Links & Tidbits: new escalators at Waterfront, transit priority signal at Metrotown and more!

Links & Tidbits: new escalators at Waterfront, transit priority signal at Metrotown and more!

Links & Tidbits is our semi-regular roundup of interesting fodder about transportation and TransLink from the last few weeks or so. If you have links to contribute, put them in the comments with a few sentences about what it’s about! 

▪️ As part of the TransLink Maintenance and Upgrade Program, we’ve been replacing 37 escalators at 13 SkyTrain stations along the Expo Line and at select West Coast Express stations. At Waterfront Station, we’ve now completed four out of five escalator replacements. The Howe Street entrance now has two new escalators that are heavier-duty models, which means less downtime for maintenance to help keep you moving. Replacement of the final escalator is underway. Construction is expected to finish by summer 2021.

New escalators at Waterfront Station's Howe Street entrance

▪️ Customers who ride the 12 different routes that use the bus loop at Metrotown Station can expect more reliable travel times with a new left turn, transit priority signal! The left turn from Central Boulevard into the bus loop had been a spot for delays for buses. TransLink, the City of Burnaby and a local company worked together to implement a system that uses lasers to detect buses, activating a special LED signal that gives buses a protected left turn into the bus loop.

Bus priority signal at Metrotown Station (Photo Credit - City of Burnaby)Photo: City of Burnaby

▪️ Laureen Regan is the voice of SkyTrain announcements. It’s been a while since we’ve checked in with her, but thanks to Twitter, we have an update on her: she’s now also the voice of the SF Muni system.

▪️ Across the Atlantic Ocean, the London Underground has a different voice for announcements. They’ve tasked young Megan to make safety announcements at Victoria Station, asking people to hold on when riding the escalators.

▪️ The iconic London Underground map could be in for a major redesign, which was first introduced in 1931! London mayor Sadiq Khan has announced plans to redesign the map if he wins the mayoral election.

▪️ Also in London, Adidas has made a trainer shoe for each of the lines. Psst…Adidas, drop us a line — we’d love trainers for the Expo, Millennium and Canada Lines.

▪️ From the Atlantic to the Pacific. In Tokyo, a cat has been spotted riding the Seibu Ikebukuro line by himself for many years.

▪️ It’s widely accepted the next frontier is public transit is full electrification. We’re well on our way here in Metro Vancouver with TransLink adopting a low carbon fleet strategy and four battery-electric buses in service on the 100 route. One of the companies manufacturing battery-electric buses is Proterra, a clean energy startup founded by a former Tesla employee. Bloomberg QuickTake has the story.

▪️ Bus manufacturer New Flyer has unveiled its latest battery-electric bus — the New Xcelsior CHARGE NG™! The company says it features extended range, lighter weight battery packaging and improved energy recovery.

▪️ Still on battery-electric buses, our neighbours at King County Metro in Seattle just welcomed their first of 40 articulated, battery-electric buses.

▪️ Speaking of battery-electric buses and the future of public transportation, how about flying trains? A French firm has a train with wings that can be attached to it to become an airplane. Or what about electric unicycles?

▪️ Through our Safe Operating Action Plan, we’re working hard to keep transit safe with changes at stations and on vehicles designed to improve sanitation, promote physical distancing, and avoid overcrowding where possible. The New York Times reports new studies in Europe and Asia suggest that riding public transportation is not a major source of transmission for the coronavirus.

▪️ A study commissioned by the American Public Transportation Association had similar results. It found no correlation has been found between use of public transport and the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

▪️ On COVID-19, is the death of transit imminent? Absolutely not. In fact, it’s more important than ever as Metro Vancouver’s economy recovers. Geoff Cross, TransLink’s vice-president of planning and policy, spoke to Postmedia about this.

▪️ And of course, when riding public transportation, it’s important to remember your transit etiquette. LA Metro’s Metro Manners campaign have been a favourite of ours, perhaps second only to the Seth Rogen etiquette announcements that ran on our system. In 2018, LA Metro added Danny Trejo to their campaign.

▪️ We must remind you that Rogen is a huge fan of public transit, taking it “all the time” to go to the Richmond Night Market.

▪️ Speaking of the Richmond Night Market, its organizers have announced a plan to return this year as long as public health orders permit. If and when it returns, transit will get you there! It’s right by the SkyTrain’s Bridgeport Station on the Canada Line.

▪️ The Canada Line appears to be popular with celebrities. Riverdale actors were spotted riding the SkyTrain’s Canada Line.

▪️ Do you know what else is popular? The “SeaBus memes” Instagram account. Nope, not affiliated with us. Global BC recently did a story on this popular social media account.

▪️ There’s now more ways to get your transit information. Lyft recently added our real-time transit information to its app using our publicly available data feeds. A couple of years ago CityLab covered how partnerships between traditional public transportation agencies in the United States, and Uber and Lyft have been booming since 2016.

▪️ More on the United States. Vox had a whole series covering the 2020 Presidential election, including a video on why public transit is so bad in country.

▪️ If you want another perspective on the challenges of public transit in the United States, check out this video from Wendover Productions on YouTube.

▪️ US President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan could help fund construction for a true high-speed rail line that take passengers from Boston to New York City in 100 minutes. The Washington, D.C.–Philadelphia–New York–Boston corridor is one of the busiest for travel. The ridership on Amtrak’s Acela train is more than 3.4 million annually.

▪️ We wrap up this edition of Links & Tidbits with this story from blogTO on the first Toronto subway cars.