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Olympic travel tips: a guide to recognizing your transit staff

Olympic travel tips: a guide to recognizing your transit staff

For those who might be in our region for the first time during the Olympics, here’s a short series of tips to help you get on your way. (If you do know this stuff already, please pass it along to those who might find this useful!)

So far in the Olympic tips series: info on tickets, bike info, Park and Rides, a guide to transit staff, where to find real-time transit info online, and transit etiquette. Let me know if I should add anymore!

Here’s a short guide to recognizing our transit staff, just in case you need help when you’re out on the system.

We have a number of different transit services—buses, SkyTrain, SeaBus, West Coast Express—and staff for each service have different jobs and uniforms. Hopefully this guide will help you find a transit staff member, plus show you a little about what they do.

SkyTrain Attendants (STAs) and Canada Line Attendants (CLAs)

SkyTrain attendants wear a blue jacket or a black sweater. In warmer weather, they may wear a black vest or a white shirt with the SkyTrain logo.
SkyTrain attendants wear a blue jacket or a black sweater. In warmer weather, they may wear a black vest or a white shirt with the SkyTrain logo.
CLAs wear this distinctive green in their uniform. You’ll see them on the Canada Line.
CLAs wear this distinctive green in their uniform. You’ll see them on the Canada Line.

You’ll probably see STAs and CLAs more than any other customer service representative. They sometimes ride the trains, but generally work at SkyTrain stations, helping passengers with information, medical aid, and so on.

STAs can be found on the Expo and Millennium Lines, and CLAs on the Canada Line, which is operated by a separate company under contract to TransLink. Both are a first point of contact in dealing with station alarms and incidents, and will call in resources as needed.

STAs and CLAs may check fares, but do not enforce rules and regulations. They are not police or security guards. They may request compliance with rules and regulations, but they have no powers of arrest or enforcement. For that, they’ll call police.

Both STAs and CLAs are also trained to drive the trains, so if there is a train fault or failure, they’re the ones who determine what the cause of the problem is, and eventually drive the train manually or re-set the computer system as needed. In heavy snows, you may find an STA sitting in the driver’s seat at the front of the train, monitoring the track and preparing to override the automatic emergency brake system, in case a snowfall or blown branch lands in the guideway.

STAs, CLAs and Transit Police officers (see below) can also assist people whose first language is not English, thanks to the Provincial Government Translation Service. This service provides interpreters in up to 150 different languages, so if a visitor needs information in his or her own language, they can contact an STA or CLA, who can put them in touch with the service. CLAs will also wear name tags, indicating what additional languages they speak (if any) besides English.

Olympic Transit Hosts

TransLink transit hosts will be helping customers during the Olympics.
TransLink transit hosts will be helping customers during the Olympics.

During the Winter Games, staff from TransLink and its family of companies will step away from their desks and help welcome the world. They will be wearing blue jackets and can be found at key stations and transit exchanges throughout the region for the Olympic period. They carry maps and other information, plus a knowledge of the region and its transportation network.

Transit Police

Transit Police uniforms are black, with  “POLICE” across the back of the jackets in silver. Their trousers have a medium blue stripe on the outside seam and their shoulder patches read “Safely Linking Communities.”
Transit Police uniforms are black, with “POLICE” across the back of the jackets in silver. Their trousers have a medium blue stripe on the outside seam and their shoulder patches read “Safely Linking Communities.”

The South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Police Service (Transit Police) is a fully constituted police force, and the only transit police force in Canada.

Like any police officers, Transit Police carry guns and other law enforcement tools of the trade. They have full powers of enforcement and arrest both on and off the transit system, which means they can respond to crime situations away from stations.

Their jobs involve checking fares and issuing violation tickets if necessary, and in the course of this, they have captured people wanted for other, much more serious offences: people wanted on federal warrants, and so forth.

Often, Transit Police are called on to assist local police forces with arrests and investigations, securing a scene or backing up the local force. They have the authority to ask for identification: failing to produce identification may result in a charge of obstruction.

Transit Security

Transit Security personnel wear blue shirts in the summer -- in winter they wear yellow jackets.
Transit Security personnel wear blue shirts in the summer -- in winter they wear yellow jackets.

Transit Security officers provide private corporate security for TransLink and its subsidiaries. They can be found throughout the system, particularly at transit exchanges and on the buses.

These officers have powers to arrest without warrant anyone they observe committing a criminal offence on or in relation to TransLink property. They can also inform and enforce Transit Safety Regulations. They cannot write or issue violation tickets and are not Special Constables or police officers.

Marine Attendants

Marine Attendants’ sweaters and trousers are black, with the SeaBus shoulder patch; when it’s warm, they might wear shorts and white shirts.
Marine Attendants’ sweaters and trousers are black, with the SeaBus shoulder patch; when it’s warm, they might wear shorts and white shirts.

Marine Attendants serve a number of functions on SeaBus. At the terminals, they provide general information to customers on routes and schedules and how to use the Ticket Vending Machines. They are not security officers, but work with them (see below) if need be. They are trained in crowd management, for times when passenger loads are particularly heavy.

On the water, Marine Attendants are certified by Transport Canada in a variety of areas, including marine firefighting, rescues and oil spill response. They perform weekly drills, as well as one major exercise each year.

West Coast Express

A West Coast Express station attendant.
A West Coast Express station attendant.
A West Coast Express conductor assists a customer.
A West Coast Express conductor assists a customer.

West Coast Express is TransLink’s heavy commuter rail service, running from downtown Vancouver along the Fraser River to Mission, approximately 40 miles (70 km) to the east.

Station Attendants greet customers at stations in the morning and assist in purchasing tickets, provide transit information and generally look out for the safety and security of our riders. If there’s a train delay, they’ll try and suggest other transit options and remain on site until the problem can be resolved.

Conductors are the onboard service staff there to ensure the safe operation of the trains.

They assist with Customer Service where possible and are in contact with WCE Operations as needed.

“Ask Me!” program

To make sure visitors have as many means as possible to get information, TransLink has asked a number of local residents to provide assistance.

We offer the Employer Pass Program, where employees can buy discounted transit passes if 25 or more sign up from the same company. Many members of the program have volunteered to be ad-hoc ambassadors, wearing a red “Ask Me” button to encourage questions from visitors. Feel free to ask them for transit help!