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Looking back at Metro Vancouver’s Transit History with Angus McIntyre!


Angus back in the day

Angus back in the day

June 27th marked 125 years of transit in the region. To honour this special occasion we have been mining old photos, stories and even brought a 1954 trolley bus out of retirement to celebrate!

If buses could talk, we’d probably ask the old Brill trolley how things have changed since it first hit the streets in 1954.

Seeing as talking is not yet a feature of buses, I thought it best to catch up with someone who has not only seen our system evolve over the decades, but is also able to share their experiences!

1954 Brill Trolley

1957 Brill Diesel

So, last week I visited TRAMS BC and chatted with retired bus operator, Angus McIntyre. Having spent 41 years driving buses in Vancouver, Angus knows the transit system well and was nice enough to gives us an overview of transit history and his time behind the wheel.

According to Angus, he started as an operator when he was 21, back when BC Hydro was the transit authority.


Driver’s seat of the 1954 trolley bus!

Initially covering the evening shift route along Nanaimo, Powell St. to Stanley Park, he says, that back then, being an operator was both physically and mentally challenging.

He explained  “there wasn’t any power steering or right hand mirrors and drivers also had to handle money.” “You’d be steering with your left hand and filling the [money] changer with the other!”

Staying on similar routes for years at a time, Angus  says he loved getting to know his passengers. He even tallied the number of people that boarded his bus and bought his one millionth passenger a book of faresaver tickets!

Angus next to a 1957 GMC bus

Angus next to a 1957 GMC bus

During our chat, Angus also gave me a quick rundown of the history of transit in the region.

As Angus tells it,  Metro Vancouver’s transportation network has changed hands more than a couple of times since the first streetcars rumbled through Vancouver in 1890.

Citing transit history like a pro, Angus  led me down the path of changing transit authorities over time from its start with independent companies in 1890 to BC Electric company in 1897, BC Hydro in 1962, Metro Transit Operating Company in 1973, BC Transit in 1983 and then TransLink in 1999.

Angus McIntyre

Here’s Angus holding a license plate perfect for celebrating 125 years of transit!

Looking at this timeline, Angus said during his career he had “four employers, three different unions and four major labour disputes”!

Despite these many changes he insists that although “bus schemes [liveries] changed and uniforms changed, the transit service still remained the same”.

When I asked Angus what crosses his mind when he thinks about 125 years of transit in the region, he said he thinks of “The early pictures showing the first streetcar running within the tiny city limits, and how the transit system is now so huge.”

According to Angus, the system was once so small that when he started as an operator, private commuter clubs were chartering buses to Tsawwassen and White Rock to supplement the non existent transit service in these areas.

He explains “the transit system had no money and couldn’t expand [so] people were doing a do-it-yourself transit system without the internet or anything. I don’t know how these people found each other, but you’d go down to Howe and Robson in the afternoon and there would be all these people waiting, but not at a bus stop. Then a school bus would pull up and all these people would get on and head somewhere out of the city”.

To say the least, talking to Angus about Metro Vancouver’s early transportation network was an eye-opener.

It’s hard to fathom getting around today without our current infrastructure — I’m pretty thankful I’m not chartering a bus everyday to get to work!

Author: Laura Tennant

Exhibit of Angus McIntyre’s historical transit photos starts on September 16, 2012

Photo by Angus McIntyre

Keith Daubenspeck (Seattle Transit driver), Angus McIntyre and Brian Kelly about to head out for a fan trip with Brill trolleybus 2031 at Oakridge Transit Centre. (Photo by Wally Young circa 1970.)

Friend of the blog and well known transit figure Angus McIntyre is exhibiting his photos from the late-night shift in East Vancouver.

The photos in Nite Owl were taken between the years of 1973-1976. They capture the time period before the streetcar tracks were removed as well as depict a Vancouver many are forgetting and some never knew.

Check out the Baron Gallery website for more info. Oh, and we’ve written a bunch of posts on Angus, many of which feature his photos. There’s also an interesting podcast Jhen did with Angus exactly 40 years after his first day of work with BC Hydro as a transit operator.

A southbound 8 Davie at Howe and Pender in 1969. Photo by Angus McIntyre!

Bus photos old and new from Angus McIntyre

An aerial view of Vancouver Transit Centre!

Angus McIntyre, dear Buzzer friend and retired trolley driver, sent in a few photos for us to share today. (He’s sent in vintage photos before!)

Angus is a member of the Transit Museum Society and drove trolleys for over 40 years in Vancouver. We’ve spoken to him before on the blog — see his terrific reminiscences of transit and more here, here, and here.

Here’s what Angus says about these photos:

I was on a trip back east for a month, and when I returned I made a point of paying an extra $10 to get a window seat on the right side of the ‘plane. I had tried before to get these shots but the ‘plane landed eastbound. This time the weather was perfect, and this is the result. Please feel free to use these images any way you wish.

I have included two shots of PNE Parade Day, August 1974, showing how things worked for the detour at Hastings and Commercial. I’m sure Worksafe BC would have issues with this now.

Switching wires at Hastings and Commercial in 1974 on PNE Parade Day.

Read more »

A story by retired bus operator Angus McIntyre

A local transit legend has been recently featured in one of the videos the Vancouver Park Board has commissioned as part of Vancouver’s 125th anniversary

Angus McIntyre started operating buses in Vancouver in 1969 and retired just last year. During this time, he operated different types of buses including Brill Trolly buses and worked for the different bus operating authorities in Metro Vancouver including BC Hydro and Power Authority, Metro Transit and Coast Mountain Bus Company.

Not only are the images curious peeks into Vancouver’s past, Angus’ voice tells a story of someone who truly cared for the work that he did and the people he moved.

Angus was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) for his 41 years of exemplary customer service and 36 years of safe driving. He’s also been inducted into the CUTA Hall of Fame and is the first “front-line” transit employee to be honoured. Here he is wearing his original BC Hydro uniform!

Angus McIntyre’s retirement ride

Angus dancing as the Carnival Band gives him a surprise performance!

Angus dancing as the Carnival Band gives him a surprise performance! Photo by Wayne Worden of the Carnival Band.

To celebrate his last day after more than 40 years on the job, Angus McIntyre took a Brill trolley out for a ride yesterday evening, packed with friends, colleagues, and well-wishers!

Angus followed his regular 7 Dunbar/Nanaimo route, and the Carnival Band surprised him with a performance at Nanaimo Station. I wasn’t able to make it out for the ride, but folks have said he was properly surprised by the gesture!

Check out the Carnival Band’s blog for more pictures and stories. There’s also a lovely item over at Vancouver is Awesome. Edit: Dennis has sent along an album of photos as well!

Plus here’s a photo of the Brill Angus was driving (followed by another one)!

Two Brills were in fact part of Angus's retirement ride. Photo by <a href=>Wayne Worden</a> of the Carnival Band.

Two Brills were in fact part of Angus's retirement ride. Photo by Wayne Worden of the Carnival Band.

Angus McIntyre retires after 40 years behind the wheel

Longtime trolley driver Angus McIntyre will be retiring at the end of May! (We made sure to get the trolleys in the background of this picture :)

Longtime trolley driver Angus McIntyre will be retiring at the end of May! (We made sure to get the trolleys in the background of this picture :)

After driving buses for 41 years, Angus McIntyre has announced he will be retiring at the end of May!

His last official day will be Tuesday Monday May 31 (celebrations are planned!), but until then you can catch him driving the 7 Dunbar/Nanaimo or the interlined Main/Victoria routes in the evenings. Congratulate him if you see him!

I spoke with Angus last week, and asked him to share his reflections on the city and transit after 40 odd years of service. It’s a long period to think about—he notes that he actually worked through six decades, starting in the last four months of 1969 and finishing in the first half of 2010.

“Very few people in this company achieve that goal [of 40 years driving],” he said with a laugh. “You have to start quite young and be durable to make it through.”

You can read the full interview below (and see this post for more on Angus!).

Read more »

Podcast: Angus McIntyre celebrates 40 years as a driver

Angus McIntyre celebrated 40 years as a bus driver on Tuesday, August 25, 2009.

Angus McIntyre celebrated 40 years as a bus driver on Tuesday, August 25, 2009.

Transit operator Angus McIntyre celebrated 40 years of driving Vancouver buses on Tuesday, August 25!

Keith Daubenspeck (Seattle Transit driver), Angus McIntyre and Brian Kelly about to head out for a fan trip with Brill trolleybus 2031 at Oakridge Transit Centre. (Photo by Wally Young circa 1970.)

Keith Daubenspeck (Seattle Transit driver), Angus McIntyre and Brian Kelly about to head out for a fan trip with Brill trolleybus 2031 at Oakridge Transit Centre. (Photo by Wally Young circa 1970.)

On that very day, Angus started with B.C. Hydro in 1969. To mark the occasion, he pulled out his 1969 B.C. Hydro driver’s uniform (it still fits!) and the classic coin changer that all drivers used back then.

Several media outlets came out to capture Angus’s moment (here’s a story from the Province), and a few friends and longtime riders also came out to cheer Angus on. He’s a great guy and a longtime member of the Transit Museum Society (TRAMS) so lots of people were happy to see him reach this milestone!

I did a short podcast with Angus to talk about his 40th anniversary as a driver.


To listen to the podcast, press play on the player above, or download the mp3 here. You can also subscribe to our podcast via RSS, so this and all future podcasts will download straight into iTunes or your RSS reader.

Angus also sent along an article he wrote for the CAW local 111 newsletter Frontline, which I’ve reprinted with his permission below. It talks about his experience as an operator in 1969, and how coin changers worked!

Read more »

June 27 marks 130 years of public transit in Metro Vancouver

Laying the line for streetcars at Granville and Robson, Vancouver (Photo: City of Vancouver Archives) 

Metro Vancouver’s first public transit vehicle was an electric streetcar that rolled down Main Street in the City of Vancouver for the first time on June 27, 1890.

That makes June 27, 2020 the 130th anniversary of public transit in Metro Vancouver! Read more »

From one Metro Vancouver institution to another: a retired bus operator on Army & Navy

I Love Transit - Angus McIntyre

Retired bus operator Angus McIntyre on his first day of work in 1969.

After temporarily closing like other retailers in March to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Canadian department store Army & Navy recently announced their closure is now permanent. The COVID-19 pandemic’s economic impacts proved to be insurmountable. This ends the Canadian institution’s 101-year run that began in 1919 as Canada’s first discount department store.

Just like Woodward’s and Eaton’s before that, Army & Navy holds a special place in Metro Vancouver’s collective hearts.

TransLink’s part of a storied history of transit in Metro Vancouver than spans more than a century — it celebrates its 130th anniversary this June 27. Our buses today and streetcars before that brought generations of families to Army & Navy.

Retired bus operator Angus McIntyre was no different. He steered his way through four different employers during his 41 years as a bus operator. His incredible journey began in 1969 when he went to Army and Navy to purchase a pair of Oxford shoes for his job interview with BC Hydro, which operated transit in Metro Vancouver between 1962 and 1973.

Read his guest post on what Army & Navy meant to him and transit.

Angus McIntyre

By Angus McIntyre

I shopped occasionally at the Army and Navy downtown, when skid road was an area of the city that was a bit rough, but still considered approachable by most people.

When I moved out on my own at age 19, I bought kitchenware at the Army and Navy.

At age 21, I didn’t have a lot of money, and I needed to buy a pair of black Oxford shoes in July 1969 to go for my job interview as a bus driver with B.C. Hydro. The shoe department of the Army & Navy was in a separate building on the south side of Hastings, next to Wosk’s huge appliance store. They had an affordable pair of shoes and I got the job.

Once in training, we were supplied with a changer, a transfer punch and a change fund of $120. An instructor said the best thing for our supplies, including rolls of tokens and coins, was a tackle box from the large basement fishing department at the Army & Navy. I bought a Canadian-made Beach tackle box, which sat on the front dash of the bus next to the bracket for the changer and transfer clips.

I worked the Nanaimo bus in the evening for many years, and one of my regular passengers worked in the shoe department of the Army & Navy. He always dreaded the huge annual shoe sale, which involved bringing in the inventory and dealing with massive crowds that showed up for the sale. When he boarded the bus to head home, he would give a run-down of the day’s events.

I bought a bicycle in 1970, and about a year later met another cyclist during a rainfall. He had on a lightweight, waterproof jacket and pants that he wore over his clothes. I asked where he bought it, and he told me to go to the Army & Navy. I made the purchase, and it lasted for many years.

In the 1970s the Christmas rush downtown was always very busy, and all the department stores filled with shoppers. A visit to the Army and Navy or Woodward’s usually included a snack or a meal at the Only Seafoods at Hastings and Carrall. Over the years I also shopped occasionally at the Army and Navy store in New Westminster, which was in the former Eaton’s building on Columbia Street.

I Love Transit 2019: 40 years behind the wheel

I Love Transit 2019

It’s I Love Transit week, October 7–11, and we’re bringing you stories about our customers, staff, transit enthusiasts and all things we love about transit. 

TransLink’s a team of nearly 8,000 employees. We’re all united in support of our customers — all 500,000 of you — who depend on us to get to and from work, visit an old friend and everything else in between.

Some people come to TransLink for a job, and others come for a life-long career. Angus McIntyre is the latter, retiring from Coast Mountain Bus Company after nearly 41 years of service.

I Love Transit - Angus McIntyre

Angus began his bus operator training in August of 1969, back when buses had no right side mirrors and part of the job was to sell tokens to passengers and provide change as needed.

Through nearly 41 years of employment, Angus steered his way through four different employers, three unions and four major labour disputes.

Driving trolleybuses almost exclusively, Angus was a night owl working the evening shift most days. Even 41 years ago, a career as a bus operator provided ample flexibility with shift trades and holiday work taking Angus and his diesel buses to Richmond, Surrey and White Rock. Read more »

PNE Fair: More transit service to get you there!

Grey Cup at Empire Stadium in 1966

Trolleybuses line up along Hastings Street, near Empire Stadium, ready to carry spectators home after the Grey Cup in 1966. (Photo: Angus McIntyre)

Whether it’s sports games, concerts or a night out — no matter the event — we’re here to get you where you need to be and back home again.

Throughout the year we boost transit service to events such as the Celebration of Light, Canada Day celebrations, Vancouver Marathon, and even the Jay-Z and Beyonce concert at BC Place.

Read more »

What you missed and more chances to take part: Trolleybus anniversary and pop-up shop

You can buy trolley-bus-themed (L) t-shirts at the pop-up shop (R) at Waterfront Station.

August 16, 2018 marked a big day for transit enthusiasts! The streets of downtown Vancouver welcomed a Canadian Car-Brill T-48A back on its roads to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the trolleybus network.

Fans lined up at the corner of Seymour and West Cordova to get a chance to go back in time by riding a 1954 trolleybus for FREE!

Retired bus operator Angus McIntyre drove the bus that was packed with bus aficionados. Driving along the original route (eastbound at nearside Seymour, Main, Kingsway, Fraser to Fraser and Marine then returning the same route) for a ride that lasted 40 minutes, the historic trolleybus was cheered on by excited onlookers.

Passengers included Mike McDaniel, President, Coast Mountain Bus Company, and Bowinn Ma, Parliamentary Secretary for TransLink, Dale Laird, President of the Transit Museum Society, and other enthusiasts.

Mike McDaniel, President, Coast Mountain Bus Company (R), and Bowinn Ma, Parliamentary Secretary for TransLink, rode the historic trolleybus.

Young and old passengers took photos and chatted with each other, with some reminiscing about their first time on the trolleybuses.

Bowinn Ma spoke about her childhood with her grandmother taking her cousins on the trolleybus to Chinatown and paying 30 cents as fare.

The fare box near the driver’s seat was a far cry from today’s fare box, and so were the pull-down windows. A small gate near the rear door of the bus had to be pushed open and held when exiting the bus.

If you missed your chance to ride the historic trolleybus for FREE, don’t fret. The trolleybus, painted in the B.C. Hydro and Power Authority livery (design on the outside), will return to Vancouver’s streets for two more days:

  • Saturday, August 18, noon – 4 p.m. (departs from Cambie St at Hastings St, stop #50410, approximately every 30 mins.)
  • Friday, August 24, noon – 4 p.m. (departs from Cambie St at Hastings St, stop #50410, approximately every 30 mins.)

We expect the historic trolleybus rides to be very popular, so get there early! It’s first come, first served. Rides end at 4 p.m. on all days, so the last departure will be about half-an-hour prior on Aug. 18 & 24.

While waiting to board the bus outside Waterfront Station, you can also buy trolley-themed tee-shirts that are available at the pop-up shop inside the station.

This trolleybus-themed t-shirt is a hot-seller at the pop-up shop at Waterfront Station


The shop, which opened on August 16th, will be there for two more days until August 18th. It’s your chance to pick-up merchandise to show off your love for our Metro Vancouver transit system.

Local travellers and tourists thronged the pop-up shop to buy transit-themed apparel, pencils, station map mugs and mug sets, transit vehicle travel mugs and other drinkware, décor items, bus system map umbrella, laptop sleeve and other personal/tech items, as well as scale models of a SkyTrain or SeaBus.

The most popular item at the pop-up shop is the trolley-themed tee-shirt followed by transit-themed socks, and a baseball hat with the transit ‘T’ symbol.





The pop-up shop at Waterfront Station will run from:

  • August 16th& 17th, 8 a.m. to 6 pm
  • August 18th, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. 

Other new merchandise includes a transit map puzzle and the popular retro SeaBus t-shirts in two new colors.

Social media was abuzz with photos of people’s prized possessions with some even asking if items can be shipped abroad!

So, what are you waiting for? Book your calendar until August 18th and come see us at Waterfront Station! Be ready to take transit home!

Can’t make it? This new merchandise is also available on the TransLink Store where all orders now ship from Metro Vancouver!

Author: Tanushree Pillai

(PICTURES) The Vancouver trolleybus network turns 70 today!

Stanley Park (Chilco) Loop circa 1972

August 16, 2018 marks the 70th anniversary of Vancouver’s trolleybus network.

Today marks the 70th anniversary of Vancouver’s trolleybus network!

The electric trolleybuses first burst onto the scene as part of the ambitious “rails-to-rubber” conversion to decommission the streetcar network. The first trolleybus, a Canadian Car Brill T-44, hit the roads on August 16, 1948, forever changing the way we move around in the city.

Have you checked out the new items in the TransLink Store? We’ve released a commemorative shirt, recognizing the 70th anniversary of Vancouver’s trolleybus network! Available in men and ladies sizes.

For more than 60 years, the streetcar was the backbone of the region’s transit system. The end of the Great Depression and World War II challenged us to rethink public transit: stay with streetcars and their tracks, or look towards rubber-tired buses.  Read more »

Some cool photos from a friend at TRAMS

Angus next to a 1957 GMC bus

Angus next to a 1957 GMC bus

If you follow the blog, you’ve met Angus before and TRAMS is old hat – but oh, so awesome!

However, if this is your first foray into the transit enthusiast world, you might be unaware that old transit vehicles are HUGE for fans here in Metro Vancouver, across Canada and the world!

Angus recently sent us some great pictures (captioned by the man, himself) of an old streetcar, refurbished and being used in service on Sundays all this summer in Toronto.

He rode this streetcar as a part of a chartered tour and shared some shots from his ride PLUS some way-back-play-back pictures of transit vehicles in 1970s Toronto.

Take a look!

Thanks for thinking of us on your travels, Angus!

Do you have some interesting transit photos from around Canada and beyond?
Email us with your photos – we’d love to share them on our social channels!

Author: Adrienne Coling

Here’s lookin’ at you, 2015!

2015 2
As 2015 comes to a close we thought an end of year wrap up was in order!

After all, the past 12 months had more than a handful of memorable transit moments.

From the plebiscite and transit anniversaries to the Compass Card roll-out and fare structure changes, this year had it all!

So, in no particular order, let’s take a look at some of what made 2015 a year to remember:

Transportation and Transit Plebiscite

plebiscite-vector- smMarch 16, 2015 marked the beginning of the Transportation and Transit plebiscite.

Voting packages were mailed out and voters were asked to decide if they supported the 0.5% Metro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Tax (in the form of a provincial sales tax). The tax would support improvements for better transit and transportation in the region.

On July 2nd, the results were announced— Metro Vancouver voted against the 0.5% tax.

Compass Card roll-out

In 2015 more people started tapping their Compass Cards on the system than ever before.
Compass Vending Machines were installed at all SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express stations with U-Pass BC holders and West Coast Express customers kicking off the transition in June.
Since then, even more customers have made the switch to Compass!
Starting January 1, 2016 traditional Monthly Pass FareCards are no longer valid and Monthly Passes are on Compass only so there will be a surge of users in the New Year.
We’ve also been closing more and more faregates across the system in order to help remind riders to tap in and out on SkyTrain, SeaBus, Canada Line and West Coast Express.
To help this transition go as smoothly as possible, we produced many Compass 101 videos to help our riders learn the Compass basics!

Fare Structure Changes — Bus Anywhere with 1-Zone Fare

2015 also brought with it changes to our fare structure.afs_bus_anywhere_1200x628

As of October 5th, all travel by bus became a 1-zone fare.

With the new 1-zone bus fare riders can now bus across Metro Vancouver with just a one-zone bus fare.

In November, we asked in a Buzzer blog poll how the 1-zone bus fare has changed your travel — about half of you said your commute became less expensive!

I Love Transit Week 2015

And who could forget I Love Transit Week 2015?buzzer_header_ilovetransit

We took adult campers and kid campers to our transit facilities, held contests and had special blog content dedicated to transit love!

We even did a special I Love Transit print Buzzer!

If those brilliantly coloured print Buzzers aren’t a 2015 highlight, then I don’t know what is!

125 years of Transit, SkyTrain 30th Birthday and Transit Police 10th Anniversary

Davie streetcar, 1903

Davie streetcar, 1903

What a year for transit anniversaries!

First we celebrated 125 years of transit in June with vintage trolley rides, old photos of our system and special interviews with transit historians like Angus McIntyre.

The celebration continued on December 4 when Transit Police celebrated 10 years as a police service and 30 years serving the transit system!

Finally, in honour of the SkyTrain’s 30th Birthday, we threw back to more than a few hilarious 80’s videos and photos of SkyTrain’s early years.

All in all it’s been a busy year! Anything we missed? Let us know in the comments section!

Author: Laura Tennant