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Friday fun post: do you like having buskers perform near transit?

If you like, skip to the end of this post to take the poll on buskers.

From last week: how do you pick up a free newspaper on transit?

Last week, I asked this question:how do you pick up a free newspaper on transit?

166 people took the poll in the end, and in fact, 26% said they don’t read any of the free newspapers at all. Of the remaining 75% who did read the paper, 33% said they grabbed it when someone handed it to them. 23% picked it up if someone had left it behind on a seat, and 19% said they get their paper from a box on the street.

In the comments, many people were very vocal about never taking a paper. For example, here’s Amy:

I never pick them up – I find the people giving them up to be so aggressive that I actively dislike the papers.

I bring a book to read, or I listed to a podcast. Plenty of good stuff to keep me occupied on transit!

Rainbow didn’t want to make waste:

Since i have the iphone, i can just read it on my iphone. Save the environment :)

Some had a different strategy though. Reva, Sally, zack and Eric all said something similar, though here’s Eric’s version of it:

I sometimes read over peoples shoulders, that’s about the extent of it.

And Tim Choi was much more democratic.

How about a little of all three? :D

When in a rush and/or there’s someone handing them out, then I’ll take it from the handler.
When not in a rush and there’s no one handing them out, then I’ll go to a box.
When in a rush and there’s no one handing them out, then grab one from a seat.

Check out the rest of the comments for more reactions!

This week: do you like having buskers perform near transit?

So here’s a fun poll that will hopefully help us out in a practical way as well.

Here’s the background. We have a busker program, and it’s going to continue as it is from April 2010 to April 2011. In January 2011, we’ll start work to develop a new program for buskers, to help figure out how we’ll handle the fees SOCAN wants, and to make the whole program more efficient (right now it takes up a LOT of staff time!).

So before we start to engage on this process, this fun post can be an informal straw poll to see what you currently think of the program and more. I’ll pass all your feedback on to our public consultation team, who is actually in charge of the busker program!

Here’s some questions for discussion:

  • What kind of music do you like to hear at stations?
  • Should buskers just be music or would you like other types of performance?
  • At which SkyTrain stations would you like to hear buskers? (You can list more than one!)
  • Do you only like buskers at certain times (e.g. morning rather than evening)?
  • Anything else?


  • By Rvie, April 9, 2010 @ 6:33 pm

    I don’t really care about the presence of buskers at SkyTrain stations. Sure most of them play nice music but when there’s a train I need to catch then I really need to catch that train before it leaves or gets full.

  • By Cliff, April 9, 2010 @ 6:39 pm

    The panflute guy who used to play on the overhead walkway at Waterfront seemed to have found the perfect spot for that instrument as the walkway seemed to acoustically compliment the panflutes and you could hear it reverberate a long way off. I haven’t seen him there, but if he came back he should have dibs on that spot!

    It would be great to see non-musical acts or even unusual instruments. Someone who plays steel drums, or even a xylophone. (Pretty much anything that isn’t a guitar to be honest).

    Bring a fellow who does the robot in gold/silver paint and have him stand in the middle of Burrard Station. Have someone do magic tricks at Granville Station.

    Have someone run an organ grinder, monkey and all at Metrotown station!

    How about someone on busy buses to do stand-up using the bus’ PA system? (You could even mark it in the schedules!)

    Something like this done right would really make Vancouver a spectacle, and in a good way!

  • By Reva, April 9, 2010 @ 7:05 pm

    I enjoy the music from the buskers at any time of the day, I find it really cheers up the atmosphere in the stations, especially the downtown stations.

    I like Cliff’s idea of bringing in acts who use unusual instruments. Magicians/jugglers/performance artists in certain places at certain times would be neat too. I don’t think I could handle stand-up on the bus every morning though — maybe in the evening — if it’s one of those days when you want to read or sleep during your commute, or just plain want to be left alone, you have nowhere to go! Scheduling certain acts on certain runs could get around that though, so you could seek it out or avoid it if you so chose.

    I don’t usually hang out and listen to the buskers for something to do, but I really enjoy their presence at the stations. I hope Translink can keep the program going.

  • By Sally, April 9, 2010 @ 7:47 pm

    I like them, they add a European flavour! if you can – find the young girl who had a spot on Granville St. during the Olympics. She had glass balls and made it look as if they were floating in the air. Amazing!!!

  • By ???, April 9, 2010 @ 10:41 pm

    I like the presence and ambiance the buskers provide. However, certain locations (eg Granville Station concourse to the down escalators) seems to create some movement limitations to the trains when there are crowds.

  • By Daniel, April 9, 2010 @ 10:51 pm

    I’m always listening to buskers wich always keeps me happy and cheerful at anytime! Though I do like the suggestions by Reva, it would be cool to see some variety!

  • By ericmk, April 11, 2010 @ 11:30 am

    I really like musician buskers! Being a musician myself, I really appreciate hearing all the talent our area has. However, I don’t think I would like to see other kinds of performances during the weekdays. I don’t really have the time to stand and wait to see what a performer would be doing and I would much prefer to continue walking, but still be able to hear the performance. Perhaps on the weekends there could be non-musical performances because generally people have more time and visitors are out and about. Definitely keep up the program! :)

  • By Ivan, April 12, 2010 @ 12:59 pm

    Sometimes buskers are good, because they play nice music so that the stations are not quiet as a library. Buskers can play jazz music too if they like.

  • By Cliff, April 13, 2010 @ 5:30 am

    People are often in a hurry, but buskers seem to only be allowed in places that people are often just rushing through.

    Are there liability reasons to not having buskers performing in fare paid zones?

    It seems that both the public and the buskers could benefit from being near the SkyTrain platforms or at the SeaBus dock.

    The area between the A&W and Shoppers Drug Mart has quite an urban fabric to it. While my vision of a covered Broadway Street isn’t going to come to fruition anytime soon, some buskers could certainly go a long way to a more “inner city” feel, so to speak.

  • By Cliff, April 13, 2010 @ 5:31 am

    In my last paragraph of my last post, the area I’m referring to is, of course, Commercial-Broadway Station.

  • By Andrew S, April 13, 2010 @ 9:03 am

    The spot at Waterfront just before the escalators going down to the SeaBus seems to be pretty popular =D. They play pretty awesome music. I’d like to see more buskers in the future =)

  • By Ric, April 13, 2010 @ 5:27 pm

    Having buskers at skytrain and canada line stations really bugs me. Having them near bus stops bus me too.

    At the skytrain and canada line stations I report them to a skytrain or canada line attendant, then chat with the attendant to keep me occupied until the train comes as well as for safety. If there is no attendant at the station, I hop on the first train that comes even if it is going in the opposite direction and I just get off at the next stop and just catch the other train there. If the next station is a terminus station, I just stay on the train and wait for it to go back the other way as it then goes in the other direction.

    At the bus stop there is not much I can do, so I usually hop on the first bus that comes to the stop, and if it is a bus that can still get me to my destination I stay on otherwise, I get off the bus at the next bus and catch the bus that I was planning to catch at another stop.

  • By Cliff, April 13, 2010 @ 7:24 pm

    You realize, that many times they are licenced by TransLink to be there, right? They are put through an audition to prove that they have a skilled and appropriate act. As I remember, there were more buskers than locations at the last audition and the competition was fierce.

    Additionally, buskers and even beggars may have every right to be on city/municipal property dependent on local by-laws regardless of whether they are vetted by TransLink or not.

    And while I generally feel that many of these people could do better with the kind of job that many of us have, that’s not really my place to decide. One thing to keep in mind is that they are artists, and this is one of the things they do. To deny them the opportunity to perform in a public setting busking would not be unlike telling a bus driver he’s not to drive a bus. As an urban community, performers such as these add needed depth and culture to our urban fabric. It’s a lot better than sitting on the ground with a baseball cap and doing nothing.

    While what happens on private property is up to the property owner, I hope that these often talented performers are not denied the opportunity to enrich our day to day lives with their talent.

  • By ???, April 13, 2010 @ 8:52 pm

    Well said…. I think it’s to our benefit that people are screened for the popular locations.

Other Links to this Post

  1. The Buzzer blog » Friday fun post: do you have a favourite bus route? — April 16, 2010 @ 6:01 pm

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