Translink Buzzer Blog

Category: Assorted TransLink Services

Customers in West Vancouver can expect onboard announcements

West Van Blue Bus

A key benefit of TMAC is GPS technology.

Today TransLink introduces the Transit Management and Communications system or “TMAC”, to the 57 vehicle strong West Vancouver Blue Bus fleet. This onboard communications system provides a more predictable and consistent service and delivers increased dispatch support and monitoring to ensure safe and efficient travel for customers and operators.

TMAC benefits include:

  • Onboard speakers and public information displays provide next stop announcements to help customers on new routes, riders experiencing the system for the first time, and customers with seeing or hearing challenges.
  • GPS technology provides customers real-time access to real-time transit information on the Next Bus mobile site.
  • GPS technology is on every bus, providing added security.
  • A fully monitored service, providing operators with real-time information on traffic congestion, road detours and adherence to the published service schedule.

Do you remember this post? Although the system has improved over time, here is a more detailed look at the system and how it operates.

If you are a customer in West Vancouver, let us know what you think of the new system.

Author: Angela Salehi

Reminder for students with GoCards

Students out and about

Students out and about

Are you a returning secondary student in Grade 9 to 12 aged 14 to 19? Then your GoCard from the 2013/14 school year is still valid until October 31, despite any labour disputes.

Your GoCard gets you concession fares on all TransLink services in Metro Vancouver, so you can travel for a reduced price.  Just make sure you have your GoCard with you when travelling on the system.

New GoCards will be issued to public school students once school is back in session.

For updates on GoCards for the 2014/15 school year, visit www.translink.ca/gocard.

Author: Jennifer Morland

Festivals and Races and Fireworks Oh My!

Summer photo

TransLink helps you get where you need to go this summer!

 

To help you get where you need to go this summer, TransLink will adjust services around some events to make your travel more comfortable and convenient. To stay abreast of any detours or service changes related to events around the region, check out the alerts or special events pages.

 

Upcoming events include, but are not limited to:

July 8: UBC Grand Prix

July 9: Gastown Grand Prix

July 10: Giro Di Burnaby Race

July 12: Khatsahlano Music Festival

July 12 to 13: Caribbean Festival – Maple Ridge

July 26 to 27: Caribbean Days – North Shore

July 26, July 30 and August 2: Celebration of Light

August 3: Sunset Beach Festival & Market and Pride Parade

August 16 to September 1: A special shuttle service operates during the Fair at the PNE, 7 days a week.

 

TravelSmart continues to sponsor BEST’s Bicycle Valet, which offers cyclists free and secure temporary bike storage. If you plan on enjoying any of the festivities listed above, check BEST’s calendar of events to see if there is a bike valet that can serve you.

 

For transit service information on the go, sign up for Transit Alerts, visit our mobile page, follow @TransLink or call Customer Service at 604-953-3333.

Author: Angela Salehi

We’re celebrating 40K followers on Twitter!

We reached 40,000 followers of the @TransLink Twitter account! We’re super excited about the attention and engagement of our customers on Twitter. To celebrate we randomly gave away four FareCards to followers who tweeted the #TL40K hashtag and completed this sentence, “I’m grateful for…” Have a look at what you (our transit customers!) shared with us. We here at the Buzzer are grateful too — for all you loyal readers of course! #TL40K

 

Winter service changes begin December 16, 2013

December2013_ServiceChange

Check your route before you go!

It’s that time of year again – drum roll please! <<drrruummrroolll>> . Winter service changes come into effect on December 16! For more information, check out the upcoming print Buzzer and Transit Service Changes. Check your route before you go!

For the very latest on transit service conditions be sure to check out @translink or call 604-953-3333.

Author: Angela Salehi

TransLink & CMBC support UBC Safewalk Program

TransLink & CMBC support UBC Safewalk Program

UBC Safewalk Program

You may have heard in the media lately about UBC’s Safewalk Program for students on campus.  It’s a free service from the Alma Mater Society of UBC, which provides an escort for students who are walking to any point on campus after dark. Arrangements can be made by phone.

We know that lots of people rely on transit to get to and from campus, so CMBC and TransLink have a few things on the go to support the Safewalk Program.

Several of our bus routes headed out to UBC have added reminders to some of the regular UBC stop announcements that let people know they can call Safewalk for an escort. Bus operators are also distributing Rider Alerts to passengers bound for UBC after dark.

TransLink’s Twitter team is tweeting out Safewalk’s message recommending people on campus avoid walking alone after dark, and encouraging students to call Safewalk for an escort.

TransLink & CMBC support UBC Safewalk Program

99 B-Line Bus

All customers riding buses between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. (anywhere in the transit system, not just UBC) can also make use of TransLink’s Request A Stop program.

If you feel safer getting off the bus at a point between two regular bus stops during these hours, you can “Request a Stop”.

At the bus operator’s discretion, you will be let off if it is safe to do so. Requesting a stop can allow you to get to your destination sooner, and minimize the amount of time you spend walking alone after dark!

However, passengers can’t request a stop on express and limited stop sections of a route.

If you’re bound for UBC on one of our buses after dark, we hope you’ll take advantage of Safewalk – it’s a great service to help you feel safe and comfortable while getting where you need to go on campus.

Author: Angela Chang

All aboard for a transit adventure using NEW Trip Planner functions – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!

Screen shots of Edit Trip Plan and other new features.

 

This past weekend, I took my five-year old, four books and my three-year old on two buses and one SkyTrain. Why? My husband had to go into the office on Saturday morning and we had a family birthday party to attend. It was not ideal to have two cars at the restaurant so the light bulb went on and I thought – why not take transit?

We live in Port Moody and our destination was the Cactus Club on Lougheed Highway. Driving there would take approximately 40 minutes, but I had no idea how long a journey on transit would take or what the route would entail. To the Trip Planner I went, keen with the thought of an adventure.

Two new Trip Planner functions jumped out at me; first, I could select the “Allow More Walking (up to 1km)” option, so that I could catch a more direct bus to my second stop with just a few more minutes of walking; and two, I noticed that there is finally an “Edit Trip Plan” button! This new button allowed me to make changes to my trip plan, without having to reenter my information with each time I made an adjustment – and there were many as I tried to find the most efficient route with the shortest duration.

I also checked out Google Transit tab on TransLink’s Trip Planning page so I could see my route tracked on a map – this I found super helpful.

In the end, we had a great morning on transit, the kids had an adventure and we arrived safely – without tears – at our destination.

In case you missed our review of other transit related apps, check out this Buzzer post from October. Happy travels!

 An ‘Edit Trip Plan’ button is now at your fingertips.
Author: Angela Salehi

Catching up with the Lost Property Office

Missing your favourite megaphone? No worries, the Lost Property Office has it!

Have you ever visited TransLink’s Lost Property Office before? I hadn’t until recently. Jhen has written about the office and what they do before, but I wanted to see the office for myself and figured it would be worth a check in.

The office can be a busy place.

My first reaction when I was brought behind the counter was how organized it is in there. Gloves collected from bus depots, SkyTrain, and SeaBus come in daily and are divided between matching pairs and singles. Drawers full of cell phones and chargers are tagged with the time and place they were found and any other info that can connect them to their rightful owner.

Backpack season starts after school begins.

Considering the small area the staff have to store bikes, cell phones, umbrellas, books, medication, back packs, strollers, tools and way too many other random and odd items to mention, keeping them well organized is the only way to keep track of them all!

And because of the volume of lost items and the limited space to store everything, rules have been created for how long we hold onto items:

  • Wallets and other valuables are held for 30 days
  • The following items are held for 10 days: Binders, books, gloves, hats, jackets, pants, papers, posters, scarves, shirts, shoes
  • The following items are held for 14 days: Bikes, used bags
  • Items will be retained for a few days to a month, depending on the type of item.
  • Items like Care Cards and birth certificates are sent back to their government agencies, but the rest is donated to charity.
  • Food containers/drink containers are held for just a few days
  • Perishable items are not retained
  • Perishable items and food/drink containers may not be retained or only held for a couple of days.

So, just how many items are left behind? And what are the most popular lost items on transit? Customer Information Supervisor Michelle Poole answered a few of our questions:

1.      How many lost items have we collected so far in 2012?

30,285 items have been logged into our database (over 5000 umbrellas are also turned in every year, but these are not logged into the database).

2.      How many lost items did we collect in 2011?

36,816 items (excluding umbrellas).

3.      How many items do you reunite with their owners every year?

Last year, 28.32% of items were reunited with their owners. So far this year, 29.98% of items have been returned to their owners.

4.      What are the most common items that end up in Lost Property?

Definitely umbrellas would be most common, but a lot of cellular phones as well.

5.      What’s the best course of action for someone to take once they know they have lost something on transit?

Customers can call us during our business hours (Monday-Friday from 8:30am-5:00pm). It is best to ensure they have as much detail as possible including date/time the item was lost, the route the item was lost on, the description of the item lost as well as all their contact information.  Alternatively, we have an online form that can be completed at anytime that will send a report directly to our office.  It can take up to 2 business days for items to arrive in the Lost Property office, and we are in receipt of bikes once a week on Thursdays. (The Lost Property Office handles over 4000 calls from customers each month and nearly 3000 walk-in customers)

6.      Are there any other stories from lost property that you would like to share?

Our Workleader this year went to great lengths to try and locate the owner of a case for glasses with $400 cash inside.  There was no identification and only a bank slip with the cash that was inside.  Workleader Barb Szumilak went to a branch of the bank and explained the situation.  They explained that they could see what they could do, but they would not be able to provide us with customer information. They were, however, able to make contact with the gentleman who owned the bank account, and he was able to retrieve his money and case from our office.

One other interesting fact I discovered on my visit is that nearly 100% of all the unclaimed items turned into the Lost Property Office are donated to charity! United Way and Toys for Tots are just two charities who receive items regularly.

I’d like to express my thanks to Michelle, Barb and everyone else at Lost Property for letting me snoop around their office. If you have a lost item, I encourage you to fill out an online form, give Lost Property a call at 604-953-3334, or stop by the office at Stadium SkyTrain Station, 590 Beatty St, Vancouver, Monday to Friday 8:30 am-5:00pm.

 

 

TransLink’s So You Think You Can Busk? 2012 auditions

It was that time again for Metro Vancouver’s finest to audition for 11 busker spots TransLink put up for grabs for the next busking year. Yesterday, there were 48 applications for 11 performing licenses available July 1, 2012 – June 30, 2013. The 11 winners of the licenses are being told this week if they will be joining the 31 other license holders who have renewed their licenses to busk at the following stations: Waterfront (Howe Street Entrance and skywalk), Vancouver City Centre, Burrard, Granville Street and Commercial-Broadway.

Our illustrious judges!

There was a bevy of different instruments (sitar, wooden slot drums, electronic devices and string instruments or all kinds to name just a few) and styles on display. I was only able to catch a handful of the performances myself, but as you can see from this video, there was a little bit of everything for almost any musical taste.

Our judges, TransLink’s Drew Snider and Paul Cheng and 24 Hours’ Erica Bulman, told me that they had a difficult time choosing just 11 winners.

This was the 26th annual busker event, which started as an experiment during Expo ’86. Thanks to everyone who came out to audition! I can honestly say that there wasn’t one dud in the lot. Here’s to another great year of being entertained on the system!

Update!

Here’s the list of winners of this year’s licenses:

Katie Yurychuk – guitar and vocals
Joanne Wang – Er-hu player
Dustin Hauschild – guitar and vocals
David Morin – Guitar and vocals
Luis Rodriguez –Guitar – Latin American and Mexican folk * (4:04 on the video)
Anton Sitnikov – Guitar
Mike Sullivan – Guitar
Benjamin and Graham Dawson – Guitar and vocals * (7:40)
Camille Fournier and Angela Sartoretto – Harp and vocals
Tom Paleczka – guitar and vocals
Liam Watson and Matt Canute – Bassoon and Guitar
 

Buskers wanted! Apply to audition by June 12, 2012

Above is a video from the 2011 busker auditions!

Calling all buskers! We’re holding auditions in June for new buskers in 2012. Here are the key details:

  • Fill out an application form for a busking audition! Deadline is June 12, 2012, and audition spots are first come, first serve!
  • Auditions for future buskers will be held Monday, June 18, 2012, from 9am to 4pm.
  • Just 11 busker spots are up for grabs this year, as 31 buskers from last year have chosen to renew their licenses.
  • Successful applicants pay $75 to help cover SOCAN fees for performing rights.

For more details, check out the TransLink busker program page. Best of luck to all applicants!

AirCare to change starting 2014

As you might have heard, AirCare will end for passenger cars and trucks as of December 31, 2014. According to the Province, the future of the program is being examined. Here’s what Environment Minister Terry Lake had to say about it,

“Newer makes and models of light-duty vehicles are not the prime source of the blue smoke and pollution experienced on the road today… When you look at most cars now, they run a lot cleaner than the vehicles rolling off the line when AirCare started in 1992.”

According to the provincial press release, the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and key stakeholders will, “…identify those sources of particulate emissions currently not managed through air care programs, and come up with reduction options that can help address human health concerns.” TransLink, through the subsidiary company, Pacific Vehicle Testing Technologies Ltd., better known as AirCare, has provided emission testing for vehicles in Metro Vancouver.

For more info, take a look at the Ministry of the Environment press release. This is a provincial announcement, so we don’t necessarily have access to all the answers. However, we’ll see if we can help!

Report your lost items in our handy new form

The new Report Lost Item form on our website.

A tiny update about our website. Last week we put up a new Report Lost Item form on the Lost and Found page!

The form helps you quickly put in the minimum amount of information required to locate your lost item — especially mandatory information like a name and/or phone number.

It’s a replacement for the Lost Property email address, as our staff often found we weren’t getting enough information from many emails. And of course, it’s another method for you to reach us at your convenience.

Lost Property receives over 4000 calls and 2500 walk-in customers each month, so the new form makes the volume of requests a bit easier to handle. A Workleader at Lost Property collects the request from the form, and staff reviews the list daily to see if we have received any items that match. Once items that are matched to a report, the staff can contact the owner and put the item on hold until they can arrange a pick-up.

So if you have a lost item to report, click here to go to the new Lost and Found form!

The Lost Property office receives over 40,000 items annually and logs over 35,000 into the database system. And if you’re curious about our Lost Property office and what it collects, check out these past posts:

TransLink’s Got Talent!

Last Friday, a fourth floor meeting room in Metrotown Tower 2 was transformed into a battle of musicians. The event dubbed So You Think You Can Busk? was TransLink’s annual buskers contest. In fact, this is the 25th anniversary of the TransLink Musician Program! In total, 40 licenses were up for grabs for winning buskers to perform at a handful of SkyTrain stations. Musicians who win get a license valid for one year and are scheduled to perform at specific stations and times on a rotating schedule. Performances are 90 minutes in length with 15-minute intervals between each one.

Busking guitarist

One of many buskers that auditioned to perform at SkyTrain stations this year

Performers of every ilk showed up for the event. Each performer who applied to audition for free was asked to play for up to 5 minutes (although some performers needed some gentle persuading from the front of the room).

The day started off with a magician (which was curious since the call out was for musicians) who delighted the judges (Dawn Chubai from CityTV’s Breakfast Television, who’s also a jazz musician, and Drew Snider, TransLink Public Information Officer). There were a few acoustic and electric guitar players who accompanied their retro and classic rock numbers on vocals, a steel drum player, a saxophone and bass guitar duo and quite a few others I didn’t get a chance to see including a guy wearing a cowboy outfit complete with chaps and a couple of accordion players. One of these accordion players was Eric D’Onofrio who’s in the video.The event was a testament to the varied and talented buskers we have in Metro Vancouver. I wish I could have stayed and watched all day! Best of luck to the those who auditioned. Buskers will be notified of their results by the end of the week. The licenses take effect on July 1, 2011, so keep your eyes out for some brand new talent at SkyTrain stations.

If you have a favorite busker at a SkyTrain station leave a comment and tell everyone about it!

Accessible transit – part 1

Derrick Bayer, training instructor with the Coast Mountain Bus Company

One of our goals at TransLink is to get more people in Metro Vancouver to do most of their trips by transit, walking and cycling. In fact, this is Goal 2 of Transport 2040, our 2010 10-year plan! Now, it’s one thing to have a goal; it’s another to actually reach it. Well, luckily we have a department at TransLink called Access Transit.

As the name suggests, the aim of Access Transit is to make the public transit system more accessible for people with disabilities, seniors and new user groups like immigrants. TransLink has focused on people with disabilities in the past (and still does), and recently, the focus has been on seniors. Helping new users, immigrants and refugees become more confident with our transit system is a new initiative, and last week, along with a Vancouver chapter of Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia, a pilot project was held to assess their needs.

It was a nice and sunny day for a change in Vancouver, so I thought I go a check out the event. Part of the pilot included having an out-of-service bus and two Coast Mountain Bus Company training instructors guide the nearly 200 people who showed up for the day of learning. Participants learned the ins and outs (literally) of boarding the bus including confirming the correct bus and desired stop as well as how to convey that to the driver and how to use bike rack. They also learned about seating priorities and standing on the bus, locating your stop and disembarking.

If you think about it, we take a lot for granted when we take transit. If you’re new to our transit system, don’t speak English or simple see the transit system as an unknown questions like, “How do I let drivers know I’m waiting for the bus?” or “How do the bus doors work?” can be a real barrier for new users of the system.

Nick Sandu, training instructor with the Coast Mountain Bus Company

Nick Sandu, one of the trainers, says it has been a learning experience for both TransLink and the participants, “The language… it’s trying to make sure that they understand what we’re trying to say that’s a challenge.” When something wasn’t understood the instructors changed the way they said it or used body language to drive the point home. When the language barrier proved difficult, other participants helped out.

Inside in the classroom, Sarah Chung, Community Relations Coordinator for Access Transit, guided participants through the intricacies of what transit options are available to them as well as transit fares, language services (special translator phones at SkyTrains and fare machines, etc.), safety and security, SkyTrain and Canada Line staff and trip planning. Sarah said the day was a resounding success. Here’s a bit of what she told me about the event:

“The majority of the participants took both the classroom and bus workshops. Even the students who had the very low English skills were excited and smiling after their bus training. It was a very busy day but extremely rewarding.

Most of the questions we were asked were about fares, how prices and fare zones work, and what options would work best depending on the situation.

A lot of the information we provided during the presentations was information our current customers may not be aware of because they do not necessarily have the need. For example, many of the students and staff were surprised to find out that we could provide a phone-based translator service at SkyTrain stations for people who are more comfortable asking their questions in other languages. This kind of information can help people be more confident when they first try out the system. We want to help new immigrants access the public transit system, but I think that this first event in our pilot project helped our core understanding of their needs as well. The students we worked with may not jump on the SkyTrain or bus the very next day, but we have at least made accessing public transit more approachable.”

Sarah Chung, Community Relations Coordinator with Access Transit

Ads coming to FareCards in January 2011

A sample FareCard with the new ads.

In case you haven’t heard, this was announced yesterday: there will be small ads on the monthly FareCards starting in January 2011.

Check out the press release for more information—below I have a short excerpt.

TransLink is partnering with Let’s Bus It, a Victoria-based firm that specializes in advertisements on public transportation, to include ads on the front of the FareCards.

“Transit advertising is an area that makes money for TransLink,” says John Beaudoin, TransLink’s Director of Customer Engagement and Marketing, “and helps reduce the need to increase revenue in other areas, like fares.” Advertising on buses and SkyTrain already brings in about $9 million per year for TransLink, which could finance close to $90 million in new transit capital or pay for about 82,000 hours of bus service.

The ad takes up just under one half of face of the FareCard, with information such as the number of zones, purchase price and the month for which the card is valid still plainly displayed. The terms and conditions and the space for writing the owner’s name – in accordance with the requirements of the federal Transit Pass Tax Credit – are unchanged on the reverse.

In exchange for placing ads on FareCards, Let’s Bus It is guaranteeing TransLink a minimum of $84,000 per year. The concept has proven popular with advertisers in other regions where Let’s Bus It operates – including Victoria, Nanaimo, Brandon Manitoba and New Orleans, Louisiana – and the ad space is already sold out for the first six months in Metro Vancouver.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, as always!