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My TransLink – February 7, 2017

Another edition of My TransLink coming atcha’!

ICYMI: My TransLink is a rider-focused series where we want you to share your transit photographs from across the system on social media and in turn, we share your amazing pics right here on the Buzzer blog. Basically, this is all about you!

Let’s see what you’ve captured over the last few weeks!

The daily commute 🛳 #mytranslink

A photo posted by Jaemie Sures | 📍Vancouver (@jaemiesures) on

I’m in love with this photo #95 #bline #95bline #135sfu #mytranslink @translinkbc

A photo posted by Damien (@rainyday59) on

55 #sfu #burnabybc #burnabymountain #winter #snow #britishcolumbia #mytranslink

A photo posted by Vancouver, Persian Style (@persianyvr) on

Want to be featured on the blog? You know you do! It’s easy!
Simply follow us on Twitter and Instagram, tag us and use the hashtag #MyTransLink.

Author: Adrienne Coling

My TransLink – January 24, 2017

Welcome to the first official post of My TransLink!

A couple of weeks ago, we asked you to be our photographers on your commute and share with us your transit pics from across the system on social media.

The social team wants to share your content, your views of transit and our community.

Here are just a few from the first installment – including some very snowy scenes!

As seen from the Skytrain.

A video posted by Trevor Jansen (@tr3vorjans3n) on

The next station is… Inlet Centre.

A photo posted by Juan M. Sanchez (@jmsuncheese) on

the night shift #TransLink #Buses #NightRides #Vancouver #SFU #burnaby #mytranslink

A photo posted by Kobie Huang (@kobiehuang) on

Thanks to everyone for their photos. Keep them coming!

Want to be featured on the blog?
Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, tag us and use the hashtag #MyTransLink.

Author: Adrienne Coling

My TransLink Photo Fun: A new series with YOUR content!

Introducing #MyTransLink photo fun!

Our riders and community neighbours take some of the best photos of our region and transit and we love to share them on across our social channels.

Here’s how it will work:

  • Use the #MyTransLink hashtag on Twitter and Instagram to get our attention.
  • Tag @TransLink (Twitter) and @TransLinkBC (Instagram)
  • Make sure that your profile is public so we can see your post.
  • Every few weeks we will post right here on the Buzzer blog some of the best shots from around Metro Vancouver.
  • Please note: Profanity or inappropriate content will not be shared.

That’s it, that’s all!

This is simply a way to showcase the wonderful creativity and keen eyes from all of the budding shutterbugs so get out there and get snapping!

Share your pics!
Twitter: @TransLink
Instagram: @TransLinkBC
Email: thebuzzer@translink.ca

Author: Adrienne Coling

#MyTransLink – March 21, 2017

It’s that time again! We’re back featuring content from you – our riders!

Check out what our transit travellers have snapped lately…

“Explore more” – – Photo – 56 of 365 #photography #photo365 #mytranslink

A post shared by Jamie Taylor (@cryptic_photos) on

Visions📷 – Westcoast Express X Skytrain 🚅 – Have a great weekend🔥

A post shared by Ibrahima Cisse 👓 (@thevancityphotographer) on

Foggy bus windows on chilly days. #mytranslink

A post shared by Julie Ratcliff (@juliemratcliff) on

Thanks to all of our latest transit photogs!

Want to be featured on the blog?
Simply follow us on Twitter and Instagram, tag us and use the hashtag #MyTransLink.

Author: Sarah Kertcher and Adrienne Coling

#MyTransLink – March 6, 2017

Another #MyTransLink post means another chance to feature our riders’ awesome commuting and transit pictures from across our system and region!

Let’s see what you’ve captured this time around…

A post shared by Richmond BC Canada (@100ave) on

#SeaBus #MyTransLink #CMBC #TheView @translinkbc

A post shared by Elfren Ordanza (@metroelfren) on

Thank you to all of our latest contributors!

Want to be featured on the blog? It’s easy!
Simply follow us on Twitter and Instagram, tag us and use the hashtag #MyTransLink.

Author: Adrienne Coling

#MyTransLink – February 20, 2017

Hey Buzzer readers! We’re back with another edition of #MyTransLink, sharing your photos from around the system!

With a transit network spanning land, sea, and Sky(Train), it’s no surprise that you, are riders are able to capture some of our best photos.

Here’s what you shared this week!

 

[=]’These are the days we’ve been waiting for’ [=] #vancouver #burnaby #SkyTrain #MyTranslink

A post shared by Kobie Huang (@kobiehuang) on

Bridge life #newwestminster #mytranslink

A post shared by Rich Elliott (@therichelliott) on

This is why i love #beautifulbritishcolimbia.. taken from #carvolthexchange in #langley.. @translinkbc

A post shared by FerretLover (@atomikangel69) on

Want to be featured on the blog? You know you do! It’s easy!
Simply follow us on Twitter and Instagram, tag us and use the hashtag #MyTransLink.

Author: Sarah Kertcher

TransLink prepares for stormy weather

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Storms, they are a-brewin’!

As always, TransLink’s top priority is to ensure the safety of our customers and employees. So, in preparation for the inclement weather set to hit our region over the next few days, we are taking a number of steps.

Our Emergency Management group is participating in Emergency Management BC and Environment Canada conference calls to stay apprised of the forecast and expected outcomes as well as communicating within the organization to ensure necessary preparations are made.

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Tree branches falling into our trolley overhead wires can be an issue during high-wind conditions, so we are checking known risk locations to prepare.

We also sometimes face road debris, which can result in detours for our bus service. Transit Supervisors and other support staff out on the road, such as Transit Security, in order to proactively identify such problem areas and communicate them out. Once identified, we can react quickly by contacting the municipality responsible for clearing the trees or debris.

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In case of high winds, SkyTrain service over the SkyBridge between New Westminster and Surrey may operate at reduced speeds.

If wind speeds exceed 100 kph, service could be temporarily suspended.

We’ve also proactively reached out to construction projects adjacent to SkyTrain to ensure items are properly secured, to prevent anything being blown onto the tracks.

Here’s what you can do to prepare yourself:

  • Sign up for Transit Alerts so we can let you know if there are any service issues or changes
  • Follow our fabulous Customer Information team @TransLink on Twitter or phone 604-953-3333.
  • Plan ahead with our Trip Planner and give yourself extra time on your commute
  • Be aware! More people than usual tend to take transit during nasty weather – common transit courtesy applies even more on days like these!
  • Be visible! A bus operator has a lot to be aware of in AND outside of the bus. Make yourself visible to them! Wear bright, reflective clothing and stand close to the bus stop poll.
  • Be patient! Traffic lights may not be working properly that could cause detours for buses, same goes for debris on routes.

We will continue to monitor the weather and get the word out to all customers if there are any service impacts. Until then, stay safe, stay dry and happy transiting!

Author: Adrienne Coling

#WhatsTheLink: TransLink helps with goods movement and the economy

"The Goods"

“The Goods”

For this latest week in the #WhatsTheLink series, we’re looking at goods movement in the region.

TransLink helps 418,000 people get where they need to go and 107,000 cycling trips in Metro Vancouver possible each day.

How do we do this?

We provide a hard working and reliable transit system2,300 lane kilometres of major roads, five bridges, as well as cycling and walking infrastructure that has shaped communities!

#WhatsTheLink between everything? A part in Metro Vancouver’s economy – ensuring goods and people get where they need to go!

Miss 604: TransLink Helps to Make our Regional Economy a Thriving One

Have you ever wondered about the journey the coffee you drink took? If you’re like many in Metro Vancouver, you probably haven’t.

That’s because the goods we use each day are usually readily available on the shelves, and we take it for granted. One of the reasons we don’t have to worry about finding fresh milk, fuel for our vehicles or materials to build our homes is because of the efficient movement of goods and people in our region.

Sany Zein

Sany Zein

Although Metro Vancouver’s ports have been identified as a gateway to Asia, Sany Zein, Director of Infrastructure and Network Management for TransLink explains many of the trucks we see on the roads are serving the local economy.

“While gateway-oriented goods movement is a very large part of our economy, most of the trucks we see on the roads are serving the local economy,” says Zein.

“Almost everything we have in our homes and businesses is delivered by truck. Without an efficient Major Roads Network, we wouldn’t have a thriving economy.”

These trucks not only rely on the Major Roads Network, but an efficient transit system as well.

Wait…what?!? Trucks depend on an efficient transit system? Yup!

Vancity Buzz: 3 Ways TransLink Helps Free Congestion in Metro Vancouver

"Count on it!"

“Count on it!”

Besides being an important mode of transportation for people in the region, transit helps free up congestion on the roads.

By moving trips away from the road to SkyTrain, West Coast Express, SeaBus or bus, TransLink helps the region avoids huge traffic congestion problems.

Did you know? Six out of 10 people in Metro Vancouver take public transit to work or school!

When truckers aren’t using the Provincial roads network, they look to the Major Road Network to get them where they need to go. It is the backbone for the movement of goods in the region.

This year, TransLink is providing $42 million dollars towards the Major Road Network.

Infrastructure projects funded by TransLink such as the Golden Ears Bridge and Roberts Bank Rail Corridor are important too! They help alleviate congestion and bottlenecks on the roads network.

Providing an efficient public transportation system, managing the Major Roads Network and funding major infrastructure projects are three ways TransLink helps get you and goods we all need moving around the region.

Author: Allen Tung

TransLink’s Cathy McLay named one of Canada’s most powerful women of 2016!

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Growing up as the only girl among four brothers and working in traditionally male dominated sectors hasn’t stopped TransLink’s CFO Cathy McLay from reaching top jobs and being recognized as an inspiring leader.

“I remember when I was working in forestry and I was at an executive dinner. One of my colleagues leaned over and asked me if I was ever uncomfortable working with all these males. That’s when I realized that I was the only female at the table,” says McLay who is one of 100 women from across Canada from various disciplines to be named 2016’s Most Powerful Women in Canada by the Women’s Exchange Network (WXN).

Cathy’s refusal to let her gender dictate her career is something she attributes to the strong work ethic she learned from her mother and grandfather. When McLay was living in Prince George and a mother of two small children she completed her Accounting designation by correspondence without any outside help. Her tenacity lead to her quickly rising the ranks during her 15 years in forestry and later in transit.

This latest award is one of many McLay has won over the years. One of them being a BC CFO of the Year award for her efforts in corporate growth, strategic decision making, solid business principles and overall performance excellence and financial reporting.

When asked if she had any advice for women who want to follow in her footsteps McLay replied with some words of wisdom,

“Women need to take calculated risks. When we [women] look at taking on new responsibilities we sometimes look at the things we have deficiencies in, rather than the strengths we can bring to the job. I would encourage women to value the contributions that we bring and know that we need to allow ourselves the luxury of learning along the way.”

I hope you can join TransLink in congratulating Cathy in another well deserved honour!

Author: Robert Willis

TransLink hosts Iceland, Shanghai and more delegations from around the world!

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TransLink’s Chris Chan speaking with delegates from the Shanghai Transportation Commission

Every year many delegations from around the globe visit TransLink because of our international reputation for delivering quality transit services and transit-oriented communities.

What’s a transit-oriented community? I’m so glad you asked!

Basically, the term refers to creating communities within a region that, because of their design, opens up opportunities for people to drive less and therefore bike, walk and take transit more.

These communities mean utilizing higher-density, mixed-use and pedestrian friendly development within walking distance of frequent transit stops and stations.

Just two weeks ago we had the Shanghai Transportation Commission Delegation visiting as they studied multi-modal integration and transit-oriented communities.

Last week mayors from around Reykjavik in Iceland were on a worldwide trip, with a stop here in Metro Vancouver, to visit transit agencies and see what they could take back home to their own cities – including rapid transit like our dear SkyTrain.

These visitors are nothing new for TransLink. In fact, we host many delegations from around the globe each year.

DID YOU KNOW?

In 2015 alone, we had 16 delegations from eight different countries!

  • Peoples Republic of China: China Southern Railway; Huangzhou Metro; Shenyang Metro and China Development Research Foundation
  • Canada: Senior Funding Partners; City of Calgary and Western Canada Engineering Competition
  • New Zealand: Council on Infrastructure Development; Auckland Transport
  • USA: UCLA Transportation Planning School, Stanford University
  • Netherlands: Academy for Urban Development, NHTV Breda – University of Applied Sciences
  • Australia; New South Wales Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight
  • Finland; Tekes – the Finish Funding Agency for Innovation
  • Norway: Oslo Traffic Management Centre

TransLink continues to open its bus, SeaBus, SkyTrain and West Coast Express doors to visitors who want to learn more about how we plan and run our system.

Plus, we get to meet some pretty amazing people from some pretty amazing places!

Author: Adrienne Coling

My day with Mika: Understanding accessible transit

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Mika waiting for the bus on Main St.

This past spring I had the immense pleasure of tagging along on a filming request on our system and spent the afternoon with Kaz and Mika who wanted to showcase the accessibility of our system for a Japanese audience.

Kaz owns Motion Pla-net Productions that often produces work for NHK, Japan’s National public broadcasting organization.

Mika is a lovely woman who lives in downtown Vancouver and takes transit all the time in her fabulous pink wheelchair.

We spent the afternoon riding the bus and SkyTrain while Mika explained in Japanese to the camera all of the fittings and equipment TransLink offers on the system for those who need it.

Part of the filming also included speaking with TransLink’s Access Transit Coordinator, Sarah Chung about why TransLink has been so proactive in promoting the accessibility of transit services for people with disabilities.

“Public transit should be a safe and convenient way to travel, which means our infrastructure, policy and customer service are all impacted by accessibility. There are a number of different needs among our customers that we try to balance so we have to make sure the solutions we provide are sustainable and won’t hinder other people.

One of our key challenges is finding solutions that strike a balance between the diverse range of needs. We need to be financially responsible to the taxpayer as well, and have to prioritize our initiatives. Other challenges happen with the nature of the region, such as the geography making it difficult to make all bus stops wheelchair accessible.”

Mika says that the greatest strength of the system is that people with disabilities have choice.

“I know I can travel on bus, on SkyTrain, on the water on SeaBus and I will be able to get on there myself and be safe. Also being able to get to the airport without calling a taxi is great!”

I learned a lot travelling through the eyes of someone who faces accessibility challenges in her daily life.

On each part of our transit trip, I thought about space on buses, location of elevators, fare box heights, even something as simple as getting on and off a transit vehicle while others are trying to do the same.

These are things as an able-bodied person, I admit, I sometimes take for granted. Perhaps we all do. But it’s important to see through the eyes of others to really understand the world beyond ourselves.

As for the future, Sarah Chung says as an organization, TransLink is constantly growing and adapting our system to meet the needs of our customers.

“We are always looking at improvements to make the system as inclusive as possible. For example, we have a high percentage of wheelchair accessible bus stops, and have introduced a pilot project to make bus stops more accessible for people who are blind or partially sighted. The pilot includes tactile information panels and tactile walking surfaces to help people identify stop information and locations. As a region, we have recently transitioned to a contactless smart card payment system and are continue to work with partners to develop solutions for customers who have limited or no arm mobility.”

Have a look at some pictures from our day together.

Author: Adrienne Coling

I Love Transit: LEGO my SkyTrain!

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For 80’s kids (and decades either side), LEGO was a way of life.

You’ll remember building the next Empire State Building, CN tower or the complete Star Trek Enterprise and, of course, the sound your parents made as they stepped on the extraordinarily painful blocks!

William Fong was a childhood fan as well but didn’t actually buy LEGO until he decided to make a SkyTrain!

We got a chance to ask Will some questions about this intensely detailed project.

Take a look!

What made you want to make a SkyTrain?

As someone who is a daily user of the transit system, and as someone who has a minor interest in design in general, I found that the 2009 Skytrain stock extremely intriguing. It’s the most modern and well designed piece of equipment in the fleet (although Xcelsiors are pretty excellent buses and the new Bombardier 300’s probably trump that claim, too).

The colour scheme of the exterior and interior, streamlined shape as well as adding user friendliness, like destination boards, updated system maps, better seat layout and air conditioning. Everything was done right on the 2009 trains!

I think the main reason I wanted to recreate some of the great design features in LEGO was because I had the passing realization that there were some new LEGO pieces that had striking resemblance to the angles on the trains. I designed the LEGO train mostly around the windscreen due to its identical curved shape to the real life train. I didn’t start building it until I was satisfied with the accuracy of the curvature of the roof as well as finding a way to have doors that could slide open. I also chose this specific train because of the number of seats. Three seats and an aisle is about as wide as you can make a train in LEGO before it starts looking too wide.

The details are so perfect, how did you get the stickers and other minature details of the actual train ON the LEGO model?

I made the stickers in Photoshop. Interior graphics like the system map and the safety and security sign were entirely drawn from scratch using photos as a reference. I didn’t want to print photos as stickers because they didn’t scale to the LEGO very well.

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The exterior livery was based off of and extremely altered from the information sheet that was shown alongside the 2009 presentation of the new Mark II stock, which I found online. The corporate and government logos as well as official fonts were found on the internet. I then sent the artwork off to a printing company named Model Decal Depot at Adlion Printing to have the graphics put onto vinyl stickers. The stickers are especially important because they complete the train more than people may realize, mostly because the doors are stickers that have been applied onto LEGO window panes.

What are some of the cool features of your model?

The model is as accurate to real life as I could build it. It has an identical seat count to its real life counterpart. Curved handrails, which may not seem remarkable, but when building out of lego, it is! It has an articulated corridor joining the two cars. It has the same number of ceiling lights as in real life. Orange “Door open” lights in the door jambs that can be toggled on the left or right doors. The doors can also be slid open and are not just decorative placeholders. Directional lights, so that when the headlights are on at one end of the train, the taillights are on at the opposite end. The advertising boards are illuminated using something called electro-luminescent tape (a strip of copper that is coated with phosphorus and glows when an alternating current is applied to it).

It’s also not just a stationary model. Each train is also powered by two 9V DC motors, so it can move along track. Hopefully by next BrickCan, I’ll have built enough elevated guideway for it to run a decent length.

How long did it take you to create?

I think I finished the digital model in 2011. I wasn’t satisfied with the accuracy until late 2013 and held off building it until early 2014.

The digital model continued to go through several revisions which slowed me down, but it was mostly the cost of the model that made me build it on and off for a while. Building one car was costly enough, but when I found out that there was going to be a LEGO convention in Vancouver, I decided to spend the extra money and twin the first car and build some overhead guideway for it to sit on. It wasn’t right up until April 2016 during BrickCan that I completed both cars and the two sections of track.

Technically, I’m still not done yet. I just finished gutting and reinstalling all of the electronics this month. I want to reprint the stickers to more closely match some colours in the livery as well as correct some inaccuracies. I’m also going to install digital destination boards, although I’m running into technical issues with the hardware for that right now. Maybe later on, I’ll also install speakers inside the train, too.

How many pieces are involved?

Each train car has approximately 1900 lego pieces and 60 LEDs. 2000 pieces for the track and supports.

Have you done any other notable Metro Vancouver model recreations?

This is my first ever model, but I am planning to build others in the future. Next one might be a trolley bus from Vancouver’s not-too-distant past. I’m also trying to figure out how to recreate the new Innovia 300, but it’s been tough to get started because the angles are so different.

What is the most complicated project you’ve made out of LEGO?

This train. From trouble shooting how to cram in all the wires to trying to find workarounds for discontinued and extremely expensive pieces, it was a headache. Not to say that I won’t build something again. Maybe just something cheaper that is less technical. At least I semi-know what I’m doing now. Prior to this, I hadn’t picked up a soldering pen since grade 8.

Thank you to Will for letting us share his fantastic (and extremely detailed!) SkyTrain model! We can’t wait to see what he blocks up next.

Author: Adrienne Coling

I Love Transit: “My Best Passenger”

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It’s here, it’s here! I Love Transit 2016 is here!

Some of the best stories of transit love come to us from our front line staff like our bus operators.

Vickie Bowne has been an operator since 1998 and has been working out out of the Port Coquitlam transit centre for the past 17 years.

Recently Vickie had, what she describes as, the the best day of her transit career thanks to her bus buddy, 10-year-old Aidan (aka her ‘best passenger’) and everyone at the PoCo depot who made HIS day!

Read on about Vickie, Aidan and the best. day. ever.

I first met Aidan about a month ago when he rode my bus.  He then got on again a few weeks later and after discussing things with him and his nurse we arranged to have Aidan tour the Poco Transit Depot.

Once there, the staff in the front office welcomed him. He was given all kinds of fun stuff!

Then the maintenance supervisor showed him the maintenance yard where the buses get fixed. We then walked through the depot and introduced him to quite a few drivers, some who knew him. He was sure in his element! 20160727_133933

He talked about wanting to work here someday. Said he could empty the fare boxes as a job, or work with computers. I told him he definitely could do anything!

When I had to get to Coquitlam for my second piece of work, Aidan was not tired and asked to join me.

When we went out to Poco Station, my transit Supervisor got him a private ride in a shuttle that just happened to be deadheading there. Aidan loved the ride in the Community Shuttle bus.

Then Aidan boarded my #152 and rode that route and stayed on for my #151 back to Coquitlam where he insisted he wanted to ride the bendy #701 bus home. We made sure that happened.

Thank you to all the drivers who introduced yourself to him! He was talking about many of you later on in the day.

Oh, and I am happy to say that according to Aidan, I am the best bus driver! Yup, and then his next comment “I am your best passenger, right?” You sure are, Aidan! Also I am suppose to print out a picture of him and I together and put it on my desk. Too cute.

What a gift to the world he is. I am blessed to call him friend.

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What does Vickie love about transit?  For her, it’s all about the connections she makes!

“As a driver I love the interaction with the people that ride our buses.  I have seen kids grow up, new refugees figuring out the bus routes, many seniors struggling to get by, and many that have passed away.  The connections we make affect their lives and I just hope that if they ride my bus it is in a positive way.”

Author: Adrienne Coling

Meet the TransLink Buskers: Amine

We’re back for another installment of Meet the TransLink Buskers; the new series where we interview and profile your favourite SkyTrain station busking musicians!

Last time we met Nikita and today, classically trained string instrument aficionado, Amine Bouzaher is in the hot seat!

Let’s find out what makes this incredible musician tick!

What do you like about Busking?

I’ve been busking for a years now, starting out at Granville Island doing the indoor acoustic thing. When I found out I could play in high-trafficked transit locations that was enough for me to audition. I love people’s reactions when they really connect with your music, especially when people actually stop and turn around in the middle of a busy day.

How many years have you been playing music?

I’ve been playing music since I was a kid, when my parents paid for piano lessons while I lived in Egypt. It’s pretty funny because my parents never really even played musical instruments or listened to much music that I remember. The first cds they got me were when I was 15, Godsmack, Britney Spears and 50 Cent, quite the combo package… I play violin, guitar, keys, bass and general percussion, all at the same time with a loop pedal when I play gigs actually!

What is your favourite type of music to play? And how about to listen to?

I will listen to almost anything, but I’m not a fan of overly-poppy music, or really heavy bass music that has no melody. These days I’m loving the future bass sound, especially artists like NoMBe, or similarly soully hip-hop inspired tunes like Tom Misch produces. I also really love atmospheric, cinematic music like some of Hans Zimmer and Nikolas Frahm’s movie scores. Oh, and I can’t forget some of the amazing music that is being produced by Japanese producers like Dasuke Tatanabe and Yosi Horikaw!.

All-time favourite song? (I love asking this one!)

Wow. That’s like asking me which sibling is my favourite…(my brother). I think the only way to answer that question, because my taste changes all the time, is to mention the first really good down-tempo song that blew my mind and got me on the musical thought-train I’m on now…Bonobo’s “Days to Come” feat. Andrea Triana.

What can riders passing by expect to hear/see as you perform?

Smiles. A lanky, curly-haired goof-trooper who’s probably shoe-gazing pretty hard. And a lot of looped violin : )

If you see me/hear me playing don’t hesitate to stop and ask questions, I can usually just sit back and let the looper do it’s thing; I always have time for a chat!

What are you up to music-wise beyond busking?

I’m working on an EP produced right at home in my own office-room-conversion studio. Most of the songs are found-sound beats with live-instrumentation and a bunch of keys/synths/basses and such.

Be sure to head on over to SoundCloud to listen to some of Amine’s music!

Stay tuned to the Buzzer blog for more busker fun in the coming months as we profile other artists in the program!

Author: Adrienne Coling

My smartphone-free week on transit

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The tally from my smile experiment

Last week, I was inspired by a link in our latest Links and Tidbits post.

It lead me to try my own smartphone-free commuting week!

Let me give you a little background of what my normal commute is like.

I hop on the bus for about half an hour, then I continue on SkyTrain for another 30 minutes. In the evening, I reverse it, obviously.

I will often just listen to music and check games or idly scroll through my Instagram feed.

For my “unplugged” week, I didn’t allow myself to touch it from the moment I left my house to the moment I stepped into work.

This required one behaviour change for me right off the bat… A CLOCK! I don’t usually wear a watch and use my phone to check the time so for the first day I had no reference of time on transit.

Other than that, I made some observations with my pen and notepad each day.

Here’s what I found out:

Monday:

  • OK, a LOT of people spend their entire trip on their phone. Is anyone concerned about becoming a society of strained-necked commuters?
  • I wish I could read my book. Motion sickness is the worst! Think of all the work I could do if I didn’t get sick reading on transit.
  • I have no idea what time it is. I really depend on my phone for telling the time. Not a lot of others are sporting watches either. Does everyone rely on their phones for the time?

Tuesday:

  • A woman is putting fake eyelashes on while on the bus. I can’t make my makeup look that good sitting still. She’s some sort of make-up wizard!
  • There are such distinct housing development and decor patterns as you cross the region. ie. Vancouver Specials, gated yards with lion statues, colourful stucco East of Main St., laneway house builds.
  • Riders say ‘thank you’ to operators much more often in the afternoon/evening rides than in the morning.

Wednesday:

  • There’s a man who I thought was talking to me but turns out wasn’t. He looked puzzled/annoyed when I said, “pardon?” Apparently it was a conversation for one.
  • It’s so foggy today I can’t even see the mountains. I should really look at the mountains more. Seriously, they’re gorgeous and you have a great view from the Expo Line trains in Burnaby.
  • I sat beside a woman with a purple bag. I didn’t notice the doggy with the matching purple bow until she licked me “hello!” Jazz was very friendly and quiet while we rode together.

Thursday:

  • How hard is it to put the free newspapers we all get handed in the recycling? There are bins at every station! Disclaimer: I sat on one that was stuffed in the side of my seat and wet so, in turn, I then got my whole side wet and I may be a little grumpy about it.
  • I just played with the air bubbles on a SkyTrain window for a good 10 minutes. I should probably wash my hands.
  • Sock fashion is in! Stripes, polka dots, bright colours – men and women; young and old seem to be rocking some funky socks. I’m liking the attention to the space in between shoes and pants.

Friday:

  • Everyone is in such a good mood today! I think TGIF culture is real because this is a total 180 from Monday
  • Someone is doing a crossword. I love crosswords. I feel like they have taken a backseat to Sudoku and I never understood why. I wonder what the ratio of Sudoku players versus crossword puzzlers on the train right now?
  • How many Starbucks drinks are sold in Metro Vancouver during the AM commuting hours? I’ve been on transit for 45 minutes and I have counted nearly 27.

I also conducted a little something I like to call the smile experiment.

Each day I tried to look someone in the eye and smile then I would record if they smiled back.

I think many people were a bit surprised, but the ones that returned the smile looked so happy!

Eye contact & smiles given = 37
Eye contact & smiles received = 11

Overall, though I did miss my commuting soundtrack, it was nice to actually LOOK UP and see the world around me and I’m going to try to leave my phone in my pocket more often!

Now, I put the challenge to you. One week’s commute with no smartphone. Can you do it??

Author: Adrienne Coling