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Category: Something Neat

Celebrate Halloween with fun costumes

Halloween is approaching 🎃 🎃 🎃. Even though this year might look quite different, it doesn’t mean we cannot get into the Spooky Spirit and celebrate it safely and with fun!

No matter how you will be celebrating – having fun with pumpkin carving, decorating your place into the Stranger Things house or Hogwarts, picking a scary movie from your to-watch list, or all of the above – dressing up in an epic costume can make the day even more memorable.

Brainstorming costume ideas will be a great activity for kids and your close ones to come together and get into the holiday mood. Time to get that old clothing item you haven’t worn in ages and put it to a good use 👻!

To get your creative juices flowing, we’ve pulled out some examples of the great costumes spotlighted on our system over the past couple of years.

For this year, please remember to be safe, wear a mask, and maintain physical distancing.

Let us know in the comments what are some of the fun costumes you’ve seen in the past or would like to try out 🧛🧙👾🤖.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bus operator helps to raise $3 million dollars for child with a rare genetic disease

When Davinder Kaura joined Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) as a bus operator in September 2019, he was thrilled, looking forward to meeting his new coworkers. Little did he know how much their generosity would come to mean to him.

Supporting Aryan

Read more »

What you can do if you forget something on transit

We all know that that sinking feeling knowing you forgotten something and frantically trying to remember where you might have forgotten it. And of course, the process we all go through ranking just how important the item is.

On a typical day, as many as half a million people could be taking transit in Metro Vancouver, so not surprisingly our Lost Property office at Stadium–Chinatown Station processes tens of thousands of lost items each year.

But sometimes, lost items are reunited with their owners without ever making it to our Lost Property office. We know how important items such as wallets and keys are to our customers, so staff make every effort to track down these items on the transit system right away.

Read more »

Fluffy appearances on transit

Transit is coming back to life and we’re excited to welcome more of you on the system in the upcoming months! Our ridership has been always diverse  🐶🙋‍♂️👩🦆  and in the past some of our special furry friends, both real and illustrated ones, have made an appearance on the system.

Join us for a walk down the memory lane for some of the most memorable fluffy appearances. Read more »

Face coverings now available in the TransLink Store

The TransLink store has you covered this summer. After launching authentic transit maps from the system a few weeks ago, the TransLink Store’s now bringing you face coverings!

The face covering features a unique pattern consisting of TransLink’s symbols for bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express. TransLink’s T icon accents the face covering in the top left corner.

It’s available in a multi-colour and two-tone design, and in adult and kids’ size (approximately for ages 4 to 10).

Double up and save with a two pack (one adult two-tone design and one adult multi-colour design) or a family pack (the multi-colour design in both adult and kids, and the two-tone design in adult and kids). Read more »

Bringing Transit Home: Authentic transit maps coming to TransLink Store

Starting on Thursday, June 25, you’ll be able to bring TransLink maps from the system to your home!

The discontinued maps and wayfinding that were once found at our stations and facilities will be available for purchase at TransLink Store. Read more »

Smart lockers now available at SkyTrain stations

A rendering of what the future PigeonBox locker could look like at Stadium–Chinatown Station.

You’ll now be able to collect online deliveries from smart lockers situated at three SkyTrain stations. PigeonBox, the winners of the 2019 Open Call for Innovation, are bringing smart lockers to Joyce-Collingwood, Stadium-Chinatown, and Commercial-Broadway stations.

“One of our core and consistent objectives has been improving the customer experience on transit,” says TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond. “In addition to providing a new and convenient option for our customers, this initiative can also help to reduce the number of trips people take to collect packages.”

Read more »

6 transit-friendly beaches in Metro Vancouver

Each time summer draws near, we’re reminded of thousands of kilometres of British Columbia coastline and countless panoramic destinations to visit. This year might feel different, but it doesn’t mean you should cancel your summer plans!

As the quarantine restrictions ease up, the following months can be a good time for us to safely explore our local communities and enjoy their beaches. Living in Metro Vancouver also means that most of the excellent sunset spots and panoramic destinations are just under an hour away by public transit. We’ve compiled a list of awesome transit-friendly spots for you to check out this summer.

While visiting public outdoor spaces, please don’t forget to maintain at least 2 metres (6 feet) from others. Note lifeguards are not on duty at certain beaches and some facilities may remain close. We advice that you to check the official websites before planning your trips. 

1. White Pine Beach

How to get there: Bus 150

Location: Sasamat Lake, Port Moody

Website

If you want to go for swimming, consider checking out the White Pine Beach on Sasamat Lake. Sasamat Lake is one of the warmest in Greater Vancouver and the beach is located just a few minutes outside of Coquitlam in Belcarra Regional Park. It’s a family-friendly spot that has great walking trails, a beach area and swimming in the lake.

2. White Rock Beach

How to get there: Buses 361, 362

Location: Marine Drive, White Rock

Website

A beautiful gem located just a few kilometres north of the US border and only 35 minutes south of the City of Vancouver, BC. White Rock is known for it’s sandy beaches and stunning sunsets. The 2.5 km long beach promenade, which connects west beach and east beach at the ocean’s side, will offer you a nice stroll.

3. Centennial Beach

How to get there: Bus 619

Location: 541, Centennial Parkway, Delta

Website 

If you live nearby or want to avoid the Vancouver crowds – this is a perfect destination for you! Located in Boundary Bay Regional Park, this spot has sandy beaches, salt marshes, tidal flats and lagoons.

4. Barnet Marine Park

How to get there: Bus 160

Location: 8181 Barnet Road, Burnaby

Website

Barnet Marine Park is located on the Burrard Inlet and offers ocean swimming, walking trails and dog off-leash area. Whether you prefer an early morning walk, or views of the setting sun, this park and beach have something for everyone.

5. Ambleside Park Beach

Note: The beach is undergoing annual clean-up and log removal. Please check the official website for further updates.

How to get there: Buses 250, 253

Location: 1150, Marine Drive, West Vancouver

Website

Ambleside Park Beach offers a stunning view of Stanley Park and Lions Gate Bridge. This is one of the dog-friendly destinations with large off-leash area for dogs that you can visit with your furry friend. Another perk includes a large waterfront walking path that stretches throughout the park.

6. Crescent Beach

How to get there: Buses 351

Location: Sullivan Street, South Surrey
Website

Visit Crescent Beach for a fun day on the seaside! It is a beautiful family-friendly beach and residential area in South Surrey not far from White Rock.  Enjoy swimming, scenic views from the pier and nature trails. Dogs are not allowed along the walkway at Crescent Beach from May 15 to September 15, as per municipal bylaws.

There are many other beaches in Metro Vancouver to visit by transit. Let us know your favourite in comments below!

5 awesome places to visit on a transit daycation

The last few months have been really quiet around town. However, If you keep your ear to the streets, you can hear a few more things .

Compass taps on buses returned at the start of the month, as did the sound of the front doors opening again. On SkyTrain, you can hear the footsteps of people walking 6 feet apart, following the physical distancing decals and going through the designated fare gates. The pitter-patter of people getting on and off trains is a little louder when you give extra space to get off, and in some places, you can even hear the dispensing of hand sanitizer. That’s right, transit is healing and coming back healthier than ever, thanks to TransLink’s Safe Operating Action Plan.

With all that information, and as quarantine restriction ease up with the advancement of BC’s Restart Plan, the world feels anew with opportunities for adventure. Where you haven’t been in forever feels fresh again! So, without further ado, here are some suggestions for a transit-centric “daycation” for all of you eager to safely get around again.

In no particular order:

1. Stanley Park

How to get there: the 19 Bus

You may not be able to drive into Stanley Park just yet, but you can take the 19 bus! Visit Vancouver’s most famous park and soak in some views as you walk along the famous 28-kilometre seawall. Or, Rack and Ride and bring your bike to get around faster! Explore nearly 30 kilometres of trails or make some waves at Second Beach!

2. Gastown Steam Clock

How to get there: Expo Line or Canada Line to Waterfront Station

Just a few minutes from Waterfront Station stands the Gastown Steam Clock. It’s tall, it’s steamy and it’s usually always crowded. But if you’ve never had the chance to take that perfect picture with it for your Instagram, today may be the day. Enjoy your photoshoot and continue your stroll in Gastown or settle down and grab a bite to eat at a nearby restaurant. Be sure to avoid the construction and grab hand sanitizer at the station if you need it!

3. Lynn Canyon Park

How to get there: the 227 bus

Lynn Canyon Park has been one of Metro Vancouver’s premier picnic destinations for over a century! Open to the public since 1912, it’s also the perfect place for a fun hike or quick swim. If that’s not enough for one day, swing on over to the Lynn Canyon suspension bridge and get a thrilling view from above!

4. Tynehead Regional Park

How to get there: the 388 bus

Cross over to the other side of the river and take a nice hike in Surrey’s Tynehead Regional Park. Check out many of the different routes and if you’re not done after walking nearly 5 kilomertres, head on to the overpass and get an up-close, overhead view of Highway 1.

5. Aberdeen Centre

How to get there: Canada Line to Richmond-Brighouse Station

If being outside isn’t your thing, and you’re tired of all the online shopping – make it real at Aberdeen. The shopping centre located in the heart of Richmond is a unique and exciting fusion of East and West and has everything you need for a fun-filled day! Stop by at the 60 feet tall musical fountain and catch shows every hour!

Public art installation comes to the Stadium–Chinatown Station

Davey's two photographs featuring a fowl and equines at the Stadium-Chinatown Station

Installation by Moyra Davey, Plymouth Rock, 2020 at Stadium-Chinatown SkyTrain Station. Courtesy of the Artist, Courtesy the artist; greengrassi, London; and Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne/New York.

TransLink has been a part of Capture Photography Festival for the last three years. In the past, we partnered up with local artists to bring public art installations to our SkyTrain stations, including Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Nation Basketball  in 2019, Qimash in 2018,  and Precession of the Feminine in 2017.

This year was not an exception, despite the unforeseen circumstances. The Stadium–Chinatown SkyTrain Station now features Plymouth Rock, a series by New York–based Canadian artist Moyra Davey. A set of black-and-white photographs stands out prominently against the urban backdrop of the station.

The pictures were captured during Davey’s visit to the country home of Dalie Giroux, a political theorist in La Pêche, Quebec, during the making of her film i confess (2019).  “I’d been planning to photograph the political theorist Dalie Giroux, but ended up taking pictures of her animals instead,” Davey recollects in her interview with Capture. 

Photo Credit: Capture Photography Festival

If you pay a closer attention to the photographs, you’d notice that the artist focuses her lens on fowl and equines; while providing little indication of her subjects’ context. This technique emphasizes how certain animals stand “outside of history” – “free and wild and untrammeled by the weight of human concerns”.

Photo Credit: Capture Photography Festival

This series is indebted partly to a candid identification with the work of Peter Hujar (1934–87), known for his black-and-white portraits, including those of animals.

Plymouth Rock will be on display at the station until March 2, 2021. Visit Capture Photography Festival website to learn more about the other exhibitions.

 

“It’s a lifetime of freedom to travel”: Overcoming the fear of SkyTrain

Read the story of how Jon, a teen with autism, overcame the fear of boarding the SkyTrain with some help from Mo Hassabou from BCRTC (SkyTrain) and Jon’s teachers.

 

We all have our own unique phobias and some of them are pretty common – claustrophobia or arachnophobia for example are often listed as fears that large numbers of us share. But for some people, their phobias can intrinsically impact their day to day life and present a number of challenges in navigating the world.

For high school student Jon, the SkyTrain presents this very challenge. As a teen with autism, Jon often finds himself unable to enjoy the same hobbies and interests as his classmates, and in some cases, cannot participate in school field trips as he is too scared of our transit system to board the train and join his classmates on activities downtown. Jon gets frustrated with this and it is a problem that both the student and his teachers find upsetting.

Trying to bridge this impasse, some of Jon’s teachers got in touch with SkyTrain to see if anything could be done to help encourage their student onto transit and overcome this hindering fear. Fortunately, Mo Hassabou, a Field Operations Duty Manager, was excited to answer that call and invite young Jon to the Operations and Maintenance Centre (OMC) facilities to coach him through this particular obstacle.

“I worked with children with special needs in my previous career as a teacher and I worked with autistic children then and I thought it would be nice to do that again,” recalls Mo, who was not daunted by the challenge at hand.

Mo had to use all his previous teaching expertise and knowledge of the SkyTrain to make sure Jon felt as comfortable as possible during his visit to the OMC. It wasn’t an easy task as Jon has a fear of confined spaces, crowds and vehicles moving without being in control – the SkyTrain is a perfect mix of these triggers and quite a stressful environment for him.

Despite Jon’s hesitation, Mo could see how interested and determined his student was to board the train. He kept watching all the things Mo was showing him from a distance and was always listening.

“I got him used to what to expect from the train. He saw us all walking in and out, we opened the doors and closed the doors, and I even honked the horn. I asked him if he wanted to come and push buttons. He would come to the door and look but then back away again.”

Mo and Jon’s teachers weren’t beyond a few bribes to get some success.

“The teachers said he liked Michael Jackson songs so I hooked up my phone to the speaker in the train and put Michael Jackson on to get him closer to the train to listen to the song. I played Michael Jackson and we all sang a little,” laughs Mo.

Of course, the way to any teenager’s heart is food and the final trick that encouraged Jon to step onto the train was an offer of raspberries around midday, just when he started to want some lunch. “I think by the end he was a little hungry so the raspberries helped, he wanted some of the snacks so food for sure got him on,” says Mo.

Although Jon didn’t stay on board the train for too long, it was a huge step for the teenager who had never managed to get onto a train before and his teachers were ecstatic with the development, saying that they hoped it would allow him to participate in more school activities and help him integrate all the more with his classmates.

“For me, it’s just three hours of my life; for him, this is the step towards the freedom to travel anywhere at any time.” adds Mo.

Mo hopes that in the future, BCRTC will have more education and interactive elements fall under their scope as they continue to serve Metro Vancouver. Mo sees an opportunity to teach school children (and some adults alike) the importance of train safety and encouraging transit usage from a young age.

“I like to imagine that soon we could have our own ‘Science World’ for SkyTrain, where school trips can come in and classes can learn. That’s what I would like to see in the future. In 10 or 20 years, we would have our own interactive museum where we can have MKIs that aren’t running anymore and kids can come and learn about our system, our history, what makes the train special. They can drive simulators and see what it takes to keep us running. That’s how I see the future, because those kids are our future,” finishes Mo.

Written by Alex Jackson

 

#IWD2020: Envisioning a fairer world with Tasia

International Women’s Day on March 8 is a dedicated day to acknowledge the work that needs to be done for gender equality around the world. This year’s theme is #EachforEqual. It highlights that working towards equality is something that is the responsibility of every individual.

Part of this work is recognizing and celebrating the achievements of women in our workplaces. We’re proud to share the stories of those that work at TransLink and its family of companies.

Transit was not the first career that sprung to mind for Tasia Balding, the director of capital and major business Projects at BCRTC, which operates the SkyTrain’s Expo and Millennium lines. Instead, Tasia’s childhood dream was to become a judge – with ever so noble intentions.

“As a little kid, I was really concerned with things being fair and equitable,” she recalls. “My uncle was a judge and I thought I could become one to help make things fair for everybody.”

Ensuring fairness stuck with Tasia, even if the plan to become a judge didn’t. A key aspect of Tasia’s management approach is having a team of people who can learn from each other as they strategize and plan for the largest expansions in SkyTrain history.

“Weakness in the workplace can be hard for us to acknowledge. I think it’s important to surround myself with people who are equally talented and who make the team work better together. That’s what helps make my team a success.” Tasia says.

Tasia has taken many opportunities to learn from colleagues in other industries. She has a keen interest in environmental engineering, has spent time in the financial services industry and worked in construction across the continent. All of these experiences have built up Tasia’s skills allowing her to adapt to the transit industry with ease upon her arrival.

Joining TransLink as the manager of the Project Management Office in 2017, Tasia worked with the Infrastructure Management and Engineering division to mature TransLink project management practices. Then in June of 2018, she made the move to SkyTrain, taking a newly created director of capital and major business projects position.

“Coming into this role, there was already an established team, and we are in a period of growth to facilitate delivery of our portfolio,” she adds.

To achieve successful growth, Tasia is a big believer in team bonding and integration. The team needs to compliment one another and understand roles to work well with each other. Fortunately, Tasia is experienced in forming team and bringing people together to work toward common goals.

For the approaching period of rapid growth at BCRTC, Tasia expects her team to be harnessing all their tools and all their expertise together, regardless of gender. She’s also well aware that she is in a role and industry that is male dominated.   “We have a lot of engineers; not many of them are women. We have a lot of tradespeople; not many of them are women,” she emphasizes.

Tasia believes that a part of the discrepancy in female representation in the industry is linked to broader societal factors. She references how we need to encourage more female representation in STEM subjects and the trades from an early age to help drive longer-term systemic change and to stand up for change in work cultures if discriminatory language is used.  “We need to be persistent and work together to address these areas of inequality. If your message doesn’t work on someone the first time, do not give up!”

Perhaps with that conviction Tasia would have made a good judge after all – but she is excited about working on incredible technical and complex modernizations happening at SkyTrain right now.

Author: Alex Jackson

#IWD2020: “I wear a duty belt of tools. But the most important tool is my voice.”

Sergeant Cheryl Simpkin looks after the Community Engagement Unit at Transit Police. Her team works with with clients of the vulnerable sector and persons dealing with mental health problems.

International Women’s Day on March 8 is a dedicated day to acknowledge the work that needs to be done for gender equality around the world. This year’s theme is #EachforEqual. It highlights that working towards equality is something that is the responsibility of every individual.

Part of this work is recognizing and celebrating the achievements of women in our workplaces. We’re proud to share the stories of those that work at TransLink and its family of companies.

Sergeant Cheryl Simpkin has worked in law enforcement and community policing for over 18 years. Under her leadership, the Community Engagement Team at the Metro Vancouver Transit Police connects with diverse communities across six Community Service Areas within Metro Vancouver, and works with clients from vulnerable backgrounds.

A member of the Vuntut Gwitchen First Nation, Cheryl grew up in the Lower Mainland and, as an Indigenous woman, faced life experiences and challenges that helped her develop a life philosophy which she confidently brings into her current job.

“I am a strong Indigenous woman. When various difficult things happen in your life, you need to learn how to cope with that. And as a young person, I became a leader very quickly. I learned how to take a leadership role, how to manage crisis, and how to deal with difficult situations.”

The inspiration to join the police force came when Cheryl was only seven years old. While attending a Remembrance Day Ceremony with her parents, she saw a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. “I had no idea who he was, so I asked my mum. I knew instantly that’s what I’m going to do when I get older.”

Fast forward several years, Cheryl was studying criminology at the Native Education Center at Douglas College. She applied to the Stl’atl’imx Tribal Police, the only Tribal Police Service in British Columbia, to work with them as a part of her first year practicum. She appreciated their philosophy of community policing and accepted a permanent full-time position.

Despite the need to relocate to the rural area based in Mount Currie and Lillooet, Cheryl was pleased to be a female police officer working for the community.

The job was very challenging and extremely rewarding. She worked closely with the community and admired the cultural awareness and their focus on addressing challenges in the community.

The time in Mount Currie also taught her about the power of her voice. It also shaped her approach in meeting people at their point of need, while staying firm in her beliefs. As Cheryl explains:

“It’s all about understanding someone’s situation and treating people with respect and dignity, whether it’s a small child or a family that is dealing with crisis. Sometimes it’s also about telling the difficult truth. Back then I used to wear a duty belt full of tools, but I realized that my most important tool is my voice.”


Cheryl brings this cultural sensitivity to her current role at Transit Police.

Sergeant Simpkin supports her team of eight strong independent members, whom she describes as “absolute shining stars,” as they engage with boots on the ground to tackle issues of homelessness, addiction and mental health, and Indigenous relations. Their goal is to break barriers to address decriminalization and stigma. This enables the team to reach out to clients on a more personal level and take time to understand their needs:

“I had situations when I called up a client’s physicians to make sure they are taken care of, whether it was appropriate medication changes or just a simple appointment.”

What it means to be a woman in law-enforcement?

When asked about this year’s International Women’s Day celebration, Cheryl shared some of her thoughts:

Women have a huge part to play in policing. We need to be the leaders in our fields and bring our unique abilities and strengths to the job we do. For me, at least, it was always about finding ways in which we can all work together to build resources and focus on engagement rather than criminalization. It’s important we create a foundation for trust that helps people to see the police beyond our uniform and allows us to meet each other at the point of our needs.”

Cheryl is appreciative of the support she receives from Transit Police and the diversity that her department offers. If you are ever interested in meeting the amazing women that work in policing, give Cheryl a shout!

Cheryl’s team is also active on social media and documents their everyday work with the community.You can follow them here:

Sergeant Cheryl Simpkin https://twitter.com/SgtCSimpkin

Constable Gwen Ranquist https://twitter.com/CstGRanquist

Constable Julien Ponsioen https://twitter.com/CstJPonsioen

Constable Kirk Rattray https://twitter.com/CstKRattray

Constable Bruce Shipley https://twitter.com/CstBShipley

Constable Justin Biggs https://twitter.com/CstJBiggs

Constable Nicole Dennis https://twitter.com/CstNDennis

Constable Darren Chua https://www.instagram.com/cstdchua/?hl=en

#IWD2020: Qiu-ing up for success

Qiu Li is an Electrical Maintenance Engineer at Coast Mountain Bus Company. Her role involves fleet technical support and focuses on the the technology systems affecting the fleet, as well as working with battery-electric buses and on-board technologies.

International Women’s Day on March 8 is a dedicated day to acknowledge the work that needs to be done for gender equality around the world. This year’s theme is #EachforEqual. It highlights that working towards equality is something that is the responsibility of every individual.

Part of this work is recognizing and celebrating the achievements of women in our workplaces. We’re proud to share the stories of those that work at TransLink and its family of companies. 

Most semesters, Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC)’s Maintenance Engineering team gets some new co-op students. Women filling these positions have been few and far between.

Women are underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and computer science (STEM) fields at universities.

According to Statistics Canada, 44 per cent of first-year university students aged 19 or less enrolled in STEM programs were women, while women made up more than 64 per cent of students in other fields.

That’s why Qiu Li (pronounced q), an electrical maintenance engineer with CMBC, relishes the opportunity to mentor co-op students — both men and women — eager to apply their classroom learning to the real world.

A typical work day for Qiu runs the gamut.

There’s communicating with maintenance staff and vendor representatives to resolve fleet technical issues and providing design and functional inputs for new buses and onboard technologies. There’s also working with technicians to prototype new systems to better the fleet.

One of the projects she is involved in is TransLink’s battery-electric bus pilot project.

After overseeing the successful delivery of the battery-electric buses, she carved out a larger role for herself. She’s now looking after the day-to-day health of the buses and the chargers.

While doing all this, she’s helping to train and expose the co-op students to the environment they’re working in, guiding them through their learning process.

They have a good mentor to look up to, showing them the value of taking initiative.

Qiu has earned the respect of her peers for stepping up as an interim technical lead, continuing to push all the vendors to resolve issues, educating the operations department on how to improve charging success, and working with the maintenance department to improve bus performance.

Although universities have made headway in recent years to close the gender gap in STEM fields. The fact remains, Qiu is a woman in engineering — a field dominated by men — but that doesn’t define her in the office.

“Just because I work in a more male-dominated environment, I don’t feel like I have to be more assertive,” says Qiu, “but from my perspective and just the way I usually deal with people, I find the best way is to treat people with respect.”

Reflecting on this year’s International Women’s Day theme, #EachforEqual, Qiu says it means seeing people as people.

She would rather people confront issues that arise from personality or situation conflict, rather than singling out someone based on gender.

“I think it’s harder for people who have grown in environments where they are not exposed to diversity and different cultures,” says Qiu.

“But I think I’ve been pretty lucky in my life that I’ve always grown up in a very diverse cultural environment and a lot of people I interact with came from that background.”

Over the years, Qiu has also learned two important things.

First, if you treat people with respect and as equals, they reciprocate.

And second, she’s figured out what her favourite compliment in the office is – “they just see me as me with my personality traits, and they don’t treat me anything more or less just because I’m female.”

#IWD2020: A road less traveled to a rewarding career as a leader

Maria Su is TransLink’s director of research and analytics. Her team uses complex data to produce sophisticated solutions that resolve business challenges and improve the customer experience.

International Women’s Day on March 8 is a dedicated day to acknowledge the work that needs to be done for gender equality around the world. This year’s theme is #EachforEqual. It highlights that working towards equality is something that is the responsibility of every individual.

Part of this work is recognizing and celebrating the achievements of women in our workplaces. We’re proud to share the stories of those that work at TransLink and its family of companies. 

In 1996, Maria Su was hired as a transportation engineer on the team that was tasked with creating Metro Vancouver’s first regional transportation authority, which would later be known as TransLink.

She explains that at that time, she was perfectly content pursuing a strictly technical career – she went to engineering school after all, not business school. She had no desire to manage budgets, programs or people.

Today, Maria serves as TransLink’s director of research and analytics, overseeing a team of 24 analytical and planning specialists and dozens of advanced programs.

Despite her preconceived notions of what a leadership role involved, Maria is confident that this detour towards management has provided more career fulfillment than she could have ever imagined:

“When I was asked to lead this team in 2012, I wasn’t sure I could do it – I was working on policy planning at the time. I didn’t do computer modelling or particularly enjoy managing a big team of people, but life has a way of throwing you unexpected twists. Until you take a risk and try something new, you have no way of knowing if you’re going to like it. But I am so glad I did. Building this team from the ground up has been immensely rewarding.”

Part of the Research and Analytics Team’s job is to use complex data to produce sophisticated solutions that resolve business challenges and improve the customer experience.

One recent example is the team’s collaboration with our Business Technology Services division on the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to train 18,000 models to provide customers with highly reliable bus departure time estimates.

The result is a 74 per cent improvement in bus departure predictions, with riders spending 50 per cent less time waiting. Microsoft recently featured this innovative work on their website.

“I tell my team that no idea is crazy but should always be useful. We have many different viewpoints and very robust debates. It’s okay that we don’t all sing from the same song sheet.”

Maria explains that her role is to create an environment that enables her team to do their jobs as best as they can. She is fiercely passionate about making it as safe, equal and inclusive as possible:

“I have the most brilliant mosaic of individuals on my team. I have engineers, mathematicians, data scientists, market researchers, business professionals, planners, economists and geographers from all different backgrounds – this variation is what makes us strong. It helps us design efficient, well-rounded solutions that benefit our customers and advance regional goals.”

Reflecting on the theme of An Equal World is an Enabled World for International Women’s Day 2020, Maria believes there are things that we can all do to help accelerate equality, especially in the workplace:

  • Don’t limit or label yourself – “It’s one thing for others to label you, but it’s another to label yourself. Don’t create barriers for yourself or let your label be your excuse. If you limit yourself, you’ve already done the most damage.”
  • Advocate for those who think differently – “It takes courage to champion the people and ideas that go against popular thinking. I endeavour to promote and defend those who think independently and critically. They are often the ones with the most innovative solutions.”
  • Find something you’re passionate about and pursue it relentlessly – “Find your niche and become the best at it. With conviction, passion and excellence, you’ll prevail, regardless of obstacles.”
  • Respect one another – “Deep down, I view my team members as my equals, if not my superiors. They do things that I can’t do. They have amazing specialized skills and can deal with incredibly complex ideas and several billion lines of data without flinching. I trust them wholeheartedly and have a lot of respect for each of them.”

Looking to the future of work, Maria recommends that anyone looking for an inclusive and dynamic career consider analytics:

“By definition, data is ageless, genderless and colourless. It’s the field of the future.”

 

Author: Rebecca Abel

 

Read Other Stories from our #IWD2020 Series:

#IWD2020: Qiu-ing up for success

#IWD2020: “I wear a duty belt of tools. But the most important tool is my voice.”

#IWD2020: Envisioning a fairer world with Tasia