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Translink Buzzer Blog

Transit Pet Peeve Battle starts today!

Today is the big day. From now until November 28, 2011, the TransLink Facebook page ( will be transformed into a tournament-style battle to determine the biggest transit pet peeve is.

How the battle works

Each weekday, two pet peeves will do battle by having people vote for the one they think is the biggest pet peeve.

Birdie Big Bags

Will Birdie Big Bags win today's battle?

The day after each battle, you can check the Facebook page to see which pet peeve won that round of the battle. The first round takes place during the first four days. The semi-final round happens during the next two days. The final battle that will determine the biggest pet peeve will be held on Monday, November 28.

Lounge Lizard

Or will Lounge Lizard be victorious?


The day after each battle day, we’ll be randomly drawing for two prizes. On the final day of the battle, November 28, we’ll be giving away the grand prize. Here’s what you can win:

November 17:
Draw #1 – A 3-Zone FareCard
Draw #2 – A $50 Chapters/!ndigo/Coles gift card + a TravelSmart umbrella and bike light
November 18:
Draw #1 – A 3-Zone FareCard
Draw #2 – A $40 Blenz Coffee card + a TransLink travel mug
November 21:
Draw #1 – A 3-Zone FareCard
Draw #2 – A $50 iTunes card + a TravelSmart umbrella and bike light
November 22:
Draw #1 – A 3-Zone FareCard
Draw #2 – A $50 Earls gift certificate + a TravelSmart umbrella and bike light
November 23:
Semi-Final Draw #1 – A 3-Zone FareCard
Semi-Final Draw #2 – A pair of headphones + a TravelSmart umbrella and bike light
November 24:
Semi-Final Draw #1 – A 3-Zone FareCard
Semi-Final Draw #2 – A $50 Lush gift certificate + a TravelSmart umbrella and bike light
November 25:
Final Draw #1 – A 3-Zone FareCard
Final Draw #2 – A $50 Bay/Zellers/Home Outfitters gift card + a TravelSmart umbrella and bike light
November 28:
Grand Prize Draw – A 16-GB (Black) iPhone4S (Unlocked)!

How to enter

You’ll need to be a Facebook user, “like” the TransLink Facebook page ( and be a resident of British Columbia in order to be eligible to win a prize in the draws. Anyone who already “likes” the TransLink Facebook page or who “likes” the page by midnight, November 28 PST is eligible to win a prize. Check the prize window on our Facebook page for terms and conditions.

Vote now!

The battle is a fun way to inspire some positive change in how people conduct themselves on transit. Everyone has an opinion about transit peeves, so it gets people talking and thinking about what they do on transit.

Since the contest was announced in the November print Buzzer, people have been posting their personal pet peeves on this blog, our Facebook page as well as talking about it on Twitter. So let’s keep the conversation going, give away some prizes and see if we can’t change some behaviours on transit!


  • By DB, November 17, 2011 @ 5:06 pm

    Awesome! A contest, produced by a transit agency, that draws attention to how obnoxious behaviours reduce transit’s attractiveness.

    Have you ever seen a Mazda (or really any consumer product, but let’s focus on the direct competition) campaign that deliberately sought to drum up interest in the flaws and annoyances of owning a Mazda? This week, the ‘garage gouge’ battles ‘problem parking’! No; it’s all ‘zoom zoom’ and freedom and beautiful coastal highways and empty urban viaducts.

    I know that you are trying to constructively engage with transit riders to improve behaviours and reduce these sorts of annoyances, and I wouldn’t suggest pretending that they do not exist. However this sort of constant nagging strikes me as very counterproductive. The best way to stop these problem behaviours is to lure as many normal civilized people (the types that keep their feet off of the seats) onto transit as possible. One way to not achieve this is to run contests that draw attention to the perceived prevalence of these behaviours.

    I’d add that the cycling community does this too, and it’s unfortunate and counterproductive. Focus on the positive for chrissakes.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, November 17, 2011 @ 5:27 pm

    Hi DB,

    Thanks for the comment. You raise a very interesting point and one I thought about when putting this campaign together. As you mentioned, pretending these peeves don’t exist isn’t the way to go. I thought about a campaign that focuses on transit angel-like characters or perhaps having the inverse positive character to the pet peeve. In the end, the pet peeve idea won out for a number of reasons including if it would strike a cord with people and get them to think about how they act on transit.

    This is the first time we’ve done something like this, so we’ll have to see what comes of it. Indeed, there are people who say that they don’t take transit because of the reason illustrated by these characters. However, many of the people who follow TransLink online are transit users and have been exposed to these peevish actions and therefore can benefit from this campaign. I regularly read tweets and comments about people not moving to the back of the bus etc. on our Facebook page and on Twitter.

    In a way, the accompanying text for each character (later text mind you) is to provide constructive ways for people to have a more positive experience on transit.

    I’ll keep your comment in mind as I follow the progress of the campaign. I think there is room to remind people of all the positives of transit and why it is important. Thanks so much for the comment DB!

  • By Reva, November 17, 2011 @ 6:03 pm

    DB, you raise an interesting point. However, as a regular transit user subjected to these pet peevey behaviours almost every day, I personally welcome this ad campaign, as it indicates to me that Translink values the feelings of myself and of other responsible transit users, and is making an effort to curb potentially upsetting negative behaviours for the good of everyone.

    I also agree with Robert in that while it is a necessary evil to point out a few negative things about transit sometimes, there is plenty of room to recognize and extol transit’s benefits at the same time.

  • By Reva, November 17, 2011 @ 6:06 pm

    By the way Robert, the Blog appears to still be on Daylight Savings Time, lol. :)

  • By Alan, November 18, 2011 @ 11:37 am

    Oh no, today is Funky Ferret vs. Chatty Chihuahua. This is like the number 1 and number 2 seeds meeting in the playoffs. It just isn’t supposed to happen in the first round.

  • By Todd, November 21, 2011 @ 2:54 pm

    Have you ever considered campaigns to encourage and reward good behaviour, rather than obsessing with bad behaviour? Have you considered that? Have you considered that some pet peeves aren’t just about other riders, but are about the system and its operators as well?

    Here are some suggestions:
    * drivers who stare blankly at you when you say good morning
    * drivers who slam on the brakes for non-emergency stops
    * the constant badgering of ‘don’t do this’ signage at stations
    * out of service busses passing groups of waiting riders in the pouring rain, only to be greeted by a jam-packed bus

    Are these not valid? I get so sick of being talked to by Translink like riders are some sort of disease to be managed.

  • By Todd, November 21, 2011 @ 3:13 pm

    Robert, I saw after posting my first comment that you addressed this from another reader as well. I’d like to respond to some of what you said:

    > In the end, the pet peeve idea won out for a number of reasons including if it would strike a cord with people and get them to think about how they act on transit.

    Do you think those engaged in the behaviours you’re describing in the contest are reading The Buzzer and give much of a care about what bothers other people? Examples of good behaviour being encouraged are more likely to produce those behaviours in public, which in turn are witnessed by people you want to change.

    > However, many of the people who follow TransLink online are transit users and have been exposed to these peevish actions and therefore can benefit from this campaign.

    How are they benefitting from this campaign?

    > In a way, the accompanying text for each character (later text mind you) is to provide constructive ways for people to have a more positive experience on transit.

    How does that work, exactly?

    I don’t mean to badger you; it’s great that you’re responding in comments, but I feel this whole campaign is just wrong-headed. Translink spends a lot of time wagging its finger at riders. The frame is always what riders are doing wrong or what is prohibited, and rarely about what you want to encourage in people. PLEASE consider the whole orientation of these message towards riders.

  • By Paul, November 21, 2011 @ 5:59 pm


    You should not need to show people what good behaviour is. Quite simply good behaviour is not being an obnoxious moron who only think of his/her self. Someone with good behaviour will go unnoticed. But anyone with bad behaviour is always noticed.

    Will everyone that rides transit read about the pet peeves and possibly figure out that they might be doing one of them, of course not. But if it changes a few people’s habits it was worth it.

  • By Todd, November 21, 2011 @ 6:02 pm


    We can talk about the way the world should work all day long, or we can talk about what makes the better difference. People with good behaviour are noticed, all the time and around the world. It’s what keeps things working at all, that most people do the right things because it’s the right thing to do, not because they’re being corrected all the time.

    If you choose, as Translink does, to focus on those with bad behaviour, I don’t think you’ll make as much progress as if you make it clear what the gold standard is and promote that. It’s just how people work.

  • By Reva, November 21, 2011 @ 6:31 pm

    Actually, I think Todd has a good point. Rewarding good behaviour works wonders. Perhaps in another month or two Translink could run a “thank you for…” campaign, as the converse of the pet peeve campaign — aiming for the same result, but instilling a sense of pride for a job well done.

    You could get the same illustrator to do different cartoon poster panels for stations and inside buses & trains, such as: “Thanks for keeping your feet off the seats!” “Thanks for keeping your phone conversation to a reasonable volume level!” “Thanks for exiting by the rear doors!” “Thanks for picking up your garbage!” “Thanks for giving your seat to Grandpa even when it’s crowded — he really needs it!”

    You could take the idea even further by dressing a couple people up in flashy “Super Etiquette Man/Woman” superhero costumes and have them ride buses and trains looking for good behaviour. They could surprise passengers by announcing the good deed witnessed (“You have a lot of shopping bags, but put them all under your seat instead of being annoying by taking up two seats!” “You voluntarily gave up your seat for someone who needed it more than you!”), and handing out token prizes (buttons, coupons, ball-point pens, etc.) to reward such GOOD behaviour! I dunno maybe that’s a little overboard/weird, but it could be fun, and if it gets others to think about changing undesirable habits, then goal achieved. :)

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, November 21, 2011 @ 10:48 pm

    Hi everyone:

    I love reading these comments. All of you have really thought about this campaign which is great to read!

    Todd: “Do you think those engaged in the behaviours you’re describing in the contest are reading The Buzzer and give much of a care about what bothers other people?”
    – Since this campaign lives on Facebook, it is primarily focused on a non-Buzzer blog. There is however overlap between our Buzzer blog audience and our Facebook and other audiences, so it made sense to me to put this content on the Buzzer blog. Besides, I find that Buzzer audience to be very thoughtful and intelligent so I saw no reason not to post this campaign here. Comments such as yours make me think more about the campaign and future ones so that they can be better.

    “How are they benefitting from this campaign?”
    – It’s my hope that someone who may share the same traits as these characters will participate in the battle and realize that their actions are not positive ones. The below comment from Reva illustrates someone I think could benefit from this campaign. The young man mentioned seems like someone who does think about others in some situations, but not in others:

    “Some suave young dude sitting near the front was yakking away on his cell phone in loudly animated Italian, hand gestures and everything. The other passengers were giving him dirty looks, when suddenly an elderly woman with a cane hobbled on to the bus. This guy jumps up out of his seat, clears people out of grandma’s way, takes her gently by the elbow, and escorts her safely to the seat he just vacated — and all without stopping his crazy phone conversation!…”

    “In a way, the accompanying text for each character (later text mind you) is to provide constructive ways for people to have a more positive experience on transit.

    How does that work, exactly?” – I’ll use the text for Hungry Hamster as an example: Eating food in a moving vehicle is a recipe for disaster. A sudden stop could send yourfood flying to the floor, into your lap, or – even worse – into someone else’s lap. And other passengers may not enjoy the smell of your food as much as you do. Save your lunch for later!
    – This text was written to convey to people how the peevish action can be resolved positively.

    As I mentioned once before, this is the first time we’ve tried a campaign like this before. I think the argument of focusing on the positive is a valid one and is one I’ll be looking into for future campaigns.

    Thanks as always Todd for you comments!

  • By Todd, November 22, 2011 @ 9:01 am

    Thanks for the responses Robert. I’ll round out with a comment more general than the Buzzer’s contest only because you’ve been good enough to facilitate both specific and broader comments.

    The crux of my discomfort with the contest and the general tone of Translink communications is that riders, who in the vast majority are well behaved and want a good system, are talked down to. We get posters that constantly tell us what not to do, this contest’s orientation, ongoing talk from Translink about fare evasion as if it were more than 4% of all riders. It seems the focus is always on managing riders as a problem, rather than treating us as partners who are in this together.

    We feel the pain you guys feel about funding. We watch with sadness as the province keeps turning off ways to fund good transit. We know it’s not easy, but we’re on your side yet we’re constantly treated like we’re not.

    The more we emphasize negative behaviour, the more we provide social evidence for it being normal, and the less someone feels bad for being ‘one of those people’. All of the behaviours described in the contest could have been turned around to encourage positive behaviour: keep your food wrapped up to avoid a mess; keep your music turned down to keep everyone happy and to hear important announcements; be a hero and give your seat to someone in need.

    Moreover, giving people tools for making friendly requests of offenders in these situations, rather than depicting them animals, might actually help people negotiate better rides overall. It’s time to go beyond cheap marketing gags and to get serious about being partners with us riders who do care, who do want comfortable and safe rides, who do know there is more to life than complaining about people who don’t do it right. I really hope Translink can make a shift in thinking that moves away from emphasizing the negative and towards what we all want: good transit. Thanks for reading; between the Twitter gang and yourself, I feel we get heard more here than through the official feedback form, which I’ve never gotten a response to despite asking for one. Please keep up that openness.

  • By DB, November 22, 2011 @ 5:21 pm

    I’m with Todd on this one. In fact, the whole habit of thanking the driver upon alighting from the bus is something I’ve found unique to Vancouver, and kind of charming. Celebrate that kind of stuff, those human interactions (which one doesn’t get nearly as often in a car), and lay off the negativity. Most riders are great, normal people, and campaigns like this (and the whole business with fare evasion/gates, as mentioned above) really detract from that. And as Todd notes, thanks for the responsiveness, the listening, and the engagement work you buzzer types do.

  • By Derp, November 22, 2011 @ 6:23 pm

    A good example might have been ICBC’s current campaign where they seek to reward good behaviour.

  • By Bob, November 29, 2011 @ 4:39 pm

    I know i’m late to the party but i wanted to voice my biggest peeve. Why the f**k must so many drivers insist on turning onthe heater full? They must know it’s broiling on the bus as they generally have their window and/hatch open to cool them. Riders are dressed for the weather and although it’s nice to get into a warm space after waiting for 20 minutes, it quickly becomes uncomfortable to the point of sweating. Opening a window is an option if you can reach one or if the person seated next to it doesn’tmind the cold wind blowing down the back of their neck (not likely)

  • By Todd, November 29, 2011 @ 5:39 pm

    @Bob It’s probably tough for drivers to judge how hot or cold the whole bus is. They’re up front where the door opens every couple minutes, and heat takes a while to move through the whole bus which is quite big. I feel for you, but it’s one of those problems that is probably harder to solve than it seems.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, November 29, 2011 @ 9:06 pm

    Hi Bob and Todd: The temperature on transit is a common observation. Todd is right, there isn’t an easy answer to it. The heaters are usually automatic on buses. That means they kick in when the thermostat hits a certain temperature. The driver can ingage them as well, but there are set to reach a preset temperature once engaged. Because the bus driver is feeling one temperature (maybe warmer at times than the rest of the bus if the heater is engaged because he/she has heat pointed directly at them), they often don’t know if the rest of the bus is too cold or hot. Added to this is the fact that everyone has a different idea of what the ideal temperature should be.

    If you’re too cold or hot, the best thing to do is to ask the bus driver to adjust the temperature if they can.

  • By ???, November 29, 2011 @ 9:11 pm

    It’s also a safety factor…. a heater set to hot also means the windshield doesn’t get fogged up as easily. Wipers also do a better job cleaning as the rubber stays soft.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, December 9, 2011 @ 11:24 am

    ???: That’s a great point!

Other Links to this Post

  1. Transit Pet Peeves: One person’s contest, another person’s social inclusion setback — November 22, 2011 @ 4:08 pm

  2. The Buzzer blog » The December 2011 Buzzer, and Dani Vachon: Buzzer illustrator interview — December 7, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

  3. The Buzzer blog » TransLink wins three 2012 APTA AdWheel Awards and one IABC Gold Quill Award including best blog, best Twitter channel and best Facebook campaign! — August 27, 2012 @ 3:15 pm

  4. The Buzzer blog » Look: we’ve got our APTA 2012 awards! — October 2, 2012 @ 11:45 am

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