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#ThanksTransit on Transit Operator and Worker Appreciation Day

#ThanksTransit on Transit Operator and Worker Appreciation Day

Bus operator standing at the door of a bus

We’re joining transit agencies across Canada in celebrating Transit Operator and Worker Appreciation Day on March 18 — a day set aside to honour and appreciate transit workers.

Here at TransLink, we have adopted a saying: Together all the way. It means that we are here to help our customers reach their destinations and get home again – safely, reliably and affordably.

Our employees are united by the common goal of delivering the best to our customers no matter where they work — the shop floor, in the drivers’ seat, planning for the future, managing our Compass Card system, keeping customers safe, or staffing our stations, just to name a few.

We invite you in joining us in giving thanks.

Show your appreciation

Let transit operators and workers know how much you appreciate them:

  • Use the hashtag #ThanksTransit on social media. Make sure you mention @TransLink so everyone knows you’re giving kudos to a Metro Vancouver transit worker.
  • Call Customer Information at 604.953.3333 and leave a commendation for a transit worker.

Meet a transit worker

Here’s a snapshot of some of the transit workers who help deliver a safe and reliable transit system. A big thank-you to them!

Laura Pineault, a West Coast Express train conductor

Laura Pineault

Train Conductor

The West Coast Express is our commuter rail service that travels between Downtown Vancouver and Mission City on weekdays during morning and evening rush hours. The trains travel to Downtown Vancouver in the mornings and to Mission in the evenings. Each train is staffed by Train Conductors like Laura Pineault, who started working as part of Metro Vancouver transit in 2015.

“I enjoy the quality of life, the relationships you make with passengers and colleagues on board. It is freeing to work in a job that brings you happiness and when you can relate to people who are on the train,” says Laura.

Looking at her journey to West Coast Express, Laura recognizes that it was almost accidental that she has ended up ferrying customers between Vancouver and Mission. Her original career path was more strongly tied to tourism but being keen to get into the industry at an early age meant she took a sideways step that changed the rest of her life.

“I wanted to work for the tourism industry. I applied for a job at VIA Rail for the onboard services, but unfortunately, I was not old enough to serve alcohol on the train. They offered me a job in customer service and being bilingual it was my foot in the door,” recalls Laura.

Being exposed to the behind-the-scenes operations of VIA as a customer service agent, Laura soon found herself accumulating a wealth of knowledge and a distinct interest in the mechanics of the trains she saw every day. “A job posting came up for the maintenance centre. It was a three-month training program to become a locomotive attendant, operating the engines and the rail cars in the yard. I decided that I would apply and try it out and it just ended up being something that I really enjoyed doing!”

» Read more of Laura’s story

Andrew Leung, a BCRTC Vehicle Technician

Andrew Leung

Vehicle Technician

Andrew Leung has spent his career working with trains. He worked with freight railway companies before joining SkyTrain in 2000 where he works as a Vehicle Technician. In his role, he’s responsible for all things related to the SkyTrain cars such as inspections and repairs. Most days are spent in the shop at the Operations and Maintenance Centre, near Edmonds Station. On this particular day, Andrew was looking after a SkyTrain car that was due for an inspection.

It’s a thorough and meticulous process. Once powered down, the initial inspection takes about five hours to complete. Next, the train is safely re-powered to simulate the train under normal operating conditions for one final check. Once the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed, the train can be released to carry SkyTrain customers once again until its next scheduled inspection.

Other times Vehicle Technicians could be completing repairs to broken seats and lights as the trains come into the Operations and Maintenance Centre for cleaning. They could also be out on the SkyTrain line troubleshooting issues with trains so customers can keep moving.

Kerry McMahon, a CMBC maintenance planner

Kerry McMahon

Maintenance Planner

Just like cars, buses have scheduled maintenance for things like oil changes — but how do you do it for more than 1,400 buses? That’s where Maintenance Planners like Kerry McMahon come into the picture to ensure a safe and reliable transit system.

“I’m responsible for making sure that they don’t go overdue for any of their inspections,” explains Kerry, who works out of the Hamilton Transit Centre bus depot. “I have to keep track of all their mileage, and make sure that they’re being brought into the shop when they need to be for their preventative maintenance and stuff like that.”

Sounds easy? Not quite. It’s more than spreadsheets and calculators. Coast Mountain Bus Company operates buses that are powered by diesel, hybrid, battery-electric, electric trolley wires, and compressed natural gas — each with different maintenance regimens. And then there’s the different bus manufacturers and vehicle lengths.

Each bus also has different mileage depending on the schedule its put on. There are some buses that are out for more than 24 hours, while there are others that are only out for a few hours to help deliver service during peak times. Maintenance Planners work to control mileage by ensuring the schedules the bus operates on matches up with when it’s due for maintenance.

Sunita Parmar, a corporate receptionist at TransLink

Sunita Parmar

Corporate Receptionist 

Sunita Parmar is one of the voices you hear on the other end of the phone when you call TransLink’s head office. She is also the first person to greet people arriving at the office, whether it’s guests visiting for meetings, current employees, or new employees coming in for their first day.

Reception is “a lot of fun” for Sunita, adding she enjoys meeting locals as well as guests from around the world coming in for meetings. Then there are new employees coming in for their first day, which Sunita takes a lot of pride in getting to know them, and helping them feel comfortable and excited about working for the TransLink enterprise.

“To me, first impressions are very important,” says Sunita. “I always strive to leave a good impression on everyone that deals with our enterprise — it’s really positive for our company.”

Sometimes there are customers who call reception too, sharing their feedback on how we can improve our transit service. Sunita always tries her best to address the questions that customers have before transferring them to the appropriate department. “I always hope that I can help that person and resolve their concerns and make the rest of their day smoother and better,” she says.

Since the social aspect of work is what Sunita loves the most about her job, the last year or so has been different. “I miss all my colleagues and our guests and feeling the fast pace of the enterprise moving around me!”

Despite all the challenges, Sunita stays positive and loves coming to work every day. “I will say that I am excited and positive about the future when we can go back to a somewhat normal workplace!”

Cst. Darren Chua, Metro Vancouver Transit Police

Cst. Darren Chua

Neighbourhood Police Officer for Surrey, Langley, North Delta and White Rock

Everyone’s had to pivot in the last year or so, and often multiple times. For Cst. Darren Chua with the Metro Vancouver Transit Police, that has meant moving back to patrolling the transit system and later a secondment to the Federal Integrated Quarantine Enforcement Team.

As a Neighbourhood Police Officer, Cst. Chua focuses on building meaningful relationships in the community and identifying persistent crime trends, then pulling those two aspects together to reduce crime. But operational changes at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic saw him to return to patrol as Transit Police took measures to reduce the spread of the virus by reducing the working days of its patrol officers. As a result, some officers like him in specialty sections were required to return to patrol to backfill shifts. In the end, Transit Police had more officers out on the system doing patrol but working less days than usual.

After a few months of backfilling for patrol, Cst. Chua was seconded to the Federal Integrated Quarantine Enforcement Team. The team comprised officers from the RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency, Provincial Health Authority, and municipal police departments. Their main task was enforcing the federal Quarantine Act and ensuring travellers entering Canada were abiding by the quarantine rules.

“This was definitely a drastic change from my previous duties in patrol and community policing,” says Cst. Chua, who returned to his role as a Neighbourhood Police Officer in January. “In just shy of the one-year term that I served on the team, I had the opportunity to work with the different agencies and travelled to almost every municipality in and around the Lower Mainland.”

Dominique Rai, an Access Transit Customer Care Representative at Coast Mountain Bus Company

Dominique Rai

Customer Care Representative

As a Customer Care Representative at Coast Mountain Bus Company’s Access Transit department, Dominique Rai is a main point of contact for HandyDART customers who need assistance with their HandyDART and HandyCard Application forms and registration to those two programs.

The last year or so has challenged us all to be flexible and it has been no different for Dominique. More than half of the Customer Care team is now working from home, while others work in the office on a part-time basis. But what hasn’t changed is their unwavering commitment to serving the customer.

“Our customers should know that we have always and will continue to always prioritize their needs,” she says. “As a department, we are passionate about helping our customers to the best of our abilities and providing them with exceptional customer service.”

Access Transit has continued to register customers for their programs in one to two days and have been able to process payments and send out TaxiSavers rapidly. Dominique adds, “Since our customers’ safety is our top priority, we adjusted some of our registration procedures so that they were able to register for the HandyDART and HandyCard services without having to leave their homes.”

There has also been a silver lining for Dominque. It has given her time to pursue her hobbies, spend more time baking and pursue further education. She’s currently enrolled in a Human Resources Certificate program to further her career in the company.

Read more stories about our transit operators and workers