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Translink Buzzer Blog

Category: SkyTrain

Turning the Tides on Temperature: Buses and SkyTrains

Winter is gone, and summer is coming! Aside from the season and unpredictable Vancity weather, the temperatures are changing too. We’re here to explain the variance of heat and AC you’ll encounter on your commutes and give tips on how you can make it a more comfortable experience too.

Temperature on the Bus

Buses that have joined the TransLink fleet since 2012 are climate controlled, so that means there’s air conditioning onboard! As we renew and expand our fleet, they’re making up a larger portion of our fleet. If you’re onboard a bus that has air conditioning, let’s keep those windows shut so the air conditioning can do its job.

As well, climate control means there are times when it seems that both the heating and cooling is on simultaneously. This is so the system can “dry” or dehumidify the air on a cold or humid day.

Temperature on SkyTrain

Over on SkyTrain, our Mark II and III trains both have cooling and heating systems.

Each car has a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) unit on its roof. It uses sensors that determine the outside air temperature versus the air inside the car, then that will follow an algorithm that helps maintain an optimal temperature for passengers.

Our Mark I trains only has a heating system, so over summer, pop those windows open to keep cool. There are also overhead fans that help with cooling too.

The SkyTrain operates admirably with a 95 per cent on-time performance, but from time to time, there are delays. It’s important to note that if your train is stopped in between stations or just outside a station, that you listen to the onboard announcements and check Transit Alerts. If you need to, open a window for ventilation and use the intercom to speak with SkyTrain Control. Not only is forcing doors open dangerous because the tracks carry live power, it can lengthen delays as a SkyTrain Attendant will need to respond to that individual train.

 

How to make your commute more comfortable

  • Plan ahead

Planning ahead with Trip Planner is super helpful to know how much to bring with you and time that you take to commute. Do you have some breather room to take a break from the heat? Or wanting to explore cafes close by SkyTrain stations? (PS: we have another article coming up on that shortly.)

  • Be courteous on the transit to other passengers

Everyone shares the public space on transit, so we can help each other make it a better commute together. When many people are on the bus at once during a hot day, please be mindful of personal hygiene and refrain from wearing scented products.

  • Keep yourself hydrated

Water is always the best option to keep hydrated. While food and drink aren’t allowed on transit for cleanliness purposes and courtesy of others who may not tolerate food smells, water is an exception (if it has a lid). We’d like to provide caution about drinking on a moving vehicle, so it might be best to wait until you reach a bus stop for a quick drink.

  • Dress according to weather

If you are going to be transiting for most of the day, it’s best to plan your outfit that will be convenient for your commute. Wear clothing that is comfortable and an outer layer that will be easy to take off due to changing temperatures.

Lastly, we want to make sure that everyone will have a safe commute no matter where your destination is this summer. Let us know if you have any suggestions on how you keep yourself comfortable during your trip also in the comments below!

Top 10 busiest SkyTrain stations in Metro Vancouver

Transit ridership is on the rise again, in fact, 2018 saw a 7.1 per cent system-wide increase in boardings over 2017 (our biggest annual increase ever!) which brings us to  record 437.4 million!

The 2018 Transit Service Performance Review (TSPR) measures ridership, cost, reliability, on-time performance and crowding across all transit modes. The findings are an important planning tool that help inform upcoming service change requirements and identify other opportunities to improve service for our customers.

Top 10 Busiest SkyTrain stations

SkyTrain ridership alone was up 5.7 per cent in 2018, rising to 160.0 million annual boardings.  The Expo and Millennium Lines together had 111.3 million annual boardings (5.9% increase) and the Canada Line had 48.7 million annual boardings (5.3% increase).

That’s a lot of people Metro Vancouver!

We’ve compiled a list of the Top 10 Busiest SkyTrain stations around the region.

Top 10 Busiest SkyTrain stations

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read more »

Get involved! Take this benchmarking survey for bus and SkyTrain until April 14

From now until April 14, please tell us what you think about bus and SkyTrain service by completing the short surveys.

TransLink is a part of the International Bus Benchmarking Group (IBBG) and CoMET and Nova benchmarking groups, which measure the performance of larger transit agencies across the globe.

Each year, we ask our riders to participate in benchmarking surveys that help us look at best practices, customer satisfaction and performance measurements. Your feedback is extremely important to help make our bus and SkyTrain service even more awesome!  Read more »

Pilot project introduces birth control for pigeons at SkyTrain’s VCC–Clark Station

Pigeons are a nuisance in most cities. Not only are their droppings messy, but for an automated rapid transit system like SkyTrain, the birds can also put customer safety at risk.

Despite our best efforts to control them, they can trigger track intrusion alarms, causing our driver-less trains to brake automatically. These hard stops can lead to customer falls and unnecessary service delays as staff must investigate each delay before SkyTrain service can resume.

That’s why TransLink and BC SPCA are teaming up on an innovative pilot project at SkyTrain’s VCC–Clark Station to humanely reduce the pigeon population — using birth control! Read more »

First look: the upgraded Commercial–Broadway Station

Get ready to experience Commercial–Broadway Station in a whole new way! The new platform, Platform 5, opens on February 2, along with two new elevators, four new up/down escalators, a new walkway over Broadway and two new “next train” information displays.

TransLink invited news media for a behind-the-scenes tour in advance of its opening. Of course, The Buzzer blog was there too! Check out the photos:

Have your say in the next generation of SkyTrain cars!

We want your feedback on our expanding SkyTrain fleet!

The SkyTrain fleet is expanding! Already on the way are 80 new SkyTrain cars for the Expo, Millennium, and Canada Lines.

On top of that, we’re thrilled to share we’re planning to purchase an additional 203 SkyTrain cars for the Expo and Millennium Lines, arriving in 2023–2024. It’s all part of the 10-Year Vision – Phase 2 to add 100,000 new service hours on SkyTrain. Read more »

New Mark III trains undergoing testing and commissioning

New Mark III undergoing testing

This new Mark III train is currently completing a certain number of hours in a variety of different service situations

For those of you who noticed a new arrival on the Expo Line yesterday, it’s the first of the new Mark IIIs that’s getting closer each day to entering service! You heard that right!

We’re happy to say we’re testing and commissioning the newest Mark III train. You’ll see this one 4-car train on the Expo Line during non-peak hours, but no passengers are allowed on until the testing is complete.

The train will stop at all stations and the doors will open – but they will be taped and SkyTrain Attendants will be onboard to ensure no one boards the train.

Here’s what you will see when this train stops at the station and the doors open.

New Mark III SkyTrain testing

Here’s what you will see when this train stops at the station and the doors open.

The train will be tested and commissioned during non-peak hours. It is mandatory for all new trains to undergo eight hours of testing.

As you may recall, we received the first of the new Mark IIIs in September this year. Over the next year, we will be receiving a total of 56 new Mark III SkyTrain cars that will undergo mandated testing to ensure they are safe to travel on. Out of this, 24 SkyTrain cars will arrive early next year and another 28 by the end of the same year, all for the Expo and Millennium Lines.

This is all part of the 10-Year Vision – Phase One! We’re adding 80 new SkyTrain cars on the Expo, Millennium, and Canada Lines to increase service and reduce overcrowding.

All new trains must complete a certain number of hours in a variety of different service situations and testing scenarios before they are given the green light to be used in service. We do this testing to ensure that the new trains are safe for all passengers and staff.

All new trains go through three stages of commissioning:

  • Stage 1: Involves running a total of 140 km on Expo (80kms) and Millennium Line (60 kms) during non-revenue hours.
  • Stage 2: Includes running the train a total of eight hours during non-peak revenue service (current stage for the new trains).
  • Stage 3: Involves running the train in full revenue service (during peak and non-peak hours) while transporting passengers.

Train 2 arrived at the SkyTrain Operations and Maintenance Centre at Burnaby in November and is currently also undergoing testing and commissioning. Train 3 is currently being tested in Kingston, ON, while manufacturing of train 4 is expected to be complete by the end of this year.

 

As the new Mark III trains are commissioned, they will be introduced to service on all-day Expo Line runs now operated by Mark I trains.

These trains are fully-articulated (you can walk from one end of the train to the other), have more room for standing passengers, wheelchairs, bikes, strollers and riders with luggage, and are more environmentally efficient, and so much more!

Every 4th new Mark III train will allow us to update the Expo/Millennium service timetables, thereby increasing capacity on both the lines.

Stay tuned to know when the new trains go into service! You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay up-to-date with service information, and to share cool transit stories with us!

Author: Tanushree Pillai

Now showing: award-winning public artwork at Joyce–Collingwood station!

Have you checked out this amazing artwork at Joyce–Collingwood SkyTrain station yet?

We have some news to share!

For those of you who board/alight the Expo Line at Joyce–Collingwood SkyTrain station, a new piece of public art has probably drawn your attention.

Read more »

Meet Laureen: Your evergreen SkyTrain voice lady

It’s been nearly two decades since Laureen came on board

Hop on a SkyTrain and you’ll hear a woman’s voice on the public address system, telling you what line you’ve boarded and what station is coming up next.

Well, that voice belongs to Laureen Regan, president of Regan Productions, a video production company in Calgary, Alberta.

She’s been the voice of the SkyTrain since 2001, when the Millennium Line opened and new station announcements were required. We brought her back again when the Canada Line and Evergreen Extension opened to record additional announcements.

In July this year, we brought Vancouver-born actor Seth Rogen as the guest voice on transit. Seth added to Laureen’s SkyTrain station name announcements and talked about etiquette on transit and entertained and educated our customers on priority seating, bags and feet on seats, and many more transit etiquette issues. He also had interesting nuggets to share about Vancouver. If you missed your chance to listen to them on the system, worry not, because we’ve put them up online!

Laureen Regan

It’s been nearly two decades since Laureen came on board, and she continues to be THE SkyTrain lady for us and our customers.

Regan heard her voice on the train system for the first time shortly after the Millennium Line began service.

“I took the train and I laughed,” she says. “It was so amazing to hear it—to sit there and go, ‘Oh my God, that’s my voice.’ You remembered when you recorded it. … And everybody has no idea, which makes you laugh.”

Regan came to be the voice of the SkyTrain through her connection to Interalia, another Calgary-based company.

Interalia makes automated voice systems, and knew Regan had done voice work for her own productions in the past. They asked her to do a demo voice for their system, which they were about to show to TransLink for the Millennium Line.

Then, when TransLink bought the Interalia system, Regan was asked to record the real announcements for the trains.

 

Recording wasn’t too tough.

“Millennium Line is hard to say, I’ve got to say,” she says. “But I don’t remember any of the names being particularly difficult. The challenge sometimes with recording for places you don’t know is that you may not know the proper pronunciation [of local names].”

It’s a challenge she’s faced again over the years.

Regan has also done voice work for the Salt Lake City train system and the BART trains in San Francisco, both through Interalia

The chance to do voice work like this has been a gift, she says.

“It’s not been something that I’ve planned—it just happened. I enjoy it every time I do voicing. I love it.”

Do you have a favourite SkyTrain announcement? Tell us which one!

Listen to the Podcast

Regan’s interview was conducted as part of The Buzzer blog podcast. Have a listen!

This post originally appeared in the October 10, 2008 issue of The Buzzer. 

“Marky” — the newest Mark III SkyTrain is here!


After an epic, week-long journey across Canada, Marky — the newest Mark III SkyTrain — is now here! Marky arrived the evening of Sept. 12 and was unloaded the next morning on Sept. 13. Check out the time lapse above, and the photos below! Read more »

New SkyTrain cars are on their way to Vancouver!

The first four of 28 new SkyTrain cars are on the way to Vancouver!

As part of the 10-Year Vision – Phase One, we’re adding 80 new SkyTrain cars on the Expo, Millennium and Canada Lines to increase service and reduce overcrowding.

We have some exciting news to share! The first four of 56 cars for the Expo and Millennium Lines, built by Bombardier Transportation, are now on the way to Vancouver from Kingston, Ontario where they recently completed testing. Once they arrive in Vancouver, they’ll will undergo additional testing before entering service.

Read more »

Take transit to the Celebration of Light—we’re adding extra service!

The Celebration of Light returns on July 28 (South Africa), August 1 (Sweden) and August 4 (South Korea), lighting up the skies at English Bay, the West End and Kits Point!

More than 15,000 people take transit to and from the event each night, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead. We’ll be adding extra service and modifying station access in downtown Vancouver to get you to-and-from the festivities smoothly.

Keep reading to familiarize yourself with everything you need to know to have a fun and safe evening at the Celebration of Light!

Plan ahead and avoid line ups at Compass Vending Machines by topping up your Compass Card or pre-purchasing your return Compass Ticket. And remember—you can tap your contactless Visa or Mastercard credit card or mobile wallet on Compass fare gates and readers to pay for an adult cash fare!

Celebration of Light Tips

Extra service

Bus

Coast Mountain Bus Company and West Vancouver Transit will operate extra trips to downtown Vancouver after 6:30 p.m. and additional service after the events. Some downtown and West End buses will be detoured. For a full list of detours, visit translink.ca/alerts closer to event days.

SkyTrain

The Expo and Millennium Line will operate peak service from mid-afternoon, with the last scheduled SkyTrain departing Waterfront Station at 1:16 a.m. Service will be extended if necessary.

The Canada Line will operate peak service throughout the evening and there will extra service from Waterfront at the end of the fireworks, with trains running every three minutes. The last departure from Waterfront to Richmond–Brighouse Station will be at 1:15 a.m.

SeaBus 

Extra and extended service will be provided for each of the Celebration of Light events (and also Caribbean Days!).

The SeaBus will operate every 15 minutes from 7 a.m. until midnight with the last SeaBus from Waterfront at 1:22 a.m. on Saturdays, July 28 and August 4. On July 28 only, an extra SeaBus will operate between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.

On Wednesday, August 1, it will operate every 15 minutes between 6 a.m. and midnight, then every 30 minutes until the last sailing from Waterfront at 1:22 a.m.

West Coast Express

West Coast Express will operate a special train on August 4 only, leaving Mission City at 7 p.m. and arriving at Waterfront Station at 8:15 p.m. The return train departs Waterfront Station at midnight, arriving back at Mission City at approximately 1:15 a.m.

Station access

To ensure passenger comfort and safety after the events, bikes will not be allowed on SkyTrain after 10:30 p.m. until the crowds have cleared. As well, the following stations will be open with modified access after 10:30 p.m.: 

Waterfront Station: SkyTrain access from the Cordova Street entrance will be restricted to Canada Line, SeaBus and West Coast Express (on Aug. 4 only) passengers, as well as persons with wheelchairs or strollers. All other passengers, including those transferring from SeaBus to the Expo Line must enter from Howe Street, until crowds have cleared.

Burrard Station: Bikes cannot be locked at the station entrance’s bike rack until the expected crowds have cleared.

Granville Station: The Granville Street entrance will be closed until crowds clear (note: the Seymour entrance remains closed as part of the escalator replacement project). Passengers will lineup for the SkyTrain at this station west along Dunsmuir, south on Granville. Platform 1 towards Waterfront will be closed.

Plan your trip at translink.ca/tripplanner and know before you go by checking Transit Alerts at translink.ca/alerts.

SkyTrain and downtown New Westminster re-imagined as Lego

SkyTrain car 002 re-imagined as Lego!

The New Westminster Museum’s People Gotta Move project might just be the World Cup of Lego building, bringing together the very best builders in Metro Vancouver to recreate the city’s iconic downtown and waterfront.

This ambitious exhibit transcends time—showcasing the past, present and near future of transport in the city. Included is everything from the historic B.C. Electric Railway streetcar to the now-iconic “W” made from shipping containers on the waterfront, and of course—SkyTrain!

Completely rebuilt in Lego form by the Vancouver Lego Club for the exhibit is New Westminster Station along with a pair of Mark I trains, a Mark II train and a New Flyer Xcelsior bus!

William Fong tells us he built the Mark I trains after car 001 Spirit of Kelowna and car 002 Spirit of Peachland in their livery from around 1990–1992. They even got a fully lit interior, as well as headlights and taillights!

“I’ve tried to keep the graphic design as accurate as possible to the time period, but there’s not many photos to draw reference from,” he says.

The People Gotta Move exhibits runs until November 16 at the New Westminster Museum (Anvil Centre, 777 Columbia Street, New Westminster, BC). The museum is open daily, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

“Anyone who has kids, or loves Lego or transit should come check out the display,” William says. “I think everyone would derive some enjoyment from seeing how much detail the club has packed into it.”

The exhibit was a culmination of a year’s work for William and his colleagues at the Vancouver Lego Club, who were first approached by the New Westminster Museum to build this display back in spring 2017.

“This is one of the largest displays in terms of volume and detail that the Vancouver Lego Club has put on to date and has been an unprecedented undertaking for us,” William says.

It was a no brainer for William that he wanted to be part of this as he’s always been interested in Lego and transit growing up. He already had experience reimagining transit as Lego.

The first build he did was a Mark II SkyTrain car in April 2016 for Vancouver’s Lego convention, BrickCan. In December 2016, as part of the Vancouver Lego Club, he built the Lafarge Lake–Douglas Station display for the Millennium Line Evergreen Extension opening. He had also built a 1983 New Flyer E902 trolleybus.

Photos courtesy of William Fong

 

 

Ridership growth trend continues through June

System-wide boardings grew by 6.1% in June!

System-wide boardings grew by 6.1% in June!

We have some exciting news to share. The numbers are in for June and we’re once again reporting ridership growth! Boardings have increased by 6.1% year-over-year, showing transit is continuing to attract new riders. 

We’re racing towards another record year of growth—if this trend continues, 2018 will break last year’s total boardings record of 407 million.

  • Bus: Average weekday boardings are up 8% year over year, while year to date growth is 6.5%.
  • SkyTrain: Expo and Millennium Line average weekday boardings are up 6.1%, which is in line with growth year to date. While average weekday boardings for Canada Line increased by 5.8% year-over-year and growth year-to-date is at 5.1%.
  • SeaBus: Average weekday boardings increased by 5.4% year-over-year and 6.3% year-to-date. This is due in part to frequency increases in the evening launched a year ago.
  • West Coast Express: Average weekday boardings are up 7.6% year-over-year and 6% for the year-to-date. This suggests ridership is rebounding after a drop following the opening of the Evergreen Millennium Line Extension.

Growth is being driven by the substantial addition of new service as part of Phase One, steadily high gas prices and strong employment growth. This underscores the need for projects and service increases coming as part of Phase Two of the Mayors’ Council’s 10-Year Vision, which include:

  • Construction of light rail in Surrey, the Millennium Line Broadway Extension in Vancouver and planning and design for Surrey-Langley rapid transit.
  • New bus service in Vancouver, Surrey and North Vancouver as well as B-Lines in Richmond and Surrey.
  • Addition of new buses and SkyTrain cars to increase frequency and capacity.

According to TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond, the focus is now shifting to Phase Two of the Vision.

“The Phase Two Investment Plan was approved by TransLink’s Board and the Mayors’ Council which gives us the mandate to roll out the biggest package of transportation improvements in Metro Vancouver history. These latest numbers show the region needs this investment if we’re going to avoid major congestion.”

Have you taken any of the Phase One service improvements yet? If so, we’d love to hear your thought on them in the comments section.

 

Modified late-evening service for Expo Line customers in downtown Vancouver begins July 2

Running rail replacement

Running rail replacement

Heads up to Expo Line commuters in the downtown Vancouver area! Starting Monday, July 2, we resume running rail replacement, which will result in modified late-evening service.

On most Sundays through Thursdays, from 9:30 pm until end of service, Expo Line trains travelling towards Waterfront will terminate at Stadium – Chinatown Station. 

A shuttle train will provide 10-minute service in both directions for customers travelling between Waterfront and Stadium–Chinatown stations. Customers connecting at Stadium–Chinatown Station should allow for 5-10 minutes extra travel time.

You’ll want to watch destination displays and listen for train destination announcements. Extra SkyTrain staff will be out on the system to help direct customers.

The schedule will be adjusted to accommodate special events such as the Celebration of Light fireworks this summer.

Know before you go – this work will require single tracking and changes to regular operating patterns. For up-to-date information on what this means for your commute, please visit translink.ca/alerts.

We thank our customers for the patience while we complete this important work. It’s all part of the TransLink Maintenance and Repair Program to keep customers safe, comfortable and moving across a reliable transit network everyday.

Over the next 8 to 10 years we’ll be replacing approximately 5,000 metres of running rail annually to help ensure a smoother and quieter ride for our SkyTrain customers. The running rail is the track the SkyTrain cars operate on.

Since 2015, 9,400 linear metres of running rail have been replaced. Last year, we replaced approximately 5,000 metres of rail at four main locations close to Metrotown, Main Street–Science World, Stadium–Chinatown, and Waterfront stations. We also replaced 21,000 rail pads on the Expo Line between Scott Road and King George between October 2017 and May 2018.

Running rail replacement work in this portion of the Expo Line is expected to be complete by the end of the year.