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Translink Buzzer Blog

When pedestrians get hurt, nobody wins


Did you know that nearly one in five people killed in car crashes are pedestrians?

A saddening statistic to be sure and as the days get shorter and winter weather settles in, crashes involving pedestrians tend to increase with the seasonal change.

Spurred by this spike in crashes, ICBC is promoting a pedestrian safety campaign to remind drivers and pedestrians that we all share the responsibility for being safe on the roads.

Nobody wins when it comes to crashes involving pedestrians and ICBC has a few tips on how pedestrians and drivers can work together to make our roads safer.

  • When you’re walking, do your part to be seen by drivers — make eye contact, wear bright and reflective clothing, and stay focused on the road.
  • When you’re driving, take extra time to look for pedestrians before turning, avoid distractions and be ready to yield.
  • When you’re using transit:
    • Make sure that you’re visible when you’re walking to and from your transit stop. Wear bright and reflective clothing or gear so drivers can see you in all weather conditions.
    • Be cautious at transit stops. Avoid running for the bus and taking shortcuts. Always cross at designated crosswalks, not mid-block.

When it comes to road safety, Strategic Planning and Policy Manager, Adrian Bell knows a thing or two about the subject. He’s been studying attitudes to road safety and had a bit to say about ICBC’s pedestrian safety campaign:

“Campaigns that deal with issues even-handedly and promote the positives of safe travel rather than the aftermath of crashes often work better according to Urban Systems. Changing attitudes to road safety requires education and mutual understanding and ICBC’s new pedestrian safety campaign is an example of this newer road safety education that encourages everyone to do their part.

This is a great start and under the BC Road Safety Strategy should be something we see more of over the next few years.”

You can find ICBC on Twitter and Facebook and join the conversation on pedestrian safety using the hashtags #sharetheroadBC and #walksafebc.

Author: Laura Tennant

Fun Poll Results: 52% of you chose the Canada Line bike and pedestrian bridge as your favourite!


Bridge Poll results5

Well, it seems when it comes to the TransLink bridges we love, there’s a clear winner!

More than half of you chose the Canada Line bike and pedestrian bridge as your favourite.

The Golden Ears Bridge came in second with 20% of the votes, followed by the Westham Island Bridge at 12%, Pattullo Bridge at 11% and Knight Street Bridge at 6%.

Although my heart still belongs to the Westham Island Bridge, I can see why the Canada Line bike and pedestrian bridge got the most votes.

Its beautiful views, accessibility and the fact you can cross the bridge without the help of a vehicle, likely contributed to this bridge coming out on top.

Let us know in the comments section why you chose the Canada Line bike and pedestrian bridge. Or, tell us why another bridge got your vote!

Author: Laura Tennant




8 Tips from Transit Police to keep you safe this Halloween

Photo credit: Nathan Walls

Boo! Halloween is just around the corner and as things get a bit spookier around Metro Vancouver, Transit Police wants to share a few tips on how to make sure you have a safe night out. Here are a few things to keep in mind this All Hallows Eve:

1) Take extra care when choosing a Halloween costume. Ask yourself, could this prop be easily mistaken for the real thing? If so, how might it put your safety at risk if the police are called? If in doubt, leave it at home.

2) Remember, consumption of liquor in public is illegal. This includes at SkyTrain stations and on-board buses, SkyTrain, and SeaBus, If you are carrying liquor on transit, ensure it remains closed until you arrive at your private destination.

3)  See something? Say something. There are three easy ways to report non-emergency police issues discreetly to Transit Police: text 87-77-77, use the OnDuty App or call 604-515-8300. In an emergency always call 911.

4) Stay alert to your surroundings while on public transit. Keep valuables out of sight from others. Avoid being distracted by your electronic device.

5) Plan ahead for a safe ride home. Make note of key times such as the last trip of the night!

  • Check out the NightBus and SkyTrain schedules to make sure you don’t miss your ride home.

6) If travelling in a group, establish a meeting place just in case you are separated. 

7) Be visible. Wear bright costumes or include reflective tape, glow sticks, or other articles that improve visibility.

8) Use face paint or make‐up instead of a mask. If you must wear a mask, enlarge the eyes for better vision and push it back off your face when you are walking in and around train stations and in busy pedestrian areas.

Happy Halloween!

Author: Laura Tennant

Want the skinny on single tracking? Ian Fisher fills us in…

A new Mark II SkyTrain! Whee!

Ever waited for the SkyTrain during scheduled single track night time service?

If you are a regular rider, chances are you have. Chances are you’ve also asked yourself what exactly is going down during single tracked service.

Well, I’m here to shed some light! Single tracking on the Expo Line has been used accommodate the Power Rail Replacement work currently underway on the SkyTrain.

The project is nearly 80% complete and we thought it would be cool to get the skinny on the power rail replacement as well as how single tracking works.

We checked in with Ian Fisher, Manager of Operations at BCRTC, to learn the ins-and-outs of single tracking.

What is the power rail replacement project that’s underway during single tracking hours? 

For over the last year BCRTC has been accommodating a power rail replacement project that will help maintain and improve system reliability and allow for increased capacity in the future. The new power rail replaces worn power rail installed when the system was new and will support operation of more and longer trains, as well as increase energy efficiency. The power rails are mounted vertically to the side of the track and supply 600 volts DC to the trains (one rail is +300 V and the other -300 V). The need to replace them is due to the same factors that control how many appliances you can plug into an extension cord – too many and the cord will overheat while also increasing its electrical resistance.

What is single tracking and how does it work?

“Single-tracking” is when we run trains in both directions over a single piece of track. It’s like taking a two-lane road down to one lane and having a signal or flag ,person regulating traffic in the remaining lane so it only flows in one direction at a time. Many railways operate this way where they do not have two tracks. We do this when work or an incident on or adjacent to one track requires it to be closed while the other track can remain open for passenger service.

The length of single-tracking will depend on the locations of the track switches where we can transition from normal operation to single-tracking, and vice-versa. This can be short or long. For example, if we have to detour trains around the westbound platform at New Westminster, the length of the single-tracking area is only about 500 metres. At the other extreme, if the eastbound platforms at Main or Broadway are closed, the single tracking area is about 5 km long – from just east of Stadium-Chinatown to west of Nanaimo.

The longer the area, the more time it takes trains to travel through the area and trains operating in one direction may need to wait for trains in the opposite direction to clear the single-track area. In the Nanaimo to Stadium example the travel time between the switches is about 7.5 minutes in each direction. As a result, if trains ran alternately in each direction, we could run a train each way about every 15 minutes – significantly less often than the 5 minute service normally offered in late evenings. This would give a service of 4 trains/hour and so provide capacity for about 2,000 riders per hour in each direction.

We can increase capacity by running trains back-to-back in the same direction through the single-tracking area. This occupies the line for a bit more time for each direction (about 90 seconds each way) but overall the capacity is increased since we can then run two trains each way about every 18 minutes. The result is 6.7 trains per hour in each direction, with a capacity of 3,300 passengers. We have generally found this “two train platoon” approach to be effective at balancing capacity with service frequency and have used it for almost all of the power rail work areas in 2014 and 2015.

In order to better balance the number of passengers on each train, and to provide a more consistent service on the rest of the network, we run the trains a bit further apart outside the single tracking area. So, in the example above, the first westbound train operates about five minutes ahead of the second until it gets to Nanaimo. The first train then waits at the platform until the second train has caught up, then proceeds towards the start of the single-tracking area. With the two westbound trains now running back-to-back, they can enter the single-track section as soon as it is clear of eastbound trains. When leaving a single-track section, we may have the second train wait for a few minutes at the first station after the single-track section to help space the trains out for the same reasons. In this example, this occurs for eastbound trains at Nanaimo.

Why can’t work be done during non-service hours to avoid single tracking?

Doing the power rail work after service ends is not feasible since the time when no trains are running between the last train of the night and the first train the next day is too short for reasonable productivity and a 2-year project with work starting mid-evening would take 10 years or more if all work was after service ends. Consequently, we design single-tracking operations that allow the work to proceed on one track while the other track remains available to trains. This is done for other projects that need extended track access as well, such as repair and replacement of the running rails that the trains operate on, and for some types of work in stations.

How is single tracking monitored to ensure safety?

BCRTC Operations Planning staff develop finely-tuned timetables that aim to squeeze as much capacity as possible out of each single-tracking area. Train timings are carefully worked out to ensure that trains are running pretty much continuously in one direction or the other through the single-tracking area and the operation tested in simulation. While our signalling system would never let two trains collide, staff in the control centre must remain vigilant after delays to ensure that trains operating in opposing directions do not meet in a single-track area – a situation that requires one of the trains to be reversed clear of the single-track area to clear the deadlock.

A variation on single-tracking that we also use at times is to “break” the train operation at a station, such that trains from both directions terminate at a platform alternately but through service is not provided. This effectively creates two shorter single-track sections and thus allows a higher frequency of service to be provided on each, and can be easier to operate. As an example, we may operate trains from VCC-Clark to one of the platforms at Gilmore and back, while other trains operate from the same Gilmore platform to Waterfront and back. Through passengers thus change trains at the same platform – an important consideration on the Millennium Line where most stations have side platforms.

We continuously balance the need to see to work completed with the impact on service and customers. As a result we delay the start of single tracking on game/large concert nights so that additional trains can be operated to clear the crowds. If the event is particularly large, or will end later than 10:30 p.m., we generally cancel the single-tracking that night to provide a higher service level.

Thanks Ian for giving us the lowdown on single tracking! If you want updates about where we are with Power Rail Replacement work, you can check out OnTrack  on our website.

Author: Laura Tennant

Remember to tap out when travelling on SkyTrain and SeaBus!

Compass Card tap out

Please remember to tap out when exiting SkyTrain (including Canada Line) and SeaBus stations, even if you have a Monthly Pass!

Tapping out ensures you’ll be charged the correct fare for your journey. If you don’t tap out, the system assumes you kept travelling and charges you for a 3-zone trip.

Example time!

If you have a 1-zone Monthly Pass and no Stored Value (cash) on your card and you don’t tap out, the system will charge your card an AddFare of $2.75.

Since there’s no Stored Value (cash) on your card, the system will draw funds from your $6 reserve, causing your card to have a negative balance.

The next time you tap in, the system will say “insufficient funds”, because the Compass system requires your card to have a positive balance before you can travel again.

Please remember to tap in and tap out when travelling on SkyTrain and SeaBus, so you’re charged the correct fare!

Author: Laura Tennant

Single gate closures at Expo and Millennium Line Stations!


Try out your Compass products on a gate that closes!

You may have noticed this morning that at Expo and Millennium Line stations there is a single closed fare gate.

There’s only one closed fare gate, but it is there, ready for you to tap in and out of the system!

This means that if you have a Compass Ticket or a Compass Card, you can choose to tap it at the closed fare gate and see the gates open first-hand!

You will then get to pass through the open gates and get a taste of what the system will be like when all are closed in the future.

All of the open gates will continue to accept Compass Cards and Tickets, but we encourage you to try out the closed gate!

As we move forward with Compass, riders will be given PLENTY of notice before fare gates close in their entirety. We will be accepting traditional fare media up until all gates are fully closed.

For now, our aim is to give riders experience opening fare gates to ensure everyone is comfortable with the system.

The closed gate will also give us an opportunity to test the gates and gather customer feedback to make sure the system is running as smooth as possible!

Here’s a few tidbits about fare gate closures and tapping:

    • Remember to tap on the Compass card reader to the right of the gate. If you tap on the left, you are tapping for the gate next to you!


    • Wheelchair accessible gates will remain open at all times until we close all gates. All gates are programmed to open in the event of an emergency.


    • If you experience a tap error when tapping at a closed fare gate, please re-tap. If the gate denies entry or exit, please call the Compass Card & Balance Inquiries number on the back of your card or ticket.


    • Fare gates can open in both directions at stations where the same gates are used for both entry and exit.


    • We will be adding visual reminders to help you remember the ins-and-out of tapping in and out over the next few weeks.

Happy tapping!

Author: Laura Tennant

Fun Poll! Which is your favourite bridge that TransLink owns and maintains?


The Golden Ears Bridge is just one of five bridges TransLink owns and maintains!

It’s time for another fun poll! This time we want to know if you have a soft spot for one of our bridges.

Did you know we own and maintain five bridges? The Knight Street Bridge, the Pattullo Bridge, the Golden Ears Bridge, the Westham Island Bridge and the Canada Line bike and pedestrian bridge are all under our care.

Do you have a favourite? Maybe you love the view on the Golden Ears Bridge or the thrill of crossing the bike and pedestrian bridge under the Canada Line.

Me? I’ve stayed true to my Ladner roots and simply adore the Westham Island Bridge!

Take the poll and let us know your pick. You can also tell us why a bridge got your vote in the comments section!

Which is your favourite bridge that TransLink owns and maintains?

  • The Canada Line bike and pedestrian bridge (52%, 66 Votes)
  • Golden Ears Bridge (20%, 25 Votes)
  • Westham Island Bridge (12%, 15 Votes)
  • Pattullo Bridge (11%, 14 Votes)
  • Knight Street Bridge (6%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 128

Author: Laura Tennant

Links and Tidbits: September 23, 2015

Look no hands! The world’s first driverless bus trip was completed in China!

Links and tidbits is our semi-regular roundup of interesting fodder about transportation from the last few weeks or so. If you have links to contribute, put them in the comments, or email us.

A bag of haggis, a hamster and a casket are just three of the odd things Brits have left on trains. We too in Metro Vancouver leave leave some interesting items on transit as well. Those include megaphones, hearing aids and false teeth!

This photo series sniffs out the dark, but beautiful side of GreyHound bus travel.

Toronto Urban Film Festival screens on TTC subway platforms for what could be the last time.

Here’s the story of LA Metro’s new logo and its lil’ notch.

Pineapple express indeed. Philly transit gives a shout out to the fruit of the hour.

Talk about a long commute!

Parlez-vous français? Good. Now watch this video of Montreal’s new Metro cars and tell me what they’re saying. Or, click “cc” for English subtitles.

Subway Adventure whisks you away to surreal virtual destinations. Why not take the subway to the moon?

This Manhattan Subway Map charts each stop and tells it like it is.

If you can’t find an apartment in New Zealand you could always live on the train.

Want a free bus ride in Cluj-Napoca ? You better get reading. Oh, and move to Romania.

Ever wonder what it would be like to continuously ride NYC’s longest possible subway ride? One guy rode it, so you don’t have to!

If you need some space on transit…

Litefeet leaves the subway and hits the streets. How well do you know your moves?

Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority removes iconic transit murals and offers them back to the artist. She declines.

That’s one way to move transit farecards! Taiwan swipe card with image of Japanese porn star sells out within hours.

If high speed sidewalks are the future of transit, count me out!

Some transit lines are busy. Others, not so much.

Videos from the archives!

Aaaand just for fun, we dug up a few videos from our Links and Tidbits archives. Enjoy!

This video has was previously described as cute and enthusiastic. A more apt description there is not.
Remember the invisible bike helmet? So. Cool.
(Re)introducing the original “cool” bus. Hit “cc” for English subtitles.
Who needs a refresher on trolley wiring?  Global News gives a bit of history lesson on the wires.

Not a video, but still awesome. Thumbs up to Donnamatrix for capturing one of the most whimsical forms of alternative transportation and for letting us use this photo (twice).

Author: Laura Tennant

Kids ride free during International Walk to School Week 2015!

International Walk to School Week 21015 runs Oct 5-9!

Children around the world will be walking to school October 5-9, as part of International Walk to School Week (IWALK)! In recognition of this fantastic event, TransLink invites elementary and high school students (with a GoCard) to ride free on all TransLink services during IWALK. Adults accompanying students will still need to pay their fare during IWALK week.

You may be thinking, why free transit rides when the event is called “Walk to School Week”?

It’s simple – both walking and taking transit promote good health and independence, while keeping greenhouse gases to a minimum.

Here’s a few tools to help make travel by transit better:

  • Use the trip planner to find the best route;
  • Text the bus stop number to get the scheduled arrival time of the next bus; and
  • Sign-up to receive Transit Alerts so you Know Before You Go about any last minute changes to the service.

Teachers are invited to take advantage of the offer to organize field trips during the week. Please plan the transit portion during the “off peak” hours – between 9:30am and 2:30pm.

Choose to be a TravelSmart School – walk and take transit during International Walk to School Week.

Author: Laura Tennant

Buzzer illustrator interview: Meghan Latta


Meghan and her illustration!

This September issue was all about fall service changes and we were lucky enough to have Meghan Latta illustrate the cover!

Capturing our seasonal shift into autumn, Meghan’s work perfectly depicted our move into fall and the service changes that this time of year brings.

Here’s a brief interview we did with Meghan to learn more about her and her work.

Tell me a bit about yourself

My name is Meghan, illustration is not my day job, but I try to work it in whenever I have spare time.

How would you describe your illustration style?

I usually do things that are pretty detailed and realistic. I have been working on more pattern-focused illustration in the last year.

What inspired your illustration?

I knew that the emphasis of this issue of the Buzzer was going to be about fall service changes, some of which included night bus service, so I wanted to do something about the night and the transition from day into night. I really wanted to include some raccoons, but they didn’t make it into the final design.

Have you ever drawn transit before this gig?

I have not.

Do you take transit? If so, what’s your favourite mode?

I take transit every day! I live in a really well connected part of town, so it is easy to get anywhere from my house, and that is great. I don’t take the Canada Line as much anymore because it is not on my everyday route, but I do really like that train.

Did you have a good summer? Any fun fall plans?

Summer ended kind of abruptly and I am thinking a lot about fall and fall clothes. I’m wondering if I can get away with wearing a blanket around outside all of the time. Also, pie? Pie is in my fall plans. Both the making of and the eating.

Thanks Meghan! If you haven’t picked up the latest Buzzer you download it or find it on the system!

Author: Laura Tennant

I Love Transit Week wraps up! Let us count the ways you Love Transit…


Buzzer coloured by Magda Skrypichayko

It’s hard to believe I Love Transit Week has already come and gone!

The week was full of everything we love about transit, we took adult campers and kid campers to our transit facilities, held contests and had special blog content dedicate to transit love! To properly send off this year’s I Love Transit Week, why not take a look at a few of the highlights that made the week so special?

You sent us beautiful colouring contest entries!

Since the I Love Transit print Buzzer hit the system the most beautiful colouring contest entries have been finding their way to us. Below are just some of wonderful work that we received!

You told us why you loved transit!

Along with sending us colouring contest entries, you also filled us in on the many reasons you love transit.

Here’s what a few adults had to say:

“It encourages people to walk more and it’s economical, affordable and convenient. It helps lessen traffic congestion and the amount of people that use gasoline. It’s also a great way to meet new friends!” -Sally Habacon

“It’s always there when I need it, like a close friend” – Paul Petersen

“It’s a safe, economical and relaxing way to get around this big beautiful city of Vancouver!” – Sue de Leeuw

Our younger riders also chimed in:

“I think that a city cannot be a city without it. – Manveen Cheema, age 12

“I love pretending to drive the SkyTrain”- Leonardo Dell Isola, age 6

“When I’m on the SkyTrain I can see the whole world” -Cadence Holmes, age 5

Thanks to everyone who made I Love Transit such a great week!

Author: Laura Tennant

Mass Transit magazine’s Top 40 under 40 picks William Hui!

We have some wonderful news to share!

William Hui has been chosen as one of Mass Transit Magazine’s Top 40 under 40!

Those recognized with this honour have been chosen for their demonstrated leadership, capacity for innovation and commitment to making an impact in transit.

It’s safe to say, William is holding it down in all three areas.

A transit enthusiast, through and through, William is as a system engineer at TransLink and leads the technical development of the Access Transit Program for the Compass project. He’s involved in launching the Compass Card program and making sure it is fully integrated with our system! William also is the current chair and one of the founding members of the Vancouver chapter of the Young Professional in Transportation.

William has been a transit lover from the very beginning. Collecting memorabilia from a young age he has an impressive collection of transfers, bus schedules and now, smart cards. And if his 2013 trip on public transit from Vancouver, BC to Salem, Oregon doesn’t demonstrate commitment to transit, I don’t know what does!

Congratulations William!

Check out the video to learn just why William loves transit and what he see for the future of transit in region!

Author: Laura Tennant

TransLink supports Raise-a-Reader 2015!

Fred Cummings and a few other TransLink executives will be selling papers at this year's Raise-a-Reader!

September 23rd is the Vancouver Sun’s Raise-a-Reader Day! 

A few of TransLink`s executives will be selling newspapers to support the event from 7am to 9am on the corners of Seymor & Cordova and Georgia & Burrard in Vancouver.

Come say hi and buy a paper from Colleen Brennan (TransLink’s Vice-President, Communications & Customer Experience), Fred Cummings (TransLink’s Vice-President, Infrastructure Management & Engineering), Barry Kross (Transit Police’s Interim Chief) or Mike Richard (BCRTC’s Acting President and General Manager) and help raise funds in support of  literacy efforts in British Columbia.

BC Lions “Felions” and members of the Vancouver Canadians will also be selling papers for the cause!

One-hundred percent of all funds donated for Raise-a-Reader will go to children and family literacy programs, such as the Canucks Family Education CentreVancouver Public Library Foundation and Decoda Literacy Solutions.

Colleen Brennan will be out selling papers

Last year, the Raise-a-Reader campaign raised almost $450,000 for the literacy community in Metro Vancouver and various cities throughout British Columbia.

For more information you can check out the Raise-a-Reader section in The Vancouver Sun.

You can also join the conversation on Twitter @RARVancouver  and use #RARVan or look for Raise-a-Reader on Facebook!

Author: Laura Tennant

Fun Poll Results! 27 percent of you use your smartphone to catch up on your messages!

Smartphone poll resultsA number of weeks ago we asked how you use your smartphone on transit.

Well, the results are in! Of the 97 votes we received, 57 (27.4%) of you said you use your smartphone to catch up on texts, emails and other messages.

A close second was reading, with 24% of you reporting that you use your phone to read news, articles and blogs.

A couple of you left comments on the blog saying you use your smartphone to check transit information!

Ric told us he uses his phone for various tasks including checking the bus schedules.

 “While on transit, with my smartphone I mainly listen to music, go on social media, or check transit apps to see when my next connecting bus will be arriving if I need to make a transfer.”

Thanks to everyone who let us know how they use their smartphone on transit!

Didn’t get a chance to vote in the poll? It’s not too late! Let us know in the comments section.

Author: Laura Tennant

The September 2015 issue of the Buzzer is now on the system

Much of this issue is dedicated to Fall service changes that began September 7th.

There’s also information on Compass Card and upcoming bus anywhere with one-zone fare changes.

Details on International Walk to School Week (IWALK) can also be found in this issue.

And as always, we have our favourites – Contest Corner and Coming Events!

Happy reading! Pick it up today on the bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express or you can download it here.

The next regular issue of  the Buzzer will be out in December 2015!

Author: Laura Tennant