Every year, we challenge teachers and K-12 students to take learning beyond the classroom during I Love Transit week, which is the first full week of October. We provide free bus rides for students and offer a chance to win a behind-the-scenes visit to TransLink.
It’s all part of our efforts to encourage kids to walk, bike or roll to school and to get to know the TransLink system. This way, kids are armed with the tools and skills to foster independence and become transit riders for life.
We’ve been offering free bus rides for close to 15 years and in 2014, we added the behind-the-scenes visit — called I Love Transit Camp — to bring kids even closer to transit. This year, we’re doing things a little differently and bringing a TransLink bus to a winning kindergarten to Grade 12 class in Metro Vancouver.
Andy Leung was in the first cohort who attended I Love Transit Camp. Fast forward six years, he’s now a student at the University of British Columbia, majoring in human geography and minoring in urban studies.
He speaks fondly of his experience at I Love Transit Camp, which included a visit to SkyTrain’s Operations and Maintenance Centre, the Burrard Otter II bridge where the SeaBus is operated, as well as a tour of TransLink bus and a Transit Police car.
“It reinforced my passion for transit,” he says, noting it helped steer him towards studying geography at UBC.
From a very young age, transit has been an important part of his life with his parents nurturing him to become a transit user for life.
His dad accompanied him to I Love Transit Camp and his mom took him all around Coquitlam and the Tri-Cities on transit when he was growing up. His sister uses the Park and Ride at Coquitlam Central Station, which costs only $3 to park all day, to take the SkyTrain to work in Surrey.
“And whenever we travelled, we barely rented a car — we actually took transit instead,” Andy says. “When we went to [car-centric cities like] San Diego or Los Angeles, we never rented a car. We just took transit there and that’s endured.”
While many of his classmates from high school have moved into dorms on campus, Andy happily makes the one-and-a-half hour transit commute from Coquitlam to UBC’s Point Grey campus, and to work on Hastings Street. He calls it a “soothing experience.”
“You can sleep on the bus, study before class, study or do whatever you want for an hour-and-a-half,” he says, adding sometimes it might be longer, depending on traffic, but you get to relax.
It also gives him time to practice his hobby: photography. Andy’s an active member of the local Metro Vancouver transit photography community where’s made many great friends sharing their passion for transit and exchanging ideas.
When asked to explain his love for transit, Andy says, “It’s a bit of everything. It’s environmentally friendly, it’s impacting climate change. There’re transit-oriented developments. It’s amazing how convenient it is, especially in Metro Vancouver where you can take the SkyTrain from Coquitlam, which is a suburb, into Vancouver in an hour-and-a-half or so.”
As well, Andy credits the Facebook group, Expo Line Memes for TransLink-Oriented Teens (ELMTOTs), for bridging regular riders with those who appreciate transit and its function around the community.
“It’s just fun. I just like taking transit. You can basically go anywhere in Metro Vancouver.”