Note: I’m still on holiday until Jan. 5. This post was scheduled to launch before I left!
Watch out for an articulated trolley wrapped in an afghan print travelling on the #3 Main route on Monday. It’s the first sign of a Main Street public art program that’s been in the making for over three years.
This program is called 88 BLOCKS • Art on Main, and it’s part of the Main Street Urban Transportation Showcase project, an innovative transportation improvement program launched in 2004 and jointly funded by Transport Canada (through the Urban Transportation Showcase Program), TransLink and the City of Vancouver. (Check out the official Main Street Showcase page  for more on the project.)
The public art is just one of many measures in a broad package of improvements being installed to give people a better transportation experience on Main Street.
Urban design, new transit technology, and a fleet of new buses all contribute to a more efficient transit system and make Main Street more welcoming for pedestrians and transit riders, in turn serving the ultimate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
So far, the project has brought Main Street some new street furniture, sidewalk improvements, and the new articulated trolleys on the #3 route. In the coming months the busiest stops on the route will be fitted with next-bus information and on-bus technology will ‘talk’ with traffic signals to help keep the buses on time.
For the public art program, an artist collective called Instant Coffee  is behind the afghan design on the bus, as well as a few more art works that will also crop up on Main Street.
One of those upcoming works is a trolley containing 20 artworks in place of its interior ads, commissioned from artists from North, Central and South America and Europe. You’ll be able to vote for your favourite piece of artwork at Instant Coffee’s website  or through text messaging, and the winning card will be blown up and put on the outside of a third trolley in January.
Another Instant Coffee work is a series of brightly-coloured sandwich boards bearing hand-painted slogans permanently installed up and down Main Street.
And in addition to the Instant Coffee installation, 88 BLOCKS will present four more art installations over the next three years, wrapping up by April 2011.