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Translink Buzzer Blog

National AccessAbility Week: A Conversation with Tamara Tedesco

May 31 to June 6 is the National AccessAbility Week, a week that celebrates the valuable contributions of Canadians with disabilities and recognize the efforts of individuals, communities and workplaces that are actively working to remove barriers to accessibility and inclusion.

Tamera Tedesco helps with the Access Transit Users’ Advisory Committee and a lot more to do with accessibility and transportation.

Although Tamara Tedesco jokes that the reason she’s stuck around TransLink for so long is for the five-year anniversary pin, it’s immediately clear that it’s the impact of her team’s work in Access Transit Planning that gets her out of bed and into work each morning.

“Because our transit system covers such a vast geographic area, we service a wide range of people. I think that’s something really wonderful about public transit – all different types of people rely on it,” says Tamara. “Our aim in Access Transit is to enhance the accessibility across the system and make transit inclusive to as many customers as possible.”

Tamara has been blind since birth, so public transit has played an important role throughout her life. Growing up in a small town on Vancouver Island, she always knew she’d end up in a bigger city one day. A few years after graduating, she packed up and relocated to Vancouver:

“I’ve always been unwaveringly independent. As a young teenager, I recognized that I couldn’t ask my parents to drive me everywhere. I think sometimes we can forget that there are all kinds of reasons that younger people are unable to drive. If you can’t see, that’s a big one. Having a way to get around independently has such a big impact on the quality of life, so it was important to me to find a place to live that was as accessible as it could be.”

Now, in her role as AccessTransit Coordinator, she is able to witness how the freedom of movement benefits other transit customers as well: “it means a lot to me that I’m able to help people and work towards making transit a really valuable and important aspect of their lives as well.”

Tamara’s job involves administrating the Access Transit Users’ Advisory Committee and the HandyDART Users’ Advisory Committee, coordinating their meetings, managing communications with committee members and recruitment. She also helps with the development of accessibility policies and advises departments across the TransLink enterprise on accessibility-related initiatives.

With this work comes unique challenges. As Tamara explains, “accessibility means very different things for different people depending on what their needs are. It’s always a juggling act trying to prioritize projects and determine where the biggest opportunities for improvement are. We really want to improve accessibility for as many customers as possible.”

One barrier that the team frequently confronts is trying to find a balanced solution when customers, especially customers with disabilities, have not only different needs, but often completely opposite and competing needs.

For those interested in promoting accessibility awareness, Tamara suggests a couple of ways that customers can provide feedback and get involved at TransLink:

“One way to submit feedback is through our regular channels – online or by phone. Any feedback or questions for Access Transit Planning gets sent to me. For those who are passionate about making sure accessibility issues are always considered and have a lot of transit experience, we usually have 3-5 openings for new members on the Access Transit Users’ Advisory Committee each year. Whether they are someone with a disability or represent someone with a disability, it’s a great way to be connected to the work we do. Recruitment opens in early August and ends in mid-September. Application information can be found on the Access Transit Users’ Advisory Committee page.”

For those of us at TransLink, we’re grateful for Tamara’s compassion, enthusiasm and commitment to earning that five-year anniversary pin. 😉

Written by Rebecca Abel

New temporary barriers give bus operators peace of mind

photo of: Carmen Niculescu - Community Shuttle Operator

Carmen Niculescu – Community Shuttle Operator behind a made by CMBC temporary barrier

To further protect the health and well-being of CMBC Bus Operators during the COVID-19 pandemic, new temporary barriers were recently installed on our Community Shuttle and Orion highway coach fleet.

With many teams working hard behind the scenes to complete this project as quickly and efficiently as possible, we thought we’d share an inside look at the process and people involved in developing and installing the barriers.

Engineering

From the beginning, Maintenance Engineers had a few important considerations when developing their design. It had to be easy and safe to use, rolled out on a large scale, meet all regulations, was flame resistant, and Operators had to be able to see through it.

“An intern and I did the initial install,” explained one CMBC Maintenance Engineer. “We came up with the design and tested it on two shuttles. Once we had the preliminary design, we worked with the [Upholstery] Shop to make templates so it could be rolled out easily, and all the garages could do the installs with minimal help. We also made instructions for them on how to install it. This was all completed in about three days.”

The engineer reinforced it was an excellent collaboration across multiple teams: “We had to make sure everyone was on the same page so this could be rolled out quickly.”

Inventory Management

An Inventory Procurement Coordinator was responsible for working with our suppliers to find and purchase the material needed to complete the project.

“It was challenging to find such large volumes of materials in a short period of time considering the current global climate,” he explained. “Fortunately, our suppliers went above and beyond to make sure we were able to get what we needed. From our Stores personnel to our Tradespeople in the [Upholstery] Shop, to the Supervisors and Managers who were involved, this was a real team effort. The safety of our Operators is important. If these barriers give peace of mind and assist in making them feel safer, then it’s well worth the effort.”

Fleet Overhaul

photo of: Extra velcro and metal parts from bus seats used to install CMBC created barriers

Extra velcro and metal parts from bus seats used to install barriers

The Upholstery Shop at CMBC repairs/rebuilds transit vehicle seats and completes custom reupholstery jobs. For this project, our Body, Paint and Trim Manager was responsible for coordinating all stakeholders, including purchasing, operations and maintenance management, engineering, body shop, and more, to ensure that the Upholstery Shop had all the materials and resources necessary to complete the work.

“This project was a team effort in every way,” they explained.

While it was challenging at times to balance the immediate requirements for both barriers and regular inventory items, the team was able to successfully equip almost 250 buses.

Environmental and Maintenance

A CMBC Environmental Officer and Inventory Management Coordinator also collaborated on an initiative that reused existing inventory and reduced costs.

They realized that they could utilize the package of Velcro and metal that comes with every bus seat in the installation of the new temporary barriers on our Community Shuttle fleet. These items almost never get used – often they are just changing out the seat which already has Velcro installed at the base – so they were able to save them from the garbage and avoid having to purchase new materials.

 

An Operators’ Perspective

Made by CMBC shuttle barrier

Carmen Niculescu, a Community Shuttle Operator based out of the Port Coquitlam Transit Centre, enjoys the community aspect of driving the shuttles: “I love being able to pick up the same people at the same time every day. I know to expect those people and enjoy creating interactions with them.”

In the early days of the pandemic however, Carmen found herself limiting interactions with customers to try and keep everyone on the bus safe. While she still picks up many regulars, there are people she doesn’t see anymore: “It makes me sad. I miss the routine and the community.”

With the new temporary barriers installed, Carmen feels much more at ease and is able to carry on with her regular, friendly interactions: “You get on the bus, you do your job, and the barrier gives 100% peace of mind. They are really well designed. Whoever did this project did an amazing job!”

In the light of recent service reductions, we’re asking all of our customers to use transit for essential trips only – especially at peaks hours and busy times – so space remains available for those who need it most. You can find more information about peak hours on transit here.

Written by Rebecca Abel

Being a frontline worker means keeping groceries on shelves

Due to reduced revenue caused by COVID-19, TransLink has had to make some difficult decisions resulting in temporary staff layoffs, voluntary cuts in pay and reduction to service. We are actively working with senior government to secure more funding to reverse these decisions. Public transit is an essential service, and we know +75 000 people are still reliant on transit, including frontline workers. Dave’s story is another in our series about the people who are keeping our region operating during this unprecedented time. We at TransLink applaud all that frontline workers are doing, and we’re working hard to get them to their important work – Together all the way.

Dave Carbiero is used to working hard. He once worked two full-time jobs before he and his wife had their child. But with COVID-19, his life has become a challenge.

Waking up shortly after 5 a.m. to make sure he gets to work on time as an Assistant Produce Manager at a Vancouver grocery store, Dave takes two different buses and the SkyTrain five or six days a week. He’s had to start his day earlier since we started reducing service and number of seats on the bus due to COVID-19 over a month ago. Despite the longer commute, he says he needs transit to keep running to make everything work for his family.

“Don’t shut down transit [more] because it’s going to be a chain reaction. If the workers like us who provide supplies for the home, can’t come to work, where will people go to buy their food?”

Going home from work on the bus, Dave needs to pick up his child from the babysitter. His wife works nights as a care worker, so his family’s days are very busy with little time to spend together.

Added to this is the need to keep up with food deliveries so his customers have food to buy. “It’s a bit scary because a few people have left the job. We’re actually understaffed, so we need to work more and multitask… Every time I get home, I’m as tired as a dog, but I still have to take my child out for a walk or a bike ride around the neighbourhood because he has too much energy.”

Dave has worked at his grocery store since 2015 and enjoys helping his community. He’s not unlike Laura, Ava or Cara who are also frontline workers putting in time so we have the food, childcare and the medical attention we need these days.

Do you have a story like Dave’s or know someone doing good these days? If so, we’d love to hear from you via our social channels or email. Together we can get through the challenges that COVID-19 has brought. Telling stories of the effects on each other’s lives can help.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Help pick what Seth says next!

The idea to have Vancouver actor Seth Rogen as a guest voice on transit came from our customers and the media. That’s why we want to hear from you again!

Help pick what nuggets of Seth wisdom will be on transit next by taking the poll below. We’ll start playing one or two of the highest voted announcements on transit next week!

Seth volunteered to be a guest voice on transit earlier this summer and results so far have been fantastic! Besides mentions on The Tonight Show, BBC, Fast Company and more, transit users have been sharing their love of Seth’s humorous take on transit dos and don’ts.

Seth’s voice can be heard until the end of October at most SkyTrain stations on all three lines (Expo, Millennium and Canada Line) as well on buses across Metro Vancouver (up to bus operators discretion). You might have heard Seth say something like this:

Reminder! Seats closest to the doors are for persons with disabilities, seniors and those who need it. People appreciate you offering these seats to them. It’s worth remembering that some people have disabilities that aren’t always obvious. If someone asks you to give up a seat because they have a disability, please take their word for it.

That’s right. Seth has been helping transit users at SkyTrain stations and buses on their travels with his take on courtesy seats, cellphone use and more!

Each announcement will run for roughly three weeks or longer. To find out more about the Seth announcements, leave a comment below.

Happy voting!

Seth Rogen – A Guest Voice on Transit


Want to know what would make public transit even more awesome? Seth Rogen!

That’s right, the Vancouver-born actor, voice actor, comedian, writer, producer, and director has donated his time and love of Metro Vancouver and TransLink in the form of public announcements on our system!

In the coming weeks and into the fall, Seth Rogen’s distinctive voice (and laugh) can be heard on SkyTrain platforms, SkyTrain cars and buses across the region. Seth will be tackling transit etiquette as well as interesting tidbits about Vancouver and his relation to it.

If you don’t already know, Seth grew up in Vancouver using our public transit system and still does so today! We were overjoyed that Seth wanted to help make the customer experience on transit better…and funnier!

We’re also stoked that this idea of having Seth be the guest voice on transit came from our followers on social media and that we were able to make it happen.

Author: Robert Willis

Who’s behind TransLink’s Social Media channels?

Social Media Team

Left to right: Robert Willis, Sarah Kertcher, Allen Tung

Hello Buzzer readers! It’s been a while since we’ve shined the spotlight on the people who put the blog and so much of TransLink’s social media together. First off, there’s the amazing and award-winning Customer Information team who look after TransLink’s official Twitter account. Their tireless work has been a model for other like-minded agencies and they’ve become a indispensable channel for all things service related and more!

Read more »

Running Rail Replacement work June 12-14, 2017

Modified service route 1 NW to VC_17x11-01
TransLink keeps chugging along with our Running Rail Replacement Project. Starting back in February, we’ve been replacing 7,000 aging rail pads and 5,000 linear metres of running rail on the Expo Line.

Here are the details: Read more »

Bike Patrol is ready to roll

Riding on the success of a 2015 pilot project, Transit Security’s Bike Patrol officers are back for a third season, acting as an important resource for Transit Operators, passengers and the public.

This year, the very visible Bike Patrol is once again based in downtown Vancouver with additional coverage expanding four out of every eight days to Scott Road, Surrey Central and Newton exchange.

  • Starting today, from May to September, officers will work various shifts between 11:00 a.m. and 9:30 p.m.
  • A total of seven participants are CAN-bike certified, which includes backup relief
  • Bike Patrol will run rain or shine

Working together

This year’s team of seven trained General Security Patrol employees will work throughout downtown Vancouver and Surrey. It will be the first time that Transit Security Bike Patrol and Transit Police Neighbourhood Police Officers will be partnering in the Surrey area.

Security members receive a four-day bike-specific course to be CAN-bike certified, in addition to basic and advanced security training, and first-aid training. The training was designed for front-line security staff and was a combination of in-class and practical cycling training provided by Transit Police.

From left to right: Scott Arnold, Dale Mackie, Cst. Glover (Transit Police), Jeff Kim, Cst. Skelton (Transit Police), Matt Forshaw, and Nick Kellof. Missing from photo: Dave Partridge and Greg Gervais, returning 2016 Bike Patrol officers)

Putting our customers first

As always, our customers are important to us, and being on a bike allows Transit Security more opportunities to have meaningful, positive interactions with employees and the public. Having a more mobile security team also means they can easily travel on transit and can go places that are hard to access by vehicle. This means Transit Security can work more closely with the 42 bus routes that travel through the downtown core—boarding an average of more than 100 buses per day—attend to SeaBus and be proactive in security activities.

During the busy summer tourist season, Bike Patrol officers will also be an additional resource downtown to answer customer questions, and act as CMBC ambassadors. In-vehicle Transit Security officers will also be available, if required.

Please support our bike-riding, yellow-uniformed Transit Security officers with a friendly wave or hello when you see them. You’ll be happy you did.

More info:

Bike Patrol 2.0 hits the streets

An update from Bike Patrol

A ride-along with Transit Security: Training for Bike Patrol

 

Author: Adrienne Coling

More Evergreen Extension Moments from opening day on December 2, 2016

 

We had a blast opening up the Evergreen extension on Friday! If you missed it, check out these videos and images as well as our post on Friday.


BC Ministry of Transportation

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

Cathy 640

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

The Evergreen Extension is now open!!!!!

Premier Clark and more open up the Evergreen Extension

With the cutting of the ribbon the Evergreen Extension is open!

It’s official. The Evergreen extension is live! It’s been a fantastic day so far. Come on down and join us!

Here’s a run down of the day so far:

10 a.m.
Premier Clark rode the first official non-public trip of the extension from Moody Station to Coquitlam Centre Station.

10:30 a.m. The Premier, officials from all levels of government including First Nations as well as TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond announced the opening of the Extension.

We also live streamed on Periscope.

12 p.m. The extension opened for the first public trips!

12-7 p.m. The community celebration is being held at all of the six new SkyTrain station on the Evergreen Extension.

There’s a lot more fun to be had today and tomorrow on the extension like live performances, a photo book, SkyTrain cut outs, Transit Police with their dogs, a community outreach bus, TRAMS buses, food trucks, and Lego displace of one of the Lafarge Lake-Douglas station that is out of this world!
poster

First in line to ride the train.

First in line to ride the train.

 

A first look at the Evergreen Extension of the Millennium SkyTrain Line

Burquitlam Station

Burquitlam Station

The extension to the Millennium SkyTrain Line is going to connect the Metro Vancouver region like never before.

That was my biggest takeaway from tagging along on a quick tour for elected officials of a couple of soon-to-be-opened new stations on the SkyTrain system yesterday morning.

Amidst construction crews still busily buildings the six new stations and (along with Lougheed Town Centre) that make up the Evergreen Extension of the M-Line, I was able to take the odd photo and ask those along for the ride what they thought of it all.

The stations have a similar feel to some of the SkyTrain stations that have either recently been renovated or are in the midst of a facelift like Main Street-Science World and Metrotown respectively. They’re open in terms of their layout, have a lot of glass and include some beautiful public art that gives each stop on the line its own feel.

The Millennium Line will have a lot more bends than it does today and the longest tunnel in our system when it opens before Christmas this year!

“We’ve been waiting a long time. This will change our community,” Richard Stewart, Mayor of the City of Coquitlam told me. What the extension will do to improve livability, not only for the Tri-Cities, but for the region itself, is what many of the officials told me.

What struck me the most about the extension is how much more of the region this extension will give riders access to. Having lived in Vancouver for a number of years, I’ve only had glimpses of Coquitlam and the surrounding areas as I’ve driven to specific locations. With this extension, I know I’ll be exploring all that this section of the region has to offer since it’s simply a SkyTrain trip away.

As the final touches are put on the extension and we gear up for the SkyTrain pattern change (happening Oct 22nd) in advance of the opening, you’ll want to get yourself acquainted with how you too may make the trip to the Coquitlam area and beyond. With this new addition to the SkyTrain line, it’s not so far away.

Author: Robert Willis

I Love Transit: Don’t forget to share your transit love and keep tapping your Compass Card!

I Love Transit 2016

It’s mid-I Love Transit Week and we’re loving all the things you’re sharing with us! Don’t forget to share the #ILoveTransit love online and in print.

Yesterday we did a Facebook Live about I Love Transit as well as the data we collect with Compass. I had the please of being joined by one of our senior planners to tells us all about the data we collect and why it’s important to always tap your Compass Card.

Spoiler alert – we need the data you provide by tapping your Compass Card to make sure we’re providing the right amount of service to get you where you’re going!

Have a watch and ask us any data or I Love Transit questions you have. We’re standing by!

Author: Robert Willis

Update to the C9 route this September 5, 2016

The updated C9 route as of September 5, 2016

The updated C9 route as of September 5, 2016

 

New Westminster residents will see a slight change in their C9 community shuttle route starting September 5, 2016.

This shuttle currently runs on a temporary route, which primarily runs along Columbia Street as it travels between Lougheed Station and New Westminster Station. It makes one diversion along Richmond Street, turning into Jamieson Court before returning to Columbia Street.

On September 5th the C9 will turn off of Columbia Street and run along a portion Cumberland and Richmond Street, with stops at Richmond and Cumberland and on Richmond at Miner Street. Service on Jamieson Court will continue.

For a larger view, check the .pdf.

A sneak peek at the new Hamilton Transit Centre! (photos)

Check out the new buildings!

Check out the new buildings!

In order to move over 400,000 people on transit everyday in Metro Vancouver and prepare for a growing region, it’s important to keep Metro Vancouver buses organized, fueled up and safe. Today I’m proud to announce that our newest facility, the Hamiliton Transit Centre (HTC), is well on its way to completion!

The buildings

The new facility will perform three functions: bus dispatch, bus service (fuel and wash) and bus maintenance. Buses and bus operators servicing the Richmond, New Westminster, Burnaby and Vancouver areas will begin and complete service from this location.

Once completed, the 7.3 hectare site located in a light-industrial area in east Richmond will support the operations and maintenance of a fleet of 300 forty-foot equivalent (FFE) buses, including up to 80 Community Shuttle buses and 150 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fuelled buses. Sixty-foot buses will also be accommodated at the centre.

HTC features a maintenance building, service delivery building, waste water treatment building, bus washing building and fueling building.

Bus operators will receive their daily assignments in the service delivery building and collect their buses from the parking lanes. Buses due for overnight fueling and washing will be collected from the buildings and returned to the parking lane, while buses due for maintenance will be parked in bays south of the maintenance building. Because there will be CNG buses at HTC, the building requires different design considerations, including floors with radiant heat. The waste water treatment plant processes oily water and waste from the facility.

One thing that strikes you when looking at the buildings at HTC is the wood ceilings and roofs.

The HTC lighting design has also been developed to keep as much light as possible directed to the facility and not the surrounding residential sites.

A bit of history and details on HTC

TransLink and Coast Mountain Bus saw the need for a new facility and started planning for it in 2009. Construction began in 2013 with a final completion date in 2017.

HTC will increase the capacity for maintenance and storage to 2,005 FFE buses allowing room to grow our current fleet of 1,611 FFE.

What’s next?

Even though the centre won’t be completely finished until 2017, the plan is to have buses housed and running service out of the facility by the fall!

Have we piqued your interest about HTC? Well, we’ll be planning a livestream of the centre really soon. What do you think about that?

Author: Robert Willis