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Translink Buzzer Blog

Life on transit: 70% have a secret friend on transit


For March/April 2013, we’re spotlighting Life on Transit—observing and illuminating the quirks and habits of daily transit rides around our region!


We asked you last week if you had a secret friend on transit—someone who you see all the time on transit, but have never spoken to.

And after 119 votes, 70 per cent of our poll takers say they do have a secret friend!

There was also a little bit of discussion on the subject. Wendy shared the story of her morning commute:

I take the first 345 every day. My stop has several regulars. There’s myself, the older white woman, the older aboriginal woman, the two male construction workers and myself. We don’t spend a lot of time on the bus as it’s only 10-15 minutes but we do spend a lot of time waiting for the bus together. The first to arrive is always myself or he older white woman. We are always at the stop by 5:10-5:20. I do not know a thing about her. I often wonder what she does as I can only assume that’s she’s going to work that early on a regular basis. She looks so statuesque and never says a word. The other woman looks like she does labour based on her workboots. The two men know each other and talk to each other. Other than that we make a silent group. When he bus is running late we all keep checking by leaning out into the street but we never say “I see it” or “hey, did we miss it?” We get on the bus in our order (my only words being “good morning” to our bus driver) and even if we sit next to each other we don’t say a word. These are my transit friends.

We posted this over on Facebook too, where Spencer noted:

I always enjoy the “missed connections” in the Straight right around the start of every new school year. Dozens of “I saw you on the 99, you looked at me for 1 second” posts.

Anyway, thanks so much to everyone who took the poll! Hopefully it helped you notice something new about your transit ride :)

Life on transit: let’s talk about the Buzzer in a Google Hangout, Mar 27, 2013!


For March/April 2013, we’re spotlighting Life on Transit—observing and illuminating the quirks and habits of daily transit rides around our region!

Buzzer logos through the years!

Buzzer logos through the years!

Well, there’s no mainstay of transit life like The Buzzer, our 96 year old transit newsletter!

So we’d like to offer a chance to learn more about our dear Buzzer with its current editors in a modern way: a Google Hangout!

A Google Hangout is a live video chat run through the Google+ social network. We’ve never done a hangout before, and we’d love to see if it’s a great way to chat with you guys!

So if you’d like to join us, here are the details:

  • Date and time: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 – noon to 1pm!
  • Where: Online! Here’s the Google Hangout event listing. The Hangout can also be seen on our Google+ profile page.
  • Who: Jhenifer Pabillano and Robert Willis, Buzzer editors!
  • What: All about the history of the Buzzer, plus answers to any questions you might have.

As well, if you’re interested in participating live in the Hangout via video, send us a note!

Be aware that this is our first Hangout, so it won’t be perfect, though we’ll do our best. And if we don’t see there’s very much interest in the Hangout for next week, we’ll cancel the event and let you know :)

Life on transit: do you have a secret friend on transit?


For March/April 2013, we’re spotlighting Life on Transit—observing and illuminating the quirks and habits of daily transit rides around our region!

Are any of these people secret friends on transit?

Are any of these people secret friends on transit?

For March/April 2013, we’re spotlighting Life on Transit—that is, observing and illuminating the quirks and habits of daily transit rides around our region!

Life on transit is all about sharing your ride, which means you’re rubbing elbows with a lot of different people throughout your day.

But as we talked about in the print Buzzer this month, amid the crowds you can sometimes find a secret friend—that is, someone you regularly see on transit, but you’ve never talked to before!

In 2010, we ran a blog poll asking readers if they had secret friends on transit, and 73 per cent said they did. And we heard some amazing stories, like the one from Dan B. below:

I see two guys on the bus — one gets on one stop after mine, another two stops after mine. We ride the same bus and train every day and we work at the same company, yet we’ve never spoken to each other nor do we know each other’s names. We spend a total of 45 minutes of travel time using the bus and SkyTrain — even the elevator sometimes! — yet we never feel this urge to even say “hi.” I like to call those people my “secret transit co-workers.”

But it’s 2013 now, and high time to check in again—do people still have secret friends on transit? Cast your vote now!

Do you have a secret friend on transit?

  • Yes (70%, 83 Votes)
  • No (30%, 36 Votes)

Total Voters: 119

Yes or no, feel free to share your stories in the comments. We’ll report back with our findings on Monday, March 25, 2013!

Life on Transit: welcome to our March special post series!


Each month during 2013, we’re exploring a special topic in the Buzzer newsletter and blog!

Last month we wrote about TransLink 101—and for March/April, we’ll be focusing on Life on Transit! (And don’t worry, we’ll still post about other content too!)

What’s Life on Transit about?

With Life on Transit, we’re hoping to spotlight the experience of riding transit—that is, observing and illuminating the quirks and habits of daily transit rides around our region.

We’ll be doing polls, open threads, interviews and more around the following topics:

Longtime Buzzer blog readers might remember some of these topics from polls we ran in the first few years of this blog :) Well, they’re so nice we’re covering them twice!

Talk to us about your transit experiences

Well, as always, we’d love your feedback to help inform our series!

Write to us in the comments about your experiences, or feel free to write to We’re excited to showcase great submissions to spur more conversations!

Buzzer illustrator interview: Kim Ridgewell!

The March 2013 Buzzer illustration and its creator, Kim Ridgewell!

The March 2013 Buzzer illustration and its creator, Kim Ridgewell!

We are happy to have the work of local illustrator Kim Ridgewell on the Buzzer for March 2013!

A graduate from Capilano University’s IDEA program in 2007, Kim now works with ideas agency Rethink Canada. Here’s a bit more about her in our traditional Buzzer illustrator interview!

Tell us about yourself and your art!
I am a busy person… I am a happy Vancouverite, and love all things west coast – yoga, running, snowboarding, hiking, surfing and fair-weather biking. When not in the bush or sea, I am designing, drawing, crafting and Instagramming.

Tell us who or what inspires you as an artist.
I am inspired by people who make the effort to be creative in a meaningful way, despite what medium they might work in. I also really love public art – I believe that art and design should be accessible for all!

Do you take transit? If so, where do you like to sit on the bus (or train)?
I have been taking transit for about 15 years, as my primary source of transportation. As for where I like to sit on the bus, it really depends on what bus I take. I like to sit at the back on the trolleys, and the front on the express buses!

What can we expect from you in the future?
I plan on continuing to illustrate, design and be as creative as possible.

Anything you’d like to add?
I think that transit is a great place to get to contribute to your community – share a smile with people you make eye contact with; offer a seat up to people, even if they don’t look like they need it; help someone with their bags, or stroller… practice kindness!

Thanks so much Kim!

The March 2013 Buzzer is now on the system


Look out: the March 2013 Buzzer is now on the system!

As we mentioned, we’re doing monthly themes in the print Buzzer and the blog, and the theme for March is Life on Transit!

For this series, we’re exploring habits, observations, and thoughts from the experience of riding transit. In the issue, we talk about secret friends, where you like to sit, and more.

And if you’ve got ideas, send them to and we might share them in the newsletter and online!

The cover illustration was drawn by local artist Kim Ridgewell! We’ll have an interview with her up very soon.

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!

Help wanted: volunteer to advise the Northeast Sector Area Transit Plan

Out for a stroll in Coquitlam. She could be on our Public Advisory Committee!

Out for a stroll in Port Moody. She could be on our Public Advisory Committee!

Are you interested in transit in your community? And do you live, work, or study, in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Belcarra, or Anmore?

Well, TransLink needs your help!

We’re looking for people to sit on a new Public Advisory Committee (PAC), to provide community perspective into our newly-launched Northeast Sector Area Transit Plan process.

If you’re interested, there’s more info and an application form over at Applications, submitted online or through the mail, are due March 18, 2013.

What’s an area transit plan?

TransLink’s area transit plans identify long-term visions and near-term priorities for an area’s transit network and are undertaken for seven areas within Metro Vancouver.

The plans consider community input, current and projected land use and growth and transportation-related data findings, such as automated passenger counts. The Northeast Sector Area Transit Plan will coordinate transit planning with municipal land use planning while considering the future of the area.

Stakeholders and the public will have a variety of opportunities to provide feedback during the 18-month process, including through public consultation events and online surveys.

Check out the Area Transit Plan program overview page for more detail!

Questions about our 2013 supplement? Ask TransLink’s CFO!

Cathy McLay, TransLink's Chief Financial Officer!

Cathy McLay, TransLink’s Chief Financial Officer!

Last week, we announced our 2013 draft supplemental plan, which proposes removing a time-limited property tax from TransLink’s funding.

And this week, we’d like to offer the opportunity to ask our Chief Financial Officer Cathy McLay your questions about the supplement!

Ask and ye shall receive the answers in a special Buzzer blog post on Friday, March 8, 2013.

Feel free to submit your questions between now and Friday via:

We’ll round them up and get Cathy to answer as many of them as possible on Friday! Now go on: ask away!

2013 draft supplemental plan proposes removing time-limited property tax: share your feedback online

A detail from the cover of our 2013 draft supplemental plan.

A detail from the cover of our 2013 draft supplemental plan.

Heads up: TransLink has put together a draft supplemental plan for 2013, to remove a time-limited property tax that is part of our current funding.

Feel free to read through the draft plan now—and head to that same link from March 1 to March 15, 2013 to share your comments on the plan. Tell your friends!

The background on this plan

So why are we doing this? In 2011, the Mayors’ Council approved a two-year, time-limited property tax until a new, sustainable funding source could be found. This tax was part of our Moving Forward work plan for 2012 onward.

However, a new funding source was not identified and the Mayors’ Council has signaled to TransLink that they don’t want the time-limited property tax implemented in its setead. We’re responding to the Mayors’ request by putting forward a supplemental plan, which removes the time-limited property tax assumed in the 2013 base plan.

The supplement plan will address the removal of $60 million in total in 2013 and 2014. As well, to remove the property tax from being drawn in 2013, the supplemental plan must be prepared by March 31, 2013 and approved by the Mayors’ Council before May 1, 2013.

What are the impacts of removing this tax?

The answer to this question and more are in the Supplemental Plan page FAQ. Here’s a snippet though:

Without this additional funding, will my service be impacted?

We have been focused on operating efficiently and cutting costs. This has allowed TransLink to remove the time-limited property tax while maintaining existing services and implementing the projects outlined in the 2013 Base Plan. However, we will not be able to further expand the system at this time and will need to continue to manage ongoing financial risk.

What’s a supplemental plan?

To back it up all the way: a supplemental plan has to do with how we develop our work plans every year.

First, by law, we are required to come up with a base plan every year, outlining our work for the next three years, plus an outlook on services for the next seven years. In this plan, we have to describe exactly how we’ll pay for the work we’re planning to do and where the money will come from—which is why funding sources like property tax and such keep coming up year to year.

However, if we want to change something about this base plan—to expand, for example, or to change our funding sources—the law says we need to come up with a supplemental plan to amend the base plan.

This supplemental plan then must be approved by our Board, reported on by the Regional Transportation Commissioner, and approved by the Mayors’ Council.

And of course, there’s more on this on the main Supplemental Plan page.

So what’s next?

Your feedback is next! Give us your feedback on the plan, then we’ll incorporate it into the plan and present it to the Mayors’ Council in late March. It’s up to the mayors then to decide whether to approve or not.

I’ll have more info as it comes! Feel free to ask questions below.

Service optimization 2013: your feedback helps move bus changes forward

TransLink service optimization consultations 2012

A snap from one of our service optimization consultations in fall 2012.

Heads up: after a ton of consultation, we’ve now finalized plans for bus service changes slated for late 2013.

You can now download the full report that details our updated plans for major bus route changes in 2013, and summarizes the public feedback!

Here’s a quick recap of what we’re talking about:

  • Service optimization is the ongoing TransLink program looking at how to make the best use of our transit resources, guided by 10 principles confirmed by the public.
  • For optimization in 2013, TransLink staff proposed changes to 34 bus routes across the region.
  • We did extensive public consultation on our proposals from November-December 2012. (11 open houses! Online questionnaire! More than 800 comments received!)
  • Based on this feedback, we’ve modified some of our proposals and confirmed the others.
  • And on Monday Feb 25, we’ve posted our Consultation Summary report at, which details our updated plans for bus route changes, and summarizes public feedback.

Not in place until late 2013/early 2014, and changes vs cuts

Now all caps for the important bit: THESE CHANGES ARE NOT SLATED TO TAKE PLACE UNTIL LATE 2013/EARLY 2014! They likely won’t go ahead until December 2013 at the earliest, given the time needed to get bus stops and vehicles in place and allow for more detailed planning and scheduling.

And another all caps: THESE ARE BUS CHANGES, NOT CUTS. These changes don’t reduce the overall transit service hours in the region—instead, they reallocate the hours to better match where people are travelling. Put another way: there are reductions of some services, but in most cases they are matched by reinvestments of service in the same area (or a redesign of the services to better match the area).

Your feedback spurs revised proposals

Most of our proposed changes went over quite well, but a few drew a significant response.

So we’ve revised several proposals based on public feedback, including:

  • C1/C2 – a revised proposal was developed in consultation with community groups in Burnaby Heights, retaining the current route and reducing frequencies during off-peak periods only [link to revised proposal PDF (will be under Burnaby arrow on service op page)]
  • 211 – based on the range of concerns raised over the proposed removal of the Fairway Drive loop, we will be retaining the existing route instead
  • C48 & C49 – a revised proposal was created to ensure service coverage in Thornhill, Ruskin and Whonnock is maintained, leaving the C49 unchanged and improving the usefulness of the C48 with a connection to West Coast Express and extension via McClure Drive in Albion [link to revised proposal PDF (will be under Maple Ridge arrow on service op page)]

Again, you can see all the details over at!

Thank you

Finally, we’d like to give a huge shout-out to everyone who participated in the service optimization process. Your contributions help us build real transit solutions that work for our communities!

And we’re happy to say that so far, service optimization has been returning successful results. In 2011, the program helped TransLink provide 14 million new rides without added investment in service, increasing bus productivity by 3.1 per cent and generating a 5.5 per cent increase in transit revenue.

Feel free to leave any questions or followups in the comments!

The Buzzer blog is back!

We've corralled the computers and we're back on track!

We’ve corralled the computers and we’re back on track!

Woop woop—the Buzzer blog is back!

We’ve finished our (unexpected) spring cleaning from Feb 14 to today, and now we’re happy to be back delivering TransLink news and updates. Hope you didn’t miss us too badly!

Some notes on our rebirth:

  • We’ve lost all the comments dating between February 8 and 14, which I think were about 5 in total. So sorry if yours was one of them!
  • The TransLink 101 posts will continue until second week of March, as we didn’t get to post them up while the blog was down.
  • I know the Buzzer blog survey ended Feb 20 while we were down – I’m looking to see if we can get the survey up for a bit more time. Edit: we did it! The survey is now up and will close March 8, 2013, at 5 p.m.

Last but not least, we’re happy to see you all again! Chatter away in the comments as you will :)

Take the 2013 Buzzer blog reader survey, and you could win a FareCard!

What a diligent Buzzer blog reader filling out their survey might look like! Test

It’s been two years since we did our last Buzzer blog reader survey, and we’d like to check in with you again… AND add a little reward!

As always, we here at the Buzzer blog are dying to know more about you, our readers, and what you guys think of the blog so far—plus where you think we could improve for the future.

So we’ve put together a 19 question survey, and if you fill it out, we’ll enter you in a draw to win a FareCard!

Even if you’re just a casual reader, please do take a few minutes and fill out the survey, and tell all your friends to as well :) We want as many entries as we can get to ensure we have a great picture of our readers.

The survey will close on Wednesday, February 20, 2013 and we’ll do the draw for our winner that day too.

Edit: Owing to our downtime over the past few weeks, the survey will close on Friday, March 8, 2013 at 5 p.m. A new link is posted below!

Click here to take the 2013 Buzzer blog reader survey!

(And don’t forget – we have a Buzzer newsletter reader survey too!)

Family Day holiday service, February 11, 2013

Snow or not, we hope you enjoy the day! Test

Many of us have been waiting for this holiday, and on February 11, 2013 we’ll have our first Family Day in BC!

Remember, Sundays and Statutory Holidays you can use your FareCard to take five other riders with you for free! A total of six riders is allowed: Two adults (14 and older) and up to four children (13 and under) can ride on a single Adult FareCard, West Coast Express 28-day Pass, or Annual Employer Transit Pass. (Does not apply to Concession Passes.)

Here’s what you need to know about the day as far as transit goes in Metro Vancouver:

Buses, SkyTrain and SeaBus – will operate on the Sunday/Holiday schedule on Family Day, Monday, February 11, 2013. Sunday/Holiday fares will be in effect.

West Coast Express will not operate on that day.

All services will be back on their regular weekday schedules, Tuesday, Feb. 12.

If Family Day is a holiday for you, we hope you have an enjoyable and restful day with those close to you!

TransLink 101: What is TransLink, anyway?

TransLink 101 blog feature series banner

For February 2013, we’re going back to basics with TransLink 101—a series of posts explaining TransLink and its work!

So what is TransLink, anyway?

Put simply, TransLink is the authority responsible for transportation in Metro Vancouver. And when we say transportation, we mean more than just public transit!

Our work includes:

The TransLink family tree

TransLink's governance and operating structure

Read more »

TransLink 101: welcome to our February special post series!

TransLink 101 blog feature series banner

We’re doing something different on the Buzzer blog in 2013!

Each month this year, we’ll take a topic and explore it through a series of special blog posts. (Though don’t worry, we’ll still post about other content too!)

For our first month, we’ve decided to go back to basics with a series we’d like to call TransLink 101!

What’s TransLink 101 about?

This month, we’ll explore some basic questions about TransLink and its work that many of you might be wondering about. Our planned topics include:

As well, we’d also like to feature an article that YOU pick!

What do you want us to write about?

Is there a burning TransLink question you’ve always wanted the answer to? Suggest your topic in the comments!

From your suggestions, we’ll select five that sound doable, and then everyone can vote for the winner in a poll at the end of this week end of next week, so we can gather more submissions! (And you never know — you might see the runners-up in future posts too :) Edit: We didn’t end up running a poll because we didn’t receive very many suggestions! So never mind.

If you need some inspiration, here are some articles we’ve done in the past:

Ok – suggest away! We hope you enjoy the series!