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Translink Buzzer Blog

Category: Bus

Metro Vancouver bus routes pilot “stacked” destination signs

Bus operator Fraser Doucette and Transit Supervisor Blake Webb believe in delivering great service to our customers. So, for them, making sure the destination signs on our buses provide clear route information simply makes sense.

“When I moved to Vancouver in 1971 from the Kootenays​, every bus said where it was going, either the exact destination or the name of the street it ended on,” says Fraser, who has been driving our electric trolley buses in Vancouver for over 26 years. “You just knew where the bus went.”

But, with the increase in bus routes over the years, Fraser says things aren’t so clear anymore.

“Today, eighteen different bus routes say ‘Downtown,’ which can be confusing for our customers.”

Read more »

Bus bulbs reduce the travel times and transform Metro Vancouver streets

If you’ve taken a stroll along Robson street lately, you might noticed some recent changes. Temporary patios now line the sidewalk, live music playing at the street corners, murals coat the walls of buildings and three temporary bus bulbs have been constructed at the intersections of Burrard and Bute. These transit improvements are funded through TransLink’s Bus Speed and Reliability Program to support TransLink’s and the City of Vancouver’s response to COVID-19.

Read more »

TransLink highlights opportunities to speed up Metro Vancouver buses

More than 25 quick changes could save customers time and improve regional transit

TransLink is releasing its assessment of near-term opportunities for municipal projects aimed at improving bus travel times around Metro Vancouver while also improving the overall flow of traffic during the pandemic. TransLink has identified more than 25 bus priority opportunities that could be implemented quickly with little impact on surrounding areas.

Read more »

This is how to take public transit (bus) from Vancouver to Victoria and back

Don’t let the lack of a car stop you from exploring our beautiful capital city, Victoria, this summer because you can easily take public transit to get there! You can visit Tourism Victoria‘s website for all the city has to offer.

In total, the trip from Vancouver to Victoria will take you about four hours, so plan accordingly whether you’d like to do a day trip or spend an entire weekend there. You’ll be riding with BC Transit, BC Ferries and TransLink, so there will be three separate fares.

Check list before you go

  • A face covering for all styles of transportation
  • $5 in coins for your BC Transit fare – $2.50 in coins to pay the fare for the bus ride from the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal to downtown Victoria, and another $2.50 for the return trip. Alternatively, you can purchase a BC Transit DayPASS for $5 for unlimited travel for the entire day on any route! You can find all fare details at bctransit.com/victoria.
  • Your TransLink fare, which varies depending on how many zones you travel. You can easily estimate your fare on our website.
    • For a trip from downtown Vancouver, it’s a two zone fare, which means you’ll need a Compass Card with at least $6.90 in Stored Value, or $8.50 in cash to cover a return trip.

Read more »

TransLink completes Nanaimo Exchange renovations

Customers returning to transit can now make full use of the revamped Nanaimo Exchange. The refurbished bus exchange now offers several new and improved features to enhance the customer experience such as a new plaza to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety and public artwork highlighting the history of the station.

The upgrades include:

  • New bus shelters, benches, and landscaping to provide more space
  • A new plaza to reduce crowding and improve customer flow
  • Enhanced lighting and sightlines to increase safety
  • A new layout to simplify pedestrian, cyclist, and bus flow
  • Improvements to BC Parkway in and near the Exchange
  • A public art piece illustrating historical sites and events on our transit network

Read more »

TransLink welcomes aboard Guide and Service Dogs-in-Training

TransLink’s opening the doors to the Vancouver Transit Centre bus depot to dozens of Guide and Service Dogs-in-Training. The new recruits will be familiarized with several buses repeatedly, in order to accelerate their training. This is important given their training schedule has fallen behind due to COVID-19.

“COVID-19 has been a real challenge for everyone and I’m pleased to support the training of Service and Guide Dogs in any way we can,” says Coast Mountain Bus Company President Michael McDaniel. “I hope this training can help get trained Guide and Service Dogs to the people who need them as quickly as possible.” Read more »

15 years of the low-floor trolleybus in Metro Vancouver

Trolleybuses have been a part of Metro Vancouver’s transportation network for more than 70 years!

The very first was a Canadian Car Brill T-44 , which hit the roads on August 16, 1948, after the streetcar network was decommissioned in a “rails-to-rubber” conversion.

Like all other buses at the time, it was a high-floor bus, which meant you had to walk up a flight of stairs to board. As the fleet renewed and expanded over the years, they were all high-floor buses because the low floor, which is common today, didn’t exist.

It all changed on July 20, 2005 – 15 years ago – we were handed the keys to a prototype low-floor trolleybus at Stanley Park.

Read more »

Bus operator wrangles geese away from busy intersection in Vancouver

Photo: Mathew Bond

If you’d told bus operator Kelly Podlubny he’d be escorting a gaggle of geese across the busy intersection of Main and Terminal during his shift on July 6, he wouldn’t have believed you.

In a video posted to Twitter by Mathew Bond, a District of North Vancouver councillor, that has gone viral with more than 10,500 views, Kelly is seen clapping his hands to herd the geese away. Read more »

A sneak peek at the redesigned bus transfers for community shuttle buses

The new bus transfer customers will receive on community shuttle buses starting on June 1.

Starting Monday, June 1, fare collection and front-door boarding resumes on all buses, and seating restrictions will be eased. Customers who ride a bus route that’s operated by a community shuttle will also see a redesigned bus transfer if they’re paying by cash.

What’s new?

  • New transfers use a colour and icon system to show the day the transfer can be used. Our old transfers printed each date on the ticket.
  • There are five colours and five symbols that will alternate each day.
  • They are also reusable. Using symbols instead of dates allows us to reuse transfers that aren’t distributed each day, reducing waste across the system.

What’s the same?

They’ll work just like the current paper transfers on community shuttle buses.

Operators will provide customers who pay their fare with coins, bills or FareSavers, with a new transfer tickets that’s cut to indicate a time 90 minutes in the future. The ticket then becomes a “flash pass” for transfers to other shuttles and regular, conventional buses. That means you won’t need to insert the transfer into the farebox — just show it to the operator. As usual, please have an exact fare.

Just like before, customers who are planning to transfer to SkyTrain, West Coast Express or the SeaBus should consider using a Compass Card or Tap to Pay with a contactless credit card as the paper bus transfers don’t open the faregates. As well, a reminder if you’re paying by cash, we recommend you keep paying with exact change as the fare boxes don’t dispense it.

The current bus transfers issued on community shuttle buses.

Why the change?

While we continue to replace and expand our fleet, we needed a solution for our end-of-life fareboxes.

Last year, we transitioned our Community Shuttle fleet to “mechanical” fareboxes. In July, the same fareboxes will start appearing on our regular, conventional buses too, replacing the “electronic” fareboxes. Soon, our whole fleet will be rocking this back-to-the-future-style machine.

The paper transfers we currently use on our Community Shuttle fleet won’t work with our conventional fleet, so, we developed a new paper transfer ticket compatible with both fleets (pictured right/above).

The bus transfers from the 1990s before the switch to the “magnetic strip” transfers in 2001.

COVID-19 transit safety tip

Customers are reminded to consider travelling outside of busy times if they can and to stay home when unwell. We’re recommending customers to wear a face covering when riding transit. Non-medical masks, bandanas, scarves and cloth can all be used. Please maintain physical distance from other passengers and transit staff when possible and follow our physical distancing markers where outlined. To reduce the risks caused by the pandemic, we installed new temporary barriers on our bus fleet. There will be a slot in the barrier for our operators to safely hand cash paying customers their paper transfer.

More low-floor community shuttles rolled out

49 new, low-floor community shuttles are now in service!

Exciting news for customers who take the bus on routes that are operated with community shuttles! Our roll out of 49 new “low floor” community shuttles, which began last October, is now complete. This means more customers will benefit from a sloped ramp — instead of stairs — making it easier for all our passengers to board the bus.

What’s new?

  • Low-floor access through the front door using a deployable ramp (no more stairs!)
  • Winch (electric motor with a cable/rope/strap) to help operators guide customers who are using mobility devices into the bus, if necessary
  • Initial field-testing surveys suggest these shuttles are quieter and vibrate less than their predecessors, leading to an improved customer experience
  • New shuttles are ~305mm from the ground while older shuttles (2014 Eldorado’s) are close to 1 foot higher at ~323mm from the ground
  • Higher ceilings in the new shuttles (2.16m in the front, 2.01m in the rear) compared to approximately 1.94m in the front and rear of the Eldorado’s
  • A redesigned interior layout which allows for easier access for mobility customers to enter and move around the shuttle
  • A dedicated HVAC unit (combined heating and air conditioning) which runs quieter and is more powerful than anything currently installed on any CMBC Community Shuttle
  • Larger windows and upgraded emergency exits
  • Improved seat covers that are more comfortable and easier to clean (identical to conventional buses)
  • Interior and exterior LED lights
  • A Vortec 6.0-litre fuel efficient, low-emission gas engine

TransLink first tested out low-floor community shuttles in 2017 when West Vancouver Blue Bus piloted five of them on North Shore routes, including the former C12 Lions Bay/Caulfield and the 251 Queens/Park Royal. After receiving positive feedback from customers, as well as the operations and maintenance teams at Coast Mountain Bus Company, we decided to expand our community shuttle fleet to include more low-floor community shuttles.

Forty-five of the new shuttles are based at Hamilton Transit Centre bus depot and are replacements for buses that have reached end-of-life. Four shuttles from the new order will also be going to West Vancouver Blue Bus, completing their full transition to low-floor shuttles.

COVID-19 transit safety tip

Customers are reminded to consider travelling outside of busy times if they can and to stay home when unwell. We’re recommending customers to wear a face covering when riding transit. Non-medical masks, bandanas, scarves and cloth can all be used. Please maintain physical distance from other passengers and transit staff when possible and follow our physical distancing markers where outlined.

From one Metro Vancouver institution to another: a retired bus operator on Army & Navy

I Love Transit - Angus McIntyre

Retired bus operator Angus McIntyre on his first day of work in 1969.

After temporarily closing like other retailers in March to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Canadian department store Army & Navy recently announced their closure is now permanent. The COVID-19 pandemic’s economic impacts proved to be insurmountable. This ends the Canadian institution’s 101-year run that began in 1919 as Canada’s first discount department store.

Just like Woodward’s and Eaton’s before that, Army & Navy holds a special place in Metro Vancouver’s collective hearts.

TransLink’s part of a storied history of transit in Metro Vancouver than spans more than a century — it celebrates its 130th anniversary this June 27. Our buses today and streetcars before that brought generations of families to Army & Navy.

Retired bus operator Angus McIntyre was no different. He steered his way through four different employers during his 41 years as a bus operator. His incredible journey began in 1969 when he went to Army and Navy to purchase a pair of Oxford shoes for his job interview with BC Hydro, which operated transit in Metro Vancouver between 1962 and 1973.

Read his guest post on what Army & Navy meant to him and transit.

Angus McIntyre

By Angus McIntyre

I shopped occasionally at the Army and Navy downtown, when skid road was an area of the city that was a bit rough, but still considered approachable by most people.

When I moved out on my own at age 19, I bought kitchenware at the Army and Navy.

At age 21, I didn’t have a lot of money, and I needed to buy a pair of black Oxford shoes in July 1969 to go for my job interview as a bus driver with B.C. Hydro. The shoe department of the Army & Navy was in a separate building on the south side of Hastings, next to Wosk’s huge appliance store. They had an affordable pair of shoes and I got the job.

Once in training, we were supplied with a changer, a transfer punch and a change fund of $120. An instructor said the best thing for our supplies, including rolls of tokens and coins, was a tackle box from the large basement fishing department at the Army & Navy. I bought a Canadian-made Beach tackle box, which sat on the front dash of the bus next to the bracket for the changer and transfer clips.

I worked the Nanaimo bus in the evening for many years, and one of my regular passengers worked in the shoe department of the Army & Navy. He always dreaded the huge annual shoe sale, which involved bringing in the inventory and dealing with massive crowds that showed up for the sale. When he boarded the bus to head home, he would give a run-down of the day’s events.

I bought a bicycle in 1970, and about a year later met another cyclist during a rainfall. He had on a lightweight, waterproof jacket and pants that he wore over his clothes. I asked where he bought it, and he told me to go to the Army & Navy. I made the purchase, and it lasted for many years.

In the 1970s the Christmas rush downtown was always very busy, and all the department stores filled with shoppers. A visit to the Army and Navy or Woodward’s usually included a snack or a meal at the Only Seafoods at Hastings and Carrall. Over the years I also shopped occasionally at the Army and Navy store in New Westminster, which was in the former Eaton’s building on Columbia Street.

Take part in the international survey and help us improve bus and SkyTrain

We need your help so we can make our services even better! 

Did you know that TransLink is a member of two international benchmarking communities, the International Bus Benchmarking Group (IBBG) and CoMET and NOVA Metro Benchmarking Group?

Both organizations were founded to create an international network for transit agencies to learn best practices, share knowledge and innovate. Each year they also measure the performance of transit systems across the world in their annual surveys.

Join the conversation and share you experience with TransLink’s bus and SkyTrain services in the 2-5 minutes surveys before April 5, 2020.

Share your experience with SkyTrain  service here

Share your experience with bus services here

Vancouver’s SkyTrain (BCRTC) is a part of CoMET and Nova Metro Benchmarking Groups, a global metro benchmarking community comprising of 42 metro systems in 39 international cities. Current members are some of the world’s largest metro systems, including Beijing Subway, Tokyo Metro, and Moscow Metro, as well as medium to small-sized ones, such as Tyne & Wear Metro (Newcastle) and Singapore SMRT.

IBBG features 15 medium and large international bus organizations, including London Buses, MTA New York City Transit (New York), and Vancouver’s Coast Mountain Bus Company.

Check out our interview from 2015 with IBBG associate director Mark Trompet to learn more about their organization:

 

 

Spring service changes to boost North Shore bus service

The new R2 Marine Dr RapidBus launches on April 6.

Beginning April 6, transit on the North Shore is being boosted to provide more frequent and reliable bus service. With the upcoming introduction of the R2 RapidBus along Marine Drive, there will be several additions of new routes and adjustments to existing routes on the North Shore. These changes will allow the North Shore transit network to better integrate with the high frequency RapidBus route.

New North Shore bus routes

R2 Marine Dr (Park Royal/Phibbs Exchange)

  • High frequency RapidBus service with limited stops
  • 8 to 10-minute service every day from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • 15-minute evening service every day from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

222 Willingdon Express

  • Express service with only six stops
  • Serves Phibbs Exchange, the Kootenay Loop, Hastings and Willingdon, Brentwood Town Centre SkyTrain Station, BCIT, and Metrotown
  • 10-minute peak service
  • Former 125 (Patterson/BCIT) customers are encouraged to switch to the new express service

245 Phibbs Exchange/Capilano University

  • 10-minute peak service during summer months
  • More service coming fall 2020 for the new school year

Adjusted North Shore bus routes

240 Lynn Valley/Downtown

  • Terminus extending from Grand Boulevard to Lynn Valley to integrate with the R2 RapidBus

28 Joyce Station/Phibbs Exchange and 130 Metrotown/Phibbs Exchange

  • Terminus moved from Capilano University to Phibbs Exchange

239 Park Royal/Capilano University

  • Service replaced by R2 RapidBus, and increased service on routes 240 and 255

Other major permanent service increases

 31 River District/Metrotown (New Service)

  • Will provide a direct bus connection to the Expo Line for residents of the River District

319 Scott Road Station/Scottsdale Exchange/Newton Exchange

  • Introducing 4 to 8-minute service all day on weekdays until 10:30 p.m.
  • Increasing to 4-minute peak service between Scottsdale Exchange and Scott Road Station

Seasonal changes

Each year, TransLink temporarily increases service during the spring and summer months to key tourist destinations like ferry terminals, parks, and beaches. On April 6, service will increase on route 620 (Bridgeport Station/Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal). In May, service will increase on route 19 (Metrotown/Stanley Park) to reflect growing demand.

In May, service will be temporarily reinstated on the 42 (Alma/Spanish Banks), 150 (White Pine Beach/Coquitlam Central Station), 179 (Buntzen Lake/Coquitlam Central Station), and 236 (Grouse Mountain/Pemberton Heights/Lonsdale Quay) until the fall.

TransLink also temporarily decreases service to post-secondary institutions in these months, as there are less students travelling to and from campus. Service will temporarily reduce on routes 9, 42, 145, 258, and 480.

River District and North Shore Express to Metrotown bus routes approved

The new 31 and 222 bus routes start operating on April 6, 2020.

Two new major bus routes have been approved to serve residents in Vancouver’s East Fraser Lands (the River District), the North Shore, and Burnaby. Beginning April 6, the new services will connect North Shore and River District residents directly to the SkyTrain at Metrotown Station.

New routes:

31 River District/Metrotown – A new service operating between Metrotown Station and the River District. This new route will serve the River District’s growing levels of residential and commercial development by providing a direct bus connection to SkyTrain.

222 Willingdon Express – This new route provides an express service connecting Phibbs Exchange in North Vancouver to Metrotown in Burnaby via Willingdon Avenue. This will be a limited-stop service with only six stops on the entire route. It will serve key transit hubs such as Phibbs Exchange, the Kootenay Bus Loop, Brentwood Town Centre SkyTrain Station, BCIT, and Metrotown. The demand for this route was identified as part of the Integrated North Shore Transportation Planning Project (INSTPP).

Both routes were accepted as part of the 2019 Transit Network Review – which consults on new ways to optimize the transit system for customers. The full Transit Network Review consulted on proposed changes to 12 routes last year, and these are the first two to have their proposals implemented. These and other transit expansion projects are funded through the Mayors’ 10-Year Vision.

Engagement results:

In total, there were 4,000 surveys completed for the two new routes. Nearly 80 per cent of respondents said they would be likely to use the Willingdon Express, and two-thirds of respondents said they would be likely to use the River District service.

More information:

Transit Network Review

(CONTEST) RapidBus brings faster, more frequent service to eight Metro Vancouver communities

We know that fast, frequent service is key to getting more people onto transit — that’s why we’ve introduced a new service called RapidBus! It comes with faster travel times, more reliable service and new customer amenities.

On these routes, customers will enjoy service that’s up to 20 per cent faster than local bus service. Coming every 10 minutes or better during peak hours and every 15 minutes or better in non-peak hours, customers can now catch a RapidBus on these four routes:

  • R1 King George Blvd (Guildford Exchange/Newton Exchange)
    • Every eight minutes during peak hours
  • R3 Lougheed Hwy (Coquitlam Central Station/Haney Place)
    • Every ten minutes during peak hours
  • R4 41st Ave (UBC/Joyce-Collingwood Station)
    • Every three to six minutes during peak hours
  • R5 Hastings St (SFU/Burrard Station)
    • Every four to five minutes during peak hours

Time-savings have been achieved by introducing bus priority on roadways, such as bus lanes and signal priority, and less stopping.

What’s awesome about RapidBus is not only the service itself, but the new customer amenities at bus stops and onboard buses!

We’ve introduced new bus stops, called RapidBus posts, that have real-time information, telling you upcoming departure times for all the buses that use that stop. There’s an audio button customers can push to hear these next-bus announcements too. The RapidBus routes will also use 60-foot articulated buses that have softer seats.

Isn’t the new RapidBus service great?! We want everyone to know about this new service and could use some help in spreading the word. We want to give you the chance to win a RapidBus prize back that includes a RapidBus toque, gloves and the new model that just dropped on the TransLink Store.

Keep reading to find out how you can enter to win.

Enter to win!

There are three prize packs up for grabs with each of the following:

  • A RapidBus t-shirt
  • A RapidBus model
  • A RapidBus toque
  • Pair of RapidBus gloves
  • A handful of RapidBus buttons
  • A handful of RapidBus stickers
  • A handful of I Love Transit buttons

To enter, simply complete one — or all — of the following actions:

  • Comment below telling us which RapidBus route you’ll be taking and where you’ll be going (1 entry)
  • Follow @TransLink on Instagram, like this post and tag three friends you’d like to tell about RapidBus. (1 entry)
  • Follow @TransLink on Twitter, and tweet or retweet the following message. (1 entry)

If you do all three actions, you’ll be entered to win three times! Don’t forget to make sure your social media accounts are public so we can see your entry.

The rules:

Check out the official RapidBus Prize Pack Contest Terms and Conditions, but here’s the lowdown:

  • The contest for a RapidBus prize pack will open on Monday, February 24, 2020 and all entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. PST on Sunday, March 8, 2020. Late entries will not be considered.
  • We’ll do one draw each for The Buzzer blog, Instagram and Twitter.
  • One entry per method, per person, per day.