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Translink Buzzer Blog

So You Think You Can Busk? We want to hear you at our 2014 busker auditions!


Duo performance

A duo auditioning at last year’s So You Think You Can Busk? 

Attention all buskers! TransLink will be holding our annual busker auditions at our head office next to Sapperton Station on December 10!

For 28 years, buskers have been part of the culture of transit in Metro Vancouver. Expo ’86 brought an influx of street performers and it was deemed busking performers would make a nice addition to the SkyTrain system. We’re so happy is was!

Since then, musicians of every ilk have provided riders with entertainment and a soundtrack to their travels. Buskers help make the six SkyTrain stations in downtown Vancouver more vibrant adding a bit of music to the environment.

Every year, licenses open up for new buskers to join seasoned veterans already playing on the system. Interested in busking on the system? Think you got what it takes?

All you need to do is fill out the application form and submit it in-person to TransLink’s head office at 400 – 287 Nelson’s Court, New Westminster, BC by December 3, 2014 to enter the audition process.

Once applications are submitted, qualified buskers will be invited to audition on Wednesday, December 10 from 10 am to 4 pm.


When: Wednesday, December 10 from 10 am to 4 pm
Where: TransLink Head Office, 400 – 287 Nelson’s Court, New Westminster, BC

Successful candidates will be offered a license to perform at select stations, located primarily in the downtown core for one year from January to December 2015.

Audition spots are on a limited first-come-first serve basis; once filled, no further applications will be accepted. Successful candidates will be required to attend a mandatory licensing session soon after auditioning. New licenses will take effect January 1, 2015. Cost for the annual license is $ 75.00.

Last year, eight busker licenses were up for grabs and we had nearly 50 musicians apply to audition. Click here to see what happened!

Author: Allen Tung


  • By Sheba, November 17, 2014 @ 6:49 pm

    Why primarily downtown? New Westminster Station has plenty of space on the ticket level – and I doubt the stores would hate it.

    Speaking of New Westminster Station, was anyone at TransLink thinking of sharing this?

  • By Allen Tung, November 19, 2014 @ 9:51 am

    Hi Sheba. We choose the locations carefully in order to maximize the value to our performers. Factors we consider include available space for the performer, passenger flow and activities occurring in and around the station, and most importantly where the performers want to play! In the past, we found New Westminster Station wasn’t a popular choice among performers for a number of reasons.

    As for the New Westminster Station Upgrades, we’ll be sharing details about construction, including night time work, with neighbours and passengers in early 2015.

  • By Eugene Wong, November 25, 2014 @ 7:10 pm

    That article is full of surprises.

    I don’t understand why they need to do it during the night, whereas with Main St, they insisted on doing it during the day. With Main St, there is Train To Main, but with other stations, Translink insists on disrupting everybody.

    I also don’t understand why they need to change anything. The station is supposed to be fully upgraded by now, isn’t it? After all that construction, they want to remove escalators. Why didn’t they deal with that when they were building before? Perhaps they wanted to get more use out of the old escalators. I don’t know. Escalators are not a big deal to me, but it seems odd that there is always something that needs more money.

    There seem to be so many questions, but the only answers that seem to be coming are the answers that tell us what a zone is or what a transfer is. I suspect that we’ll see blog posts about what a SkyTrain or a bus looks like.

  • By Sheba, November 26, 2014 @ 10:23 am

    Eugene: The work that was done previously at New West Station was for the new development (stores and towers). Next to nothing was done to upgrade the station itself. Personally I think this was a stupid idea, as a lot of the work could have easily been done at the same time (and it’s usually cheaper to do it then instead of after the fact).

    It would help if TransLink would improve their PR efforts. Why wait until the last second to tell people anything, esp when there are articles in the local papers about it?

  • By Eugene Wong, November 27, 2014 @ 2:22 am

    @ Sheba

    Well, they did change the stuff over the platform and tracks, so it wasn’t entirely by the development and for the development. Maybe Translink had to hire a separate contractor to develop the stuff mentioned in the article.

    If there is nothing to worry about, then their PR efforts are to blame. The fact that they are so secretive pretty much makes them guilty. A short answer to a simple question would have put an end to this before it even started.

    I really wish that I could be a fly on the wall, and get a look at the PR departments. Who on earth keeps denying us information?

  • By Sheba, November 27, 2014 @ 9:59 pm

    Eugene: “If there is nothing to worry about, then their PR efforts are to blame. The fact that they are so secretive pretty much makes them guilty. A short answer to a simple question would have put an end to this before it even started.”

    Their PR has been abysmal for quite some time, as I’ve been saying on here for awhile. They’re behaving extremely secretively, so it’s no wonder people are suspicious. The entire dept. should really take ‘Information Sharing 101’ and then put what they learn info practice.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, November 28, 2014 @ 10:33 am

    Hi Sheba and Eugene:

    I’ve been following your conversation and wanted to add a little context. Eugene: To answer your questions about Train2Main, there was night time work for Train2Main as well as daytime work. The Train2Main was due to the change in the platform length.

    It’s my understanding that they New West Station upgrades are part of the overall upgrade of the Expo line. The New West upgrade will improve accessibility, safety and security at that station.

    Sheba: As for why these upgrades weren’t done when Plaza 88 renovations happened, I’ll look into that for you.

    Eugene and Sheba: I can tell you that when we at the Buzzer get information about projects like this we try our best to publish that info a.s.a.p. However, when large projects like this are still in the design stage, we don’t release information until we know that information is correct. Project like this have a lot of variables and are just one of many projects TransLink is working on. That said, when info like this gets reported in the media, it obviously gets people talking. I’m going to look into how we can release information quicker. Perhaps we can post in the future a reminder post that there will be improvements made at “x” station and that we will update everyone as soon as we can about it. Like a reminder to this post – Let me know what you think about that idea.

  • By Sheba, November 28, 2014 @ 9:37 pm

    Robert: I can’t speak for Eugene, but I suspect his complaint is very much the same as mine. It’s not that the Buzzer is trying to hide information, but TransLink as a whole certainly has been.

    For example the Information Sessions for Joyce Station. Why is it that it was just announced today, a Friday, and it’s happening on Monday. From a planning standpoint TransLink knew about it well before today – so why keep quiet about it until now? That seems to be TransLink’s standard operating procedure – say as little as possible as late as possible.

    I understand that finalized information isn’t always available, but not sharing anything is just making it look like TransLink is trying to hide something.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, December 1, 2014 @ 10:53 am

    Hi Sheba:

    Thanks for explaining your point. I agree we can do better to inform people in advance. It’s good to note that all TransLink events are posted on the events calendar – as well as in newspaper ads. To remind everyone, the open house for station upgrades to Metrotown is this Wednesday and Commercial Broadway is Thursday. I’ll make sure to put a post up about these two events today.

  • By Eugene Wong, December 16, 2014 @ 5:26 pm

    @ Robert & Sheba

    I have to add a couple of disclaimers.

    1) When I recently took a SkyTrain ride through New Westminster Station, I was surprised to see all the green metal above the tracks. I guess that I completely forgot about it. Maybe they have to remove it, and therefore, they will remove it at night for the sake of safety.

    2) I wish that I replied earlier, because I did not want to keep anybody waiting. It’s just that I got a little busy, and I also wanted to give myself time to think about what to write.

    I think that Sheba hit the nail on the head. Translink doesn’t have to release all information on day 1. People don’t mind giving you time to hunt down information and then make sure it is all correct.

    However, some things are obviously true, so there’s no need to hold that information back. Even a simple announcement of safe rumours floating around the office are okay, in my opinion, as long as you add the disclaimer that you are verifying the information.

    I’m not asking you to share actual rumours, but it’s silly to hold back on information like the Plaza 88 upgrades, when they’ve all ready been contracted to do the work. I remember that you didn’t even comment or hint about them, when they began their first phase of construction. I think, that by then, it’s safe to say that they are going to build something. Wouldn’t you agree?

    The fact that you are silent about these things, and the fact that you are evasive and unresponsive, makes me think that you are being like politicians: never answer the question asked; always answer the question that you want.

    Robert, when you talk about releasing information as quickly as possible, I get the impression that you know that something is true, but an application for information release has to sit on a desk of a busy VP, who doesn’t have time for it, and then denies it just to save time. Is this true? If the VP finally gets a chance a week later to approve the release of the information immediately, then is that “as quickly as possible”?

  • By Eugene Wong, December 16, 2014 @ 5:42 pm

    @ Robert

    I forgot to respond to this: ‘Perhaps we can post in the future a reminder post that there will be improvements made at “x” station and that we will update everyone as soon as we can about it. Like a reminder to this post – Let me know what you think about that idea.’

    Reminder posts are great. I encourage you to do what you seem to suggest. However, my main gripe, and it seems to be Sheba’s, is that you often seem to not post the “first” announcement at all.

    The construction of Plaza 88 is something to brag about. We ought to be telling you to shut it [i.e.: stop all the announcements all ready], but you guys didn’t even mention it once, at the early stages. You seem to have no incentive to be quiet, and no obstacles to telling us about it, but you don’t say a word. I’m baffled.

    Also, for other kinds of construction and maintenance, you do make announcements, but you do not always explain the decisions behind them. I’m still not clear on why some construction can occur at night, while others cannot.

    Why does SkyTrain run in a certain manner, but not the other? Is it because somebody says that it has to, and that’s the only reason, but you can’t admit it publically?

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, December 17, 2014 @ 3:55 pm

    Hi Eugene:

    Thanks for you comments. I believe we are on the same about not publishing rumours. As for not notifying Buzzer readers early about the New West Station upgrades, we apologize for that and as noted we will try better to notify people in advance via the blog about future public meetings. Like yourself, I too get busy and unfortunately, info about all of TransLinks projects are not always passed onto me in advance and I sometimes need to track them down since people working on these projects are also busy. TransLink Communications is working on how to release info earlier when the info is ready to be released.

    As for your comment about how info is released, I and the other Buzzer contributes try our best to share as much info as possible with our readers. No, not all info needs to be approved by someone else, but the info we release needs to be accurate.

    I’m a passionate person about transit, and I wouldn’t have taken this job if I wasn’t able to share all the exciting work that TransLink is involved in. I can tell you in all honesty that TL isn’t interested in holding info back. Can we do better? Yes, and we’ll try our best!

    As for construction happening at night sometimes and not others, there are a number of factors at play. For each project, there are a number of stakeholders involved. They usually include different levels of government, business and the community surrounding the construction to name just a few. TransLink needs to work with these stakeholders to reach an agreement about the scope of work. In some instances work at night is preferred by stakeholders. In others, the stakeholders take issue with work at night for obvious reasons. Each case is different. For TransLink, we look at how we can work best with the stakeholders, how can we not disrupt commuters during construction, how can we stay on budget and how we can provide the best transit we can.

    Like station upgrades, SkyTrain decisions are made in consultation with stakeholders. Decisions are not arbitrary.

    Sheba: I’m still waiting for an answer about Plaza 88 and why station upgrades didn’t happen at that time. Stay tuned!

  • By Eugene Wong, December 18, 2014 @ 9:35 pm

    @ Robert

    Thanks for the explanation. It’s so obvious in hind sight: each project has different needs and consequences and stakeholders, so naturally, the leaders must factor those things in their decisions. I could have figured that out, if I thought about it thoroughly, but I didn’t even start to think about it. I appreciate your explanation.

    Regarding the topics that the Buzzer covers, I don’t expect that every wonderful and/or important issue be written about at this blog; not that you implied it, though. I understand that you are a communications department first and foremost, and not a news agency.

    Thanks for your apology.

    Regarding stuff that is difficult to release, if you can release some of it, but not all, then I suggest releasing it as a small blurb in a links-and-tidbits type of blog post. If people want more, then just let them know that you can’t release any info just yet. If people sense that you are doing what you can, then even a little bit is way more than enough…I think. *shrug*

    On a slightly unrelated note, I wondered about Train To Main a while ago, and never got a satisfactory answer. As I wrote this reply, I finally figured it out. Train To Main happened because both tracks were available, but when you do track maintenance during the day, then you only have 1 track.

    Would Translink be able to create a blog post about the constraints about setting up trains and coordinating them?
    Here are some suggested questions.
    1) What needed to happen for Train To Main to be a success?
    2) Is Train To Metrotown technologically possible?
    3) Does it cost more to have a Train To ____ service?
    4) Do you have to hire new programmers every time Translink needs to do something different?
    5) How hard it is to program software at SkyTrain control?

    These aren’t pressing questions, but I think that they are important, because people might miss a connection after they get off of SkyTrain, when it is not frequent. If their suggestions for improvement aren’t being used, then helping us to understand the constraints can help to gain the support of the people, who have negative experiences.

    We live in a technological age, so when something doesn’t happen instantly, I do tend to wonder what is going on. It isn’t always about patience or lack thereof, though. It’s about a judicious use of time, and it’s also about helping the supporter to say that the consequences are worth it.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, December 19, 2014 @ 3:48 pm

    Hi Eugene. Thanks for the comment. I like your suggestions. Let me ponder them in the new year. I think we can do at least one of them for sure!

    Sheba: I finally have an answer for you about why improvements were not made when the Plaza 88 renovation happened. The short answer is that there were improvements made. Those included new lighting and safety measures. However, we did ear mark that some more improvements were needed at the time. However, there was no funding available to make those further improvements at the time. That funding came through along with the rest of the Expo Line funding improvements and that is how we are now able to move forward with the improvements. Like many things, it was a funding issue.

    I hope that answers your question.

  • By Eugene Wong, December 20, 2014 @ 1:00 am

    @ Robert

    A while ago, a Buzzer blog post mentioned something about how the CFO got award for her ability to secure funding. Is the Plaza 88 funding an example of what she must have got?

    I must say that it is interesting that funding can come in stages before the project is even finished. Maybe any misconceptions are a result of the success of Translinks projects. After all, how often do we hear of mega-projects that just stop for months or years?

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