submissions received many thoughtful proposals and I’d like to congratulate PigeonBox for their successful pitch. Having secure lockers for pick-ups at transit stations will reduce unnecessary trips and simplify the lives of our customers.”

How does it work?

First, customers need to sign up to use a locker on the PigeonBox website or PigeonBox App. Customers can then use the provided PigeonBox address as their mailing address when making any online purchase. Once the order is complete and delivered, PigeonBox will send the customer a locker number and access code for a smart locker.

“The PigeonBox dream is to make every online delivery experience as seamless as possible,” says PigeonBox CEO Seunghwan Son. “We’ve built our smart lockers for those who want to protect their online orders and pick up their packages with ease. When we first launched PigeonBox, our customers told us they wanted to see us grow and expand at our transit stations. We are excited to finally launch this partnership with TransLink.”

This initiative is a one-year pilot from the TransLink Tomorrow program to test the demand for smart locker services on the transit system. The continuation and expansion of this service will be determined by the results of the pilot.

About Open Call for Innovation

There were 45 proposals submitted in TransLink’s second annual Open Call for Innovation to help innovate and enhance customer journeys. The 2019 finalists were selected through an internal panel. Other successful ideas will be announced in the coming months. Previous winners include a shared mobility service with Evo, Modo, and Mobi, and a partnership with carpooling company, Poparide.

The Open Call platform is an opportunity to partner with industry leaders, innovators, academics and policymakers to collaborate on new mobility solutions that will help enhance the livability of Metro Vancouver and address transportation-related challenges that we face as a region.

TransLink activates snow plan to keep customers moving

Customers should plan ahead for potential weather-related delays

Customers should plan ahead for potential weather-related delays

With the likelihood of snow in the early morning hours tomorrow, TransLink is activating plans to ensure transit service stays as reliable as possible.

Environment Canada is forecasting late night rain, followed by snow through the morning commute. This sequence of precipitation will not allow for early salting and sanding as the materials will wash away before snow hits. We are encouraging customers to dress for the elements and use proper footwear to avoid slips and falls.

Customer information will have extra staff on hand, but customers should expect larger-than-normal call and social media request volumes.

Here’s what we’re doing right now

  • Calling in extra staff to assist customers and coordinate service.
  • Coordinating with municipalities on snow clearing if priority routes are impacted.
  • Coupling Millennium Line trains into 4-car configurations to increase capacity while SkyTrain attendants monitor guideways.
  • Deploying special trucks to spread anti-icing solution on trolley wires.
  • Installing brass “cutters” on some trolley buses to cut through ice on trolley wires.

Read more »

TransLink launches new RapidBus service

TransLink launches RapidBus on four routes – bringing customers up to 20 per cent faster bus service with higher frequencies, fewer stops, dedicated bus lanes, bus priority changes to intersections, and all-door boarding.

RapidBus provides a more reliable bus service that can move more than 10,000 people per hour at peak times. The new service is made possible through investments from Phase One of the Mayors’ Vision, the Government of Canada, and the Province of BC.

“We’re stepping up our bus game,” says TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond. “RapidBus is a crucial part of improving the region’s bus service through the Mayors’ Vision. These RapidBus routes will benefit eight communities and bring our customers a more reliable bus service that they deserve.” Read more »

I Love Transit 2019: Wrapping up a decade of I Love Transit

2019 was another busy year for TransLink. We celebrated many milestones including 10 years of I Love Transit!

This year’s celebrations included, among other things, a free week of bus rides for K-12 students, an interview with one of our favourite retired bus operators, a chat with one of Metro Vancouver’s favourite Wayfinding experts, contests and so much more!

Read more »

VanTech students pour a cuppa cheer for the 23rd year!

The last Friday of December’s school year means early alarm bells for Vancouver Technical School’s Grade 9 students who are part of the Summit program. Each year, for the past 23 years, students make and serve hot chocolate to deserving bus operators, bright and early, as they pull up to the Broadway stop outside the school.

Read more »

Ride free New Year’s Eve!

Ride Free New Years Eve

New Year’s Eve is heavily rooted in tradition, whether it be celebrating at home or a festive night out in the city.

TransLink’s New Year’s Eve tradition dates back 44 years! Free transit is provided for all of Metro Vancouver to ensure everyone in the entire region has access to a safe ride home as we ring in the new year.

From 5 p.m. Tuesday, December 31, 2019 until 5 a.m. Wednesday, January 1, 2020 service across the entire system will be free! Read more »

The Winter 2019 edition of The Buzzer is now on the system

Print Buzzer

Say goodbye to 2019 with the last issue of The Buzzer for this year! This issue is dedicated in part to our annual Winter Service Changes, which roll out RapidBus to Metro Vancouver!

Read more »

TransLink boosting bus service to carry up to 20,000 more people each weekday

RapidBus service starts on January 6 in conjunction with our quarterly service changes.

We’re increasing bus service on January 6 to improve bus service frequency and reliability where customers need it most! The significant increases in service will add 65,000 more annual bus service hours to the system, making space for up to 20,000 more people each weekday.

Bus service changes happen every spring, summer, fall, and winter to reflect seasonal changes in demand and to deliver service improvements.

RapidBus service launching on January 6:

  • R1 King George Blvd (Guildford Exchange/Newton Exchange)
    • Eight-minute service during peak hours
  • R3 Lougheed Hwy (Coquitlam Central Station/Haney Place)
    • 10-minute service during peak hours
  • R4 41st Ave (Joyce Station/UBC)
    • Three to six-minute service during peak hours
  • R5 Hastings St (Burrard Station/SFU)
    • Four to five-minute service during peak hours

Outside of peak hours, all RapidBus routes will have 15-minute service or better from 6 a.m. to midnight, sevendays a week. To make the bus system more efficient, there will also be adjustments to some Metro Vancouver bus routes. Key changes include:

  • 41 Joyce Station/Crown
    • New terminus at Crown Street, instead of UBC Bus Exchange
    • 15-minute service during service hours every day
  • 43 Joyce Station/UBC
    • Service replaced by R4 RapidBus
  • 480 UBC/Bridgeport
    • Will run peak hours only
    • For faster service between Bridgeport and UBC, customers can take the Canada Line and the R4 RapidBus connecting with Oakridge Station

Learn more about how your commute might change at translink.ca/servicechanges.

Holiday Gift Guide 2019: Gifts for the Metro Vancouver transit lover (CONTEST)

Two years ago, due to popular demand, we launched the TransLink Store. Your one-stop-shop for the latest and greatest in Metro Vancouver transit merchandise. Over the years, the shop has grown and is now stocked with a robust collection of your favourite transit memorabilia.

With the holidays fast approaching, we’ve curated the perfect holiday gift guide for the Metro Vancouver transit lover!

Holiday Gift Guide 2019 - Gifts for the Metro Vancouver transit lover Read more »

Customer options ahead of BCRTC job action

We’re pleased to share BC Rapid Transit Company and CUPE 7000 have reached a negotiated, tentative deal. Please expect delays while BCRTC works towards providing regular schedules on the Expo and Millennium Lines this morning, Dec. 10.

TransLink is informing customers of their options if union job action causes a total Expo and Millennium Line shut down December 10, 11 and 12. Customers should be aware the travel options will not match the level of service these SkyTrain lines provide.

While it will not be possible to replicate Expo and Millennium Line service, TransLink is highlighting options for customers should a full strike occur tomorrow. Most transit service will be operating normally including:

  • Canada Line
  • West Coast Express
  • Coast Mountain Bus
  • West Vancouver Blue Bus
  • HandyDART
  • SeaBus

TransLink has been told that given operational constraints and labour considerations, Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) is not able to increase bus service in response to the planned strike by employees of the BC Rapid Transit Company (BCRTC). CMBC advises that service will be operating as it would on any regular weekday.

Customers should be prepared for heavier passenger volume as people migrate from Expo and Millennium Line to other services. If possible, customers are advised to make other arrangements such as:

  • Using one of our park and rides to connect to bus service
  • Travelling outside of rush hours
  • Working from home
  • Using a carpooling service such as Liftango and gobyRIDE
  • Walking or cycling to work
  • Free bike valet service at Vancouver Public Library from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

To plan a trip without SkyTrain, both TransLink’s Trip Planner and Google Maps have an option to exclude SkyTrain. Visit translink.ca/stayinformed to learn more about alternative travel options.

BCRTC remains committed to getting a deal done and will continue bargaining until the last moment to avoid disruptive job action for customers. Customers should check the status of service before travelling in the morning in case a deal has been reached.

TransLink launches Compass Mini

Adult and concession Compass Minis go on sale on December 6 at Stadium–Chinatown Station’s Compass Customer Service and Waterfront Station’s West Coast Express office.

Tapping with Compass has never been more convenient! We’re introducing Compass Mini as another way to pay for transit in Metro Vancouver. Compass Mini looks just like a small Compass Card that attaches easily to keychains and backpacks.

“The launch of Compass Mini is a part of our commitment to enhance the customer experience,” says TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond. “Compass Wristbands have been a real hit and I’m sure customers will enjoy the convenience and practicality of the new Compass Mini.”

Compass Mini works the same as the Compass Card and Compass Wristband. Tap in and out when travelling on transit and reload online at a Compass Vending Machine, by phone or in person.

During its initial release, 5,000 adult Compass Minis and 2,500 concession Compass Minis will be available starting on December 6. Read more »

Tactile and braille signage to be installed at bus stops across Metro Vancouver

TransLink Board approves $7 million for industry-leading accessibility program.

TransLink moves ahead with plans to implement an industry-leading program benefiting customers who are blind or partially sighted. Beginning in 2020, tactile and braille signage will be installed at every bus stop, and tactile walking surface indicators (TWSI) at stations and bus exchanges – making TransLink one of the first transit authorities in North America to provide this level of information across the bus network.

“We are committed to making our transit system accessible for as many people as possible,” says TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond. “We know that a lot of our customers with vision loss rely on transit to get around the region and this is another example of the work we are doing for a very important community.”

The tactile and braille signage will be installed at approximately 8,500 bus stops with:

  • The unique five-digit bus stop ID number;
  • The words “STOP” or “BAY #” to identify the bus stop;
  • Route numbers; and
  • The customer service telephone number.

TransLink will also be looking at developing a wayfinding technology pilot that will help customers better navigate the system using data sent directly to a phone or tablet.

“It is important to understand that changing an environment actually lessens the affect of the disability,” says Rob Sleath, Member of the Access Transit Users’ Advisory Committee (UAC). “I applaud TransLink for being a leader and continuing to provide accessible public and custom transit services for people who need it most. Today marks a special milestone for our community.”

The work to test Universally Accessible Bus Stops first started in 2012 and included the installation of TWSI, tactile and braille at various bus stops including Joyce-Collingwood Station as part of a pilot project. Throughout the process, TransLink has consulted with representatives from the community through a wide-reaching survey and direct engagement with key stakeholders.

“The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) Foundation BC/Yukon are proud of the strides that TransLink is undertaking to become a leader in accessibility by making the investment to ensure that bus stops are equipped with the TWSI and the addition of braille and tactile signage,” says CNIB’s Executive Director Jennifer Yankanna.