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Translink Buzzer Blog

Category: Something Neat

Where do our transit vehicles sleep at night?

Buses all settled and snuggled in for the night!

Our transit vehicles spend their days moving many people around Metro Vancouver, but have you ever wondered what happens to them after a long day of work? Each night, our SkyTrain vehicles, SeaBus vessels, buses and West Coast Express trains return to their homes for a well-deserved rest before they gear up for another busy day.

SkyTrain

From 2009: two generations of SkyTrain car inside our operations and maintenance centre near Edmonds.

For our Expo and Millennium Line vehicles, the end of the day means heading over to our Operations and Maintenance Centre (OMC) near Edmonds SkyTrain station. Eighteen vehicles stay on the line overnight, some along the Millennium Line and near King George Station.

With the opening of the Evergreen Extension, we now have a new OMC located between Inlet Centre and Coquitlam Central stations where we store and clean an additional 15 trains every night! As for our Canada Line vehicles, they return to the OMC near Bridgeport Station.

Trains start coming off the line in the evening reduced service times so cleaning can start at 7:30 p.m. and finish by 4 a.m. Crews work through the night cleaning, changing light bulbs, replacing seat covers and doing other maintenance as needed.

And, depending on the temperatures outside, some of the SkyTrains might even head over to our automated train wash (how fun is that?!?). It’s just like a car wash, but for SkyTrains!

Buses

A bus in the car wash at Surrey Transit Centre.

There are also washing stations for the buses in our transit centres across the region, where our buses go home at night. There are seven bus transit centres all over the region: one in Burnaby, West Vancouver, Vancouver, Surrey and Port Coquitlam, and two in Richmond.

Wim Beuk, maintenance director, says that the length of the nightly routine varies at locations, depending number of buses. “Surrey, for example, with 197 buses, will have approximately 13 service people each work night that work from 8 p.m. through to 5:30 a.m., fueling and cleaning the buses,” he says. “Maintenance trades staff for afternoons and night shifts will average approximately 18 people.”

West Coast Express

From 2010: the 6 a.m. West Coast Express train parked at Mission City Station.

Kyla Daman-Willems, Marketing and Customer Service Supervisor at West Coast Express, says their trains retire in Mission for the evening. There is a full yard there and a crew works on the trains over night. “They have them all clean and fueled up for 5 a.m.!” she says.

SeaBus

From 2010: the Burrard Pacific Breeze, sitting in one of the maintenance docks in Lonsdale Quay.

As for the SeaBuses, they head over to a couple of docks next to the Lonsdale Quay terminal for their nightly TLC.

One of the boats takes off early at 9:30 p.m. when the evening rush is over and gets a head start on maintenance and cleaning. Chris Bhardwaj, Supervisor, SeaBus Operations, says that head start also lets crews do major work if needed.

“Many times they even do an engine change over night,” he says, explaining that when needed, crews will take the whole engine out, replace it with a new one, and have the boat ready to go the next day.

All this means that by the time morning comes around, our vehicles are well-rested, fixed up, and ready to head out on the system to get back to work!

Have a question? Make sure to leave a comment below!

Author: Christina Jakopin

Thank you for raising more than $2,100 for the Red Cross wildfire relief fund!

Since April 11, 1,249 wildfires have burned across the province leading to a state of emergency where many people were evacuated from their homes and more than one-million hectares of land was burned.

Last month, we partnered with NEXTEXT and Ivrnet by providing donation opportunities for anyone who texted BCFIRES to 30333. When customers texted their stop ID number to get the next bus departure times, they often saw the following message:

The text messages let riders who were interested to simply click on the links provided and either donate immediately or learn more about the Red Cross’s work.

From July 21 to August 21, the link in the text messages received almost 2,500,000 hits and more than $2,100 was raised directly through the dedicated code (30333). These messages appeared in unsold advertising space — valued at $360,000 — and were made possible through our partnership with NEXTEXT and Ivrnet.

We are pleased to support the Red Cross’s relief fundraising efforts and would like to say thank you to all of our customers who made a donation!

How can I still help?

Unfortunately, wildfires continue to burn across the province. If you’d like to make a donation to Red Cross wildfire relief, visit their donation page and select “British Columbia Fires Appeal.”

Author: Christina Jakopin

Once upon a chime

Have you ever wondered where the iconic SkyTrain chime came from? Well, today is your lucky day because we’ve got an answer for you!

Once upon a chime…

Our story dates back to 1984, a few years before SkyTrain was operational. As a driverless automated system with no train operator on-board to remind passengers that doors were about to close and the train was ready to depart, we realized the need for some kind of automated on-board message.

FYI: SkyTrain opened in January 1986, on schedule and on budget ($854 million) with an initial 21.4 kms (13.3 miles) of guideway, 15 stations and 114 SkyTrain cars!

Once the decision was made to create an automated message, the next step was to determine what the message would sound like. We tested out many different ideas and even experimented with real bells, but nothing seemed to sound just right.  Since SkyTrain is an automated, high-tech system, the feeling was that a reasonably conventional sounding chime was needed.

Fun fact! The SkyTrain chime isn’t just for SkyTrain! The same chime can also be heard on-board our buses!

We decided to test out some different versions of the chime using a digital synthesizer at Little Mountain Sound Studio. It took some time to come up with a tone that would be usable and would catch people’s attention. After many trials and errors, we decided that the chime would have three tones going up and would serve it’s purpose to draw passengers attention to the train departing and the doors closing.

Did you know that the SkyTrain chime was recorded in the same studio that AC/DC, Bryan Adams, Aerosmith and many other talented musicians recorded in?!

Listen to the SkyTrain chime

This post originally appeared as a podcast on The Buzzer Blog on December 1, 2008.

Author: Christina Jakopin

Surviving the Post-Labour Day Crunch

Students and commuters are gearing up for the Post-Labour Day Crunch (PLDC), or better known as – returning to the daily grind, after a brief summer hiatus. Last year, the start of September saw just over 320,000 average daily Compass boardings on the Expo and Millennium Lines! That made September the busiest month in 2016 for average daily Compass boardings.

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This is why there’s a third platform at Stadium – Chinatown SkyTrain station

The third platform at Stadium-Chinatown Station, in use during the 1980s! The third track is the one on the far left of the photo.

 

A SkyTrain sitting at the third track at Stadium-Chinatown Station.

What’s the third platform at Stadium-Chinatown? Well, if you go to the regular platform to board a SkyTrain, you’ll clearly see there’s ANOTHER platform across the SkyTrain tracks and behind the fence, sitting empty. Have a look at the photo on the right to see what I mean.

 

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Q&A: In conversation with a transit planner—TransLink and transit in Canada

Prior to joining TransLink as a senior planner, David Cooper worked for Calgary Transit and the City of Toronto, where he supported the Toronto Transit Commission’s subway expansion projects.

Owing to TransLink’s international reputation as a progressive company in the transportation industry, our positions attract talent from across Canada and the world. Perhaps most notably, our CEO came from Seattle!

TransLink is regarded as one of the most innovative transportation companies in the world. We are unique in that we are the first North American transportation authority—and only one in Canada—to be multimodal. TransLink is responsible for the planning, financing and managing of all public transit in addition to major regional roads and bridges, transportation demand-management strategies and programs, and supporting the region’s growth strategy and regional economic development.

It was this unique challenge that spurred transit planner David Cooper to pack up and move to the Vancouver to join TransLink earlier this year as a senior planner in TransLink’s system planning department.

He came to us from Toronto where he was a senior transportation planner with the city, and prior to that, he worked for Calgary Transit.

Cooper recently sat down with The Buzzer blog to chat about working for TransLink and transit planning in Canada:

What drew you to Vancouver to work for TransLink?

I call the System Planning group the place where ideas come true at TransLink. We are advancing a vast range of projects that will forever transform our transit system.  We are advancing new fleet technologies, expanding our service, and adding new rail service.  In the transit world, you name it—we are probably doing it. Who wouldn’t want to work for an organization that is open to new ideas and is moving ahead projects that will make Metro Vancouver an even better place to live!

“Who wouldn’t want to work for an organization that is open to new ideas and is moving ahead projects that will make Metro Vancouver an even better place to live!”

—David Cooper on working for TransLink

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This lady is the voice of SkyTrain

Laureen Regan is the voice behind announcements on the SkyTrain system!

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.

Laureen Regan

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.”

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. 

Rogers LTE wireless service expands into New Westminster

Rogers LTE coverage is now live in Columbia Station and through the tunnels! (Photo: waferboard/Flickr)

In a continued partnership with Rogers, LTE wireless connectivity on the SkyTrain has expanded into New Westminster! Starting today, Rogers and Fido customers will now see extended LTE wireless connectivity at Columbia SkyTrain Station and through the tunnels between Columbia and Sapperton SkyTrain stations. This is an extension to the service that was added to the Dunsmuir and Edmonds tunnels last summer!

Enhancing cellular coverage across the Expo and Millennium Line network ­increases safety, security and convenience for customers and operators with the added bonus of no cost to taxpayers.

Customers have told us that connectivity on the system is important and our partnership with Rogers is one way we are working to have a reliable and sustainable network in place.

Stay tuned for more info about more LTE service coming to our Expo and Millennium lines.

Author: Sarah Kertcher

How a resourceful transit supervisor reunited a lost wallet with its owner

Transit supervisor Todd Hancock doesn’t consider himself extraordinary or even a Good Samaritan. He says he simply did what he believes was the right thing to do.

The passenger had one foot in a floatplane at Vancouver International Water Airport in Richmond when transit supervisor Todd Hancock appeared with his lost wallet.

It was the culmination of a frantic search for the 24-year Coast Mountain Bus Company veteran that began at Bridgeport Station when Jinder Gill, a transit operator, turned the wallet in to Hancock.

Understanding the importance of reuniting a lost wallet with its owner, Hancock tried what he could from his vehicle after calling it in to T-Comm. He tried searching the owner’s name online, hoping to find a phone number, to no avail.

“I thought if I contact him in some way to let him know we have his wallet then that could offer some sort of relief,” says Hancock. “Takes a little bit off his mind.”

He then received a call about a bus needing attention at the airport and headed that way. After taking care of the bus, some quick thinking by Hancock made the reunion possible.

“I thought that since the wallet had come off our C92 [which operates between Bridgeport Station and Sea Island South],” says Hancock. “Maybe by chance the Seair or Harbour Air locations had a customer looking for their wallet.”

Hancock asked the attendant at the Seair counter if someone matching the name found in the wallet had come through. Sure enough there was.

“A woman behind me said that he was just getting on the seaplane,” Hancock recalls. “One of the staff members let me through the gate and we both ran down to the dock. We were yelling the passenger’s name.”

At last the lost wallet was reunited with its owner.

The passenger was ecstatic that his wallet had been found. Passengers aboard the floatplane also thanked Hancock by giving him a big round of applause.

“When people lose their wallet, it’s not about the money. It’s having to cancel cards and the potential of ID fraud. I felt good about him getting it back.”

What do I do if I left something behind transit?

Visit translink.ca/lostproperty and fill out the form to report what was lost, and we’ll see if someone has turned it in. You can also visit the Lost Property Office at Stadium–Chinatown Station, Monday to Friday (8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and Saturday (12 p.m. to 4 p.m.), or call them at 604.953.3334, Monday to Friday, between 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

What can I do if I find a lost item on transit?

You can turn it in to our transit staff and we’ll make sure it gets to the Lost Property Office so it can be reunited with its owner.

Find out how transit operator Nigel Clare reunited an iPad with its owner.

Extra service gets you to the Celebration of Light

The Honda Celebration of Light will be lighting up the sky again this summer, and we’re adding extra service to get you there!

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Behind The Scenes: A look into the remake of a Mark I SkyTrain

SkyTrain OMC

If you’ve ever taken the SkyTrain in Metro Vancouver, you’ve likely been a passenger on a Mark I. Making up 40% of our SkyTrain fleet, 114 of our 150 Mark I SkyTrains are currently undergoing a massive overhaul at OMC2, one of our Operations & Maintenance Centres in Burnaby.

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Send a text and help those affected by the wildfires in BC

B.C. remains in a state of emergency as 140 wildfires continue to burn across the province forcing mass evacuation orders and leaving tens of thousands of hectares of land burned. Multiple communities are affected and thousands of people are being uprooted. Urgent emergency services are required to support individuals and families.

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A day in the life of a SkyTrain Attendant – ride along with BCRTC President Vivienne King

Last week, British Columbia Rapid Transit Company (BCRTC) President Vivienne King, donned her reflective vest and steel toed boots to walk a mile (or likely many miles) in a SkyTrain Attendant (STA)’s shoes.

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CMBC recognized as RCBC environmental champion

CMBC recognized as RCBC environmental champion

Harvinder Aujala (left), RCBC Information Services Manager, and Donna Bartel, CMBC Environmental Sustainability Manager

 

Each year the Recycling Council of BC (RCBC) hosts a celebration recognizing the valuable contributions made by individuals and organizations towards the preservation and protection of British Columbia’s environment. This year, Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) was awarded the 2017 Public Sector Environmental Award for continued efforts in reducing environmental impacts.

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TransLink supports Multi-“Modo” transportation with a new carshare partnership

Modo carsharing

Getting around Metro Vancouver will be much easier thanks to a new partnership between TransLink and Modo Co-operative.

Transit in Vancouver is no stranger to carshares, looking at the blocks surrounding SkyTrain stations in the region you’ll see an abundance of parking spaces reserved for carsharing. This partnership with Modo Co-operative is the first time that stalls have been created directly on TransLink property. You can now grab a Modo just steps from the fare gates!

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