Buzzer logo

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

Links & Tidbits: Keeping it clean with SkyTrain, celebrating TransLink employees, and news from the world of transit.

Links & Tidbits: Keeping it clean with SkyTrain, celebrating TransLink employees, and news from the world of transit.

Two TransLink executives sit at a table in a boardroom while a film crew captures the moment.
A behind the scenes shot from our time filming the employee recognition videos.

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!

DownieLive

Michael from DownieLive – a Vancouver-based adventure Youtuber – produced an informative, unique and extremely interesting video going behind the scenes at SkyTrain. Michael wanted to see how we cleaned our SkyTrains and busses and even gave it a shot himself. At one point he accidentally got whisked off to the next station! Our TransLink coworkers Mo, Danielle, and Dan took Michael all over our system from VCC-Clark station to Vancouver transit Centre to our SkyTrain Operations and Maintenance Centre.

Kevin Quinn gets his start

In July we were happy to welcome Kevin Quinn as the new TransLink CEO. He was previously the Chief Executive Officer of Maryland Transit Administration (MTA). Where he oversaw one of the largest multi-modal transit systems in the United States. With a mix of six transit modes, including buses, subway, light rail, paratransit, and commuter bus and rail, and over 100 million passengers a year, MTA has strong parallels to TransLink. Since we announced his hiring in late May, Kevin has driven across the country and settled into New Westminster. If you’re interested in getting to know Kevin, listen to his podcast with Buzzer editor Robert Willis. Or, check out our summary of Kevin’s media day with stories from CBC, Global BC, and the Vancouver Sun.

New York Times features SkyTrain Chime

The New York Times published an in-depth article on the “Hidden Subway Melodies” from around the world. The article features background on some of the most iconic subway door chimes and our beloved SkyTrain door sounds were featured! We’re delighted to know that our system is getting international recognition and that others pay just as much attention to the sounds of transit.

SkyTrain Babe

We were recently linked to a song called “SkyTrain Babe” by a local Vancouver based musician named Steve Jensen. The songs about developing a crush on someone with the same commute schedule on a crowded SkyTrain and never being able to work up the courage to talk to them. It is quite charming and catchy – be sure to give it a listen.

Burrard Chinook sails into operation

The much anticipated launch of TransLink’s newest SeaBus, the Burrard Chinook was a complete success. The ceremony was highlighted by appearances from the xʷməθkʷəyə̓m (the Musqueam Indian Band), Sḵwxw̱ ú7mesh Úxwumixw (the Squamish Nation), and səlilwətaɬ, (the Tsleil-Waututh Nation). As well as TransLink leaders including new CEO Kevin Quinn. When the Burrard Chinook first appeared it elegantly sailed through cascades of water from firefighting vessels and parked itself in full view of the ceremony attendees. The vessel is wrapped in art from three indigenous artists Kelly Cannell, Siobhan Joseph, and Angela George who all put their unique artforms onto full display.

TransLink employee in Tokyo

Alycia Butterworth is a TransLink data scientist, and now she’s an Olympian. She competes in the 3000 meter steeplechase, an event that sees competitors race three kilometers while leaping over 28 barriers and performing seven “water jumps”. Alycia finished with personal bests during Olympic qualifying. Although she didn’t move onto the finals, Alycia performed admirably posting a time of 9:34.25 and finishing tenth in qualifying.

Employee recognition videos

In June we were hard at working producing a series of employee recognition videos for our Annual General Meeting. The videos celebrated success stories from within TransLink and it’s operating companies despite the challenges posed by the last year. We worked alongside the Coast Mountain Bus Company, BC Rapid Transit Company (SkyTrain), Transit Police, and of course corporate staff here at TransLink to produce each of these videos and we’re quite proud of how they turned out.

Bike locker pilot launch

Last month saw the launch of our on-demand bike locker pilot. We’ve collaborated with Bikeep to offer smart solutions for parking your bike before or after your ride on transit. These new systems are available at Moody Centre Station, VCC-Clark Station, and Carvolth Exchange, and 22nd St. Station. The lockers allow you to utilize an app to lock your bike and pay with just a few taps.

New art installation at Lonsdale Quay bus loop

A new art installation was recently unveiled at the Lonsdale Quay bus loop. The artist Aliya Orr calls it “Shimmer Time”. We had the pleasure of interviewing Aliya about her inspiration behind the artwork and how she developed the concept. She wanted to bring the sensation of the SeaBus journey into the area. The piece is highlighted by the pulsating lights, that produce feelings of movement, inspired by the waves.

Investing in good repair

We know that our system’s success is built on maintaining the old and investing in the new. TransLink’s Maintenance and Repair Program is making investments in aging infrastructure across the system to keep customers safe, comfortable, and moving across a reliable transit network every day. On the Golden Ears Bridge, we’re working to rehabilitate the east sidewalk to maintain its safety and comfort of all users for years to come. We’re also replacing the escalators at Stadium–Chinatown Station sooner than originally planned as part of the Expo Line Escalator Replacement Program. Find out more about these projects and many others at translink.ca/keepmoving.

Free transit for 12 and under

Free transit for those 12 and under on the TransLink system is set to begin on September 1st. The program was set forth by the Province and seeks to make life more affordable for young families. BC Transit will also be allowing children 12 and under to ride free.

PST eliminated for E-bike purchases

As proposed in the 2021 British Columbia budget the province is eliminating the PST for all E-Bike purchases moving forward. The government is looking to incentivize commuters to get off the crowded roadways and onto alternative methods of transportation. E-Bikes may be the future of commuting with many models able to travel upwards of 50Km on a single charge. Our system is fully integrated into our cycling infrastructure, offering bike lockers and the ability to take your bike on SeBus, SkyTrain, West Coast Express, and on busses.

Victoria clean bus fleet growing

Our good friends over at BC Transit are expanding Victoria’s clean bus fleet with 10 new compressed natural gas (CNG) busses. These 10 additional busses will compliment the existing 60 busses running on CNG currently carrying commuters in Victoria. The new busses are expected to be cheaper to operate while using less fuel in day-to-day operations. These buses even come equipped with USB charging ports for riders!

High speed rail between Los Angeles and San Francisco gets a boost

In June, U.S. President Joe Biden restored $929 Million in funding for a high-speed rail project designed for travel between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Funding was revoked by the previous administration after it had been approved in the past. The decision to approve the high-speed rail project came just two months after Biden announced a proposal to revamp national infrastructure to help modernize transportation. This proposal included $80 billion for rail travel specifically. The $929 national investment opens the door for a possible large-scale high-speed rail network connecting the West Coast with a “Cascadia” network currently in the proposal phase.

Light rail transit finally coming to Los Angeles

Speaking of rail networks connecting Southern California, Orange County is finally set to get their first light rail system after decades of commuters sitting in some of the densest rush hour traffic in the world. The system being put into place is a small streetcar network stretching only four miles – or just over six kilometers. The project is expected to cost northwards of $420 million USD, though it’ll include only six streetcars. The streetcar route will join the 260KM in total length of Los Angeles’ transit system.

Proposed high frequency rail between Quebec City and Toronto will cut travel times

The Federal Government announced that they’ll be launching the procurement process to establish a high frequency rail line running from Toronto to Quebec City. Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transportation,   announced the project. He noted that he had travelled from Toronto to Ottawa on the current train but that it “took a very long time.”  It’s expected the route up the St. Lawrence River will be about 800 kilometers long, while the trains are expected to operate on 90% electric power. The new electric trains will run at significantly faster speeds leading to expected travel times between Toronto and Ottawa to drop by as much as 90 minutes.

Compass-like system begins to take hold of NYC Metro

The New York City Subway operated by the MTA (Metropolitan Transport authority) recently announced that their Compass-like tap to pay system now accounts for one sixth of all fare payments. The system known as OMNY was instituted in May 2019 and will fully replace all MetroCard fares by 2023.  OMNY doesn’t have a dedicated card that can be preloaded like Compass quite yet, it only accepts single fare payments. However, moving forward the MTA is set to institute dedicated cards that can be loaded with weekly and monthly passes.

Canada announces $2.75 billion emission-free transit fund

On August 10th Catherine McKenna, the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities announced a five year national program to allow cities to invest in emissions-free transportation options. The $2.75 billion will allow cities and transportation authorities to expand their electric-battery bus fleets and trolleybus fleets.

Are E-Bikes going to change cities forever?

Urban planning Youtuber City Beautiful , released a video predicting pedal assist E-Bikes to be the future of transportation in cities. The channel is home to interesting and engaging videos on urban planning, including an interesting breakdown of Vancouver.

San Francisco testing battery electric buses

The San Francisco Metro Transit Authority is rolling out a pilot program to test the efficacy of battery-electric buses. A single bus is set to service the hillside cities busiest routes to determine if current technology is viable for the city.

Detroit reopens streetcar service

Residents of Detroit will once again be able to ride their streetcar system in September. Named Qline, the system shutdown in March of 2020 due to the pandemic. When it opens it’ll reportedly run for free until 2022.

How building public transportation in the U.S. works differently

Mike Lindblom of the Seattle Times published a story diving deep into the world of public transit bureaucracy . He found that rail projects are 50 per cent less efficient in terms of time and cost in the United States compared to Europe and Canada.

Ontario launching vaccine bus program

Ontario’s GO Transit is launching a mobile vaccine bus program. Two buses will explore southern Ontario offering vaccinations for those eligible. TransLink has had great success with it’s mobile vaccine clinic operating alongside Fraser Health.

Montreal’s light rail system set to launch summer 2022

Montreal’s new Réseau express métropolitain (REM) is expected to launch on time next summer. The 4-line system is expected to launch completely in 2024 but will begin service in limited quantities.

Did we miss any exciting stories from the world of transit? Link them below!