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Translink Buzzer Blog

Buzzer blog editor away over the winter holidays

I'll see you all in 2014!

I’ll see you all in 2014!

I’m taking a break from the blog to catch up with family over the winter holidays. I’ll be back in mid-January. But don’t worry, Jennifer, Angela and Jiana will be watching things while I’m away.

This year was a big one and 2014 looks even bigger with Compass Card, a new SeaBus, station upgrades and so much more. Thanks Buzzer readers for making 2013 a great one!

Bus Driver Appreciation Day 2013 at Vancouver Technical School

Can you small the hot cocoa?

Can you smell the hot cocoa?

What a morning I had watching students at Vancouver Technical School handout hot chocolate to #9 bus route operators!

Every year in December, students give out hot chocolate and a little gift to each mid-morning bus operator that stops in-front of the high school.

I’m told the tradition was started by a teacher at the school nearly twenty years ago and has been going strong ever since. The excitement was palpable this chilly morning filled with sing-a-longs to Christmas music classics. Students got out of bed early to get the hot chocolate ready to go for 7:00 a.m. And Judging from the honks from each bus and smiling operator the effort was greatly appreciated.

For a bit of history and a look at past years of the program, you’ll want to read these past two (2011 and 2012) blog posts.

A big thanks to all of the students and staff at Vancouver Technical School who were involved in this incredible slice of annual holiday cheer!

The December 2013 Buzzer is now on the system!

Note: the December 2013 Buzzer is on the system free of charge (as usual)! You’ll want to note that this issue also covers January 2014. The next issue will be in February 2014.

The majority of content for the December issue is devoted to winter bus service changes. The full list of changes are in the Buzzer newsletter as well as on the TransLink website.

The cover illustration was drawn by local artist Zach Bulick! We’ll have an interview with him up very soon.

Also in the issue is info about the Compass Card, the United Way and the Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle contest.

And of course, there’s always the usual favourites including 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!

So You Think You Can Busk? – and the winner is Patrick Jolicoeur!

SYTYCB2013

 

The online vote to pick the eighth and final transit busker license for 2014 is now complete! All four candidates really rallied their troops to get the vote out, but in the end Patrick Jolicoeur was the winner of the eighth and final transit busker license with 34% of the vote!

We’d like to thank all the buskers who came out for the auditions. Now watch out and listen up for Patrick and the other seven successful musicians on the system in the new year!

For those who haven’t watched it yet, here’s Patrick’s winner audition!

#TL40K Twitter contest. What are you grateful for?

I'm grateful to be part of the Buzzer community!

I’m grateful to be part of the Buzzer community!

It was only this February when we were celebrating reaching 30 000 followers on Twitter. Now, we’re on the cusp of reaching 40 000! Our Twitter handle, @TransLink has been extremely popular since we started really getting going with tweeting during the Winter Olympics and the channel became officially staffed in February 2011.

To celebrate both the 40 000 follower milestone and the festive season, we’ve put together a contest.

Get on Twitter and do the following to win one of four January FareCards

First off, you’ll want to read the #TL40K terms and conditions. Next, complete this tweet – “I’m grateful for…” and include the hashtag “#TL40k”. Here’s an example:

@TransLink I’m grateful to be part of the Buzzer community! #TL40K

December is a time when many of us give thanks for family, friends, Santa on transit…all sorts of things!

A winner will be randomly chosen on December 23, 2013

We’ll be collecting tweets until December 22, 2013, and randomly choosing four winners the next day.

Oh, and staff who tweet for @TransLink will be tweeting all week about what they’re grateful for, including yours truly – ^rw.

Thanks to all our followers! Next milestone: 50K!

Santa to keep steering the sleigh…er, bus

Santa, Mrs Clause, Sparky the elf and the Reindeer bus!

Santa, Mrs Claus, Sparky the elf and the Reindeer Bus!

It’s that time of the year for candy canes, ginger bread houses and Santa Claus. Speaking of the jolly old elf, he’s been the subject of some media attention of late. Santa shows up on a number of routes including the #27 Kootenay Loop/Joyce Station run which sparked media coverage.

Just to be clear, we love Santa, we love the holidays and we love our riders! We’ve heard about your love of seeing Santa on this route and we would like to let our riders and the public know that we will continue to allow our bus operator to wear his Santa suit while on duty. We recognize that we underestimated how much our riders valued his holiday spirit and it was certainly never our intent to offend the public.

Where can you see holiday cheer on the transit system?

The Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle (November 2013 – January 2014)

The Reindeer Bus, Sparky the bus operating elf and Jiana from TransLink

The Reindeer Bus, Sparky the bus operating elf and Jiana from TransLink

The Reindeer Bus has been driving various routes across Metro Vancouver since November. Recently, the bus made a public appearance at the Christmas Wish Breakfast, hosted by the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau at the Pan Pacific Hotel on December 11. Santa, Mrs. Claus and the bus operating elf Sparky have also periodically been visiting mystery stops this week throughout Metro Vancouver. Here’s some fun facts about the program:

  • Since 1985, Coast Mountain Bus Company annually decorates one bus and one Community Shuttle to resemble a reindeer. This year it will operate from November 12 to January 1.
  • The Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle visit a number of holiday celebrations including local agencies likethe Canuck Place and Ronald McDonald House (December 9-12).

Toys for Tots

The Reindeer Bus and shuttle are a part of the Toys for Tots campaign. Here’s some info about the program:

  • Created in 1985 by a group of BC Transit bus drivers, Toys for Tots allows TransLink employees to donate newly unwrapped toys or money to the less fortunate.
  • Last year, Toys for Tots delivered 2,709 toys to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau with the grand total of 57,968 since the launch of the program.
  • In addition, $300 cash was contributed to the donations, totaling $42, 822.86 since 1985.
  • The entire supply of donations to be delivered to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau agencies from Monday, December 9 to Thursday, December 19.

Canada Line Blanket Drive (November 22 – November 23)

We were part of the fifth annual Drive on the Line campaign -partnership between Blanket BC Society and the Canada Line – that took place along the Canada Line on November 22 – November 23.

  • This year, the two-day blanket drive collected 8500 blankets, exceeding the last year’s record of 6200 blankets.
  • All donated items are distributed evenly to shelter programs and organizations that work directly with most vulnerable individuals and families throughout Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, and this year, Vancouver Island.

West Coast Express Santa Train (December 7 and December 14)

Now in its 17th year, this is an annual toy-drive that collects toys on behalf of the Christmas bureau, serving communities in the Northeast sector including SHARE in the Tri-Cities, the Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society, and the Christmas Bureau in Mission.

This year on Saturday, December 7 and December 14, riders will be able to ride the special train in return for a newly unwrapped toy.

Want more seasonal cheer? Reindeer Bus and Community Shuttle contest coming soon!

Keep watching the blog for a fun contest you can take part of if you see the Reindeer Bus or Community Shuttle!

So You Think You Can Busk? – Vote for who busks on the transit system!

SYTYCB2013

 

UPDATE: The voting is now complete and Patrick Jolicoeur is the winner of the eighth and final transit busker license for 2014 with 34% of the vote!

We’d like to thank all the buskers who came out for the auditions. Now watch out and listen up for Patrick and the other seven successful musicians on the system in the new year!

For those who haven’t wanted it yet, here’s Patrick’s winner audition!

Previously… It’s time to help TransLink choose the eighth and final busker license this year. Yesterday, we held our annual busker licenses auditions, So You Think You Can Busk? This morning we contacted the seven successful musicians who will be busking on the system starting in 2014. The winning buskers include musicians who play guitar, tamboa and harmonica.

Our panel of amazing judges also chose four candidates who will compete for the eighth and final busker license. Now it’s your turn to be the judge and pick which one of these four candidates will be the successful busker to play on the system!

Videos of each of the four candidates’ auditions were taken and are posted below. Take a look, enjoy the music, and vote for which musician you would like to see perform at six different transit locations in Vancouver! Those station include: Waterfront (Howe Street entrance and SkyWalk), Burrard, Granville, Vancouver City Centre and Commercial-Broadway.

This public vote is open between December 5 to 15, 2013. The busker with the most votes will be announced on December 16, 2013. I’ll do my best to update the blog throughout the competition with the results.

When you’re watching the videos: It’s good to think about what the atmosphere is in these stations during morning/evening rush hour periods as well as slower periods on the system when you’re considering who to vote for. Would you like to hear certain things when it’s busy? What would you like to hear on a Sunday afternoon on the system?

Now, enjoy the show, and get voting!

*note: Buskers had roughly three minutes to perform. Some buskers interacted with our judges which made for different auditions lengths.

Who's your favourite busker?

  • Patrick (34%, 3,913 Votes)
  • Connor (24%, 2,738 Votes)
  • Jessica and Hugh (22%, 2,523 Votes)
  • Jovana and Tobias (19%, 2,173 Votes)

Total Voters: 11,365

Connor Kelly

Patrick Jolicoeur

Jessica Malihot and Hugh Barbour

Jovana Golubovic and Tobias Oliveira

So You Think You Can Busk? – What a Day!

SYTYCB2013
Wow! A whirlwind of a day is over, but the fun has just begun! If you weren’t following #sytycb on Twitter and Instagram, below are some shots of the day that Angela C took. Thanks Angela!

Tomorrow is the big day for the start of the public vote that will decide the eighth and final TransLink busking license. I’ll be posting the videos we shot of the four candidates, so that between Dec 5 to 15, readers of the blog can vote for who they think should be busking on the transit system.

We can’t wait for you to see them!

TransLink’s 2013 busker auditions start tomorrow!

SYTYCB2013All the busker applications are in, and we have a full house for TransLink’s annual busker competition So You Think You Can Busk? tomorrow! In the two-week call for audition applications, we had nearly 50 musicians apply. These musicians will compete for eight coveted one-year TransLink busker licenses.

The 2013 So You Think You Can Busk Judges:

This year, we’re adding some guest panelists to join TransLink’s Cindy Bromley, Director of Communications and Stakeholder Relations. They are:

Aamer Haleem, co-host of CTV Morning Live

Jonny Staub, co-host of The Beat 94.5 FM’s morning show

Kenneth Chan, Deputy Editor and Social Media Coordinator with Vancity Buzz.

Seven buskers licenses are awarded, and buzzer readers pick the winner of the eighth!

We’re changing things up this year! Our four judges will be scoring the buskers throughout the day tomorrow. After the event finishes around 4 p.m., they’ll huddle in a room determining who will win seven of the licenses.

Who wins the final license to busk? That will be up to readers of the blog! After the judges choose the seven license winners, they’ll identify four candidates to compete for the final license. We’ll be videotaping all the buskers during the auditions. On Thursday, December 5, we’ll post the auditions of the four final candidates on the blog so readers can cast their votes!

Check the blog on Thursday, and vote on who you think deserves to busk on the system! You’ll also want to watch the blog, The Buzzer Twitter channel and the TransLink Facebook page tomorrow because we’ll be posting audition updates throughout the day. Oh, and here’s the news release. This is going to be fun!

 

Preparing transit for winter conditions

I doubt we’ll get this much snow, but you never know!

I doubt we’ll get this much snow, but you never know!

We’ve had a mild Fall in Metro Vancouver and so far the Winter has been the same. However, according to Environment Canada, as of Friday, November 29, Monday could see rain and flurries and Tuesday could bring temperatures as low as minus six.

In anticipation of these adverse weather conditions, TransLink and its operating companies have plans to maintain service as best as possible for the residents of Metro Vancouver.

Employees will be working to maintain expeditious service wherever possible – snow or shine.

As everyone knows,  despite our best efforts snowy weather in Metro Vancouver can create traffic snarls resulting in delays that could spread across the region.

Here are just a few of the efforts we’re taking to help people get to where they are going:

Buses

  • Switching out articulated buses for traditional buses. Although articulated buses are great for turning and maneuvering throughout our streets in Metro Vancouver and allow for quick movement of large numbers of passengers, when traveling up hills or on streets that have poor conditions, the back havles are heavy which can create some traction problems. Potential Jack knifing may occur.

 

  • In the evening, three Trolley deicer trucks will spray the entire trolley overhead system if there is a forecast risk of frost or ice.

 

SkyTrain 

  • The power rail is de-iced in the winter as well as the collector shoes on the trains. If it snows overnight, Skytrain will run trains throughout the night to keep tracks clear

 

  • De-icing stations will be set up in covered areas and tunnels to prevent ice and snow compacts on the trains. Measures are also taken to make sure switches are protected from freezing

 

  •  Staff will be monitoring the guideway for any large snow fall or drop-offs from the Skytrain cars in order to keep the tracks clear.

SkyTrain (Canada Line)

  • Winter weather forecast monitoring means more staff can be quickly deployed and more trains can be added to service so riders can get on their way.

 

  • Anti-icing and sanding measures are used to ensure the power rail and tracks are clears of ice. In fact, three vehicles have modifications to provide ice-slicing, de-icing and sanding. And there are special trains that can keep running on the system which further prevents ice-build up.

 

  •  New breaking modes for train cars – kind of like ABS on vehicles – to provide traction.

What should customers consider when challenging weather hits the transit system?:

  • Riders need to ensure that they give themselves extra time when heading out on the transit system when weather is nasty. Adverse weather means the entire transit system will be much slower as staff will use extra caution.

 

  • Buses endure the same road conditions as other vehicles. As a result, they too are not immune to the accompanying perils caused by bad weather.

 

  • Please be patient with our Operators: they are trying hard to provide efficient and timely service. Schedules will be affected when it snows despite our best efforts.

 

  • TransLink’s operating companies work closely with each municipality and city to help ensure streets or areas are addressed with snow clearing, salting or sanding.

 

  • We live in a region with several micro climates which makes it difficult to clear all areas simultaneously. It is possible that some bus routes will have gaps in service – but it could also mean that some areas are aokay.

 

Together we can help each other get ready for this possible winter wallop! And if you need help navigating your winter commute, remember our Customer Information team is at the ready through @translink and (604) 953-3333. Sign up for transit alerts, plan ahead with m.translink.ca and Trip Planner and give yourself extra time on your commute.

 

 

Northeast Sector Area Transit Plan Phase 2 interactive survey is now live

It's time to look long-term transit planning in the Northeast Sector!

It’s time to look long-term transit planning in the Northeast Sector!

Attention residents or riders who travel regularly in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Anmore or Belcarra. It’s time to help us with long-term planning of the Northeast Sector transit plan.

Be Part of the Plan!

The second phase of the Northeast Sector Area Transit Plan (NESATP) starts today! Building on key issues and opportunities for transit in the area learned during the Phase 1, Phase 2 looks to identify a 30-year transit vision for the sub-region. The end result of this four phased plan will be both a 30-year vision and transit priorities for the next 1-10 years.

Take the interactive online survey

We’re doing things a little differently for phase 2. We have a really exciting online interactive tool that lets you act like a planner of transit for the sub-region. First you pick your priorities from a list of important trade-offs required in transit network design.  Next, a series of maps illustrate conceptual scenarios based on different ways the network could change – and show how those scenarios relate to your chosen priorities. After scenarios you can drill down further to different opportunities for the region — all for you to determine!

The online interactive survey will be open until 4 p.m. on Friday, January 6, 2014. Your input, along with financial and technical information, will help TransLink develop the plan, expected to be completed by fall 2014.

Take part in our workshops and drop-in sessions

There will be three workshops in the Coquitlam Centre area on November 25, 26 and 30. Check the Get Involved page for more details including registering in advance.

Riders can also take part in four drop-in sessions on November 22, 25, 26 and 30. Again, you’ll want to check the Get Involved page for more details including time of day and locations.

More to come

Stay tuned! There will be more opportunities for you to give your input on the future of transit in the Northeast Sector coming up in the next phase.

Calling all buskers!

Clips from a few buskers at last year’s audition

For 27 years, buskers have been part of the culture of transit in Metro Vancouver. Since Expo ’86, musicians of every ilk have provided riders with entertainment and a soundtrack to their travels. Buskers help make the six SkyTrain stations in downtown Vancouver more vibrant adding a bit of music and art to the environment.

Busking applications due November 28, 2013

Every year, licenses open up for new buskers to join seasoned veterans already playing on the system. Interested in busking on the system? All you need to do is fill out the application form on the buskers page of the TransLink website.

Busking auditions are December 4, 2013
Once applications are submitted, qualified buskers will be asked to audition. This year, we’ll be holding our auditions at TransLink’s new office at 400 – 287 Nelson’s Court, New Westminster. The event is from 10 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on December 4 and open to auditioning buskers and media only (Sorry, there’s not enough room for more people). However, we’ll be videotaping the event and posting it on the blog and the Buzzer  YouTube channel shortly afterwards.

If you have a moment, take a look at Buzzer coverage of buskers in the past. I’ll be posting more on the auditions as we get closer to the date, including an exciting way for riders to be part of the fun. Stay tuned, and get those applications in!

Links & Tidbits – November 15, 2013

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.

 

  • The South Surrey Park and  Ride and its expansion lot are now open! You may have already seen this on our Facebook page, but here’s a neat time-lapse video that shows the construction process.

 

  • The pitter patter of footsteps, the clink of coins in the vending machine … wouldn’t it be interesting of the sounds of the transit system were musical? James Murphy has been fighting to turn all New York city subway turnstiles into musical instruments, to create a subway symphony.

 

  • There’s nothing like a bit of workout before taking transit! Russia has launched a campaign to encourage citizens to be healthier – transit riders now have the option of paying for their subway ticket with 30 squats!

 

  • Price Tags shares an image submitted by Jim McGraw, of the Bochenheimer Warte U-bahn stop, a major interchange station in Frankfurt, Germany. Interesting design, no?

 

  • New York subway conductors have a rule: at every stop, they are required to point at a black and white sign to acknowledge the train fully arriving at the station. Two Miami Ad School students take advantage of this rule to put a big smile on the conductors’ faces. Watch the video below and read the full story here.

 

 

  • Just for kids! A bus-load of fun for the little ones from two to ten years old, on the Vancouver Tumblebus – a fully fitted gym on wheels with crash mats, monkey bars, a climbing wall, trampoline and more!

 

  • We’ve all heard of gardens on top of homes or buildings in an effort to bring nature into the urban environment. We even have a tree on top of a building in Vancouver’s West End. But, have you heard of a bus with a rooftop garden? Designer Marc Granen calls his concept Phyto Kinetic.

 

  • Here’s an interesting story – University of Toronto graduate Samah El-Tantawy has designed new traffic lights that uses strategies from game theory to reduce traffic congestion. Do you think this would work in vancouver?

Buzzer illustrator interview: Russell Alton

Russell and his illustration

Russell and his illustration

Here’s some light and fun reading. As with most of our illustrators of the Buzzer newsletter, we had the opportunity to ask Russell Alton (A.K.A. Chop-Logik), illustrator of our November issue, a few questions.

We really like Russell’s illustration. Here’s a short q and a with Mr. Alton.

Who is Russell Alton?

Russell Alton is organically produced in Smithers, BC, simmered and percolated in Vancouver, then shipped across the globe to be enjoyed by family, friends, at home or at work!
Ask your local distributor about bringing Russell to your area today.

What’s behind the name Chop-Logik?

It’s an insult from one of Lord Capulet’s tirades in Romeo & Juliet, which I was reading in school at the same time as I needed a username for a digital media project. It jumped out, and somehow people began to use it in meatspace as well. There’s now more people that call me Chop than Russell, strangely. ‘Choplogic’ is spurious, illogical, and over-complicated for it’s own sake.

What’s your favourite thing to draw?

The simplest distillation is that I love to draw lines, which might sound a bit absurd. I’m fascinated with the way lines interact & work in concert within an imagined system, where each one informs the balance of the next. My process is letting these systems play out, forming a drawing organically; seeing what sort of character is built, even if it’s just a triangle with a goofy face. My work is very much choplogic in that regard.

How did you come up with your illustration?

Lately, I’ve been on a very geometric bent, which has coalesced into these ‘crystal wizard’ creatures. They are wise summoners from dimensions beyond our grasp. My illustration was an imagining of them inhabiting our space and our world, living alongside us. Of course they would take transit! The SkyTrain is quite the wizardly vehicle, no doubt.

Do you take transit? If so, what do you like about it?

I do! I mainly bike to get around, but transit makes connecting to events, people and experiences possible on those one or two days a year when it rains. One of my ventures is handmade greeting cards; I have various shops in Vancouver and out to New Westminster that stock my cards, prints and various sundries and I’m able to reach them all easily with the help of transit. It’s a lifesaver.

What does the future hold for you?

Bright things! More art in more places, more avenues to funnel my creative energy down, more opportunities and experiences around the world. A small amount of utter global domination, but only as a vehicle to spread goodwill, understanding and equality, of course.

Thanks Russell for the interview and the crystal wizards in the illustration!

The November issue of the Buzzer is now on the system

A brand new print Buzzer is on the system!

There’s lot of great stuff in this issue. The main subject is about the launch of AskCompass.ca. This interactive website is a great resource, besides the Buzzer of course, for answering all of your Compass Card questions. Read all about it here and by using it yourself.

Regular readers of the blog know all about our annual Halloween photo contest. We included a couple of fantastically inventive costumes in the issue.

TransLink, combined with it’s operating companies and it’s predecessor organizations, has been involved with the United Way for more than forty years, and this year was no different. We’re proud to announce that this year we’ve collected over $200,000 for various community programs and counting!

The TravelSmart program has been busy of late.  This issue included two events, which marked partnering with two cities in Metro Vancouver: both the City of Surrey and Coquitlam joined the program this year! TranLink’s TravelSmart program encourages residents to make more sustainable travel choices, specifically through walking.

A couple of holidays are around the corner. Transit service for Remembrance Day and our Toys for Tots toy collection are included in this issue. More on both of these subjects to come on the blog!

Of course, there’s Contest Corner and Back Issue sections, and that pretty much captures what’s in the issue.

Remember, you can always download the Buzzer as .pdf (including back issues). The other option is to pick it up on the bus, SeaBus or SkyTrain!