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Translink Buzzer Blog

National Accessibility Week: A Conversation with Tamara Tedesco

May 31 to June 6 is the National AccessAbility Week, a week that celebrates the valuable contributions of Canadians with disabilities and recognize the efforts of individuals, communities and workplaces that are actively working to remove barriers to accessibility and inclusion.

Tamera Tedesco helps with the Access Transit Users’ Advisory Committee and a lot more to do with accessibility and transportation.

Although Tamara Tedesco jokes that the reason she’s stuck around TransLink for so long is for the five-year anniversary pin, it’s immediately clear that it’s the impact of her team’s work in Access Transit Planning that gets her out of bed and into work each morning.

“Because our transit system covers such a vast geographic area, we service a wide range of people. I think that’s something really wonderful about public transit – all different types of people rely on it,” says Tamara. “Our aim in Access Transit is to enhance the accessibility across the system and make transit inclusive to as many customers as possible.”

Tamara has been blind since birth, so public transit has played an important role throughout her life. Growing up in a small town on Vancouver Island, she always knew she’d end up in a bigger city one day. A few years after graduating, she packed up and relocated to Vancouver:

“I’ve always been unwaveringly independent. As a young teenager, I recognized that I couldn’t ask my parents to drive me everywhere. I think sometimes we can forget that there are all kinds of reasons that younger people are unable to drive. If you can’t see, that’s a big one. Having a way to get around independently has such a big impact on the quality of life, so it was important to me to find a place to live that was as accessible as it could be.”

Now, in her role as AccessTransit Coordinator, she is able to witness how the freedom of movement benefits other transit customers as well: “it means a lot to me that I’m able to help people and work towards making transit a really valuable and important aspect of their lives as well.”

Tamara’s job involves administrating the Access Transit Users’ Advisory Committee and the HandyDART Users’ Advisory Committee, coordinating their meetings, managing communications with committee members and recruitment. She also helps with the development of accessibility policies and advises departments across the TransLink enterprise on accessibility-related initiatives.

With this work comes unique challenges. As Tamara explains, “accessibility means very different things for different people depending on what their needs are. It’s always a juggling act trying to prioritize projects and determine where the biggest opportunities for improvement are. We really want to improve accessibility for as many customers as possible.”

One barrier that the team frequently confronts is trying to find a balanced solution when customers, especially customers with disabilities, have not only different needs, but often completely opposite and competing needs.

For those interested in promoting accessibility awareness, Tamara suggests a couple of ways that customers can provide feedback and get involved at TransLink:

“One way to submit feedback is through our regular channels – online or by phone. Any feedback or questions for Access Transit Planning gets sent to me. For those who are passionate about making sure accessibility issues are always considered and have a lot of transit experience, we usually have 3-5 openings for new members on the Access Transit Users’ Advisory Committee each year. Whether they are someone with a disability or represent someone with a disability, it’s a great way to be connected to the work we do. Recruitment opens in early August and ends in mid-September. Application information can be found on the Access Transit Users’ Advisory Committee page.”

For those of us at TransLink, we’re grateful for Tamara’s compassion, enthusiasm and commitment to earning that five-year anniversary pin. 😉

Written by Rebecca Abel

The print Buzzer turns 104 years old!

🎉The print Buzzer is turning 104 today🎉

The Buzzer turning 104

The first publication of the Buzzer was released on June 2, 1916.

Throughout the years, the print Buzzer has informed generations of readers about exciting transit news and developments in Metro Vancouver.

From the opening of the Patullo Bridge in 1937 and the launch of trolley buses 11 years later to the launch of the Expo Line in 1986, our readers were updated and entertained one fold at the time!

The first print Buzzer was published on June 2, 1916, and was originally distributed on the hydro-electric streetcars that made up public transportation in Vancouver. The publication was launched to help streetcars compete with jitneys, private citizens who patrolled streetcar routes and offered rides for five cents. By informing the riders about public transport, the hope was that people would be more encouraged to use the streetcars.

streetcar in early 1920s -1940s

Two-car streetcar “trains” ran on main Vancouver routes from 1927 to the late 1940s

An interesting fact – the first publication did not have a name! It was the riders of trams and streetcars, who coined the name by endearingly referring to the publication “our dear Buzzer”.

As one of the oldest publications in the province, the Buzzer has changed companies, themes, mastheads and editors. Its goal of the publication always stayed the same however- to deliver informative and fun transit and community related tidbits to our riders.

old versions of the Buzzer since 1910s

How the Buzzer changed since 1910s

 

Are you interested to see how the Buzzer looked like back in the day? Check out our comprehensive archive that dates back to the early 1900s. You’ll also want to checkout our 100th birthday edition of the Buzzer for a great look at how transportation and the publication has changed over the years.

As we’re facing challenges due to COVID-19 we’re looking into the future for the print Buzzer. We’d love to know you thoughts. What do you like/dislike about print Buzzer and are there changes you’d make to it? Leave a comments and tell us what you think!

National AccessAbility Week – Pamela Findling on her personal experience and things we can do about accessibility during COVID-19

 

Pamela Findling performing at the comedy show

Pamela performing at the stand-up comedy show. She often shares her personal experience of being hearing impaired in her performances.

May 31 to June 6 is the National AccessAbility Week, a week that celebrates the valuable contributions of Canadians with disabilities and recognize the efforts of individuals, communities and workplaces that are actively working to remove barriers to accessibility and inclusion.

Pamela Findling, the Director of Training, Health, and Wellness at BCRTC shares her personal experience with us and talks about things we can do about accessibility in the era of  COVID-19.

What does accessibility mean to you personally?

Pamela – I’ve been hearing impaired since I was little. Then, as an adult, I went profoundly deaf and received a cochlear implant six months later. With my implant, I hear and get by really well and people often know me for awhile before they realize I’m hearing impaired. It’s a daily effort though, and it takes work for me to make sense of the sounds I’m hearing.

For me personally, accessibility is about being able to be independent and not having to rely on others.

Part of that is also feeling safe and supported when I do need to ask for help or changes to participate as fully as possible. I recognize that people and organizations often don’t realize the impacts of their design or implementation decisions on people with disabilities, which is why I really appreciate the ones that take the time to ask questions and make adjustments as they learn more.

To me, accessibility is also about having options available and recognizing that there’s no one-size-fits all. What I need as a deaf person with a cochlear implant could be much different than what another deaf person with a cochlear implant needs.

 

What are some small things you do in your day to make everything work for you in terms of accessibility?

Pamela – So much that I don’t even realize anymore!

I don’t hear anything out of my left ear, so in meetings and groups I sit with my right ear towards the most people. I also make sure that I can see people’s faces, since I read lips a lot.

It’s actually much easier for me to follow meeting on Skype and Zoom  – I’m happy to see they’re being used more than conference calls now! The Bluetooth on my phone gives me a direct link to my implant and blocks out background noise, so I use that instead of the computer audio whenever I can.

As to other everyday activities, I use the Next Stop signs on the buses, closed captioning on TV and at the movies. I Google lyrics for new songs, turn off music and loud fans when I’m talking to people, ask strangers to repeat intercom announcements for me, and sometimes, when the noise is too much, I turn off my cochlear implant processor to have some quiet. I also ask people to repeat themselves, or to switch seats—people are always happy to help, but it’s important that I speak up.

How do your personal experiences inform your professional interests and work?

Pamela – Losing my hearing shaped so much of who I am, and I’ve always been interested in what other people’s stories are and sharing those stories. I was in communications for a lot of years. I like writing and visual elements because it’s something I’ve personally always been able to count on to stay connected to people. Now I lead the Training and Occupational Health teams, which is meaningful for me personally.

When I went profoundly deaf and was waiting for my cochlear implant, I was working as a co-op student in a new city, with no family there. I was devastated and planned to quit my job and move home, but my manager said “No. I’m not going to let you do that. You still have a lot you can do.” He set me up with the Occupational Health Nurse and she was amazing to help us figure out how I could complete my work term and contribute meaningfully.

That support and being able to keep working was so important for my mental health and recovery, and I’m still so grateful for it. Because I know how much that meant to me, I really value the work of Training and Occupational Health teams. I know they can literally save lives.

 

The pandemic has posed new challenges for our communities, potentially aggravating some of the existing accessibility barriers. How can we work together to create more accessible and inclusive working environments during these uncertain times?

Pamela – A prime example of this that people might not think of: I haven’t figured out how I’m going to navigate a mask-filled world yet where I can’t read lips!

I think the biggest thing is to ask questions and be aware that people have struggles and barriers that we don’t know about. I’m always happy to answer questions from people about my hearing, because it helps them better understand me and how we can best work together.

Be kind and patient. Know that we’re not always going to get it right at first, but be open to learning how we can do better. Don’t make assumptions: something that worked well six months ago might not work now because things have changed and could have a bigger impact than we realize (like masks!). And we need to advocate for ourselves and be honest about what we need.

Go By Bike Week: mapping your route and the “slow” streets movement

Cyclists on Hornby Street in Vancouver

While transit ridership is down in most cities around the globe you might have noticed more people out walking, cycling and breathing in the fresh air!

In the latest in our series to support HUB Cycling’s Go By Bike Week, we take a look some of the changes to streets happening locally and around the world, as well as some trip planning tools and recommended routes to make sure you can get around Metro Vancouver actively and safely.

Is it me or have I been seeing lots of people out walking and cycling?

It’s not just you! While active commuting trips and commuting trips of all types have decreased during the pandemic, recreational cycling trips are up significantly in cities like Vancouver (an 85 per cent increase during March).

Similar increases have been seen across the globe — in Beijing, New York and London — as people look to stay active, commute to work were needed, and take important mental health and physical activity breaks.

Parks in B.C. have witnessed a 62 per cent increase in visitations in May while in the Lower Mainland, Metro Vancouver parks are seeing similar activity with a 67 per cent increase to the end of April 2020.

What’s happening to streets around Metro Vancouver and the globe?

Now you might have been hearing terms like “COVID streets,” “summer streets” or “slow streets.” Local, federal and global physical distancing regulations have sparked conversation around reallocating more road, park and sidewalk space for people to walk, cycle, roll, sit and queue safely. With traffic decreasing during the pandemic, that’s meant cities around the world have moved to turn car lanes into active transportation lanes.

Cities such as Vancouver (50km of slow streets), Oakland, California (119km of slow streets), Portland, Oregon (slow/safe streets at 160 locations), Milan (35km of Strade Aperte [open roads]) and Paris (50km converted bike streets and 30 pedestrianized streets) have reacted rapidly to re-allocate space for cars, to people.

Locally, the City of Vancouver has launched its Room to Move, Room to Queue and Room to Load initiative, installing new routes that prioritize walking, cycling and rolling to make it easier for people to exercise and access businesses in their local neighbourhood.

The city has closed the eastbound lanes on Beach Avenue to all vehicles from Stanley Park to Hornby Street, as well as closing Stanley Park to all vehicles (excluding the Stanley Park Causeway/Highway 99).

To find out more about these developing changes visit the city’s temporary road closures and changes during COVID-19 page, have a read of their FAQs on Slow Streets, or email the city directly: slowstreets@vancouver.ca

What are some things to keep in mind when planning my bike trip?

TransLink recommends using routes with dedicated cycling infrastructure separated from motor vehicles, such as bike lanes, as much as possible. To map out your cycling route, there are a few tools we recommend.

1. Visit TransLink’s Cycling Maps page to view several major TransLink-funded cycleways running parallel to SkyTrain routes.

2. Use Google Maps for trip planning and the estimated time it will take you, but please be mindful, particularly beginner cyclists, that Google Maps does not always recommend the safest cycling routes or take new and existing protected infrastructure into account. If you want to make sure you’re accessing cycling routes for all ages and abilities, please check out these other trip planning platforms:

3. Vancouver Bike Route Planner allows you to filter for “bike routes” and “safer” bike routes as well as a full list of SkyTrain stations, Mobi Bike Share stations and elevation gains.

4. Bikemaps.org is a useful mapping tool that also allows you to filter through new cycling infrastructure, collisions reports, hazards and bike thefts.

5. Bike Citizens Vancouver Did you know that nearly half of all trips under 5 km in Metro Vancouver are made by car? Many of these trips for groceries, prescriptions, and other essentials can easily be done by bicycle. In fact, running errands by bike for trips of this distance is often faster and more convenient than driving. Bicycles are one of the most efficient forms of transport so if you want to SEE how far you can go on a city bike, road bike or mountain bike over 5, 10, 15, and 30-minute increments, check out this handy mapping tool. You might be surprised!

What are other cities in Metro Vancouver doing to open streets?

For a full list of temporary streets changes during COVID please visit your municipality’s website for the most recent updates. In the meantime, here are a few that have been confirmed in the Lower Mainland:

New Westminster

  • McInnes Overpass – Closed the northbound vehicle lane to vehicles, opening it to pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Sixth Avenue – reallocated some curbside parking spaces on Sixth Street (near Sixth Avenue) to a place where pedestrians can wait for the traffic lights to change and pass one another on the sidewalk.
  • Central Valley GW – Closing a southbound curb lane on East Columbia Street / North Rd north of Hume Park to motor vehicles to improve conditions for people walking and cycling along the Central Valley Greenway.

City of North Vancouver

  • Grand Boulevard – Converted road space west between Keith and 19th and Grand Boulevard between 19th and 23rd (these routes are also appropriate for commuting traffic to and from Lynn valley to central Lonsdale).
  • Proposed – All local neighbourhood routes with low traffic volumes (St Andrews, 17th, 4th, 27th and Sutherland)
    • Esplanade, Lonsdale with focus at the intersections of 13th, 15th, 17th streets.
    • Existing bike routes that do not facilitate passing with physical distance without taking the vehicle travel lane: 3rd and 15th streets, 1st/2nd Street west of 3rd, East and West Keith, 13th Street.

Maple Ridge

  • Proposed
    • 123 St Avenue between 203 St to Laity St
    • 227 St between Brown Avenue and Abernethy Way

Port Moody

  • Recommended Routes
    • Neighbourhood bike routes: George Street, Glenayre Drive, Glencoe Drive, Ailsa Drive, College Park Way, Washington, Princeton Ave, Harvard Drive, as well as the Shoreline Trail (some portions are one way only).

Richmond

  • Bayview Street – Established temporary walkway in Steveston Village along the south side of (No. 1 Road-Third Avenue) that provides additional space for safe distancing.
  • Garry Point Park – Implemented one-way walking routes in Garry Point Park in
  • Other recommended routes – Railway Greenway, Railway Ave (Granville Ave-Moncton St), Crabapple Ridge Neighbourhood Bike Route, Granville Ave (Railway Ave-Garden City Road), Parkside Neighbourhood Bike Route, Shell Road Trail (Hwy 99 Overpass-Steveston Hwy)
  • Perimeter Dyke Trails: South Dyke, West Dyke, Middle Arm

Surrey

  • Proposed
    • Surrey reports a 40% decrease in traffic volumes and is exploring 7-8 ‘recreational’ cycling routes around the city to connect to civic facilities, parks and close roads around parks to create loops.

UBC

  • Proposed
    • North West Marine Drive

City of Vancouver

  • Stanley Park – close to cars (some exceptions apply)
  • Beach Avenue – Eastbound lane closed to vehicles on Beach Ave (including Park Lane) from Stanley Park to Hornby St.
  • From May 22, Vancouver is added a further 12km of Slow Streets. Visit the website for more information.

Author: James Ranson

Knight Street Bridge is ready to support the restart of BC’s economy

Cars and trucks crossing the Knight Street Bridge

We are excited to announce that the Knight Street Bridge’s Rehabilitation Project is now complete and the bridge is ready to support the restart of BC’s economy.

Bridges play a vital role in the movement of goods and people in our region. The movement of goods includes anything from the shipment of produce to local grocery stores and food to your doorsteps to components and materials required to manufacture finished products, such as plexiglass partitions and protective barriers.

Together with various modes like roads, waterways, rail facilities and air and sea ports, bridges form an intricate network that enables us to access essential goods and services so that we can carry on with our day-to-day lives.

The Knight Street Bridge (2020)

Everyday about 100,000 vehicles cross the Knight Street Bridge, the second busiest bridge in the Lower Mainland. The bridge acts as the main corridor from Downtown Vancouver terminals to industry in North and South Richmond North as well as the Tilbury Industrial area out to Delta Port. Many of these are trucks support the goods movement in/between the region and the rest of Canada/US.

On the regular days, you are most likely to encounter various trucks delivering containers from the ports in Vancouver, Seattle and Tacoma to destinations in British Columbia, Alberta, Yukon Territory as well as Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Even during the pandemic, the bridge continues to play an essential role in the movement of goods.

The Knight Street Bridge was opened on January 15, 1974. To ensure safe and efficient operations for all bridge users, we conduct significant rehabilitation work of this nature approximately once every ten to 15 years, in addition to ongoing maintenance, as a part of TransLink Maintenance and Repair Program. This work also safeguards the bridge from the effects of climate change and allows for seismic preparedness and resilience.

The 2020 Knight Street Bridge Rehabilitation Project commenced in January and was conducted overnight from 10 p.m and 5 p.m to minimize the impact on bridge users. The work included:

    • Concrete pier repairs, bearing and expansion joint replacement
    • Replacement of signage, including warning signs, regulatory signs and pedestrian crosswalks signs
    • Lighting upgrades for better visibility and energy efficiency
    • Replacement of crash cushions (impact attenuators)

We have recently successfully completed the upgrades on time, just as the province announced the plan for easing COVID-19 restrictions. The Knight Street Bridge is refreshed and ready to support the gradual restart of our economy. Learn more about TransLink’s role in Metro Vancouver’s goods movement by checking out Regional Goods Movement Strategy.

A sneak peek at the redesigned bus transfers for community shuttle buses

The new bus transfer customers will receive on community shuttle buses starting on June 1.

Starting Monday, June 1, fare collection and front-door boarding resumes on all buses, and seating restrictions will be eased. Customers who ride a bus route that’s operated by a community shuttle will also see a redesigned bus transfer if they’re paying by cash.

What’s new?

  • New transfers use a colour and icon system to show the day the transfer can be used. Our old transfers printed each date on the ticket.
  • There are five colours and five symbols that will alternate each day.
  • They are also reusable. Using symbols instead of dates allows us to reuse transfers that aren’t distributed each day, reducing waste across the system.

What’s the same?

They’ll work just like the current paper transfers on community shuttle buses.

Operators will provide customers who pay their fare with coins, bills or FareSavers, with a new transfer tickets that’s cut to indicate a time 90 minutes in the future. The ticket then becomes a “flash pass” for transfers to other shuttles and regular, conventional buses. That means you won’t need to insert the transfer into the farebox — just show it to the operator. As usual, please have an exact fare.

Just like before, customers who are planning to transfer to SkyTrain, West Coast Express or the SeaBus should consider using a Compass Card or Tap to Pay with a contactless credit card as the paper bus transfers don’t open the faregates. As well, a reminder if you’re paying by cash, we recommend you keep paying with exact change as the fare boxes don’t dispense it.

The current bus transfers issued on community shuttle buses.

Why the change?

While we continue to replace and expand our fleet, we needed a solution for our end-of-life fareboxes.

Last year, we transitioned our Community Shuttle fleet to “mechanical” fareboxes. In July, the same fareboxes will start appearing on our regular, conventional buses too, replacing the “electronic” fareboxes. Soon, our whole fleet will be rocking this back-to-the-future-style machine.

The paper transfers we currently use on our Community Shuttle fleet won’t work with our conventional fleet, so, we developed a new paper transfer ticket compatible with both fleets (pictured right/above).

The bus transfers from the 1990s before the switch to the “magnetic strip” transfers in 2001.

COVID-19 transit safety tip

Customers are reminded to consider travelling outside of busy times if they can and to stay home when unwell. We’re recommending customers to wear a face covering when riding transit. Non-medical masks, bandanas, scarves and cloth can all be used. Please maintain physical distance from other passengers and transit staff when possible and follow our physical distancing markers where outlined. To reduce the risks caused by the pandemic, we installed new temporary barriers on our bus fleet. There will be a slot in the barrier for our operators to safely hand cash paying customers their paper transfer.

Fare collection and front-door boarding to resume, bus seating restrictions eased

On Monday, June 1, Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) will resume fare collection and front-door boarding on buses throughout the region. Bus seating restrictions will also be eased, and buses will be able to accommodate approximately two-thirds capacity before being deemed full.

The increase in passenger capacity on buses will allow CMBC to accommodate the growing number of customers who are returning to the transit system, in alignment with British Columbia’s Restart Plan. CMBC has restored bus schedules to what they were before the COVID-19 pandemic to add as much capacity as possible. However, with bus ridership increasing by more than 30% over the past month, demand cannot be met with the current seating arrangements.

These necessary steps are being taken following the installation of temporary plexiglass extension barriers or vinyl barriers on all buses to protect transit operators.

Physical distancing will not always be possible on transit and that’s why TransLink is encouraging customers to take the following steps to protect themselves and their fellow passengers:

  • Do not take transit when sick.
  • Travel at off-peak times whenever possible.
  • Wear a non-medical mask or face covering while waiting for or taking transit if you’re able to do so.
  • Use bus seating when possible so operators can best estimate the number of customers on board.
  • Allow more time for your commute.

As part of the Safe Operating Action Plan announced last week, CMBC has doubled bus disinfecting sprays to twice per week in addition to daily cleaning schedules. Customers will also notice changes at transit hubs designed to create space where possible, including installing two-metre spaced decals at some bus stops and station entranceways to help guide customers.

Go by Bike Week: what do you need to know about buying an e-bike

Electric bikes have never been more popular than they are now! Interest is e-bikes is booming and for good reason.

More people of different backgrounds and ages and abilities are finding that e-bikes are helping them stay mobile. Whether that’s seniors or people who find conventional biking difficult or impossible or others who just like the technology and don’t mind a little help getting up that last hill.

E-bikes are fun to ride, help to erase hills in our hilly region and can extend the range that the average rider would have considered. Not to mention they’re good for hauling stuff!

The technology has improved by leaps and bounds, improving the quality of manufacturing and bringing the price of entry level e-bikes down to around $2,000 — about one-quarter the annual cost of owning a car.

The diversity of options has rapidly increased, and you’ll find electric options for nearly every flavour of bike – commuter, beach cruiser, folding and cargo bike.

“Electric bicycle” search popularity on Google Trends

What are the electric bike trends for 2020?

Watch this video find how the technology has evolved and what some of the hottest trends are.

What are some of the things you’ll need to keep in mind when you buy an e-bike?

Motor type: the biggest decision you’ll have to make is whether to purchase an electric bike with a hub motor or a mid-drive (or crank) motor. Hub motors sit in the middle of either your front or rear wheel. Mid-drive motors are housed between your pedals on the frame of your bike. Which is better is subject to an ongoing debate as both motor types have distinct pros and cons. To learn more, check out this video by Blue Monkey Bicycles or these motor guides from Bicycling.com, Canberra Electric Bicycles or Electric Bike Report.

Range: how far your battery will last depends on a number of variables, not the least of which are the specs of your e-bike. If you’re hauling cement blocks on a heavy cargo bike, uphill, against the wind, on gravel, in a rainstorm, your battery isn’t likely to last very long. And are you even pedalling? Many e-bikes come with throttle assist, which means no pedalling, but will drain your battery in a flash. To learn more about what affects e-bike range, check out this article by Really Good Ebikes or try your hand at Bosch’s slick range calculator for its mid-drive motors.

Weight: electric bikes come in a diversity of options, with some just a bit heavier than a conventional bike, with others weighing significantly more. When choosing an e-bike, it’s important to consider weight not only for riding, but also for other transport options. If you’re going to use a TransLink bus bike rack, keep in mind there is a 25 kg (55 lb) weight limit – and the battery should be removed. Other carriers also have weight and battery restrictions, including many common bike racks for automobiles, that you’ll want to keep in mind.

With the higher sticker price of e-bikes (hint, check your HUB member benefits for discounts to save a few bucks), always ensure you have access to secure storage. Buy the best lock you can afford (see lock reviews at bikeradar, GearLab, and Wirecutter), and register your bike for free at 529 Garage. Importantly, insurance options for e-bikes are available.

Just get out and try a ride! While buying an e-bike can seem complicated at first with all the technical options, you’ll get a feel for what works through test rides. Just have a clear understanding of how you’ll use the bike, what trade-off you’re willing to make and you’ll be zipping up hills in no time.

Can I convert my conventional bike to an electric?

Yes you can! Two local, popular vendors for conversion kits include EbikeBC and Grin Technologies. There’s also many more vendors online and an extensive DIY community. Just keep in mind that electric bike parts are often expensive and proprietary. Warranty, service, and repair should be top of mind for any purchase – and that goes for buying a used e-bike.

More resources

Reviews: Electric Bike Review has an in-depth guides and videos. Bicycling.com and BikeRadar also offer reviews on a variety of e-bikes.

Buying guides: REI has all the basics on how to choose an electric bike. And electrek’s guide is worth checking out since it’s aimed at first-time purchasers.

Where can I buy an electric bike in Metro Vancouver? Many of your favourite bike retailers will offer electric options alongside conventional models, but there are a retailers that specialize in electric bicycles:

Go By Bike Week: where to start when buying a bike

Bike sales are booming in Metro Vancouver. It’s no surprise.

“[People] need to get out of the house, they need to do something,” John Fialkowski, manager at Bicycle Sports Pacific, is quoted saying in a CBC article. “All of the gyms are closed, they can’t do their normal workout so people are rediscovering cycling.”

His store is among the Metro Vancouver bike shops experiencing daily lineups outside their doors before they open. Visit HUB Cycling’s website to find a bike shop near you that’s open.

What kind of bike should I buy?

The diversity of different bike options has exploded in different years as interest in the transportation mode has increased.

Whether you’re a first-time rider or an experienced bike user, whether you have short or long commutes, whether you want to cruise the beach, get to work, or haul groceries or your kids – there’s an option for you.

This is the most important question you need to consider. Among the types of bikes are are city, hybrid, road, step-through and folding bikes:

Types of bicycles (Photo: City of Boston)

The answer on what you’ll need will be driven by your travel needs and preferences.

How often and where will you be cycling – hills, paved roads or gravel? Do you value performance or comfort? Do aesthetics matter? Will you be cycling long distances, and/or carrying anything? What kind of weather will you be travelling in? What’s your budget?

The answers to these questions will inform the type of bike that will work best for you.

When it comes to bikes, we often must make trade-offs because there is no such thing as the perfect bike for every occasion.

For example, a bike you’d use to just commute to the office would probably look different from a bicycle you’d only use for long-distance and fast spins to Iona Beach. Although there are multipurpose bikes that are good for everything, but not great at anything.

Some good resources to consult include:

  • Bicycle Planet’s The Five Types of Bikes video
  • City of Boston’s Choose a Bike guide
  • MEC’s How to Buy a Bike page

Some other things to pay attention to:

  • Brakes: light and cheap or high-performance, read about brakes at MEC
  • Budget: while some bikes are quite expensive, for most people a few hundred dollars will be all you need. It’s important to weigh the costs of buying and maintaining a bicycle against car ownership, which averages about $10,000 per year per vehicle.
  • Thinking about buying a strictly commuter bike? See this video by Pure Cycles, which outlines the basics.
  • Thinking about buying a cargo bike? Sales of cargo bikes are increasing as more people and households replace their family cars with these stuff-hauling two-wheelers. Check out Momentum Magazine for cargo bike tips, reviews and buying guides.
  • Thinking about buying an electric bike? Electric Bike Review has great guides and videos. REI has all the basics on how to choose an electric bike.

Buying a bike doesn’t need to be expensive

Consider a used bike: Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, or places that sell pre-loved bikes like Our Community Bikes. Always ensure the bike you’re considering purchasing isn’t stolen by checking 529 Garage. For more information, Average Joe Cyclist has a complete guide on how to buy a used bike on Craigslist.

How should you check out a used bike prior to purchasing? For inspection tips, watch this Global Cycling Network video, read this article by Total Women’s Cycling, or use this checklist submitted by a Reddit user.

What about accessories?

Buying a bike is more than just picking up a bicycle, you’re also going to need to accessorize with essentials. Check out HUB’s Commuter Bike Shopping List to identify all the accessories you may need.

Perhaps the single most important accessory out there – a good u-lock! Prepare to shell out at least $50 if not $100 (or more) for peace of mind. Confused about which lock to buy? Check out these pages, which have scientifically tested dozens of locks on the market: bikeradarGearLab, and Wirecutter.

More low-floor community shuttles rolled out

49 new, low-floor community shuttles are now in service!

Exciting news for customers who take the bus on routes that are operated with community shuttles! Our roll out of 49 new “low floor” community shuttles, which began last October, is now complete. This means more customers will benefit from a sloped ramp — instead of stairs — making it easier for all our passengers to board the bus.

What’s new?

  • Low-floor access through the front door using a deployable ramp (no more stairs!)
  • Winch (electric motor with a cable/rope/strap) to help operators guide customers who are using mobility devices into the bus, if necessary
  • Initial field-testing surveys suggest these shuttles are quieter and vibrate less than their predecessors, leading to an improved customer experience
  • New shuttles are ~305mm from the ground while older shuttles (2014 Eldorado’s) are close to 1 foot higher at ~323mm from the ground
  • Higher ceilings in the new shuttles (2.16m in the front, 2.01m in the rear) compared to approximately 1.94m in the front and rear of the Eldorado’s
  • A redesigned interior layout which allows for easier access for mobility customers to enter and move around the shuttle
  • A dedicated HVAC unit (combined heating and air conditioning) which runs quieter and is more powerful than anything currently installed on any CMBC Community Shuttle
  • Larger windows and upgraded emergency exits
  • Improved seat covers that are more comfortable and easier to clean (identical to conventional buses)
  • Interior and exterior LED lights
  • A Vortec 6.0-litre fuel efficient, low-emission gas engine

TransLink first tested out low-floor community shuttles in 2017 when West Vancouver Blue Bus piloted five of them on North Shore routes, including the former C12 Lions Bay/Caulfield and the 251 Queens/Park Royal. After receiving positive feedback from customers, as well as the operations and maintenance teams at Coast Mountain Bus Company, we decided to expand our community shuttle fleet to include more low-floor community shuttles.

Forty-five of the new shuttles are based at Hamilton Transit Centre bus depot and are replacements for buses that have reached end-of-life. Four shuttles from the new order will also be going to West Vancouver Blue Bus, completing their full transition to low-floor shuttles.

COVID-19 transit safety tip

Customers are reminded to consider travelling outside of busy times if they can and to stay home when unwell. We’re recommending customers to wear a face covering when riding transit. Non-medical masks, bandanas, scarves and cloth can all be used. Please maintain physical distance from other passengers and transit staff when possible and follow our physical distancing markers where outlined.

TransLink implements Safe Operating Action Plan

Enhanced cleaning, restored service, masks recommended on public transit

In order to support British Columbia’s Restart Plan, TransLink is introducing new and enhanced measures to make transit service safer and keep it available for those who need it.

Over the next several weeks, customers will notice changes at transit stations and on vehicles designed to improve sanitization, create space where possible, and enhance personal safety.

TransLink’s initiatives, many of which have been taken since the beginning of the pandemic, are now part of a Safe Operating Action Plan. This plan will be implemented in phases to meet the needs of our customers as B.C.’s economy re-starts. Below are the steps customers will see, as well as the actions we are asking them to take.

What we are doing to make transit safer:

Increased Cleaning and Sanitizing

  • Deploying cleaning “pit crews” to disinfect SkyTrain cars at high traffic stations.
  • Increasing bus and SeaBus disinfecting sprays to twice per week in addition to daily cleaning schedules.
  • Maintaining daily cleaning and disinfecting schedules on SkyTrain and West Coast Express cars, as well as HandyDART vehicles.

Managing Physical Space

  • Limiting fare gate access at busy stations to help manage the number of customers on SkyTrain.
  • Installing two-metre spaced decals at some bus stops and station entranceways to help guide customers.

Adding Service to Create More Space

  • Restoring service across all modes to add more capacity, including to routes which were previously reduced. Service will be operating at nearly the same levels as before the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Monitoring passenger loads in order to deploy additional service at times and on routes where physical distancing is more difficult.

What customers can do to enhance their own personal safety and that of fellow passengers:

  • Stay off the system if you are sick.
  • Wear a non-medical mask or face covering while waiting or on-board our vehicles.
  • Travel outside of peak times when possible. This is especially recommended for vulnerable people.
  • Allow more time for your commute.

Quotes

Kevin Desmond, CEO, TransLink –
“Thousands of essential workers have relied on transit every day during the pandemic and many of our customers will return over the coming weeks and months. We’re committed to keep our system running and making it widely available to the people of Metro Vancouver as they go back to work, to school, and to moving around the region. Our Safe Operating Action Plan is meant to make transit as safe as possible and asks our customers to help out by keeping themselves and their fellow passengers safer.”

Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer –
“Public Health and WorkSafeBC are working with transit agencies to ensure all reasonable steps are being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, however, it’s clear that maintaining a safe physical distance may not be possible in every situation. We recommend all passengers consider wearing a face covering while using public transit, especially during those instances where physical distancing may not be possible. We also ask the public to be patient during this challenging transition period and we are grateful to British Columbia’s transit agencies for doing everything possible to protect the public during these changing times.”

From one Metro Vancouver institution to another: a retired bus operator on Army & Navy

I Love Transit - Angus McIntyre

Retired bus operator Angus McIntyre on his first day of work in 1969.

After temporarily closing like other retailers in March to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Canadian department store Army & Navy recently announced their closure is now permanent. The COVID-19 pandemic’s economic impacts proved to be insurmountable. This ends the Canadian institution’s 101-year run that began in 1919 as Canada’s first discount department store.

Just like Woodward’s and Eaton’s before that, Army & Navy holds a special place in Metro Vancouver’s collective hearts.

TransLink’s part of a storied history of transit in Metro Vancouver than spans more than a century — it celebrates its 130th anniversary this June 27. Our buses today and streetcars before that brought generations of families to Army & Navy.

Retired bus operator Angus McIntyre was no different. He steered his way through four different employers during his 41 years as a bus operator. His incredible journey began in 1969 when he went to Army and Navy to purchase a pair of Oxford shoes for his job interview with BC Hydro, which operated transit in Metro Vancouver between 1962 and 1973.

Read his guest post on what Army & Navy meant to him and transit.

Angus McIntyre

By Angus McIntyre

I shopped occasionally at the Army and Navy downtown, when skid road was an area of the city that was a bit rough, but still considered approachable by most people.

When I moved out on my own at age 19, I bought kitchenware at the Army and Navy.

At age 21, I didn’t have a lot of money, and I needed to buy a pair of black Oxford shoes in July 1969 to go for my job interview as a bus driver with B.C. Hydro. The shoe department of the Army & Navy was in a separate building on the south side of Hastings, next to Wosk’s huge appliance store. They had an affordable pair of shoes and I got the job.

Once in training, we were supplied with a changer, a transfer punch and a change fund of $120. An instructor said the best thing for our supplies, including rolls of tokens and coins, was a tackle box from the large basement fishing department at the Army & Navy. I bought a Canadian-made Beach tackle box, which sat on the front dash of the bus next to the bracket for the changer and transfer clips.

I worked the Nanaimo bus in the evening for many years, and one of my regular passengers worked in the shoe department of the Army & Navy. He always dreaded the huge annual shoe sale, which involved bringing in the inventory and dealing with massive crowds that showed up for the sale. When he boarded the bus to head home, he would give a run-down of the day’s events.

I bought a bicycle in 1970, and about a year later met another cyclist during a rainfall. He had on a lightweight, waterproof jacket and pants that he wore over his clothes. I asked where he bought it, and he told me to go to the Army & Navy. I made the purchase, and it lasted for many years.

In the 1970s the Christmas rush downtown was always very busy, and all the department stores filled with shoppers. A visit to the Army and Navy or Woodward’s usually included a snack or a meal at the Only Seafoods at Hastings and Carrall. Over the years I also shopped occasionally at the Army and Navy store in New Westminster, which was in the former Eaton’s building on Columbia Street.

How is TransLink funded?

Many of you inquired over the previous few weeks about how funding at TransLink works. One of the most common questions we received were about fares and if they comprise the main source for our revenue.

We’ve pulled together some details, graphs, and data and bring back an updated version of TransLink Funding 101 for everyone who’s curious about the subject! 

Diversified approach to funding

As the regional transportation agency, we are responsible for more than just public transport. We maintain major roads and five bridges (Knight Street Bridge, Pattullo Bridge, Golden Ears Bridge, Westham Island Bridge, The Canada Line Bike and Pedestrian bridge), work on developing multi-modal travel in the region, collaborate with our partners on the regional cycling strategy and more.

With our minds focused on spearheading an integrated system for the Greater Vancouver region, we also take a diversified approach to our funding. In short, our funding comes from more than one revenue source. This approach helps us weather changes to economy and minimize the impact of service disruptions or loss of ridership during most critical times so we can continue deliver transportation and operational services. However, with COVID-19, this has become more challenging.

SCBCTA Act has all the answers 

The discussion about TransLink’s funding would not be complete without the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Act. This is the provincial legislation that provides formal guidelines for the planning, funding, management and operation of our regional transportation system.

Any changes to the revenues TransLink can collect – or how they can be collected – require many levels of approval, typically from the Province, Mayors’ Council, or some combination of these. They also require a process of extensive consultation with the public and our customers.

Under SCBCTA Act, TransLink develops a 30-year strategy and fully funded, ten-year investment plans (updated at least triennially). While 30-year strategies like Transport 2050, which is under development, provides a bigger picture of how people will live, work, play, and move around the region today and in the future, The 10-Year Investment Plan outlines all the details that determine the funding levels, such as level of services to be provided, major capital projects, estimated revenue, expenditure and borrowing.

What are our main revenue sources?

 

We rely on three main revenue streams that help us deliver our transit and operational services.

Taxation revenue (44%). This is our largest revenue stream. Although transit revenue covers about 51 per cent of our operating costs, taxation revenue helps supplement the remainder of these costs and a lot more. Sources of taxation revenue include fuel and property tax, parking rights and the hydro levy.

Transit revenue (33%). These are all types of payments that we receive from you whenever you use our transit system or programs such as UPass BC and the BC Government Bus Pass. Revenue from other complementary sources, including transit advertising, Park and Ride and revenue from the sale of carbon tax credits also fall under this category.

Government Transfers (19%). The third largest revenue stream comes from federal and provincial government transfers and helps us to fund major capital projects. This includes funds received from the Federal Gas Tax, Canada Line funding, Building Canada Fund, Public Transit Infrastructure Fund and other miscellaneous programs such as the City of  Richmond contributions for Capstan Station.

Other (4%). Other revenue sources include income from investment (interest on sinking funds, capital contributions, debt reserve funds and cash balances) and amortization of deferred concessionaire credit – both of which are not currently available to fund operations.

Figures taken from the 2019 Year-End Financial and Performance Report.

 

What do property taxes have to do with a transportation agency? And other tax details you might be wondering about.

For those who are not aware, the fact that tax revenues, and not fare revenues, comprise the largest revenue source for TransLink may come as a surprise.

TransLink relies on tax revenues, such as fuel tax and property tax, to continue to create transportation and infrastructure improvements. These initiatives, in turn, positively affect property values, increase travelling options for other modes of transportation and contribute to other complimentary benefits that don’t necessarily fall neatly under “transportation” category.

a pie chart showing the breakdown if transit revenue numbers

Transit Revenue Breakdown based on 2019 figures

a pie chart showing the breakdown of tax revenue numbers

Tax Revenue Breakdown based on 2019 figures

Fuel Tax. When people fill up their cars in TransLink’s service region, 18.5 cents of every litre sold goes to TransLink.

Property Tax. A portion of property taxes collected in the region is used to support transit, roads and bridges, walking and cycling infrastructure. The majority of property taxes goes to the Province and local municipalities.

Parking Rights Tax. TransLink currently administers parking sales tax for all off-street parking (hourly, monthly, and annually) within TransLink’s service area in Metro Vancouver.

Hydro Levy. This is a levy that is added to the hydro bill of residences in Metro Vancouver.

DCCs. A fee is collected from new developments to help pay for new transit and transportation investments required to support growth.

What are TransLink’s expenditures?

As you can guess, our expenditures are mainly spent on various transit operations and infrastructure maintenance. Below is the expenditure breakdown for 2019:

  1. Transit Operations. 62 per cent of our budget is spent on transit operations, including rail and bus.
  2. Amortization of tangible capital assets and interest – amortization is a non-cash expense that allocates the cost of our capital assets over the period the assets are expected to be in use. The cost of capital assets is funded through debt and government funding. Interest expense is incurred to service the debt.
  3. Corporate operations. about six per cent of our budget goes to corporate operations, such as information technology costs, planning, finance and human resources
  4. Road and bridges – we spend around six per cent of the annual budget on maintaining roads and five bridges.
  5. Transit police – part of our expenditure goes to maintaining Transit Police operations. This includes police equipment purchases, as well as vehicle and facility maintenance costs.
  6. Corporate one time costs – one per cent.

How has COVID-19 impacted TransLink’s revenues?

The outbreak of the pandemic has significantly impacted our operations over the last two months. With most of us staying in, the transit ridership has declined across all the modes in tandem with lower utilization of parking spaces and decreased consumption of fuel. In turn, those changes have also contributed to considerable reductions to our transit, parking tax and fuel tax revenues.

The announcement made by the provincial government and TransLink on May 8th was therefore highly important in giving reassurance to our customers.  As the province is gradually unrolling the BC’s Restart Plan, TransLink will resume fare collection on buses on June 1. We will be working on a comprehensive solution to address the major financial impacts to the work TransLink does and will continue to call on the federal government for a national solution to the challenges facing transit systems.

 

Public art installation comes to the Stadium–Chinatown Station

Davey's two photographs featuring a fowl and equines at the Stadium-Chinatown Station

Installation by Moyra Davey, Plymouth Rock, 2020 at Stadium-Chinatown SkyTrain Station. Courtesy of the Artist, Courtesy the artist; greengrassi, London; and Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne/New York.

TransLink has been a part of Capture Photography Festival for the last three years. In the past, we partnered up with local artists to bring public art installations to our SkyTrain stations, including Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Nation Basketball  in 2019, Qimash in 2018,  and Precession of the Feminine in 2017.

This year was not an exception, despite the unforeseen circumstances. The Stadium–Chinatown SkyTrain Station now features Plymouth Rock, a series by New York–based Canadian artist Moyra Davey. A set of black-and-white photographs stands out prominently against the urban backdrop of the station.

The pictures were captured during Davey’s visit to the country home of Dalie Giroux, a political theorist in La Pêche, Quebec, during the making of her film i confess (2019).  “I’d been planning to photograph the political theorist Dalie Giroux, but ended up taking pictures of her animals instead,” Davey recollects in her interview with Capture. 

Photo Credit: Capture Photography Festival

If you pay a closer attention to the photographs, you’d notice that the artist focuses her lens on fowl and equines; while providing little indication of her subjects’ context. This technique emphasizes how certain animals stand “outside of history” – “free and wild and untrammeled by the weight of human concerns”.

Photo Credit: Capture Photography Festival

This series is indebted partly to a candid identification with the work of Peter Hujar (1934–87), known for his black-and-white portraits, including those of animals.

Plymouth Rock will be on display at the station until March 2, 2021. Visit Capture Photography Festival website to learn more about the other exhibitions.

 

Province and TransLink to ensure transit service in place to support B.C.’s Restart Plan

TransLink to suspend planned service reductions, rescind employee layoffs

People in Metro Vancouver can rest assured that they will be able to get back to work as the Province of B.C. and TransLink announced their commitment to ensure transit service is available as British Columbians safely restart the province and its economy in the coming weeks and months.

The Province and TransLink are working on a comprehensive solution to address the major financial impacts that TransLink, like many transit agencies across the country, has incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given the progress in these discussions, TransLink and its operating companies will suspend the service reductions planned to begin on May 18 and rescind layoff notices issued to approximately 1,500 employees. The Province and TransLink will also continue to call on the federal government for a national solution to the challenges facing transit systems.

With the release of British Columbia’s Restart Plan, TransLink will review all transit service levels to ensure it is balancing the need to help people get around the region, with the need to maintain and respect enhanced safety protocols. Further service and safety-related announcements will be made in due course.

Quotes

“As we begin to restore the economy through BC’s Restart Plan, services like TransLink will be key to British Columbia’s transition and recovery success.  We remain committed to working with and supporting TransLink through this difficult time and into recovery to find solutions that will benefit Metro Vancouver and British Columbia as a whole and continue to call on the federal government to join us in this support.”
Selina Robinson, Minister for Municipal Affairs and Housing

“Today’s commitment by the Province of B.C. to help TransLink keep transit service running on Day 1 of the BC Restart Plan is an important first step towards returning TransLink to financial sustainability in the long-term. I look forward to working with Minister Robinson and her team through the summer to address the pandemic’s impacts on TransLink finances so that TransLink is equipped to help rebuild our region’s sustainable, innovative economy.”
Jonathan X. Coté, Chair of the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation

“This is another important step forward for re-starting British Columbia and Metro Vancouver’s economy. The transit service provided by TransLink is essential to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in our region. We will be ready to provide safe, reliable transit service as people return to work. We are proud to be partnering with the Province of B.C. to ensure transit service is there as the economy recovers.”
Kevin Desmond, TransLink CEO

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