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Today marks 125 years of transit in the region!

buzzer_banner_125_yearsWhen you think about what can happen in 125 years, it boggles the mind!

Now, think about how far transit and transportation has come since its humble, yet forward-thinking beginning.

We can’t truly understand where we are or where we’re going without taking a look at where we’ve been! So, let’s do that!

Streetcar on Columbia St ca. 1900

The interuban streetcar on Columbia St. circa 1900

New Westminster, the oldest municipality in the province, started construction on a streetcar in 1890.

It was then called an interurban and used electric rails above ground to connect residents from city to city.

BCE bus with school children 1948

A BCE bus in 1948 waits for school children to cross the road

For 60 years, this mode of transit dominated the region until buses came around!

Diesel and trolleybuses were used and allowed residents to venture around their neighbourhoods and even further out.

Times changed again when we saw our SeaBus come into action and eventually our elevated rapid transit system, the SkyTrain.

Public transit has really shaped the way this region has grown and will continue to grow!

Take a look at some of these great photos throughout our transit journey.

In 1990, there was a special edition of the print Buzzer released documenting the centennial of transit in the region.

Check out some of the excerpts:

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Keep your eyes open on the Buzzer along with our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages throughout the summer for lots of fun events celebrating our transit history! Also, make sure you don’t miss the free vintage bus ride on Sunday!

Author: Adrienne Coling

 

A celebration of 125 years of transit… with a vintage trolley bus!

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vintage trolley bus

This summer, you’re invited to join our celebration of 125 years of public transit in BC!

And wow, do we ever have a lot to to celebrate!

Transit in the region has come a long way since the first streetcars rumbled through Vancouver’s core in 1890.

Just look at how our system has expanded over the years to meet the growing population.

Following our initial trolley bus and rubber-tired bus fleets of early days, when the SeaBus hit the scene in 1977 our system began carrying more passengers to the North Shore.

Then the SkyTrain cruised in a few years later for EXPO 86 with The Millennium Line following hot on its heels in 2002.

And then the Canada Line infrastructure further grew our system for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Now, the Evergreen Line is set to expand our transportation network even further to the east.

So, all in all, it has been a busy 125 years!

In honour of this special anniversary we have a few things up our sleeves to mark the occasion…including free rides on a vintage trolley bus!

This Sunday, an old 1954 Canadian Car-Brill  trolley bus (originally acquired by BC Electric Railway
Company) will be brought out of retirement to give passengers a free ride to designated downtown stops.

Sunday’s vintage trolley bus route! The bus is running from 11am to 3pm, picking up and dropping off at stops marked on the map.

Running from 11am to 3pm, the old trolley will tour on a 30 minute schedule from these stops:

  • Southbound from Victory Square –
    Cambie St at Hastings St, stop #50410
  • Burrard Station – Burrard St at Melville St, stop #50043
  • Burrard St at Robson St, stop #50045
  • Davie St at Howe St, stop #50011
  • Seymour St at Pender St, stop #61519
  • Waterfront Station – Cordova St at Richards St

A couple of TRAMS BC volunteers will also be on board, so if you have questions about the trolley or just want to chat about transit history, these guys got you covered.

Please note, the trolley is not accessible for passengers with disabilities.

Over the upcoming weeks we will continue to celebrate 125 years of transit, so stay tuned for special interviews, archival photos and more!

Author: Laura Tennant

AGM marks 125 years of transit!

AGM

It’s the 125th anniversary of transit in our region!

To mark this occasion, this year’s AGM will be more than just a year in review, it will give a shout-out to those that keep us moving today and into tomorrow.

The event goes down Friday, June 26th from 10am to 11:30am at the Anvil Centre (777 Columbia St.), right next to the New Westminster SkyTrain Station.

To stay true to AGM form, in addition to celebrating transit’s big 1-2-5, we’ll also be sharing our 2014 financial and operational milestones with our regional stakeholders, senior TransLink staff, media and those of the general public that wish to attend.

Keep your eyes peeled on our website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information in the weeks to come!

Author: Laura Tennant

TransLink 20: our names through the years

A staffer scrapes off the BC Transit logo from a a bus in preparation for TransLink’s launch.

Nearly 130 years ago, on June 25, 1890, transit burst onto the scene in Metro Vancouver with the interurban streetcar.

Over the years, myriad companies – both private and public – have operated transit in the region.

Between 1890 and 1962, transit was operated privately; first by Vancouver Electric Railway and Light Company, and later BC Electric Railway Company (BCER).

The BCER was sold to the provincial government and BC Hydro took over transit. Later came the Metro Transit Operating Company and BC Transit.

Finally, in April 1999, the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority began operation with a strong vision: to remain a unique, made-in-B.C. solution, unmatched by any transportation authority in the world. Our mandate expanded to include roads.  Read more »

It’s time to talk about transit fares

Regular blog readers have been asking about this for years and we’re super excited to announce we’re looking at our transit fares again!

Over the years, the transit system in Metro Vancouver has grown into a diverse and expansive network that now provides nearly one million rides every day. But since 1984, one thing hasn’t changed much.

With the rollout of Compass, we now have new tools to create a fare system that provides a better customer experience.

What do you like about the current fare system? What would you change? As part of the first of four phases in the TransLink Transit Fare review, we want to hear what’s important to you.

As you know, our current fare system is made up of six core components that determine how much you pay to use transit in Metro Vancouver.

  • Distance travelled
  • Transit service
  • Time of travel
  • Fare product
  • Customer group
  • Journey time

In the Fare Review, everything is on table — don’t take anything for granted and get ready to share your opinions.

Take the survey between May 24 and June 30, 2016 at translink.ca/farereview and have your say on how to improve the transit fare system.

History of Fare Systems

As noted in our 125 Years of Transit series, Vancouver’s first public transit vehicle was an electric streetcar that rolled down Main Street for the first time in 1890. Soon, it was transporting Vancouver’s early residents and visitors along nine kilometres of track throughout the city. A few months later, an expansion line was opened to New Westminster.

From its earliest days, public transit in Metro Vancouver has focused on crossing municipal boundaries to connect the region. After nearly 100 years of experimenting with zones and boundaries, in 1984 a three-zone fare structure similar to the one we have today was created. From one flat fare for all trips to over 100 fares to choose from, our transit system has tried it all.

1958: 100 Fare options

1958: An 11- zone system is introduced with 100 different fare options based on where your trip starts and ends

1958: An 11- zone system is introduced with 100 different fare options based on where your trip starts and ends

Read more »

February 22, 1890 – the beginning of transit in B.C.

streetcar Fort St Victoria 1890s

Streetcar on Fort St., Victoria – 1890s Courtesy of BC Archives

“Let’s go back, let’s go back, let’s go way on way back when…” – Aretha Franklin

To February 22, 1890.

This is such an important date for the province because this day in history marks the launch of public transit in British Columbia!

It all started in Victoria with four small electric streetcars, two routes and nine kilometres of track laid down the centre of the city by The National Electric Tramway and Light Company.

Streetcar No. 5 Victoria - 1898 Courtesy of BC Archives

Streetcar No. 5 Victoria – 1898
Courtesy of BC Archives

This was only the third electric streetcar system in Canada at the time.

Vancouver wasn’t far behind! Four months later on June 26th, the first car went for a ride all the way down Main St. and on June 28th, the whole 9.6 kilometre system was in service.

We celebrated the region’s 125 years of transit milestone this past summer!

The next major transit launch was in New Westminster a year later with interurban trams connecting to downtown Vancouver through Burnaby which created easy travel for residents of different cities to explore the region.

These first benchmarks in B.C.’s transit history began over a century of transit expansion in the province.

It is so valuable to know where we’ve come from to see where transit can go in the future!

We salute those early transit pioneers that paved the way (sometimes literally) for BC Transit and TransLink to be here today and provide transit service to British Columbia!

You can learn lots more about transit history by visiting the BC Archives.

Author: Adrienne Coling

SkyTrain historical video: Rapid Transit, Rapid Transition, a 1984 promotional video

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Repost: Written by Jhenifer Pabillano and originally published February 17, 2011 in celebration of 25 years of SkyTrain!

The SkyTrain 25th anniversary celebration continues: here’s another fantastic SkyTrain promotional video from 1984, again shot by local video company JEM Productions!

This one stares into the future with a bit more seriousness than the past few videos, but this time with a killer synth soundtrack. (Seriously: I’ve got to make some ringtones.)

It traces the new SkyTrain route, gives us a glimpse of the SkyTrain attendants’ fabulous uniforms, and has a fairly exhaustive list of all the economic benefits and regional growth that Vancouver can expect.

And of course you can check out some awesome aerial shots of historic 1980s Vancouver!

If you’d like to see more, I’ve posted two other SkyTrain videos in the past, plus scans of photos and memorabilia. Check out the entire Transit History category for all of those and even more history tidbits. Happy 25th, SkyTrain!

Author: Laura Tennant

The conductorettes: the first women to drive transit in Vancouver

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A group of conductorettes after finishing a training course in the 1940s. They were at first issued skirts as part of their uniform, but this image shows the transition to pants. Skirts were difficult to manage when climbing the trolley to reset the poles! Photo courtesy of the Coast Mountain Bus Company Archives.

A group of 33 conductorettes posing in front of the 16th Avenue streetcar at Prior Street barns in 1944. They were at first issued skirts as part of their uniform, but this image shows the transition to pants. Skirts were difficult to manage when climbing the trolley to reset the poles! Photo courtesy of the Coast Mountain Bus Company Archives. Click for a larger version.


Repost: Written by Jhenifer Pabillano and originally published November 9, 2009

Today, I’m pleased to present the story of the conductorettes, a group of 180 women who were the only women operating transit vehicles between 1943 and 1975.

And I’m especially pleased to tell you that this article includes an audio podcast containing interview excerpts from three former conductorettes.

Again, Lisa Codd, the curator at the Burnaby Village Museum, helped me put this article together, based on the research of Lynda Maeve Orr, the Museum’s Assistant Programmer. It’s a continued collaboration to explore transit history and Burnaby’s archival holdings!

Read more »

A day of transit activity visualized through video!

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Static transit maps are great, but dynamic ones are better!

You don’t have to tell that to Andrew Walker, Vice President of development at Sumus Technology.

Andrew is all about bringing life to data using a GTFS video creator, something he has done for around 100 cities’ transit schedules from around the globe.

Each visualization map traces one day of transit service schedules during a 24 hour period. Colour coded and set to music, these maps allow us to see the size of the system in a way that static maps cannot.

Metro Vancouver’s routes have been mapped a few times by Andrew.  You can check out his video from 2012 and view his other maps of transit across the globe on his YouTube channel

And don’t forget to check out the rest of our 125 Years of Transit posts on the blog and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by searching for the #Transit125 hashtag

Author: Laura Tennant

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

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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.

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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

A day in the life of Metro Vancouver transit

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A streetcar in North Vancouver sets out for its first ride, 1906

A streetcar sets out for its first ride, 1906

A lot has changed over the last 125 years in this region and transit has changed right along with it!

Take a look at some of the Buzzer’s posts about our history.

Say hello to The Conductorettes! A group of 180 women from 1943 to 1975 blazing the trail in the industry as the first female operators.

Hop on the SkyTrain to the past for some memorabilia and collectables.

See how the interurban trams mapped transit for the entire region! (Psst. An interurban is like a street car only bigger and more powerful.)

And where are we now? Let’s find out! Watch a day in the life of our operating companies and some of the great staff that keep us moving year after year.

Stay tuned for more awesome 125 celebration posts on the Buzzer blog, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Have something you want to share? Comment below, email us or join in the celebration on social media with the hashtag #transit125

Author: Adrienne Coling

I Love Transit 2014: Your painting, cake, crossword, poem, letters, song, and video!

I Love Transit 2014 Banner

It’s I Love Transit Week and what makes this week so special are the riders sharing their transit with love us. We received many submissions, but here are some of our favourites! Check it out!

Burnaby Sunrise – a painting by Larry Mason

This painting was sent in by Larry’s niece Terri. Larry shares his inspiration behind the painting:

While living in New York City, Denise and I annually flew west to spend the Christmas Holidays with her family in Burnaby. One balmy December day I walked to Central Park. The sky was clear and brisk; the temperature not quite nippy. There I saw the SkyTrain structure; I thought it a handsome design and made a pen and ink sketch. After returning home I painted from the sketch. Taking artistic license, I changed the season to somewhere between spring, summer and fall.

Burnaby Sunrise by Larry Mason

A Mark I SkyTrain cake!

Yummm! Looks delicious! 

Transit crossword puzzle fun

Looking for some crossword puzzle fun? Give Matthew’s a try!

Looking for some crossword puzzle fun? Why not give Matthew's crossword a try?!

Poetry in Transit by William F.

Riding the bus is really cool
Whether your are off to work or school
Or just for the fun of it
The ride is enjoyable every minute
Riding the bus is so slick
Why drive your car in heavy traffic
The transit bus will drive you wherever you need to go
Riding the bus is also educational
You hear languages so international
You are bound to learn the lingo
And eventually converse with an amigo
So ride the bus everyone!
It’s worthwhile and fun!

Transit love from Australia

Annette visited Metro Vancouver from Australia and she sent this in.

I am writing to compliment you on your transit service. In April-May 2014 I visited Vancouver, along with my husband and a friend. We used the transit system extensively during that time (bus, SkyTrain and SeaBus). We found your transit system easy to use from a visitor’s point of view, as well as being efficient. We were able to get to our destinations relatively quickly and easily. Your fares are also well priced (compared to those here in Australia). We mainly used your DayPasses, which we felt were very cost effective. So a big thank you from me. Please keep up the good work. Many thanks.

A letter from Ontario

Dear Mr. Jarvis, from Maia

I Love Transit 2014: Letter from Maia

I Am A Pilgrim by Rod Drown

Rod was reading The Buzzer while travelling on the 106 from New Westminster to the Tommy Douglas Library near Edmonds and Kingsway. He submitted us this song he wrote several years ago about a love he met on the 135 bus. It was arranged, composed, produced by Pim Bouwens of Sam’s Falling. 

West Coast Express Train Set

Richard sent this one in of his West Coast Express train set!

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If you have other things you’d like to share with us, feel free to send it to thebuzzer@translink.ca. We’d love to see it!

Author: Allen Tung

Developers: Some great transit apps that can help you get where you’re going

Transit App - the location of TransLink HQ is a little off, but close enough!

Transit App – the location of TransLink HQ is a little off, but close enough!

Since we released our transit data to the public at large shortly after our TransLink API Developer Camp last year, new transit applications (apps) based on TransLink’s open API have been popping up on a regular basis.

Over the past few months, I’ve found that I’ve started to use some of these (often free) apps nearly as much as I use TransLink’s mobile website, m.translink.ca. Here’s a list of a few that I’ve tried and one that I hear is good (I use an iPhone).

Transit App

This app is beautiful in its simplicity. Basically, this app uses your smart phones GPS to find out where you are and displays all the available transit available to you and their departure times. When you already know where you are going, I find this is often all I need. What’s even better is that I don’t need to click even once to know when the closest transit to me will be leaving.

There’s also a trip finding function that seems to work pretty well. It’s available for iPhone and Android devises.

Radar for Metro Vancouver Buses

Radar for Metro Vancouver Buses

 

Radar for Metro Vancouver Buses

This one came to my attention because of this Vancouver Sun article. Like the Transit App, this app is like a simplified version of nb.translink.ca. This app is great if you know what route you want to take but need the schedule. Simply type in the number of the route, and it shows all of the buses running the route in real-time. Available for iPhone and iPad.

iTransitVan

iTransitVan

iTransitVan

ITransitVan been out for a couple of years and was also mentioned by Buzzer reader Reena in 2011. It has a couple of functions including finding nearby stops and listing all of the routes in the search tab (which I find to be a great reference). It doesn’t look like this app is using real-time info yet. If developers add that, I think this app will be even better. For iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

LiveTranslink Vancouver

LiveTranslink Vancouver

LiveTranslink Vancouver

An Android app with an interesting spelling of TransLink, this app was described to me as like nb.translink.ca, but quicker because you don’t need to click much. Choose the route you like and find it in real-time on the map.

I’m sure there are a slew of other apps out there that I don’t know of. Now’s your chance to share them with everyone. It’s our intentional to release transit data that brilliant developers can use to make fantastic apps that people use to take transit with.

Check out some of the apps that have been made from our data in the past here and here.

Share those apps everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://buzzer.translink.ca/2011/01/developers-ibusvan-is-now-open-source-and-the-code-is-available-now/

Announcing I Love Transit Night on Thu Aug 8, 2013!

I Love Transit Week TransLink

A collage of five years of I Love Transit Week celebrations!

Drumroll please: we’ve finally got all the details for I Love Transit Night 2013!

Register to attend!

Join us here:

A map of the location - click for a bigger version!

A map of the location – click for a bigger version!

Time: 6pm – 9pm

Location: Queen Elizabeth Theatre Salons,
630 Hamilton Street, Vancouver, BC
(The small rooms on the side, NOT the big theatre!)

July 31 update:
Wow: we just sold out all 200 event tickets!
And the 50-person waitlist is also full :(

If you’re registered but know you can’t make it, please cancel your tickets so others can attend.

Deepest apologies to all who couldn’t register: we would have loved to have you!

*Please note: by registering for this event with Eventbrite, you give your consent that any information you provide may be stored on servers outside of Canada.

What to expect

Another happy prize winner holding her special edition t-shirt

A 2011 prize winner holding her special edition t-shirt

If you haven’t been to an I Love Transit Night before, you’re in for some fun!

The event is for everyone, so we’re planning activities for people of all ages. This includes colouring and activities for the little kids, as well as group trivia and skills games for adolescents and adults.

As well, this year the Compass team will be on hand to give a demo of the new card system! And TravelSmart will share smart tips on getting around the region.

We’ll also have our staff talking about TransLink’s work and upcoming consultations, and we’re also planning to have a new bus on hand for the event!

As always, we will provide food and drinks, plus prizes! We’ve got limited edition t-shirts for sale (and a few to give away!), buttons, paper cutouts, and temporary tattoos!

So what are you waiting for? Register now — we can’t wait to see you there!

And for more info on I Love Transit Week…

Check out translink.ca/ilovetransit: it’s got a nice summary of what we’re all about and what we’ve done in the past five years! And check back here from Aug 5-9: we’ve got much more planned for I Love Transit Week!

The top 5 local transit photos of 2012

Photo by Chelle Patterson

We’re continuing our look back of some of the highlights of 2012 with our five favourite local transit-related photos from the year (check out our top five videos and wacky transit stories). We love the gorgeous photo above by Chelle Patterson, capturing a double rainbow behind the SeaBus. Sigh…love this one.

 

The first 555 ride

It was a cold, dark morning, but we were bursting with excitement when the new 555 bus started service on December 1. The new route takes riders from Langley to New West in just over 20 minutes. Also love: a rider on took his bike along, too.

 

The first faregate installed

It was a milestone day when the first faregate was installed at Marine Station and we were there to capture the moment. Since then, faregates have been popping up across the system in preparation for Compass.

 

Photo by Chris Cassidy

‘Tis the season and our popular reindeer bus has been busy making the rounds. This photo by Chris Cassidy of BusShots Canada really captures the spirit of the bus well (I can almost hear the people laughing and chatting on the bus). Thanks, Chris!

 

And, of course, we’d like to thank you–our readers and fans. This shot was taken at the 2012 I Love Transit Night (our biggest one yet!) and I love how happy everyone looks. The event is one of the highlights of our years and we always look forward to meeting so many of you in person. It’s so fantastic to know so many people are so passionate about transit. Thank you!