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TransLink news, commentary, and behind-the-scenes stories.

Emily Carr student illustrations capture customers’ transit etiquette

Emily Carr student illustrations capture customers’ transit etiquette

By Kimberly Parker

If you take public transit, you probably have a pet peeve, right? That guy who’s talking loudly on the phone the entire time, and now everyone on the bus/SkyTrain knows why he broke up with his significant other.

Those folks occupying priority seats and ignoring senior/pregnant/people with mobility issues/people with invisible disabilities – anyone, who could really use that seat.

What about those with huge backpacks? We are sure some of you were hit by one of those flying backpacks and the owner never realized it.

When it comes to public transit, etiquette is paramount. How you behave on transit is a reflection of your ethos.

With Seth Rogen as our guest voice on transit, we aimed to shine the spotlight on transit etiquette.

And now with this collaboration with Emily Carr University of Art + Design (ECUAD), we aim to take a look at transit etiquette through the eyes of students who are also transit users themselves.

We needed to refresh our 2013 etiquette campaign so it speaks to a new generation of customers that take transit now – especially where conversations are dominated by social media.

We researched a number of similar campaigns across the country, the U.S., and internationally.

The idea of an Art on Transit project stemmed from a program the Association of Book Publishers of BC (ABPBC) that BC Transit (then TransLink) developed to showcase published BC poets’ poetry on transit. The Poetry in Transit (PiT) program is celebrating its 22nd anniversary September 2018. The poems are printed and displayed inside buses throughout region. Customers have sent us very positive feedback on the PiT program over the years. In a region where the skies are grey so much of the year, poetry and art help lift our spirits.

TransLink had worked with Justin Novak (Associate Professor at ECUAD) on the Art on Transit project in 2011 and again in 2013. The idea was to showcase ECUAD’s students’ illustrations on transit to make the journey more colourful and inspiring.

By YingChen Mai

Employees from Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC), SkyTrain, West Coast Express (WCE), Transit Police, Customer Information (CI) and TransLink worked together to compile the top five etiquette issues that customers have shared with them.

The top five transit etiquette issues for the 2018 campaign are:

  • People who stand in front of the doors blocking people from exiting and entering, instead of stepping away from the doors to allow customers to exit and get back on.
  • People who don’t remove their backpacks on transit, who bump into people, snag on others and take up too much space so others can’t get by them;
  • People who put their feet on seats;
  • People not getting out of the courtesy/priority seats for the people who need them; and
  • People putting their bags/belongings on seats beside them, preventing others from being able to sit down.

More than 40 students of the fourth-year illustration course at ECUAD, taught by Professors Novak, Amory Abbott, and Daniel Drennan ElAwar, brought their own sense of creativity to the project.

By Amy Vanden Berg


By Susie Wilson


By Autumn Quigley

Each student was assigned one of five etiquette subjects to illustrate, with nine entries for each subject.

Most of the participating students take transit and a lot of them had experienced poor transit etiquette from others on transit.

The students were asked to come up with illustrations that educate, but not patronize; and get the message across in a fun way. The students had to focus their illustrations on depicting the transit behaviour without words.

After four weeks of illustrating their assigned transit etiquette issue and how they’d like other transit users to behave, a jury selected the final illustrations. The jury members included representatives from CMBC, SkyTrain, West Coast Express, Customer Information, TransLink and Transit Police.

Each jury member reviewed the final submissions in the portal site, and submitted their top two choices for each etiquette.

By Kimberly Parker

This project was successful in that it gave fourth-year students most of who were graduating a project they would expect working after graduation where they are tasked to create an illustration on a set subject matter, which would be printed and used in a public messaging campaign. It also provided TransLink with a creative, fun and an entirely new way to communicate with our customers the topic of transit etiquette.

By Christine Wei

Graduates Christine Wei (an international student from Taiwan), Kimberly Parker, Susie Wilson, Autumn Quigley, Amy Vanden Berg and YingChen Mai’s illustrations are now on the transit system – inside buses, and on Canada, Expo and Millennium Line trains and stations.

Have you seen these illustrations on transit yet? Let us know what you think of them!

To learn more about etiquette on transit, visit:

Author: Tanushree Pillai and Jennifer Froese


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