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Translink Buzzer Blog

Join us for I Love Transit Camp – August 26, 2014!

 

I Love Transit 2014 Banner

This is going to be fun!

This is going to be fun!

It’s summer time and that means it’s time for camp…transit camp! Yup, this year for I Love Transit week we’re organizing an exclusive I Love Transit Camp!

What is I Love Transit Camp? It’s an opportunity for kids between the ages of eight and 12 to visit TransLink operating companies’ facilities to learn about how transit works and have some fun at the same time!

Inside one of the buildings at OMC!

Inside one of the buildings at OMC!

The day will start around 9 am at Edmonds Station and we’ll head to SkyTrain Operations and Maintenance Centre (OMC). While there we’ll visit where SkyTrain are maintained and cleaned as well as the SkyTrain Control. After that we’ll have a little lunch then say goodbye to OMC.

Next we’ll hope back on SkyTrain and head for Waterfront Station. Once there we’ll take a ride on the SeaBus and get a behind-the-scenes tour of SeaBus maintenance docks! We’ll also head up to the bridge and speak to the captain of the SeaBus!

Afterwards we’ll get to have fun on a 40-foot bus and talk to a bus operator instructor about what it’s like to drive a bus. Finally, we’ll get to talk with Transit Police and maybe Transit Security about everything they do. I’m told they’ll be bringing their vehicles and a special guest if we are lucky!

Throughout the day we’ll be taking breaks for short and fun games and other fun stuff!

How to take part

Transit Police car

A Transit Police car!

Due to safety concerns for both OMC and SeaBus, we’re only able to take a maximum of 2o people on the camp. That means 10 kids (ages 8-12) and their guardians will be able to participate in the camp. Interested in a fun day on transit? If you’d like to participate, we’ll need kids to tell us (in 50 words or less) what they love about transit! And if you like, you can also submit a photo and/or a video as part of your entry. Before you or your little one starts typing or writing, you’ll want to read the participation guidelines.

Send your submissions to thebuzzer@translink.ca with “I Love Transit Camp” in the subject field or you can surface mail it to  The Buzzer, 400 – 287 Nelson’s Court, New Westminster, BC, V3L 0E7. Be sure to include the name, age, and phone number of the participant and parent or guardian!

The deadline for submissions is August 19. and if you are selected we’ll need a participation form filled out by August 21.

We can’t wait for camp and to look through your submissions!

 

Update on cause of SkyTrain disruptions

An update on SkyTrain

An update on SkyTrain

UPDATE: Besides apologizing for the recent SkyTrain disruptions, TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis says TransLink will be bringing in an outside adviser to help TransLink better prepare for future disruptions. 

Hello Buzzer readers. Below is an update about the SkyTrain disruption yesterday. We’ll try our best to answer your questions. We’re still reviewing the disruptions yesterday and last Thursday, so bear with us!

Human error led to yesterday’s Millennium and Expo Line disruptions.

An experienced electrician was installing a new circuit breaker for the Evergreen Line at a power distribution panel when he accidently tripped the main breaker feeding the critical systems at SkyTrain’s operations centre, causing a system-wide shut down of train controls.

TransLink is still reviewing the details of the incident.

The power outage halted trains and impacted TransLink’s ability to communicate with customers over SkyTrain’s PA systems.

Additional resources were quickly mobilized to ensure continued customer safety and to help people get to their destinations.

Every available bus was used, and employees from all areas were called in to help or stayed well beyond their shifts for several hours.  TransLink also relied on the news media, social media, television screens in the stations, and its website to communicate with customers.

Bus-shuttle hubs were set up at the busiest locations, with 42 buses running to keep people moving.

“Our trains are reliable 95% of the time, but we know that is little consolation for customers who are delayed for hours when we do have a significant breakdown,” said Doug Kelsey, TransLink Chief Operating Officer.

“Two major disruptions in one week is unprecedented, and the two incidents are completely unrelated.”

To show appreciation for customers, TransLink will offer a free day of transit on BC Day with details to be later announced.

Transit Pet Peeves in 24 Hours!

TransLink’s Transit Pet Peeves were recently featured in 24 Hours newspaper!As Buzzer readers will know, the eight comical peeves started off as a Facebook battle in November 2011 and then became TransLink’s official etiquette campaign in 2013.

Wanna know more about Blocking Bunny or Lounge Lizard? Read all about it here!

Over the past few years people have been chatting about the campaign. Below is a taste.

Transit Pet Peeves Battle on Twitter and Facebook

Transit Pet Peeves Battle on Twitter and Facebook

Transit Pet Peeves are catching on!

Transit Pet Peeves are catching on!

Buzzer illustrator interview: Chris von Szombathy

Chris and his bendy bus!

Chris and his #WhatsTheLink bendy bus!

I finally got around to interviewing the crazy talented illustrator of the May 2014 Buzzer, Chris von Szombathy. This is the second print Buzzer we’ve had the privilege of having Chris illustrate. The first was our June 2011 issue of the Buzzer. You may also remember Chris’ excellent 2011 I Love Transit t-shirt design. And now this great illustration depicting the #WhatsTheLink series!

We love Chris’ third take on a bus. What can’t he do with a bus anyway? Here are Chris’ answers to my questions about his work and himself:

1. Who is Chris von Szombathy?

I’m a visual/audio artist and designer living in Vancouver.

2. This is the second time you’ve drawn a bus for the print Buzzer. What’s with you and buses?

I love trying to take objects that are mechanical or complex and attempting to distill them down to just the visual elements that make them recognizable. Satisfying. I’ll probably do a third if you ask me to.

3. How does this illustration compare to your first illustration for the Buzzer?

This one was much harder. The first illustration was depicting an occasion, which is much easier to do. This assignment was a bit more abstract.

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

I do take transit, and my favourite is definitely the SkyTrain. Expo 86! Futuristic!

5. What’s your favourite colour and why?

Right now pinkish grey. I find it comforting and still forward thinking.

6. Peer into your crystal ball, and tell us what you see for yourself in the future.

If I’m lucky, more of the same.

Well, all I can say is that I’m looking forward to his next bus!

The Mayors’ Council Vision for Regional Transportation

Regional Transportation Investments document

Regional Transportation Investments document

Hello readers. There’s big news today. The Mayors’ Council has approved a Vision for Regional Transportation for Metro Vancouver.

To download documents, watch the video and ask questions, you’ll want to check out www.mayorscouncil.ca.

#WhatsTheLink: TransLink manages 2,300 lane kilometres of road

That's a lot of road!

That’s a lot of road!

Our first fact about all that TransLink does has been making the rounds on the web this past week. The graphic above shows just how many lane kilometres TransLink is responsible. Unfortunately, we can’t reorganize these roads in the Major Road Network. They’re busy moving people and goods around the region!

You might be thinking that you’ve seen the above graphic before. Well, you’re partly right. We posted a similar image in February. The number of kilometres has been updated for this latest image. Not all the roads we manage are part of the MRN. Therefore, we’ll just have to dream of sunny spots of California rather than Mexico ;).

This first fact has been shared with local blogs along with some stories about the MRN and Kingsway written by yours truly. In case you haven’t come across them yet, here’s a snippet from each. I encourage you to read them in their entirety. Let us know what you think.

Miss 604: Macrons and Kingsway are part of your Major Road Network

Kingsway is a road unlike any other in Metro Vancouver. At first a walking trail for local First Nations, it then became a wagon road in the mid-19th century….Kingsway is also part of TransLink’s Major Road Network (MRN). The MRN is a network of major arterial roads that stretches across the region and connects people and transports goods across municipal boundaries.

Catherine Introligator of French Made Backing

Catherine Introligator of French Made Baking

Walking the north end of Kingsway you find yourself surround by all types of business and people. Coffee drinkers imbibe at coffee shops next to hair salons, eateries and various shops.

One place I stopped in was the unassuming bakery at 81 Kingsway. It was the pastel colours of macarons that caught my eye and the smell of butter that lured me through the doors of French Made Baking. Once inside, I was met by almond croissants hot from the oven and Parisian-accented English.

VancityBuzz: From trail to street, Kingsway is part of our history and the Major Road Network

Have you ever wondered why Kingsway is unlike other roads in Metro Vancouver? Why, unlike most streets in Vancouver and Burnaby, does Kingsway cut across the grid in a seemingly brazen diagonal from the northwest to the southeast?

The answer is that Kingsway is older than most roads in the region. It came into being before our cities were well established and before planners had the bright idea to make a system of roads following a grid design….

Artwork by Sonny Assue, image by Lila Bujold.

Artwork by Sonny Assue, image by Lila Bujold.

In 2012, the City of Vancouver commissioned artist Sonny Assu to design a street marker as part of Vancouver’s 125th Anniversary. What Sonny created speaks to both the collective history of the street as well as the personal history of the artist. I had the opportunity to ask Sonny as few question about his work and the street that inspired it.

What does Kingsway mean to you?

Nostalgia. With certain stretches that seem lost in time, the element of nostalgia that is inherent within Kingsway is probably the most compelling element of the road itself.

Vancouver Observer: Your Major Road Network Leads to Kingsway

If you’ve ever walked along Kingsway, you might think, like I have, of its history…

The community at Kingsway and Main is diverse. People from around the world and close to home have made this triangle of major roads their place of business. That includes Jae, owner and manager of Gene Café

“It’s low key, there’s a good community here and there are regular customers. What Gene is today has naturally built up over the years. I really like that about this part of Kingsway. I’ve only been in Vancouver for a short time, but while I’ve been at Gene, I’ve noticed changes in the area. There are more buildings, and we’re a little busier now than we were a year ago.”

Kingsway and Main 1908 and 2014. Kingsway and Main, 1908. Philip Timms. VPL# 6780 (left), Kingsway and Main, 2014 Robert Willis

Kingsway and Main 1908 and 2014. Kingsway and Main, 1908. Philip Timms. VPL# 6780 (left), Kingsway and Main, 2014 Robert Willis

Storify: #WhatsTheLink: Major Road Network (MRN)

We also had a guessing game on our Instagram page asking you to identify different roads that are part of the Major Road Network. Check out our Storify summary to see the different photographs we uploaded!

#WhatsTheLink

#whatsthelinkIt’s pressure free test time. What is TransLink responsible for?

A)   Public Transit

B)   The Major Roads Network

C)   Five Bridges

D)   The Regional Cycling Strategy

E)   All of the above and more

If you answered ‘E’ you get a gold star!

 

We’re not just transit

Transit is what we are often known for in the region, but TransLink’s mandate covers much more. Today we’re starting a new series called #whatsthelink. It’s all about what TransLink is responsible for in Metro Vancouver and some little known facts about what we do.

Over the next couple of months, we’ll be rolling out one fact a week and sharing it with all of you here. We will also share this weekly fact on our Instagram, Twitter and Facebook channels as well as other blogs. These facts will be accompanied by graphics, photos and maybe even the chance to win some prizes!

Whether you get around by the road, bridge, train, bus, boat and/or bike, the work we do at TransLink has an effect on almost everyone in Metro Vancouver. We want to spread the word about all that TransLink does. We also want to share some of the amazing facts about our transportation system with you.

So join us, learn a little, and share your images and thoughts on the work we do along the way! Want to learn more beyond this series? Check out the TransLink website or our previous Buzzer series, TransLink 101.

Links and Tidbits – April 25, 2014

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.

To prepare for his Grammys preformance, Macklemore and producer Ryan Lewis treated some New York City commuters to a rendition of “Can’t Hold Us”.  What a great way to start your morning!

 

  • As reported in 24 Hours, one bus driver witnessed a touching act of generosity this holiday weekend. Upon noticing a fellow transit rider wearing plastic bags on his feet, a man offered him his own shoes and socks. The act of kidness “made my heart melt”, said the bus driver. We also blogged about it yesterday!

 

  • Talk about a bad day! A couple of months ago, rush hour commuters in London were met with extreme delays after a major London Underground control room was flooded with cement. Service was eventually restored to normal but not before images leaked online of signalling equipment submerged in concrete. Oops!

 

  • Here’s some pretty hair raising advertising at work for Swedish pharmacy chain Apotek.

 

  • Local Vancouver blogger, Nathaniel Christopher, shares photos of fresh new seats on his route 135 bus. Mmm… you’ve gotta love that new bus seat smell.

 

  • You never know who you’ll run into on public transit. Here’s a great story from 1981 about a London Underground encounter.

 

  • Here is a great photo of one of our old trolley buses from 1954. (Photo credit: OAChris Flickr). Thanks to our friends at TransLinked for sharing this!

Vancouver Trolley Bus 1954

 

  • Nathan W. Pyle provides us with a few useful etiquette tips we should all keep in mind when riding public transit. He focuses specifically on New York City but I think transit riders everywhere can relate! Thanks again TransLinked!

 

PYa45T2 - Imgurx9uMfvf - Imgur

 

  • Glow in the dark roads are coming to the Netherlands. Streetlights on a 500m stretch of highway in the Netherlands are replaced by glow in the dark road markings in a pilot project.

 

  • From September 30 – October 4, Transport for London asked local poets to help them encourage commuters to be aware and considerate of each other while riding transit. Some great posters were created as well as this “When travelling in London Town” cartoon.

 

2014 Easter weekend holiday service

It’s Easter weekend everyone!

Friday, April 18, 2014, is Good Friday. That means transit runs on Sunday/Holiday service for bus, SkyTrain and SeaBus. West Coast will not be running. And don’t forget, Friday is a statutory holiday so you only need a one-zone fare to travel across all zones!

Monday, April 21, 2014, is Easter Monday. That means a return to the regular weekend schedule and regular fares. However, there’s reduced AM and PM peak period service for SkyTrain. West Coast Express will be running trains W1, W3 and W5 westbound and E1, E3 and E5 eastbound. TrainBus will operate its regular weekday schedule.

Have a happy and safe weekend everyone!

Buzzer illustrator interview: Mouki Butt

Mouki and her dancing riders!

Mouki (left) and her dancing riders (right)!

The April 2014 edition of the print Buzzer is on the system and in .pdf! We had the pleasure of working with illustrator Mouki Butt again on the cover of the newsletter. Mouki did her first Buzzer illustration for the October 2010 issue. Once again, she’s captivated us with her cute and stylish work!

Mouki was nice enough to answer a few of our questions about herself, her work and her preferred dance styles.

Who is Mouki Butt?
I’m an illustrator, who loves to draw cute people.

How did you come up with your illustration?

My train of thought was: service changes should be fun…what’s more
fun than a novelty dance?

How does this illustration compare to your first illustration for the Buzzer?
The first one screamed autumn, and I’m hoping this one screams spring!

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

Yes! I love the Skytrain: it’s quick and the views are so nice.

Have you ever done the service change boogie?
Yes, I’m doing it right now! It’s easier than the Mashed Potato.

Peer into your crystal ball and tell us what you see for yourself in the future.
Plenty of swimming in the ocean (avoiding jellyfish).

Thanks for the great work Mouki!

The April 2014 Buzzer is now on the system

Keep your eyes peeled: the April 2014 Buzzer is now on the system! Nearly half of this issue is devoted to April service changes including those for Blue Bus. Remember, you have until April 14th to enter our Find the Bunny Contest!

This month’s cover illustration was drawn by illustrator Mouki Butt. We’ll have an interview with her very soon.

Transit Police launched a campaign this week called Global Guardian and you can read all about it in the Buzzer. Do you want to know more? Checkout the Transit Police  news section for their April 7, 2014 news release for more about the international campaign.

And of course, there’s always the usual favourites included the Contest Corner, Back Issues and Coming Events.

Now all you have to do is pick one up or download it. Good reading to you all!

TransLink turns 15: Preparing for Y2K

BCRTC Control Room Circa 1999

BCRTC Control Room Circa 1999

Let’s go back in time. The year is 1999. Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time” was a global smash hit, the Blackberry 850 was blowing peoples minds by putting emails in the palms of your hands, and last, but definitely not least, TransLink was created!

Those of you who remember the transition to this new millennium will remember the tension that was building as the 90s wound down. Not only did we not know what to call the next decade (I don’t think we ever did land on a good term to define 2000-2009 or our current decade either), there was widespread panic over what our computers would do once the “99” in 1999 rolled over to “00” of 2000 (Wikipedia explains this and more better than I can).

The fear for many was palpable. Whether or not you believed that we were heading for digital/analogue/world armageddon, the newly formed TransLink didn’t take things for granted. Someone needed to be on standby in case the world’s worst estimates came true. For the SkyTrain system, that person was Michael Carmichael, IT Network Supervisor for BCRTC.

Michael was a Network Administrator working at SkyTrain Operations and Maintenance Centre (OMC) in 1999. He looked after the IT side of the Y2K bug at SkyTrain. That included desktop computers, servers, networks, and office software. The computers that run the trains were handled by SkyTrain Control.

In the months leading up to Y2K, management at BCRTC were not too concerned that it was going to be a major problem that would cripple SkyTrain. Mike took some precautions, and some computers and software were updated and replaced prior to the “big event”.  All computers were tested three to five months in advance for potential issues by setting the clock forward to see what happened. Three months ahead of Y2K, it was evident that everything was going to be fine.

Mike came to the office on New Year’s eve as a precautionary measure to ensure all the computers and software were up and running when people came back to work. Computers that run SkyTrain are rebooted at 2 or 3:30 a.m., so the plan was for them to check for problems at that time, but the system had already been tested with no issue. If there had been an issue, SkyTrain attendants and Control Operators would have been there to take care of it.

What happened?

“It was just me alone from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. It was actually quite boring, but I did hear some celebrating and screaming in the control room at midnight. I didn’t go up there, though,” says Michael. What was happening was an impromptu New Year’s celebration that broke out in SkyTrain Control at midnight.

Michael reflects on that time, “We actually have more issues with Daylight Savings Time than we ever did with Y2K. Y2K was basically a non-event.”

Yes it was Michael, but I, for one, am glad he was there, just in case.

A shot of what things looked like around 1999 in SkyTrain control

A shot of what things looked like around 1999 in SkyTrain control

 

TransLink turns 15!

Happy birthday TransLink!

Happy birthday TransLink!

It’s birthday time here at TransLink. Yup, it was 15 years ago this month that TransLink was formed as a  multi-tiered governance structure responsible for a fully integrated transportation system across land, rail and sea!

At lot has happened over these 15 years and below are 15 interesting facts you may not know about your transit authority of Greater Vancouver.

15 fun facts about TransLink

1) At its founding, TransLink was unique among North American transportation agencies by being responsible for a fully integrated transportation system across land, rail and sea.

As the first North American transportation authority responsible for both roads and transit, TransLink is responsible for 2,400 lane kilometres of the major road network and five bridges (Pattullo, Knight, Westham Island, Golden Ears, and the Canada Line bike and pedestrian bridge).

 

2) Since 1999, the numbers of people using our transit network has grown dramatically – annual passenger trips have increased by 127 million. In context, the population of Metro Vancouver grew by 15 per cent while passenger trips increased by 56 per cent during the same period.

 

3) People board our buses, trains and ferries about 1.2 million times each weekday, making a total of 970,000 trips each day.

 

4) Geographically, we cover the huge region that is Metro Vancouver – there are over 2,800 square kilometers  in TransLink’s service region! Our transit network includes more than 8,200 bus stops, 200 bus routes, 57 SkyTrain Stations and eight West Coast Express Stations.

 

5) Our buses, trains and ferries stay busy moving our customers – to work, school, medical centres, friends and family. Our transit fleet provides approximately seven million service hours in a year, and our vehicles travel about 167 million service kilometres per year.

 

6) Our rapid transit system was the first fully automated, driverless and unattended rail system in the world. When the Expo Line was completed in 1986, it became the longest automated driverless system globally, a title only recently surpassed by Dubai in 2011.


7) Our bridges help move goods and people across the region. Over 300,000 crossings of trucks, cars and buses cross the Fraser River on TransLink bridges each day. 

 

8) Since 1999, TransLink has added 1,168 new conventional buses, 148 new SkyTrain vehicles, 17 West Coast Express trains and one SeaBus to make space for our growing numbers of riders. Our current fleet consists of 1,900 buses, 300 SkyTrain cars, 50 West Coast Express trains and 3 SeaBuses.

 

9) Since TransLink’s inception, we have expanded all modes in our transportation network. To name just a few, we have added the Millennium and Canada rapid transit lines, built the Golden Ears Bridge, launched the 24-kilometre Central Valley Greenway, and funded construction of the Coast Meridian Overpass in Port Coquitlam.  

 

10) The TransLink logo landed at its current form in 2007, reflecting TransLink’s evolution. At inception, the logo included a reference to the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority, TransLink’s original name, but was simplified when TransLink officially became the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority in 2007.

 

11) We manage a complex transportation network, with assets worth more than $11 billion – including roads, bridges, tracks, guideways, trolley wires, stations, vehicles and bus depots.

 

12) Our AA credit rating has enabled TransLink to raise $900 million from longer-term investors. These funds allow us to invest in the assets and infrastructure of the transportation system we operate. This includes buses, SkyTrain vehicles, road and bridge improvements, and many more physical assets and system upgrades which help us provide a safe and reliable transportation system for Metro Vancouver.

 

13) We introduced the U-Pass BC program in 2003 to 58,000 students. The popularity of the program grew from there and today 125,000 students are enrolled in the U-Pass BC Program.

 

14) The Buzzer blog was one of North America’s first transit agency blogs. Every month there are an average of between 15 – 35 000 page views!

 

15) On the social side, TransLink has over 43,000 Twitter followers, and nearly 10,000 Facebook followers. We work hard to deliver a world-class customer experience throughout our entire system, and our Customer Service Charter is our promise of quality service. We’re committed to giving our customers a service that is efficient, safe, reliable and comfortable.

Wanna know more about the last 15 years of transit and goods movement in Greater Vancouver? Take a read of our press release and follow the link to The Road Less Traveled, a look at TransLink’s journey from 1999 to 2008. We also included a short look back at the last 15 years in the March 2014 print Buzzer.

TransLink in the media: Don’t Touch the Operator

Constable Goodmurphy

Constable Goodmurphy

The safety of our riders and our employees is a top priority for TransLink. This is why today the Metro Vancouver Transit Police launched, Don’t Touch the Operator. This awareness campaign is aimed at those who use our system, but may not have the best intentions for our operators in mind.

With 1800 buses operating in Metro Vancouver and 233 million passenger boardings a year, there’s a lot of activity on our transit system. Although most of the interactions between riders and operators are positive ones, unfortunately, some aren’t and have been in the news of late.

Everyday our operators safely help to deliver this huge volume of people to where they need. But as Constable Kevin Goodmurphy said in the Transit Police media event today, “Violence on transit affects operators and customers” and it needs to stop.

Constable Goodmurphy also mentioned that riders can also help keep the system safe by reporting unacceptable behaviour. This can can be done by calling 911 in an emergency or texting 87-77-77 for non-emergencies. The above video also shows what other measures are being used to make sure our buses are as safe as possible.

I’m curious to know if any of you have called 911 or used the Transit Police texting service to report a transit related situation? Let’s share our experiences so we all can work to make the system as safe as possible!

Safety decals on buses

Safety decals on buses

Developers: Use our latest open API to create apps with our regional traffic data

Our Real-Time Traffic Map which uses our newly released Regional Traffic Data System (RTDS)

Our Real-Time Traffic Map which uses data from our newly released Regional Traffic Data System (RTDS)

Well this is exciting. We now have another way for developers to create apps with our data!

Our latest open application programming interfaces (API) is called the Regional Traffic Data System (RTDS) API. Basically, this API provides near real-time data on average speeds and travel times on highways and major roadways in Metro Vancouver.

As shown above, this data is used in our Real-Time Traffic Map to depict varying levels of congestion. The RTDS system data translates to coloured lines showing the speed of traffic which is then overlaid on a Google Map.

I’ll certainly be using this map to help me chose the best route to take when I hit the road on a bus or car. But the potential of this data is farther reaching than this map. It’s not hard to see how developers could make an app that shows congestion on bridges across Metro Vancouver and suggests alternative routes or some other multitude of applications that haven’t been dreamed up yet.

This latest API joins our previous open APIs like our Real-Time Transit Information (RTTI) and our Google Transit Feed Specification (GTFS). Our open data is released in the spirit of sharing information with the public to make apps that our customers want. It gives our users the tools to create even more amazing apps (also see these two app posts here and here) built with our shared and free data.

Are you interested in playing with this new data? If so, you’ll want to check out our developer resources page for a complete list of our developer tools.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what creative developers come up with! Oh, and do share with me what you’re doing on with our API. I’d love to feature your work on the blog!