Buzzer logo

TransLink news, commentary, and behind-the-scenes stories.

What’s with the cowbell noise before the bus announcements?

What’s with the cowbell noise before the bus announcements?

A real cowbell! Sort of sounds like the new alert tone on the buses! (Photo by <a href=http://www.flickr.com/photos/ewwhite/2687179962/>ewwhite</a>.)
A real cowbell! Sort of sounds like the new alert tone on the buses! (Photo by ewwhite.)

Hey, there’s a new alert tone on the buses before the stop announcements!

It sounds kind of like a cowbell—-although others have also said that it sounds like a cowbell with a sock stuffed inside, a trolley ding, a Chinese musical instrument, dropping a pipe on a ground, or somebody hitting a giant bell.

Well, the tone change isn’t just because we have a fever for more cowbell.

Coast Mountain Bus Company has changed the sound because the previous tone sounded too much like the stop request tone. Bus operators and passengers raised the concern, as some people weren’t sure if the stop had been requested or not.

With the new alert tone, the bus company tried to pick a sound that was distinctive but not offensive, and one that accomplished the objective of getting passengers’ attention to the coming announcement.

If you have any questions or concerns about the new tone, please feel free to contact Customer Relations — your feedback is how we found out the old tone was too similar to the stop request in the first place!

And check out this previous Buzzer blog post for more about our annunciator system works.

Edit: CMBC has confirmed that it’s a trolley (streetcar) bell sound, not a cowbell.