ALERT! : More info
Translink Buzzer Blog

#IWD2020: Qiu-ing up for success

Qiu Li is an Electrical Maintenance Engineer at Coast Mountain Bus Company. Her role involves fleet technical support and focuses on the the technology systems affecting the fleet, as well as working with battery-electric buses and on-board technologies.

International Women’s Day on March 8 is a dedicated day to acknowledge the work that needs to be done for gender equality around the world. This year’s theme is #EachforEqual. It highlights that working towards equality is something that is the responsibility of every individual.

Part of this work is recognizing and celebrating the achievements of women in our workplaces. We’re proud to share the stories of those that work at TransLink and its family of companies. 

Most semesters, Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC)’s Maintenance Engineering team gets some new co-op students. Women filling these positions have been few and far between.

Women are underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and computer science (STEM) fields at universities.

According to Statistics Canada, 44 per cent of first-year university students aged 19 or less enrolled in STEM programs were women, while women made up more than 64 per cent of students in other fields.

That’s why Qiu Li (pronounced q), an electrical maintenance engineer with CMBC, relishes the opportunity to mentor co-op students — both men and women — eager to apply their classroom learning to the real world.

A typical work day for Qiu runs the gamut.

There’s communicating with maintenance staff and vendor representatives to resolve fleet technical issues and providing design and functional inputs for new buses and onboard technologies. There’s also working with technicians to prototype new systems to better the fleet.

One of the projects she is involved in is TransLink’s battery-electric bus pilot project.

After overseeing the successful delivery of the battery-electric buses, she carved out a larger role for herself. She’s now looking after the day-to-day health of the buses and the chargers.

While doing all this, she’s helping to train and expose the co-op students to the environment they’re working in, guiding them through their learning process.

They have a good mentor to look up to, showing them the value of taking initiative.

Qiu has earned the respect of her peers for stepping up as an interim technical lead, continuing to push all the vendors to resolve issues, educating the operations department on how to improve charging success, and working with the maintenance department to improve bus performance.

Although universities have made headway in recent years to close the gender gap in STEM fields. The fact remains, Qiu is a woman in engineering — a field dominated by men — but that doesn’t define her in the office.

“Just because I work in a more male-dominated environment, I don’t feel like I have to be more assertive,” says Qiu, “but from my perspective and just the way I usually deal with people, I find the best way is to treat people with respect.”

Reflecting on this year’s International Women’s Day theme, #EachforEqual, Qiu says it means seeing people as people.

She would rather people confront issues that arise from personality or situation conflict, rather than singling out someone based on gender.

“I think it’s harder for people who have grown in environments where they are not exposed to diversity and different cultures,” says Qiu.

“But I think I’ve been pretty lucky in my life that I’ve always grown up in a very diverse cultural environment and a lot of people I interact with came from that background.”

Over the years, Qiu has also learned two important things.

First, if you treat people with respect and as equals, they reciprocate.

And second, she’s figured out what her favourite compliment in the office is – “they just see me as me with my personality traits, and they don’t treat me anything more or less just because I’m female.”

A gold medal for transit during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics

February 28, 2020 marks the 10-year anniversary of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics’ final day of competition and the closing ceremonies. Of course, it’s also the anniversary of the “golden goal” scored by hockey player Sidney Crosby to win Canada the gold medal in men’s hockey.

Here’s an essay by Mohak Sood with The Buzzer blog on what the games meant for transit and transportation in Metro Vancouver. 

It’s winter. It’s February. It’s really not that cold, and it’s definitely not snowing much.  The coldest it got to this month was about -1 degrees Celsius.

It’s basically almost spring. Not ideal, really.

Anyways, you’ve got plans – you’re headed downtown.

You rip out a FareSaver from your booklet and head on down to see the Olympic Cauldron at Jack Poole Plaza, near the Vancouver Convention Centre.

But it’s guarded by a chain link fence, so it’s kind of hard to see.

Still, you hang around long enough to try and get a good look, and eventually you do. You see the glass that looks like ice. You see the cauldron, towering over you, all 30-plus feet of it. And then you see it. The fire. The flame. It’s lit.

And then you realize – it really isn’t that cold, like, at all. At the very least, it doesn’t feel anywhere close to cold enough. After all, it is the Winter Olympics!

You know just by simply thinking about Vancouver back in 2010, it feels like travelling through a time machine. Where does the time go!?

It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years since the Vancouver 2010 games, because, well, a lot has changed since then.

Did you know there was no Instagram during the 2010 Olympics? It didn’t launch until 2012. And FareSavers? Does anyone even remember those? It’s the Compass Card now.

The words “it’s lit” has taken on a whole new meaning. In 2010, it meant you were talking about turning on a light, lighting a candle or even the Olympic Cauldron. But now? Maybe ask a teenager.

Although times have changed since we hosted the Winter Olympics ten years ago, its impact continues to reverberate, especially when it comes to transit ridership.

During the 17-day long Olympics, there were 26 million boardings on all services. That’s an average of 1.58 million boardings per day, 40 per cent higher than the average weekday back in 2010.

“There was so many articles and information afterwards that the transportation during the 2010 Olympics was one of the best that [the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games] has ever seen,” says Ray Hamilton, Coast Mountain Bus Company’s manager of service analysis.

And we made sure we were ready for all the travel – before the games kicked off. TransLink launched a large-scale expansion plan that saw not only the arrival of SkyTrain’s Canada Line, but also 180 new diesel-hybrid buses, 48 new SkyTrain cars and a 400-passenger SeaBus.

During the games, TransLink saw a record high in use of public transit and that helped redefine our regions commuting habits. Regional mass transit saw a whopping 50 per cent increase during and after the Games!

“The numbers of riders, it didn’t drop back down to pre-Olympic levels. I think there were lots of people who realized through the Olympic experience that transit was a pretty viable option for getting around the Lower Mainland,” says Constable Jason White with Transit Police.

TransLink continues to win the gold medal in transit ridership, surpassing more than 437 million boardings in 2018 to set an all-time high for Metro Vancouver.

Ridership continues to climb on the Canada Line, which connects people from Vancouver International Airport to downtown Vancouver. It hit an all-time high in 2018 for annual ridership, including 39.65 million boardings in October 2018 alone, surpassing the one-month ridership record of 39.2 million set back during the Olympics.

Recognizing our ridership growth between 2016-2018 and excellence in a range of areas, the American Public Transportation Association named TransLink the Transit System of the Year for 2019.

But perhaps most importantly, all the new additions to TransLink’s fleet were easier on the environment with reduced fuel consumption and lower emissions.

The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics was a truly moment in time that brought the city, the province, and the country together.

We saw freestyle skier Alexandre Bilodeau become the first Canadian to win gold at an Olympic games held in Canada. We also saw the Canadian women’s hockey team shut out the Americans for gold and of course, hockey player Sidney Crosby’s “golden goal” in men’s hockey to end the magical tournament.

Everyone felt more connected during that time and because of the Olympics, everyone truly was.

Transit in Metro Vancouver has continue to transform 10 years later, so let’s take a look at selection of what we’ve accomplished since 2010:

A Love Connection that was nearly missed

How many coincidences are you allowed before it’s considered fate? Robyn and Josh met on the SkyTrain, by squishing into a packed train during rush hour (who hasn’t been there). But there was a special connection between the two… to find out what happened check out our interview with Robyn below.

How did you two meet?

Robyn: That’s kind of a long story, it took over eight months. The first time we met, I was dragon boating at Science World, and he worked at a visual effects studio in the area. When I was done my dragon boat practice he was just coming off of work. I was on the Main Street-Science World platform and he was standing and the SkyTrain came up and everyone had just started leaving from work, so it was jam packed. And there wasn’t much space and I had my big sports bag. So, we kind of looked at each other and the doors open, and he said, “Oh, you go ahead, I’ll wait for the next one.”

 

And I said, “Oh, no, no, no, I’m not going to make you wait, we can squish.”

 

So, we both squished on to the SkyTrain and I was crushing him with all my bags. He went, “Oh, are you just coming from school, like what’s going on?”

 

I said, “Oh no, like, I’m coming from dragon boating, the sport that I play.” He got off two stops later. And I just thought, wow, that was a nice guy.

 

So, that was in October. In November, I hadn’t seen him for a month, so I had not thought about him but, like, what are the chances of meeting someone again, that you just met randomly on the SkyTrain.

 

Now it’s November, and I went up to the Main Street Science World after I was finished dragon boating, and lo and behold, he was heading up the platform and I was shocked. He came up to me and said, “Hey, how’s dragon boating going?”

 

I was taken aback that he had remembered the obscure sport that I did.

 

We both went on to the train and we started talking and he rode all the way with me to my stop which was way farther than mine I found out later. He would just ride all the way to my stop and one stop past so it didn’t look like he was creepily following me. Then he would walk across the platform and take the train back to his stop.

 

So yeah, that was the second time we met, and we just had a great conversation. I found out that he was close to the school that I was going to in the fall and his sister was in the same program I was going into. He volunteered at a church and was involved in summer camp which I was big in. He was just an amazing guy, but of course like he’s a stranger on the SkyTrain, so I’m not going to do anything about it. But I got off at my stop and I called my best friend, and I told her that I met him again, and she goes, “Robyn! Okay, like, did you get his number?” and I said no. She said, “Did you get his name?” and I said no. And she goes, “Robyn! What are you doing? You don’t just bump into people like that on the SkyTrain, like what are you doing?”

She said, if you see him next time, it’s meant to be.

 

So, six months go by, and I’m still dragon boating. I’m still taking the train, a couple times a week, down to the docks at Science World and for six months didn’t see him. At that point I had kind of given up and I went well, I just missed my shot. Oh well.

 

But it was the first day of May, I walked out of dragon boating. We’re not even on the SkyTrain yet and my friend and I were just on the sidewalk, walking from the docks, up to the SkyTrain platform. And he was just walking by on the sidewalk and we saw each other after six months and our jaws both just dropped, like we had no idea what to do. So, finally, he asked for my name and said, “Oh, are you going up to the SkyTrain?”

 

I said yeah, and he said, “Oh, I’ll take you there.”

 

So, we went up to the train, just talking the whole time, he was super nice. We’re getting closer to my stop and I’m thinking, I’ve got to do something or I’m never going to see him again. What are the chances that I’ve seen him three times in Vancouver, on the SkyTrain? But I couldn’t do anything, so I walked off and I went well. That was it, like, that was it.

 

And then the next week, after practice, I went up to the SkyTrain and I was looking around for him. He wasn’t there, and I waited for a couple of SkyTrain’s and he still wasn’t there. And so finally I thought, I have places to go, things to do – I have to get on a SkyTrain and go. So, I got on and I took out my book. Then two stops before my stop, I felt a tap on the back of my shoulder and I looked around and there was Josh and he goes, “Hey Robyn!”

 

And, oh my goodness, my mouth just fell open. I could not believe that he was there. But I was thinking, “Oh, no, we only have two stops left, what am I going to do?”

 

We got to my stop and I thought, “Oh, brilliant, I’ll forget to get off and that’ll give us some more time.”

 

The train stopped and I’m pretending not to pay attention, the doors close, and the train starts to go and I’m like, “Oh, dang it! That was my stop, whoops!”

 

So, I get to the next one and I have to walk across the platform and catch the next train to go back to my stop and he goes, “Oh, I’ll take you!” And we both went back to my stop and I thought he needed to get back onto the other train to go the way we were originally going, but I really threw him for a loop, because he had to pretend to be going that way and then loop back again. He really thought it out.

He needed to rush across because the trains came up at the same time. So, we got off one train and he was going on to the next end. But, I missed the chance and he looks at me and says, “Do you want to do something some time?” And I thought my heart was going to fall out of my stomach!

 

I said of course, and I had my phone and I said, “Do you want to go put your number in?”

 

He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out this little piece of paper and gave it to me, didn’t say anything, gave it to me, smiled and then walked onto the other train.

 

And I opened it up. I felt like, like in a movie you know what everyone else is rushing by and one character is just standing still. That’s exactly how I felt. And I opened this little piece of paper, that I learned later, he had been carrying around his number, on this little slip of paper, for the next time he saw me.

Then, two days later, we went on our first date, and now we’ve been dating for two years.

Have you seen the Netflix show ‘You’?

I have not, and I did realize the situation could be sketchy.

On the first date, I made sure to text my friends every half hour, I didn’t get into his car for the first month that we were dating. But, the second time we met, I knew that he went to church and volunteered, not that you can’t make that stuff up. He was just a genuine guy and I did realize it was, you know, not the usual way people meet. But, he was also really aware of the fact, and he put in the extra effort to just be a gentleman.

The first couple months, he was on his best behavior, just to make sure that I was comfortable. We had all our dates in public, we never went anywhere private. He really sought that out too and made sure that I was comfortable because I didn’t know him from a hole in the wall, and he’s a random guy I met on the SkyTrain!

So, when you tell people you guys met on the SkyTrain, what’s their reaction like?

Definitely like, “What kind of person are you, just picking up random people of the SkyTrain?” Because there is a stigma that you get all kinds of people on public transit.

But when I tell people like, “Yeah, we met on a SkyTrain,” they’re taken aback. And then they go, “Okay, I want to hear the story, I want to know everything.”

 

It’s been a big conversation starter and people who I told, who I wouldn’t remember telling, they’ll come up to me like, “Hey, how’s SkyTrain boy?”

People are just so much more invested because of the unlikelihood of how and where we met.

Would you have ever expected to find your partner on public transit?

Not at all. No, and I’ve always grown up being like, don’t talk to strangers, and especially on public transit.

 

Josh’s dad actually works for SkyTrain and I know that TransLink does so much to keep people safe. I feel safe when I’m on transit, but it’s still not necessarily smart to go up to everyone you meet on the SkyTrain or a bus and start up a conversation like that and then start dating. Yeah, I definitely wasn’t expecting that!

Do you have a transit love story to share? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Valentine’s Day from us at TransLink!

It’s Sedin Week! Take transit to the Canucks games at Rogers Arena

Dear Daniel and Henrik, THANK YOU! Thank you for 18 years of awesome hockey. Thank you for 18 years of Sedinery on the ice. Thank you for all you’ve down for our community. Thank you for being an inspiration to hockey players and Vancouverites all over. This week, Sedin Week, is your week and an opportunity for all of Metro Vancouver to once again come together to celebrate your amazing careers. Congratulations, Hank and Danny!

To honour the Sedins, the Vancouver Canucks are taking this week’s slate of home games at Rogers Arena to make the most of every opportunity to celebrate them. So, knowing that everyone wants to be there to relive the memories, we’re taking measures such as delaying rail replacement work to accommodate for crowds. Not only that, there are many systems in place to make your trip to celebrate the twins easier. Tap to Pay is one such option; if you don’t have a Compass Card, you can use your Visa, MasterCard or American Express credit cards to pay your transit fare. Just remember, tap your card not your wallet!

Another useful option is Park and Ride. There’s two in Surrey – Scott Road and South Surrey, plus many along the West Coast Express including at Port Coquitlam and Pitt Meadows. You can also use the Park and Ride facility at Carvolth Exchange in Langley, if you’re travelling from there to celebrate the Sedins. Here’s where you can find a full list of Park and Ride facilities, including the cost of parking at each: https://www.translink.ca/Getting-Around/Driving/Park-and-Ride.aspx

Regardless of where you go and how you choose to celebrate Sedin Week, there are lots of options to get there, so figure out the best route, plan a bit ahead, and give yourself some extra travel time – there will be a lot of fans like you wanting to join in on the celebration!

Congrats again, Daniel and Henrik!

SkyTrain announcements now include which side doors open on

“The next station is … Columbia. Doors will open on the right.”

When riding SkyTrain’s Expo and Millennium Lines, you might have noticed that our “next station” announcements are a little different now — they now announce whether doors will open to the left or right when the train arrives at the station.

It will make an announcement, voiced by Laureen Regan, that’s a variation of, “The next station is … Edmonds. Doors will open on the right,” depending on the station the train’s at.

It’s all part of our effort to make transit more accessible for everyone, and a little bit easier for customers with sight loss as well as those who are new to riding SkyTrain.

These accessibility improvements were the result of advice and feedback from TransLink’s Access Transit Users’ Advisory Committee (UAC) and other stakeholders. The UAC provides ongoing advice on TransLink plans, programs, and initiatives, making sure that accessibility issues are always considered.

But, that’s not all — we’ve also shortened our boarding announcements on the Expo Line to make it simpler and more succinct. Now, at most stations, you’ll no longer hear, “This is an Expo Line Train to King George,” but rather a simple “Train to King George.”

Have you heard the new announcements? If so, let us know what you think!

Related Stories: