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Friday fun post: share your top transit moments of the decade

If you like, skip to the end of this post to put in your top transit moments of the decade.

Last week: do you usually talk to your transit operator?

Last week’s fun post asked if you usually talked to your transit operator.

And after 114 votes, most people (71%) said they didn’t speak to the operator unless they were spoken to first. Just 29% said they did try to talk to the operator unprompted.

In the comments, many said their interactions with operators were quite limited: usually a “hello” when boarding and a “thank you” when departing. There was some concern that talking to drivers could distract them from driving. Here’s ;):

I love the opportunity to start conversations with strangers every chance I get. I find drivers to be generally friendly and it’s an opportunity for driver/passengers to share issues (traffic? why a bus was delayed?) in a healthy way.
However I always wonder when chatting with operators is it “appropriate” comparing to the cellphone driving controversy. Would my driver be distracted? Am I endangering others on the bus? I believe in Hong Kong, they have signs stating it’s illegal to hold conversations with drivers. I guess it’s far safer for me to hold my transit conversations here on this blog with my Blackberry.

But transit operator Brandon mentioned a way to mitigate that issue:

As a transit operator, I always enjoy talking to my passengers when the chance arises. Some like to talk about the service, some like to ask about the bus itself and some just like to tell a story. If I find that I am getting to distracted at a certain time, I will just nicely let the person know that I need to concentrate on the driving and they appreciate that. I also find it amazing how much the public know about the workings of transit.

Sean, however, had his own take on talking to operators.

I ride an average of 15 bus trips a week and my goal is to make at least one of them laugh at some point in my trip. Having said that I rarely strike up arbitrary conversation and seldom sit on the front half of the bus, which makes my task more difficult but usually can crack a smile with my one-liners.

And CJ highly recommended chatting with your driver:

And believe me. Its a good thing to talk to ur drivers. I remember when the comm shuttles first rolled out into White Rock. All the drivers were super friendly and nice to talk to. You get to know a lot from the drivers, and know a lot of the inner workings of translink.(Hence my knowledge of the system. Wouldn’t have known without those guys.). While most of the original 12 have gone on to other endevors (Head office, and conventional). Some remain on the comm shuttles like Sue and Dave. Their friendliness and attitude is what makes me like the system the most. There’s mike, who currently runs out of RMD doing conventional, that sometimes comes into my work when he has time. And there’s two other ladies that used to run out here, but their names escape me…so sorry ladies if u read this.

As always, check out the past comments to read everyone’s responses!

This week: what are your top transit moments of the decade?

As we come to the end of 2009, the media has been churning out a billion lists highlighting the top events/items/websites etc of the decade. So I thought we could do the same thing here, only with transit!

I’m going to start with my top five here, but feel free to name more or fewer moments if that’s what your heart desires. Any criteria will do, as well. (Also, if your comment has a link, the spam filter will hold your comment until I moderate it. So be creative with how you put your link in, since I’d rather your comment go up fast than wait for me!)

Jhen’s Five Most Memorable Transit Moments of the Decade

A Brussels train station.

A Brussels train station.

5. Brussels 2008

Brussels has a nice little 70s-style LRT system, but this item is more about the stations than the trains. What’s memorable is that Brussels plays music in all the stations, but there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the song choices. I remember getting on at one station playing “Conga” by Gloria Estefan, then exiting into another station playing epic classical music. Hilarious.

A new Edmonton LRT station.

A new Edmonton LRT station.

4. Edmonton 2009
My hometown is just now expanding its LRT system, and while I’m no longer living there, it’s really nice to see the network take shape. For so long it only went to a quarter of the city – now it’s going to go everywhere! And I finally got a chance to ride the newest extension to the line in June this year.

3. Chicago 2009

Well, you know about this one: six hours, 10 trains, 11 trips on Chicago’s fabulously large train network.

The tube on July 8, 2005.

The tube on July 8, 2005.

2. London, UK 2005

Perhaps an odd one to bring up, but it’s truly a transit moment I will never forget. I was an intern at the CBC in London, and happened to be on the system when the bombs went off on July 7 (nowhere near my stop, though). It was a sad, strange, and shocking moment to be present for. I took the train the next day still, though few passengers joined me.

1. Vancouver 2009

And last, I must say the Canada Line’s debut this year has been my favourite transit ride of the decade. The launch day of our region’s brand new transit line was filled with such enormous excitement and energy!


  • By ;-), December 18, 2009 @ 8:23 pm

    OK for myself, three things stuck in my mind. In January, we had that extended winter. It was amazing how much transit I was used in that period when my car was stuck for 6 weeks in heavy sidestreet snow unable to be used.

    Later in the summer, Greater Vancouver’s largest car free event…. the Golden Ears Bridge opening. I think a lot of people discovered where Langley, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows was for the first time.

    Like Jhenifer said, the Canada Line. I got real misty-eyed after attending countless forums and debates about why a grade separated would be successful, as well as, badly needed. Like the Golden Ears bridge opening, it was great to see so much Translink project support and interest, even after the free day was over.

    For 2010, other than the Olympics, I’ll be looking forward to real-time transit schedules on my Blackberry.

  • By ;-), December 18, 2009 @ 8:39 pm

    Ooops, just reread the title, it’s for the decade, not just 2009.

    -introduction of 98BLine and 491 (bidirectional service) between Richmond and Vancouver.
    -articulating trolleys on my favourite routes. Very important for seating and capacity for able-bodied riders, when new low-floor buses restricted people to the last 1/3 of the bus. Regrettably this was also the era of wider doors for people to stand and block people from exiting (should we call them the human turnstyle?).
    -m.translink on my Blackberry
    -Hey this Blog has to be up there!

  • By cree, December 19, 2009 @ 2:43 am

    2002: Full introduction of the Millennium line
    ~back then I was an avid transit fan in high school, I think I still have the pins and system maps that were given out in its inauguration.

    2006: Pilot Trolley 2101 makes its rounds around Vancouver. I remember chasing after it, finding which route it’s on, just to board it. A sign of things to come that we were finally getting a well needed upgrade over those aging outdated trolleys.

    Tokyo 2007/Japan 2008-09: My first extensive look at transit outside Vancouver (as well my first trip outside North America). When you look at 100+ years of rail in Japan take shape to what it is today, I really hope Vancouver can get to something like that someday. I love the Tokyo Metro.

    Second time around is on a suburban and countryside level. Stations are determined are at max 3 per city and spaced between many towns. It showed a great amount of information regards to distance-related fares.

    Oh and the Jugo Juice Line; I guess.

  • By daniel, December 19, 2009 @ 9:08 am

    ill start this from 5 then to 1. 5)going on my first bus tour 4)discovering the new gen skytrain cars 3)almost getting thrown to the front of the bus while making a sudden turn on rt 28 2)the big canada line opening 1)my first time reading the buzzer!

  • By rowbat, December 19, 2009 @ 1:16 pm

    4 cheers for the Canada Line. This is the first Skytrain (new system name needed?) line that is usable for me on a daily basis and I love it. I don’t care how much it cost :)…. but seriously, it seems like it was the right system to build & will change many people’s minds about transit use I think.

  • By Stefan, December 19, 2009 @ 2:22 pm

    I couldn’t get the list under 10, so there are the top 10 moments in TransLink’s transit operations (from my perosnal point of view):

    1. 98 B-Line, especially because of its technology (busway, signal preemption, stop annunciators–and eventual transition to all-door loading on the 98, 99, and 145).

    2. Millennium Line (and we could say the concurrent introduction of the 97 B-Line).

    3. NightBus (which started out as all night Friday and Saturday nights only on a few routes, and has morphed into an enhanced pre-2001 Owl network, but with improved coverage compared to the old system).

    4. The new trolleybuses–in particular, the articulated trolleybuses (and with them, the completion of an all-accessible fleet)

    5. Canada Line

    6. New or improved crosstown urban and suburban routes (33, 43, 84, 130, 364, 388, 410, 595)

    7. Community Shuttles (though their route numbering that bears no relation to the conventional buses bugs me)

    8. The new Dunsmuir entrance at Granville Station (not in the same class as the above changes, but it made one of the busiest SkyTrain stations–and the only non-accessible one–accessible, and also gave it a proper entrance of its own for the first time).

    9. The new trolleybus extension into Stanley Park (again, not earth-shattering, but it was 10 years in the making, and offset the disappearance of other trolleybus routes like the Hastings Express, Cambie, and Forty-First).

    10. Other new equipment or amenities (though some of these may date back to the 90s):
    * New SkyTrain rolling stock
    * New SeaBus
    * West Coast Express TrainBus
    * Bike racks
    * Orion highway coaches

  • By Stefan, December 19, 2009 @ 2:27 pm

    “Here are the top 10 moments,” not “there are.”

  • By Cliff, December 19, 2009 @ 3:28 pm

    There was a story about how a bus driver was coming on shift one day at one of the stops downtown. He decided to play a joke on the passengers and put on a pair of black sunglasses and used a white cane as he got on the bus.

    He asked the outgoing driver to make sure the wheels were pointed straight. I’m sure the passengers on that bus found it very humourous or very frightening.

    Supposedly it’s a well known story around the Oakridge depot and was supposedly published in a book about transit. If I had been on that bus, I’m sure it would have ranked as one of my top 10 transit moments!

  • By Ric, December 20, 2009 @ 12:55 am

    There are too many for me to list so here are my top 10

    1) Canada Line (especially because of the wider trains, next train arrival times, nice Hyundai Rotem trains, displays on board the train showing the next and terminus stations, bicycle room on the trains and the open joint allowing us to walk between the trains once on board.

    2) Introduction of GPS systems on buses

    3) 98 B-line especially because of the technology (longer articulated buses, bus arrival times at bus stops, eventually adding of the rear door boarding, announcing of the next stop and bus lanes along No 3 road).

    4) Orion Highway coaches

    5) Nova buses

    6) Hybrid buses

    7) SMS next bus service

    8) Community Shuttles (especially the C93, C96, C94, and the now discontinued C95).

    9) ntroduction of new bus routes or improved frequency of routes (especially the 301 and 410).

    10) New low floor trolleys and elimination of non accessible trolleys.

  • By zack, December 22, 2009 @ 4:04 pm

    Mark, I suggest you check the (participation guidelines) section first, before you make such comments.

    Staying on topic, here my top transit of the decade best and worst.

    2000 I visited London,UK to meet with my aunt, where I also discovered London’s underground system.

    2003 Blackout: On hot summer afternoon in Toronto (my hometown) a massive blackout crippled the city. The blackout spread from Eastern Canada to the U.S.. The streetcars were left idle on the streets and the subway was shutdown. Luckily, I was at home at the time of the blackout. But on the positive side as night began to settle I was able to see the stars shining brightly in the sky. :)

    2006 TTC Wildcat strike: With no warning, TTC workers walked off the job, shutting down the entire transit sytem.

    2007 I moved to the Vancouver and explored the SkyTrain system on my first day in Vancouver.

    2008 Vancouver says goodbye to the iconic old trolleybuses.


    June: The first new SkyTrain rolls into service, I got a chance to ride the new SkyTrain a month later

    August: The Canada Line officially opens.

    September: The termination of the 98 B-Line

  • By Reva, December 23, 2009 @ 2:29 am

    Hm, my favourite transit events of the last 10 years:

    – The opening of the Millennium Line.

    – The bus drivers’ strike in 2001. Although having no buses around was sad, it meant I got to take the Westcoast Express (not affected by the strike) into town from Coquitlam for 4 months, which was a commute of pure awesomeness.

    – A random 2003 roadtrip through the Kootenays and the ghost town of Sandon, where we stumbled upon a bunch of old retired Vancouver Brill T48/T48A trolley coaches being restored by the residents there. It was like running into some good old friends you thought you’d never see again.

    – The grand opening of the new Vancouver Transit Centre at Hudson & Marine in 2006.

    – Saying goodbye to the old E901/2 trolley buses, and welcoming the new fleet of low-floor trolleys.

    – Articulated trolleys!

    – The opening of the Canada Line.

    – The creation of the informative yet entertaining Buzzer Blog for a daily fix of important transit-related stuff. :)

  • By Steven, December 23, 2009 @ 6:39 am

    I would say my favourite transit moments have been:

    i) Opening of St Pancras Station close to where we lived, an amazing meld of national and international train services along with some great restaurants such as french bakeries and the longest champagne bar in Europe. A concept other large train stations should follow, in my opinion.

    ii) Seeing the christmas light show at New York’s Grand Central station, where people would be stopped in their tracks, if you pardon the pun, and actually start talking to each other.

    iii) Seeing how the staff at Camden Town tube station reacted to a lady who had passed out on a platform, how quickly they reacted, and how much they took great care of her. You never know when something like this is going to happen to us and thankfully there are staff around to look after us.

    iv) Seeing how incredibly kind Vancouver public transport staff are to members of the public who need that extra assistance getting onto and off the buses. Bus drivers here are actually so friendly this is certainly unique to me of all the cities I have lived in.

    v) Travelling on the number 16 bus in Vancouver where driver John would run a trivia quiz and award chocolate to people who gave the right answer. He puts so many smiles on people’s faces.

  • By Henry, December 28, 2009 @ 9:33 pm

    I have my own blog and put my top transit moments of the decade. Thanks Jhen for thinking of this idea. It made a great blog post. You can find it at my metrobabel wordpress blog. (Jhen suggested not posting a website address to avoid the need for moderation.)

Other Links to this Post

  1. Transit moments of the 2000s « rickie rambles randomly — December 28, 2009 @ 10:26 pm

  2. The Buzzer blog » Friday fun post: when did you start riding transit? — January 8, 2010 @ 6:00 pm

  3. Transit field reports, January 29 « rickie rambles randomly — January 29, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

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