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The reindeer buses are out and about

Santa and his friends with CMBC's reindeer bus!

Santa and his friends with CMBC's reindeer bus!

Here’s one of our two reindeer buses, who have been out on the road spreading Christmas cheer this week!

Our reindeer bus and reindeer community shuttle have been travelling around Vancouver, surprising passengers with a little Christmas fun on their regular routes. (There’s no telling where they’ll be –operators have to request the reindeer bus each day, and it’s popular!) The reindeer were also in a number of Christmas parades this year, including the Rogers Santa Claus parade and the Hyack parade.

But the chief job of the reindeer is delivering toys to charity every year. On Dec. 17 and 18, the buses will be loaded up with toys collected by TransLink and its subsidiaries, and the reindeers deliver them to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau. (That’s 46,000 toys and $37,000 so far, and that doesn’t include 2008!)

The reindeer community shuttle!

The reindeer community shuttle!

The reindeer buses have been in action for over 20 years now–they were created just a few years after our Toys for Tots program launched in 1987. “It’s a novelty, and a nice thing for the public to see TransLink and their employees giving back a bit,” said Perley Crandlemire, a Coast Mountain operator training instructor who helped launch the toy program back in 1987.

The reindeer costume hasn’t stayed the same over the years, though. About five years ago, the reindeer got a facelift. John Timms, who works in Corporate Communications for the Coast Mountain Bus Company, replaced the nose with a red rubber boat bumper and got the antlers rebuilt in sturdy foam. The original nose and antlers were made of fibreglass, and after running into low branches on roads like Beach Avenue, they often needed repairs, said John.

So watch out for the reindeer buses on the road—they will be out on the roads all the way until New Year!


  • By Indi Kaur Sidhu, December 14, 2008 @ 4:07 pm

    Well Done!! THANX for everything. also just wondering? when the turnstiles are in place what about moms with strollers/ie travel systems we usually get ‘on deck’ via the elevators, let us know?! I can put my kid in snugli but will be able to carry only a few purchases and the kid’s bag. which means OK I usually get a day pass, anyway on shopping day but several trips will be needed and I’ve got lotsa time (full time/at home mom) but what about the others, not so lucky?!

  • By George P., December 15, 2008 @ 1:48 am

    Oh, but there are more parts to the story about the reindeer’s costume…

    Back in 1996, somebody was driving the bus around OTC and inadvertently rammed an “immoveable object” with the nose (I believe the source of this info is Duane Cooke). This resulted in some damage to the front of the bus!

    Now, notice how the antlers on the reindeer bus are angled INWARD… it wasn’t always that way! Until about 2004 or 2005, they were angled outward, until one of them had an argument with a street lamp. It was decided from there on in that the antlers should point inwards so as not to jut out.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, December 15, 2008 @ 8:57 am

    George, thanks for the extras on the reindeer story!

    Indi: Thanks for your note too. I’m not exactly sure what you’re referring to though. We don’t have any current plans to install turnstiles on the system, so we shouldn’t have any issues with strollers and turnstiles in the near future.

  • By Jim-Bob, December 15, 2008 @ 9:03 pm

    I thought turnstiles were going to be installed at skytrain stations?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, December 16, 2008 @ 9:25 am

    Hi Jim-Bob:

    No, there’s no current plans to install them in the stations. Which doesn’t mean there won’t ever be some kind of turnstiles there — eventually, when we put in smart card technology system wide (like the Oyster card in London or the Octopus card in HK), some kind of gating technology will have to be put into the stations. But as far as I know, the smart card stuff is still in development and will not be ready until a few years from now. So, there’s no concrete and current plans to put turnstiles in stations right now.

  • By LisaB, December 16, 2008 @ 9:41 am

    LOVE the reindeer buses!

  • By Sungsu, December 16, 2008 @ 10:10 am


    Smart cards do not necessarily require gates or turnstiles. The Docklands Light Railway in London is part of the Oyster system, and you just swipe in and out at the readers at the station entrances.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, December 16, 2008 @ 10:21 am

    Thanks Sungsu. Yes you are definitely right, gating is not necessarily required for a smartcard system. So yes, while there is some discussion of gating related to the smartcard issue, you’re right that it is not guaranteed that smartcards automatically need turnstiles to function.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, December 16, 2008 @ 10:28 am

    One more thing: I don’t want to give the impression that gates are likely or definitely going to be installed for the smartcard system. I’ve just heard talk around that idea in relation to the smartcard. I really don’t know what type of swipe mechanism might actually come to fruition once the smartcard program actually gets up and running!

  • By Andrew Joyce, March 4, 2009 @ 12:32 pm

    I’ve been helping out with the Surrey transit centers annual Variety club light tour for special kids for the past 3 years and Rick (whose in the top picture) always brings the rudi-bus out to Surrey for the tour. This year I got to plan the tour route and ride on the rudi-bus guiding the Rick and the 3 buses behind us around to a bunch of the nice light displays in Surrey. It was interesting to see the reaction from people as they watched 4 big buses go around on some back roads, where they would not normally see a transit bus, led by a bus with a giant flashing red nose.

Other Links to this Post

  1. The Buzzer blog » The 2010 reindeer bus and community shuttle — December 8, 2010 @ 12:25 pm

  2. The Buzzer blog » The 2011 ReindeerBus — December 15, 2011 @ 3:24 pm

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