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Friday fun post: when did you start riding transit?

If you like, skip to the end of this post to take the poll about when you started riding transit.

Last year (!): your top transit moments of the decade

The retired trolleys, who left us for sunnier pastures in 2009.

The retired trolleys, who left us for sunnier pastures at the end of the last decade.

The last fun post of 2009 asked for your top 10 transit moments of the decade!

As always, you shared some great items, especially about our local system. We have had some huge changes in the past 10 years, and spotlights were on the new types of buses, the Millennium and Canada Lines, and more. FOr example

For the most part, people focused on the local system, which has been through some big changes in the past 10 years. For example, here’s Stefan‘s top 10:

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

Steven had some great items from other systems (plus a few mentions of ours :)

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.

And I must do a special mention of Cliff‘s story here:

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!

Again, do check out the past comments to read everyone’s lists! Henry and Eric even made posts at their own blogs on the topic, with some lovely photos!

This week: when did you start riding transit?

Since we just did a flashback to the launch of SkyTrain in 1986, I thought we might all look back to our own transit histories.

I have to say it’s always been due to school — I rode the bus in Edmonton to get to high school, and the U-Pass in Vancouver made me a devout rider here. What about you?


  • By Nicholas, January 8, 2010 @ 6:37 pm

    I remember my first bus rides on the #3 along Main Street going to Chinatown with my babysitter when I was 3 years old; the really old transfers that were made of recycled paper and putting them in the old fareboxes, too! It’s amazing how much has changed for as long as I can remember!

    PS: My parents told me they’ve been on the older trolleys as well. My mom even has a vintage farecard from the late 70s/early 80s, too.
    I’m wondering if TransLink has any archives of old farecards to post up on the blog… :D

  • By Cliff, January 8, 2010 @ 6:38 pm

    Out of curiosity, did TransLink keep any of the outgoing trolleybuses for historical purposes?

  • By Andrew S, January 8, 2010 @ 7:16 pm

    @Cliff: I believe the TRAMS society kept two E902 trolleys and are working to restore them :)

    I remember going on the 8 Downtown to Chinatown with my grandma almost everyday (after school of course) when I was very young. I also remember the debut of the magnetic strip farecards… quite a few years ago… :) It must have been a glitch because the new fare machines in their early days were prone to eating the farecards… LOL :P

  • By Cliff, January 8, 2010 @ 9:09 pm

    Ah, fantastic. I had a feeling TRAMS might be involved. That’s great!

  • By cree, January 8, 2010 @ 9:11 pm

    My first experiences with transit I vividly remember was when I was in the 6th grade when I had to take the then-young 99 B-Line (at the time using only the classic high-floor artics) to my dentist. It wasn’t until the 8th grade where I had to take transit on a regular basis, and the rest as people say is history.

  • By Cliff, January 8, 2010 @ 9:18 pm

    I remember when the bike racks were just a pilot project on the 404 and 351 routes. I never imagined we would be seeing them on nearly every route!

    We still have a long way to go, but we’ve come a long way as well. The day will come when I’ll be able to hop on a SkyTrain at UBC and have it announce that it’s bound for Coquitlam Centre.

  • By ;-), January 8, 2010 @ 9:32 pm

    I started transit in the 70’s. I think the Adult fair was 25 cents. The child’s was 10 cents! Then it was 35 cents and child’s 15 cents. Today it’s 8.75 between the airport and Vancouver!

    Unlike the zone system today, I think the only zone was between Surrey and Ladner.

    The only other thing I’m going to miss is “the paddle” or McKay gate that worked very effectively at keeping people from choosing to stand in the exit area.

  • By Paul Clapham, January 8, 2010 @ 10:22 pm

    It was 1958 or 1959; I took the bus from near my home in what was rudely known as “Shrum’s Slums” to University Hill Elementary School. The “slums” are long gone, they were torn down to make way for the UBC hospital, but I believe the school is still there.

    The fare was 5 cents (for a child) but you could get 6 tickets for 25 cents.

  • By Donna, January 9, 2010 @ 12:08 am

    1980, when I was about a year old, when my mother started driving them. I pretty much grew up on buses, riding around with my mom a lot when I wasn’t in school as I got older. :)

  • By Dave 2, January 9, 2010 @ 12:24 am

    Victoria, mid 70s, 10 cents child fare.

    Cliff, see That was taken at Stanley Park loop in 2008, not in the photo are a 1984 era New Flyer, and two of the new trollys

    The blined driver anecdote may be from “Routes, The Lighter Side of Public Transit” by Heinz Hammer, published 1989, a copy of which I recently inherited.

  • By Dave 2, January 9, 2010 @ 12:26 am

    Let’s try that link again

    If that isn’t clickable, try copy/paste

  • By Reva, January 9, 2010 @ 3:20 am

    When I was a little kid (mid-late 1970s), my mom would take us out on the bus to do shopping and errands during the day while my dad had the car. We would take the Fraser bus up to the shops between 41st & 49th, or downtown to go to Woodwards. We would take the 41 to Oakridge or Kingsway. And sometimes, treat of all treats, we would bus out to visit my mom’s friends on a farm way out in Richmond, which took the better part of all day to get there & back to East Van (at least it seemed like it). Exciting! :)

    So I got hooked very early on. I started taking the bus to school in 1986, took transit all throughout high school, college, and to all my jobs since (I now have a hefty collection of over 20 years of bus passes). Riding buses was such a big part of my life that I actually never bothered to learn how to drive. I still use the transit system almost every day, and it still takes me everywhere I want or need to go.

    Such a history has turned me into quite the transit nerd, though. Thanks a lot. ;D

  • By Dave 2, January 9, 2010 @ 8:00 pm

    Reva: then you must remember “Honest Nat’s Department Store—48th and Fraser”

  • By Sally, January 9, 2010 @ 10:23 pm

    I started using Transit 3 years ago when I started to attend UBC and received a UPass. The light bulb went on. My UPass at that time was approx $23 month. It was costing me $40 a week to fill up my car and drive to work! Then I got used to riding transit and falling asleep on the bus!

  • By ;-), January 9, 2010 @ 10:44 pm

    Just wondering Sally, did you look into how much your student fees subsidized your UPass this year?

  • By Stefan, January 9, 2010 @ 11:55 pm

    Like some other folks here, my earliest memories of using transit (in the early 70s) were to go shopping with Mom.

    We lived near the north end of Joyce Street, and would take the 27 Rupert to get up to Kingsway and take the 54 Stride or 55 Twelfth Street to get out to the Simpsons Sears in Burnaby; or take the 8 Davie from Joyce Loop down to Woodward’s; or go up to Kootenay Loop and catch the 34 Hastings Express.

    I remember one time when my grandmother visited, and she took me to such exotic destinations as Kitsilano (via the 9 Broadway) and Stanley Park (via the 11 Stanley Park).

    In the 80s, I lived in Marpole and took the bus every day to get the school…there were all these fascinating buses on Granville, like the 312, 314, and 316 to North Delta; and I often used to go on solo adventures, riding buses into the deepest parts of Burnaby.

    On the subject of Metrotown, the 41 used to go out to Kingsway and Nelson, and for two months after SkyTrain opened, it was rerouted to Metrotown Station. The 41 and 130 were the only routes serving Metrotown Station back then. I remember taking the 41 out there, seeing the trolley coach overhead that had just been strung up for the 19 (before it was extended out there), and sitting in the bus loop, which being only served by a couple of buses and surrounded by large vacant lots, was a singularly forlorn place. It was extremely hard to imagine that it would one day become the busy place that the urban planners envisioned–but sure enough, it did!

  • By Cow, January 10, 2010 @ 1:00 am

    It would be interesting to see the correlation between whether people grew up in Vancouver or not along with the data. I started riding transit when I graduated high school and moved to A Real City; transit just didn’t exist in the middle of nowhere.

    (I kind of envy kids who grow up in a city and can take transit to get around! Living where I did, you really had no independence at all until age 16 when you could get a driver licence and drive a car. Life with a transit pass is so, so much better. :D)

  • By David, January 10, 2010 @ 11:04 pm

    I grew up in Vancouver in a family that drove everywhere beyond walking distance. I rode a bike to school and continued to do so when I moved on to UBC. I took transit to parties and summer jobs.

    However, transit vehicles were a curiosity at a much earlier age. In the late 1970s or early 1980s I started recording the names and numbers of every bus route I saw. i don’t know what ever became of that list, but it would be interesting to see it today.

  • By Ella, January 11, 2010 @ 11:06 am

    I’m sure I was riding transit much earlier, but the earliest I remember regularly riding the bus was to swimming lessons when I was 10. It was a huge deal because I was allowed to ride all by myself, and I had to transfer (very grown up things when you are a ten year old)!

  • By Stefan, January 11, 2010 @ 11:39 am

    Another favourite memory:

    Until the mid 80s, on Sundays and holidays, you could get on the bus and purchase a special pink “Sunday and Holiday Pass” for unlimited travel at a special rate.

    As a youngster, they always seemed like the ticket to an adventure; but they were phased out when Scratch & Ride daypasses came on the scene, around the time of Expo 86.

    Also in the early 80s, FareCards were a big, bulky affair. There were two halves to them: a permanent photo ID card, which I had to go to the Woodward’s at Oakridge to obtain, and the monthly pass. (I guess they were non-transferrable.) These were phased out when the “modern” FareCards were introduced (with one difference: you could by a red or blue 2-zone FareCard, depending on whether it was for Zone 1/2 or Zone 2/3 travel).

  • By Donald, January 11, 2010 @ 12:41 pm

    Back in grade 6 on my way back from Science World with a friend, I was supposed to catch a 155 bus from 22nd St Station to get home and accidentally got on a 353 to White Rock. I remember it struck me as odd that a Suburban Classic bus would be on the 155 but I didn’t think too much about it until the bus turned onto the right lane of 20th St. when I then realized I was on the wrong bus. I ended up going all the way to White Rock since I didn’t know whether the bus stopped at Howes St. in Queensborough and was to embarrassed to ask. Phoned my mom, told her where I was and that I would be home in a bit over an hour, then hopped on a 321 towards King George Station. Fun times. :)

  • By JustMe, January 13, 2010 @ 8:43 pm

    I remember my grandpa used to take me downtown to do errands on the Skytrain once a week. I also remember running up to the “drivers” seat while imitating the classic MKI sounds and doing all the announcements.. Come to think of it, it must have been pretty annoying, so I apologize if you’ve sat next to me back then. In my defence… It was awesome!

  • By Amy, January 16, 2010 @ 12:54 pm

    When I was in junior high in the 80’s (grades 7,8, and 9 in Calgary), we got a Calgary Transit pass instead of taking a school bus. So from an early age, I associated transit with freedom (to wander all over the city). This had LOTS to do with me being a regular transit user and supporter as an adult.

  • By Don, March 21, 2010 @ 6:51 pm


    I was only five years old, I lived with my family in Strathcona, and my uncle Al walked me from Keefer to the test SkyTrain car on Main Street. That was too cool. We walked back and had dim sum after.

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  1. The Buzzer blog » Friday fun poll: how long is your commute? — January 15, 2010 @ 7:58 pm

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