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Holiday gift ideas for transit fans 2010

Last year, I did a short list of gift ideas for transit fans and thought I’d update it for 2010!

As you can imagine, in my line of work, I tend to come across things that fans of transit might enjoy. So I thought I’d put together a list of transit gift ideas for 2010, for all those lucky people with transit fans in their lives :)

Notes: no one on this list has asked me to promote their items, and I’ve tried as much as possible to ensure you can get these items in Canada. Also, a big thanks to Jason Vanderhill for sending in many of these suggestions! Please feel free to add further gift ideas in the comments – I’m sure there’s lots of stuff I’ve missed!


Lego launched a new Public Transport Kit this year!

Possibly the transit toy with the most buzz out there is the new Lego Public Transport Kit, launched in 2010! Jarrett over at Human Transit posted about this kit and saw his soar through the roof, which I thought certainly indicated a great deal of interest :) Anyway the kit has a tram, a bus, a station, and a shop adjacent to a bus terminal — isn’t it nice that they threw in transit-oriented development features?

The wood CP diesel engine by Knotty Toys.

And for those who like the Brio wooden train sets, there are a couple of toy manufacturers who have some Canadian train sets available.

At left is a wooden Canadian Pacific diesel engine made by Knotty Toys, compatible with all standard wooden railway systems. They also make a CP boxcar, CP tank car, wheat hopper and CP caboose, if you want the full set!

Plus, here’s a CN locomotive by a toymaker in Aurora, Colorado.

Perhaps we can convince someone to make a SkyTrain version in the future :)

Books and stationery

A selection of books for the transit and urban planning fan: Paris Underground, the Subway Sketchbook, and Makeshift Metropolis.

Mark Ovenden’s Paris Underground: The Maps, Stations, and Design of the Metro explores the designed world of the Paris Metro—the New Yorker raved about it, calling its chapters “sublime,” if that’s any help! Grab Paris Underground at Chapters or Amazon. (Also, if the name Mark Ovenden rings a bell, that’s because he’s the author of Transit Maps of the World too, which appeared on last year’s holiday gift list.)

I also came across the Subway Sketchbook, which is a sketchbook with outlines of subway cars pre-printed on each of its pages. Decorate the cars to your heart’s content, or just write your grocery list on them! The cars available include stock from London, Berlin, Paris, Moscow, Toronto, Rome, and Stockholm. Grab the sketchbook at Chapters or

For the urban planner in your life, Witold Rybczynski’s new book Makeshift Metropolis might be a good gift—Rybczynski is Slate Magazine’s architecture critic and an amaaaaaazing long form writer, so this certainly might be a lyrical and informative treat!

And for the little transit fan, Barbara Reid’s The Subway Mouse is a picture book about a darling mouse who lives with his family in the subway tunnels. It was nominated for a Governor General’s Award in 2005, too! Grab it at Chapters or

Also, this book won’t be available until January 2011, but I thought you might be interested anyway: Helvetica and the New York City Subway System: The True (Maybe) Story by Paul Shaw tells the story of the evolution of signage on the New York City subway system. It’s published by MIT Press too so you know it’s going to be thorough! Pre-order now at Chapters or


Christmas Streetcars - Woodwards on Hastings by Brian Croft (20\

Brian Croft is an artist who paints the history of Vancouver and British Columbia, and he has a wonderful series of streetcar paintings that you might love to take home. For those with a bit more money to spend, Brian’s giclee prints on canvas are about $700 each. Brian’s work is also available as packages of 10 greeting cards for $20: more info here. Thanks to Jason Vanderhill for pointing out Brian’s work!

Accessories and more

T mugs by P22!

Your beverages can get a bit more transit-y: how about sipping tea from these Tt mugs, prominently featuring Johnston’s London Underground typeface, from

Your wrists can add a bit of transit spice too: check out this huge selection of transit token cuff links on Etsy!

As well, why not dress up your walls with customized trolley scrolls, also found in an Etsy shop?

Craft and hobby projects

And for the holidays, let’s not forget the old fashioned fun of making your own stuff. Here’s an oldie but a goodie: Jason Vanderhill shared a craft project last year so you can make papercraft skytrains that actually run! Grab the train set from Daiso in Richmond (in Aberdeen Mall, next to Aberdeen Station on the Canada Line!), print out Jason’s provided cutouts, and go to town.

And here’s an electronics kit for building your own solar powered train! Or your own aerial tram, for those interesting in building gondolas. (Thanks to roboman51 for sending in the kits!)

As well, for those who sew, I also came across a really pretty pattern for a quilt inspired by the Tokyo subway map, made by Elizabeth Hartman. Check out the Flickr group of all the quilts being sewn in this fashion!

As well…

Don’t forget 2009’s gift guide: there’s still a ton of holiday transit treats on there, if you’re stumped for ideas!

And yes, once more I will throw the offer out there—we do have a set of TransLink transit buttons, and if you e-mail me your address, I can mail you some. Tis the season! (No promises on the dates of the deliveries though — I’m the only one picking and packing these things!)

That’s it for me! Happy holidays, and feel free to share more suggestions in the comments!


  • By Malandro, December 14, 2010 @ 7:09 pm

    I will refer this list to the ones that say they love me :D

  • By Jason V, December 14, 2010 @ 10:28 pm

    Yay! Regarding the papercraft remix of the Superexpress trains from Daiso, they may well be out of stock indefinitely. In lieu of this, I shall be publishing a series of papercraft B-line buses shortly before Christmas! Stay tuned!!!

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, December 15, 2010 @ 10:04 am

    Jason: ooh, papercraft B-Lines! Exciting! I’ll also update the post with your note about the Superexpress trains.

  • By Sewing, December 15, 2010 @ 1:49 pm

    Brian Croft’s paintings are amazing!

    And few things could be more quintessentially Vancouver than the sight of the old Woodward’s all lit up on a dark, wet December evening.

  • By Steven, December 15, 2010 @ 9:10 pm

    If in London the Transport Museum is a great place to shop and of course to visit exhibits and – I wish Translink made/commissioned memorabilia to buy.

  • By Josh, December 16, 2010 @ 5:13 pm

    Translink could also offer some Boxing Day deals. This is a great incentive for people to try the service, such as half price tickets or something similar. Our website ( gets a tremendous number of requests for special deals and we find that people really appreciate them when offered, especially on Boxing Day.

  • By ???, December 16, 2010 @ 8:50 pm

    Hmmm…. Boxing day transit deals….

    There’s no transit zone surcharge on Boxing Day… Your friend and up to four kids ride free for Monthly pass owners

    Isn’t this enough?

    Okay let’s sweeten the deal and make it FREE after 5pm on Dec 31st (includes the Seabus and West Coast Express.

  • By Glass Pendants Victoria, June 21, 2011 @ 2:08 am

    This is really an wonderful blog. I have got some idea from here.

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