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Translink Buzzer Blog

A 7 p.m. thank you for frontline workers, plus share your transit story and appreciation with us

Over the past week, every night at 7 p.m., a cheer has been ringing out across Metro Vancouver for healthcare workers and all frontline staff, and we’ve been telling you about it on our social media channels.

We want to give thanks to those on the front lines too — including our transit staff! That’s why for the next little while, you’ll hear a voice announcement onboard all Expo, Millennium and Canada Line trains at 7 p.m., thanking frontline staff and asking customers to cheer for them.

The announcement played for the first time on March 27 and you can watch below. Thanks to the customer that gave a “woo!” I think we can do better, so tonight, let’s hear you cheer even louder!

For us at TransLink and its family of companies, not only are we thankful for the healthcare workers and grocery clerks on the frontlines, we’re also thankful for transit’s frontline staff and all those who work behind the scenes to keep the region moving for essential workers and essential trips like grocery runs.

That’s your bus operators, SkyTrain Attendants, SeaBus Attendants, West Coast Express Attendants, Transit Security officers and Transit Police officers, staff at Customer Information and Compass Customer Service, as well as the operations and maintenance staff — to name a few — for ensuring a reliable transit system for those essential trips.

Are you a customer that’s using transit because you’re an essential worker or need it for essential trips? We want to tell your story about who you are and where you’re taking transit to. Email us at thebuzzer@translink.ca!

Or perhaps you’re just super thankful for transit staff and want to send us your appreciation for them. Snap a photo, write a Haiku, draw a picture, perform a song or whatever you can dream up to show your appreciation! We’ll make sure it share it with our transit staff.

Here’s a selection of what we’ve spotted on social media from you!

View this post on Instagram

Thank you to all the TransLink operaters, workers and maintenance staff. You are making sure us #essentialworkers get to where we need to be. You're essential at @translink and I appreciate all of you. Thank you to all the grocery store workers, pharmacy staff, government workers and child care workers for doing your part. Thank you to those that are staying home. And to those of you who are still out and about for leisure, STOP. GO HOME. #STAYHOME The government needs to do something about all the people still out and about. They are putting us all at risk and belittling the efforts the rest of us are making. #coronaviruscanada is here and if the government needs to step up fines for individuals, I would totally agree with that @justinpjtrudeau @ndpcanada @bcliberals @greenpartybc @conservativebc

A post shared by AVA J 2020 (@thatavaj) on

TransLink limits bus seating to promote physical distancing

Beginning from next week, TransLink will be limiting seating on buses in Metro Vancouver to enhance physical distancing measures.

  • Roughly half the seats on board buses will have signage installed to indicate that those seats are to be left vacant, which will allow for extra space between customers.
  • If the new seated capacity is reached, bus operators will not make any further stops to collect passengers, who will have to wait for the next bus.

Given declining ridership is resulting in far fewer passengers on the system, we don’t expect these changes will impact travel times on the majority of bus routes. That being said, commuters who use busier routes should consider building in additional travel time and consider their need to travel, particularly during rush hours.

This comes in addition to the physical distancing measures currently in place across our system:

  • Customers are being asked to board buses using the rear doors where possible as part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Customers needing mobility assistance can still use the front doors if required.
  • Given we are not able to collect all fares at the rear doors, including cash fares, TransLink is suspending fare collection on the bus system and HandyDART.
  • We have launched an education campaign promoting hygiene and asking customers to allow extra space for fellow passengers when on board transit.
  • Customers will not be able to use seats close to crew on SeaBus vessels.
  • Coast Mountain Bus company is accelerating installation of operator protection barriers on all of its buses.  Nearly 700 buses currently have barriers installed.

Public transit remains crucial for thousands of essential service workers in the region, including those in the healthcare sector. We would like to make sure that those who rely on transit are able to use our system and get to their destinations safely.

HandyDART fare collection suspended to protect operators and promote physical distancing

Beginning March 25, we are suspending fare collection on the HandyDART system. Because HandyDART fare payment can often require close interaction between operators and customers, we’re taking this step to protect operators and promote physical distancing.

Fare collection is already suspended for conventional bus to reduce close contact between operators and customers. Regular fares still apply on SkyTrain, West Coast Express and SeaBus as payment doesn’t involve any person-to-person interaction.

This comes in addition to several other operational changes we’ve made to improve cleanliness and allow for more social distancing on HandyDART:

  • HandyDART vehicles are being cleaned and disinfected every day.
  • HandyDART operators are spacing customers out in vehicles wherever possible, to promote social distancing.
  • Every HandyDART operator is being supplied with a sanitizing kit which includes gloves, as well as hand sanitizer bottles or sanitizing wipes.

Customers are cancelling around 70% of HandyDART trips daily, resulting in significantly fewer customers travelling on each bus, and therefore greater social distancing.

Minor service reductions and in-person customer service centre closures

 

City scene with bus and SkyTrain in the background

Given significant ridership declines on transit due to social distancing measures in Metro Vancouver, TransLink will be making minor service reductions to SeaBus, bus, and SkyTrain services.

  • SeaBus will transition to sailings every 15-minutes during weekday rush hours, instead of every 10-minutes.
  • Bus routes which have excess capacity, including those with empty buses, will have some frequencies reduced.
  • Expo and Millennium Lines will see slight frequency reductions, with first and last train schedules remaining in place.

Passenger levels will be carefully monitored in order to balance lower ridership with the need to maintain social distancing.  Customers should check Trip Planner or Transit Alerts before travelling, to ensure their route is not impacted by service reductions.

TransLink has also enhanced social distancing initiatives with the temporary closure of the Customer Service Centre at Stadium-Chinatown Station and the West Coast Express Customer Service Centre at Waterfront Station.

Customers requiring assistance are still able to use any of the below contact details:

TransLink moves to rear-door boarding on buses to promote social distancing

Beginning March 20, customers will be asked to board buses using the rear doors only where possible. Given TransLink cannot collect cash fares at the rear doors, we are also suspending fare collection on the bus system.

We are taking this step to allow greater social distancing to protect our Coast Mountain Bus Company operators at this time. Customers requiring mobility assistance can continue to use the front doors if needed. Regular fares still apply on other TransLink modes.

TransLink has also implemented the following changes:

  • Customers will not be able to use seats close to operators on certain buses.
  • Accelerating the installation of operator protection barriers on buses.
  • Customers will not be able to use seats close to crew on SeaBus vessels.
  • Launching an education campaign promoting hygiene and asking customers to allow extra space for fellow passengers and transit staff.
  • Increasing cleaning and disinfecting on all modes of transit.

As extraordinary social distancing measures are being put into place across the region, TransLink has also seen a commensurate and significant decline in ridership.  This means there are far fewer passengers using the system, which allows for greater social distancing.

We will keep customers up to date using social media channels, TransLink customer information (604.953.3333) and our website.

Here’s what precautions we’re taking for COVID-19 (coronavirus)

In addition to daily cleaning schedules, we’re spraying the entire bus fleet with a strong disinfectant each week. We’re also cleaning Stations and Bus Loops, SkyTrain, SeaBus, West Coast Express and HandyDART.

What is TransLink’s approach to COVID-19?

TransLink is following the lead of health officials when it comes to our response to COVID-19. We want to remind everyone that we need to work together, and that we need your help to keep the system safe and clean for yourself and those around you.

TransLink is closely monitoring the situation and we remain in contact with regional health authorities and other transit agencies in order to determine best practices and ensure our response is appropriate.

At this time, we have not been directed to make any operational changes, however, we are all taking steps to ensure a high standard of cleanliness is maintained in order to reduce any potential risk of viral spread.

How’s TransLink keeping the transit system clean?

  • Facilities: Stations and bus loops across the TransLink network are being cleaned at least once per day, including a disinfectant wipe down of stair and escalator handrails, elevator buttons, door handles, fare gates, Compass vending machines, garbage handles, benches, seats, emergency cabinets and emergency phones.
  • SkyTrain: All SkyTrain cars are cleaned overnight and receive a disinfectant wipe down of poles, seats, ceilings, handles, windows, sills, and other surfaces within the cars.
  • Bus & SeaBus: The entire Bus and SeaBus fleet are being sprayed using a strong disinfectant each week, which comes in addition to daily cleaning schedules.
  • HandyDART: All HandyDART vehicles are being cleaned and disinfected everyday.
  • West Coast Express: All trains are cleaned and disinfected each evening once they come out of service.

Social Distancing and Protective Measures on Public Transit

  • Consistent with the advice from health officials, if people are feeling unwell, they should stay home and avoid public transit.
  • The best ways to prevent contracting or spreading a contagious illness are frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water, coughing or sneezing into tissues, and staying home if you are sick.
  • Over the past several days we have seen ridership in decline, meaning that transit services have fewer passengers, which allows for more social distancing.
  • We are preventing customers from using some seats on SeaBus to allow social distancing for our operators.
  • On certain buses, customers will not be able to sit in seats which are near bus operators.
  • Coast Mountain Bus company is accelerating installation of operator protection barriers on all of its buses.  Nearly 700 of our buses currently have barriers installed.
  • Every Coast Mountain Bus Company bus and vehicle has been supplied with a sanitization kit, which includes gloves and sanitizing wipes for drivers.

If Public Transit Will Be Shut Down 

  • Transit services are essential for thousands of people who rely on our system to move around the region, including healthcare workers.
  • We follow advice from health officials and have been given no indication that shutting down public transit in Metro Vancouver would be an appropriate course of action at this stage.

What can I do?

According to health experts the best ways to prevent contracting or spreading a contagious illness are frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water, coughing or sneezing into tissues, and staying home if you are sick.

We advise everyone to follow the guidelines set out by the Canadian Public Health Agency:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the washroom and when preparing food. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Dispose of any tissues you have used as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands especially after coming in contact with commonly touched surfaces like handrails, vending machines and poles.
  • Stay home if you are feeling unwell.

Where can I get more information?

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Take part in the international survey and help us improve bus and SkyTrain

We need your help so we can make our services even better! 

Did you know that TransLink is a member of two international benchmarking communities, the International Bus Benchmarking Group (IBBG) and CoMET and NOVA Metro Benchmarking Group?

Both organizations were founded to create an international network for transit agencies to learn best practices, share knowledge and innovate. Each year they also measure the performance of transit systems across the world in their annual surveys.

Join the conversation and share you experience with TransLink’s bus and SkyTrain services in the 2-5 minutes surveys before April 5, 2020.

Share your experience with SkyTrain  service here

Share your experience with bus services here

Vancouver’s SkyTrain (BCRTC) is a part of CoMET and Nova Metro Benchmarking Groups, a global metro benchmarking community comprising of 42 metro systems in 39 international cities. Current members are some of the world’s largest metro systems, including Beijing Subway, Tokyo Metro, and Moscow Metro, as well as medium to small-sized ones, such as Tyne & Wear Metro (Newcastle) and Singapore SMRT.

IBBG features 15 medium and large international bus organizations, including London Buses, MTA New York City Transit (New York), and Vancouver’s Coast Mountain Bus Company.

Check out our interview from 2015 with IBBG associate director Mark Trompet to learn more about their organization:

 

 

Spring service changes to boost North Shore bus service

The new R2 Marine Dr RapidBus launches on April 6.

Beginning April 6, transit on the North Shore is being boosted to provide more frequent and reliable bus service. With the upcoming introduction of the R2 RapidBus along Marine Drive, there will be several additions of new routes and adjustments to existing routes on the North Shore. These changes will allow the North Shore transit network to better integrate with the high frequency RapidBus route.

New North Shore bus routes

R2 Marine Dr (Park Royal/Phibbs Exchange)

  • High frequency RapidBus service with limited stops
  • 8 to 10-minute service every day from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • 15-minute evening service every day from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

222 Willingdon Express

  • Express service with only six stops
  • Serves Phibbs Exchange, the Kootenay Loop, Hastings and Willingdon, Brentwood Town Centre SkyTrain Station, BCIT, and Metrotown
  • 10-minute peak service
  • Former 125 (Patterson/BCIT) customers are encouraged to switch to the new express service

245 Phibbs Exchange/Capilano University

  • 10-minute peak service during summer months
  • More service coming fall 2020 for the new school year

Adjusted North Shore bus routes

240 Lynn Valley/Downtown

  • Terminus extending from Grand Boulevard to Lynn Valley to integrate with the R2 RapidBus

28 Joyce Station/Phibbs Exchange and 130 Metrotown/Phibbs Exchange

  • Terminus moved from Capilano University to Phibbs Exchange

239 Park Royal/Capilano University

  • Service replaced by R2 RapidBus, and increased service on routes 240 and 255

Other major permanent service increases

 31 River District/Metrotown (New Service)

  • Will provide a direct bus connection to the Expo Line for residents of the River District

319 Scott Road Station/Scottsdale Exchange/Newton Exchange

  • Introducing 4 to 8-minute service all day on weekdays until 10:30 p.m.
  • Increasing to 4-minute peak service between Scottsdale Exchange and Scott Road Station

Seasonal changes

Each year, TransLink temporarily increases service during the spring and summer months to key tourist destinations like ferry terminals, parks, and beaches. On April 6, service will increase on route 620 (Bridgeport Station/Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal). In May, service will increase on route 19 (Metrotown/Stanley Park) to reflect growing demand.

In May, service will be temporarily reinstated on the 42 (Alma/Spanish Banks), 150 (White Pine Beach/Coquitlam Central Station), 179 (Buntzen Lake/Coquitlam Central Station), and 236 (Grouse Mountain/Pemberton Heights/Lonsdale Quay) until the fall.

TransLink also temporarily decreases service to post-secondary institutions in these months, as there are less students travelling to and from campus. Service will temporarily reduce on routes 9, 42, 145, 258, and 480.

#IWD2020: Envisioning a fairer world with Tasia

International Women’s Day on March 8 is a dedicated day to acknowledge the work that needs to be done for gender equality around the world. This year’s theme is #EachforEqual. It highlights that working towards equality is something that is the responsibility of every individual.

Part of this work is recognizing and celebrating the achievements of women in our workplaces. We’re proud to share the stories of those that work at TransLink and its family of companies.

Transit was not the first career that sprung to mind for Tasia Balding, the director of capital and major business Projects at BCRTC, which operates the SkyTrain’s Expo and Millennium lines. Instead, Tasia’s childhood dream was to become a judge – with ever so noble intentions.

“As a little kid, I was really concerned with things being fair and equitable,” she recalls. “My uncle was a judge and I thought I could become one to help make things fair for everybody.”

Ensuring fairness stuck with Tasia, even if the plan to become a judge didn’t. A key aspect of Tasia’s management approach is having a team of people who can learn from each other as they strategize and plan for the largest expansions in SkyTrain history.

“Weakness in the workplace can be hard for us to acknowledge. I think it’s important to surround myself with people who are equally talented and who make the team work better together. That’s what helps make my team a success.” Tasia says.

Tasia has taken many opportunities to learn from colleagues in other industries. She has a keen interest in environmental engineering, has spent time in the financial services industry and worked in construction across the continent. All of these experiences have built up Tasia’s skills allowing her to adapt to the transit industry with ease upon her arrival.

Joining TransLink as the manager of the Project Management Office in 2017, Tasia worked with the Infrastructure Management and Engineering division to mature TransLink project management practices. Then in June of 2018, she made the move to SkyTrain, taking a newly created director of capital and major business projects position.

“Coming into this role, there was already an established team, and we are in a period of growth to facilitate delivery of our portfolio,” she adds.

To achieve successful growth, Tasia is a big believer in team bonding and integration. The team needs to compliment one another and understand roles to work well with each other. Fortunately, Tasia is experienced in forming team and bringing people together to work toward common goals.

For the approaching period of rapid growth at BCRTC, Tasia expects her team to be harnessing all their tools and all their expertise together, regardless of gender. She’s also well aware that she is in a role and industry that is male dominated.   “We have a lot of engineers; not many of them are women. We have a lot of tradespeople; not many of them are women,” she emphasizes.

Tasia believes that a part of the discrepancy in female representation in the industry is linked to broader societal factors. She references how we need to encourage more female representation in STEM subjects and the trades from an early age to help drive longer-term systemic change and to stand up for change in work cultures if discriminatory language is used.  “We need to be persistent and work together to address these areas of inequality. If your message doesn’t work on someone the first time, do not give up!”

Perhaps with that conviction Tasia would have made a good judge after all – but she is excited about working on incredible technical and complex modernizations happening at SkyTrain right now.

Author: Alex Jackson

#IWD2020: “I wear a duty belt of tools. But the most important tool is my voice.”

Sergeant Cheryl Simpkin looks after the Community Engagement Unit at Transit Police. Her team works with with clients of the vulnerable sector and persons dealing with mental health problems.

International Women’s Day on March 8 is a dedicated day to acknowledge the work that needs to be done for gender equality around the world. This year’s theme is #EachforEqual. It highlights that working towards equality is something that is the responsibility of every individual.

Part of this work is recognizing and celebrating the achievements of women in our workplaces. We’re proud to share the stories of those that work at TransLink and its family of companies.

Sergeant Cheryl Simpkin has worked in law enforcement and community policing for over 18 years. Under her leadership, the Community Engagement Team at the Metro Vancouver Transit Police connects with diverse communities across six Community Service Areas within Metro Vancouver, and works with clients from vulnerable backgrounds.

A member of the Vuntut Gwitchen First Nation, Cheryl grew up in the Lower Mainland and, as an Indigenous woman, faced life experiences and challenges that helped her develop a life philosophy which she confidently brings into her current job.

“I am a strong Indigenous woman. When various difficult things happen in your life, you need to learn how to cope with that. And as a young person, I became a leader very quickly. I learned how to take a leadership role, how to manage crisis, and how to deal with difficult situations.”

The inspiration to join the police force came when Cheryl was only seven years old. While attending a Remembrance Day Ceremony with her parents, she saw a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. “I had no idea who he was, so I asked my mum. I knew instantly that’s what I’m going to do when I get older.”

Fast forward several years, Cheryl was studying criminology at the Native Education Center at Douglas College. She applied to the Stl’atl’imx Tribal Police, the only Tribal Police Service in British Columbia, to work with them as a part of her first year practicum. She appreciated their philosophy of community policing and accepted a permanent full-time position.

Despite the need to relocate to the rural area based in Mount Currie and Lillooet, Cheryl was pleased to be a female police officer working for the community.

The job was very challenging and extremely rewarding. She worked closely with the community and admired the cultural awareness and their focus on addressing challenges in the community.

The time in Mount Currie also taught her about the power of her voice. It also shaped her approach in meeting people at their point of need, while staying firm in her beliefs. As Cheryl explains:

“It’s all about understanding someone’s situation and treating people with respect and dignity, whether it’s a small child or a family that is dealing with crisis. Sometimes it’s also about telling the difficult truth. Back then I used to wear a duty belt full of tools, but I realized that my most important tool is my voice.”


Cheryl brings this cultural sensitivity to her current role at Transit Police.

Sergeant Simpkin supports her team of eight strong independent members, whom she describes as “absolute shining stars,” as they engage with boots on the ground to tackle issues of homelessness, addiction and mental health, and Indigenous relations. Their goal is to break barriers to address decriminalization and stigma. This enables the team to reach out to clients on a more personal level and take time to understand their needs:

“I had situations when I called up a client’s physicians to make sure they are taken care of, whether it was appropriate medication changes or just a simple appointment.”

What it means to be a woman in law-enforcement?

When asked about this year’s International Women’s Day celebration, Cheryl shared some of her thoughts:

Women have a huge part to play in policing. We need to be the leaders in our fields and bring our unique abilities and strengths to the job we do. For me, at least, it was always about finding ways in which we can all work together to build resources and focus on engagement rather than criminalization. It’s important we create a foundation for trust that helps people to see the police beyond our uniform and allows us to meet each other at the point of our needs.”

Cheryl is appreciative of the support she receives from Transit Police and the diversity that her department offers. If you are ever interested in meeting the amazing women that work in policing, give Cheryl a shout!

Cheryl’s team is also active on social media and documents their everyday work with the community.You can follow them here:

Sergeant Cheryl Simpkin https://twitter.com/SgtCSimpkin

Constable Gwen Ranquist https://twitter.com/CstGRanquist

Constable Julien Ponsioen https://twitter.com/CstJPonsioen

Constable Kirk Rattray https://twitter.com/CstKRattray

Constable Bruce Shipley https://twitter.com/CstBShipley

Constable Justin Biggs https://twitter.com/CstJBiggs

Constable Nicole Dennis https://twitter.com/CstNDennis

Constable Darren Chua https://www.instagram.com/cstdchua/?hl=en

River District and North Shore Express to Metrotown bus routes approved

The new 31 and 222 bus routes start operating on April 6, 2020.

Two new major bus routes have been approved to serve residents in Vancouver’s East Fraser Lands (the River District), the North Shore, and Burnaby. Beginning April 6, the new services will connect North Shore and River District residents directly to the SkyTrain at Metrotown Station.

New routes:

31 River District/Metrotown – A new service operating between Metrotown Station and the River District. This new route will serve the River District’s growing levels of residential and commercial development by providing a direct bus connection to SkyTrain.

222 Willingdon Express – This new route provides an express service connecting Phibbs Exchange in North Vancouver to Metrotown in Burnaby via Willingdon Avenue. This will be a limited-stop service with only six stops on the entire route. It will serve key transit hubs such as Phibbs Exchange, the Kootenay Bus Loop, Brentwood Town Centre SkyTrain Station, BCIT, and Metrotown. The demand for this route was identified as part of the Integrated North Shore Transportation Planning Project (INSTPP).

Both routes were accepted as part of the 2019 Transit Network Review – which consults on new ways to optimize the transit system for customers. The full Transit Network Review consulted on proposed changes to 12 routes last year, and these are the first two to have their proposals implemented. These and other transit expansion projects are funded through the Mayors’ 10-Year Vision.

Engagement results:

In total, there were 4,000 surveys completed for the two new routes. Nearly 80 per cent of respondents said they would be likely to use the Willingdon Express, and two-thirds of respondents said they would be likely to use the River District service.

More information:

Transit Network Review

#IWD2020: Qiu-ing up for success

Qiu Li is an Electrical Maintenance Engineer at Coast Mountain Bus Company. Her role involves fleet technical support and focuses on the the technology systems affecting the fleet, as well as working with battery-electric buses and on-board technologies.

International Women’s Day on March 8 is a dedicated day to acknowledge the work that needs to be done for gender equality around the world. This year’s theme is #EachforEqual. It highlights that working towards equality is something that is the responsibility of every individual.

Part of this work is recognizing and celebrating the achievements of women in our workplaces. We’re proud to share the stories of those that work at TransLink and its family of companies. 

Most semesters, Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC)’s Maintenance Engineering team gets some new co-op students. Women filling these positions have been few and far between.

Women are underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and computer science (STEM) fields at universities.

According to Statistics Canada, 44 per cent of first-year university students aged 19 or less enrolled in STEM programs were women, while women made up more than 64 per cent of students in other fields.

That’s why Qiu Li (pronounced q), an electrical maintenance engineer with CMBC, relishes the opportunity to mentor co-op students — both men and women — eager to apply their classroom learning to the real world.

A typical work day for Qiu runs the gamut.

There’s communicating with maintenance staff and vendor representatives to resolve fleet technical issues and providing design and functional inputs for new buses and onboard technologies. There’s also working with technicians to prototype new systems to better the fleet.

One of the projects she is involved in is TransLink’s battery-electric bus pilot project.

After overseeing the successful delivery of the battery-electric buses, she carved out a larger role for herself. She’s now looking after the day-to-day health of the buses and the chargers.

While doing all this, she’s helping to train and expose the co-op students to the environment they’re working in, guiding them through their learning process.

They have a good mentor to look up to, showing them the value of taking initiative.

Qiu has earned the respect of her peers for stepping up as an interim technical lead, continuing to push all the vendors to resolve issues, educating the operations department on how to improve charging success, and working with the maintenance department to improve bus performance.

Although universities have made headway in recent years to close the gender gap in STEM fields. The fact remains, Qiu is a woman in engineering — a field dominated by men — but that doesn’t define her in the office.

“Just because I work in a more male-dominated environment, I don’t feel like I have to be more assertive,” says Qiu, “but from my perspective and just the way I usually deal with people, I find the best way is to treat people with respect.”

Reflecting on this year’s International Women’s Day theme, #EachforEqual, Qiu says it means seeing people as people.

She would rather people confront issues that arise from personality or situation conflict, rather than singling out someone based on gender.

“I think it’s harder for people who have grown in environments where they are not exposed to diversity and different cultures,” says Qiu.

“But I think I’ve been pretty lucky in my life that I’ve always grown up in a very diverse cultural environment and a lot of people I interact with came from that background.”

Over the years, Qiu has also learned two important things.

First, if you treat people with respect and as equals, they reciprocate.

And second, she’s figured out what her favourite compliment in the office is – “they just see me as me with my personality traits, and they don’t treat me anything more or less just because I’m female.”

#IWD2020: A road less traveled to a rewarding career as a leader

Maria Su is TransLink’s director of research and analytics. Her team uses complex data to produce sophisticated solutions that resolve business challenges and improve the customer experience.

International Women’s Day on March 8 is a dedicated day to acknowledge the work that needs to be done for gender equality around the world. This year’s theme is #EachforEqual. It highlights that working towards equality is something that is the responsibility of every individual.

Part of this work is recognizing and celebrating the achievements of women in our workplaces. We’re proud to share the stories of those that work at TransLink and its family of companies. 

In 1996, Maria Su was hired as a transportation engineer on the team that was tasked with creating Metro Vancouver’s first regional transportation authority, which would later be known as TransLink.

She explains that at that time, she was perfectly content pursuing a strictly technical career – she went to engineering school after all, not business school. She had no desire to manage budgets, programs or people.

Today, Maria serves as TransLink’s director of research and analytics, overseeing a team of 24 analytical and planning specialists and dozens of advanced programs.

Despite her preconceived notions of what a leadership role involved, Maria is confident that this detour towards management has provided more career fulfillment than she could have ever imagined:

“When I was asked to lead this team in 2012, I wasn’t sure I could do it – I was working on policy planning at the time. I didn’t do computer modelling or particularly enjoy managing a big team of people, but life has a way of throwing you unexpected twists. Until you take a risk and try something new, you have no way of knowing if you’re going to like it. But I am so glad I did. Building this team from the ground up has been immensely rewarding.”

Part of the Research and Analytics Team’s job is to use complex data to produce sophisticated solutions that resolve business challenges and improve the customer experience.

One recent example is the team’s collaboration with our Business Technology Services division on the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to train 18,000 models to provide customers with highly reliable bus departure time estimates.

The result is a 74 per cent improvement in bus departure predictions, with riders spending 50 per cent less time waiting. Microsoft recently featured this innovative work on their website.

“I tell my team that no idea is crazy but should always be useful. We have many different viewpoints and very robust debates. It’s okay that we don’t all sing from the same song sheet.”

Maria explains that her role is to create an environment that enables her team to do their jobs as best as they can. She is fiercely passionate about making it as safe, equal and inclusive as possible:

“I have the most brilliant mosaic of individuals on my team. I have engineers, mathematicians, data scientists, market researchers, business professionals, planners, economists and geographers from all different backgrounds – this variation is what makes us strong. It helps us design efficient, well-rounded solutions that benefit our customers and advance regional goals.”

Reflecting on the theme of An Equal World is an Enabled World for International Women’s Day 2020, Maria believes there are things that we can all do to help accelerate equality, especially in the workplace:

  • Don’t limit or label yourself – “It’s one thing for others to label you, but it’s another to label yourself. Don’t create barriers for yourself or let your label be your excuse. If you limit yourself, you’ve already done the most damage.”
  • Advocate for those who think differently – “It takes courage to champion the people and ideas that go against popular thinking. I endeavour to promote and defend those who think independently and critically. They are often the ones with the most innovative solutions.”
  • Find something you’re passionate about and pursue it relentlessly – “Find your niche and become the best at it. With conviction, passion and excellence, you’ll prevail, regardless of obstacles.”
  • Respect one another – “Deep down, I view my team members as my equals, if not my superiors. They do things that I can’t do. They have amazing specialized skills and can deal with incredibly complex ideas and several billion lines of data without flinching. I trust them wholeheartedly and have a lot of respect for each of them.”

Looking to the future of work, Maria recommends that anyone looking for an inclusive and dynamic career consider analytics:

“By definition, data is ageless, genderless and colourless. It’s the field of the future.”

Author: Rebecca Abel

Enter to win transit passes and tickets to watch the HSBC Canada Sevens on March 7 and 8!

Canada Sevens

HSBC Canada Sevens isn’t just a celebration of sport, it’s the ultimate costume party! Annually, fans don their ‘fanciest’ attire from chicken to egg and everything in between. Come for the costumes, stay for the game!

This year, we’ve teamed up with HSBC Canada Sevens to give away a pair of general admission tournament passes (approximate value of $250) for March 7 and 8! We’ll also include four adult Compass Tickets so you can take transit to-and-from the games.

How to enter for a chance to win:

  • Comment below telling us who you’d take with you to the watch the HSBC Canada Sevens and how you’d get there using transit. (1 entry)
  • Like or follow TransLink and HSBC Canada Sevens on Facebook, and leave a comment below letting us know you did. (1 entry)
  • Follow @TransLink and @CanadaSevens on Instagram, like this post, and tag three friends. (1 entry)
  • Follow @TransLink and @CanadaSevens on Twitter, and tweet or retweet the following message. (1 entry)

    Win a pair of tickets to watch the #Canada7s in #Vancouver on Mar. 7-8! RT and follow @TransLink and @CanadaSevens to enter for a chance to win. https://buzzer.translink.ca/?p=58451

This means if you do all four actions, you’ll have four chances to win. Don’t forget to make sure your social media accounts are public so we can see your entry!

Grab the official contest terms and conditions here, and the quick lowdown here:

  • This contest is for two tickets to watch the HSBC Canada Sevens.
  • All entries must be received by noon on Thursday, March 5, 2020. Late entries will not be considered.
  • One entry per method, per day, per person — that means you can enter up to four times in total for this giveaway.
  • Winner will be contacted via their method of entry.

Take transit to the HSBC Canada Sevens

HSBC Canada Sevens are played at BC Place Stadium, conveniently located steps away from Stadium–Chinatown Station, a stop on SkyTrain’s Expo Line. Use our Trip Planner to find your transit route!

New to taking transit?

Watch the video below, or read our Rider Guide, and check out Transit 101!

A gold medal for transit during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics

February 28, 2020 marks the 10-year anniversary of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics’ final day of competition and the closing ceremonies. Of course, it’s also the anniversary of the “golden goal” scored by hockey player Sidney Crosby to win Canada the gold medal in men’s hockey.

Here’s an essay by Mohak Sood with The Buzzer blog on what the games meant for transit and transportation in Metro Vancouver. 

It’s winter. It’s February. It’s really not that cold, and it’s definitely not snowing much.  The coldest it got to this month was about -1 degrees Celsius.

It’s basically almost spring. Not ideal, really.

Anyways, you’ve got plans – you’re headed downtown.

You rip out a FareSaver from your booklet and head on down to see the Olympic Cauldron at Jack Poole Plaza, near the Vancouver Convention Centre.

But it’s guarded by a chain link fence, so it’s kind of hard to see.

Still, you hang around long enough to try and get a good look, and eventually you do. You see the glass that looks like ice. You see the cauldron, towering over you, all 30-plus feet of it. And then you see it. The fire. The flame. It’s lit.

And then you realize – it really isn’t that cold, like, at all. At the very least, it doesn’t feel anywhere close to cold enough. After all, it is the Winter Olympics!

You know just by simply thinking about Vancouver back in 2010, it feels like travelling through a time machine. Where does the time go!?

It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years since the Vancouver 2010 games, because, well, a lot has changed since then.

Did you know there was no Instagram during the 2010 Olympics? It didn’t launch until 2012. And FareSavers? Does anyone even remember those? It’s the Compass Card now.

The words “it’s lit” has taken on a whole new meaning. In 2010, it meant you were talking about turning on a light, lighting a candle or even the Olympic Cauldron. But now? Maybe ask a teenager.

Although times have changed since we hosted the Winter Olympics ten years ago, its impact continues to reverberate, especially when it comes to transit ridership.

During the 17-day long Olympics, there were 26 million boardings on all services. That’s an average of 1.58 million boardings per day, 40 per cent higher than the average weekday back in 2010.

“There was so many articles and information afterwards that the transportation during the 2010 Olympics was one of the best that [the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games] has ever seen,” says Ray Hamilton, Coast Mountain Bus Company’s manager of service analysis.

And we made sure we were ready for all the travel – before the games kicked off. TransLink launched a large-scale expansion plan that saw not only the arrival of SkyTrain’s Canada Line, but also 180 new diesel-hybrid buses, 48 new SkyTrain cars and a 400-passenger SeaBus.

During the games, TransLink saw a record high in use of public transit and that helped redefine our regions commuting habits. Regional mass transit saw a whopping 50 per cent increase during and after the Games!

“The numbers of riders, it didn’t drop back down to pre-Olympic levels. I think there were lots of people who realized through the Olympic experience that transit was a pretty viable option for getting around the Lower Mainland,” says Constable Jason White with Transit Police.

TransLink continues to win the gold medal in transit ridership, surpassing more than 437 million boardings in 2018 to set an all-time high for Metro Vancouver.

Ridership continues to climb on the Canada Line, which connects people from Vancouver International Airport to downtown Vancouver. It hit an all-time high in 2018 for annual ridership, including 39.65 million boardings in October 2018 alone, surpassing the one-month ridership record of 39.2 million set back during the Olympics.

Recognizing our ridership growth between 2016-2018 and excellence in a range of areas, the American Public Transportation Association named TransLink the Transit System of the Year for 2019.

But perhaps most importantly, all the new additions to TransLink’s fleet were easier on the environment with reduced fuel consumption and lower emissions.

The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics was a truly moment in time that brought the city, the province, and the country together.

We saw freestyle skier Alexandre Bilodeau become the first Canadian to win gold at an Olympic games held in Canada. We also saw the Canadian women’s hockey team shut out the Americans for gold and of course, hockey player Sidney Crosby’s “golden goal” in men’s hockey to end the magical tournament.

Everyone felt more connected during that time and because of the Olympics, everyone truly was.

Transit in Metro Vancouver has continue to transform 10 years later, so let’s take a look at selection of what we’ve accomplished since 2010: