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From Rails to Rubber: A look back at the region’s transition from streetcars to buses

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April 20, 1955 Print Buzzer

Today marks the 62nd year since the last streetcar ride in Vancouver! We’re definitely a bus region nowadays whether they be conventional diesel, hybrids or trolleybuses, but it wasn’t always that way.

Metro Vancouver used to have interurban rail and urban streetcars connecting and moving the Lower Mainland until April 24, 1955 when we said goodbye to streetcars.

To know where you are, is to know where you’ve been. So, let’s take a quick look at the major milestones that transitioned our region from rails to rubber!

Transit Timeline

1889 – Laying Vancouver’s streetcar rails

laying tracks

Constructing streetcar tracks on Powell St.

1890 – First electric streetcar in Vancouver

The beginning of transit in Metro Vancouver

The beginning of transit in Metro Vancouver

First streetcars quick facts!

  • 4 wheeled
  • open sides and front
  • Bench seating
  • Ran at 6 m.p.h
  • Originally made to be horse-drawn

Two lines:

1. Down Westminster Avenue (now Main St) from 1st Ave to Powell.
2. Along Powell and Cordova from Campbell Ave to Granville St.

1891 – Interurban tram line opens connecting New Westminster and Vancouver
1905 – Construction of North Vancouver tracks
1922 – Rebuilding of doors on streetcars when the rule-of-the-road switch from left to right.
1923 – First BCER bus on Grandview Highway route

first bcer bus 1923
1927 – Two-car “trains” were introduced on major routes

Two-car streetcar "trains" ran on main Vancouver routes from 1927 to the late 1940s

Two-car streetcar “trains” ran on main Vancouver routes from 1927 to the late 1940s

1945 to 1955 – Streetcar rails removed

rail removal

Removing streetcar tracks on Broadway near Cambie

1946 – Streetcars start to be replaced with buses
April 22, 1955 – Last streetcar route replaced with trolley bus
April 24, 1955 –
Last streetcar (free!) ride on No.53 at the PNE

“If the next 65 years are anything like the last, there will be lots to keep us busy – whether it’s streetcars or helicopters!”

– The Buzzer, April 20, 1955

Although the vehicles have changed, the impact of public transit and transportation continue to mould our present and future!

Thanks for coming along for the ride down the tracks of our transit history.

Have a hankering to see one of Vancouver’s streetcars today? Just head to East Broadway at the Kingsway and….. tada!

No 21 Mount Pleasant

No. 21 streetcar turned public space

You can also view the special Rails to Rubber 1955 edition of the Buzzer and read more about our streetcar past here.

Author: Adrienne Coling

TransLink on the Move: Evergreen means Go!

TransLink on the Move Evergreen

Last week marked the start of our TransLink on the Move series where we’re breaking down some of the highlights of our 2016 Annual Report.

This week, we’re featuring the long awaited Evergreen Extension!

The opening of the Evergreen Extension was a milestone event for TransLink and for Metro Vancouver. This significant expansion of our integrated transit network brings us to 79 km of SkyTrain meaning that TransLink now operates the world’s longest fully-automated rapid transit system!

Included in the Evergreen Extension is a two-kilometre Tunnel (the longest in the SkyTrain network) connecting Coquitlam to Port Moody, a new SkyTrain operating pattern and six new stations connecting riders to more destinations in our region.

The Evergreen Extension boasts beautiful new open concept stations with plenty of glass allowing for natural light, picturesque views and beautiful public art.

If you haven’t yet had a chance to check out the new stations, have a look at some of the shots captured by transit enthusiast Ivan Chan. Or better yet, become your very own #EvergreenExplorer by checking out some of the great java stops along the new route.

Want to know more about highlights to the transit system in 2016?
Stay tuned to the blog for a new feature every week!

Author: Sarah Kertcher

Earth Day 2017 – Driving green across the region

April 22nd is Earth Day! A day observed globally with the aim of encouraging and educating people to be more environmentally friendly. The TransLink enterprise takes sustainability seriously and works diligently in our daily operations to protect our Earth!

TransLink has taken part in a variety of environmentally-focused projects in 2016 – here are a snapshot of some of these initiatives:

apta platinum logo

Going platinum

In 2015, TransLink moved up from gold and became the first Canadian transit organization to gain platinum level status for sustainability from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). Since 2010, 58 separate projects reduced waste by nine per cent, water use by 10 per cent, and greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent in its facilities. The bus fleet alone has had a 17 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. CMBC also reduced energy consumption by more than seven per cent.

Cutting back on washing to save water

In 2016, CMBC committed to reduce bus washing by at least 50% each summer between June and the end of September! In addition, anytime Metro Vancouver introduces Stage 2 water restrictions, CMBC voluntary stops all bus washing, except in special circumstances. These changes yield BIG water savings! At Burnaby Transit Centre alone, suspending bus washing translates to saving up to 35,000 litres of water each day! Additionally, all transit centres, use recycled or “wastewater” for the wash and fresh water is used only for the final rinse. These water recycling systems reduce the amount of water required to wash each bus by about 75 per cent!

Building with the environment in mind

TransLink’s newest building, Hamilton Transit Centre in Richmond is our most energy-efficient facility yet! It boasts a LEED Silver certification thanks to features that include LED lighting, radiant in-floor heating, waste water treatment, and a heat-reflective roof. Many of these sustainable features help to reduce operating and maintenance costs in addition to being green in other ways.

Hybrid Artics

Driving the benefits of alternate fuels

TransLink is rolling out 26 new hybrid diesel-electric articulated buses, bringing our bus fleet to 252 hybrid, 116 compressed natural gas (CNG) and 262 Trolley buses. This means almost half of our CMBC bus fleet uses some form of cleaner technology – either CNG buses or hybrid electric buses. These hybrid buses use 17% less fuel than equivalent diesel-powered models. The quieter CNG buses – with reduced carbon emissions and lower maintenance costs – continue to replace diesel buses as they retire from operation at the end of their service life. We also have one of the largest electric trolley fleets in North America and continue to explore the possibility of adding electric-battery buses to our existing fleet.

Author: Sarah Kertcher

Fun poll: Where did your first transit trip take you?

6Happy to be riding skytrain

Loving life on SkyTrain

Do you remember your first transit trip?

Mine was pretty early in my life (‘baby me’ found TTC subways quite soothing) but the first transit trip I actually remember is when I was five and we took the bus to the library to meet Robert Munsch.

I gleamed as I saw the driver who was smiling and welcoming me aboard. I felt excitement as I got to drop the coins into the farebox and choose our seats. I remember the feel of the vinyl as my legs stuck to the material in the hot summer weather. I can even recall the ding as I yanked on the stop request cord.

To me, this was a totally new experience that was exhilarating and fun and that was BEFORE meeting my childhood literary hero!

There are first time riders at every age with  many different and interesting stories. So, tell us! Where did your first transit trip take you?

Vote below and tell us your story!

Where did your first transit trip take you?

View Results

Author: Adrienne Coling

#MyTransLink – April 4, 2017

You Metro Vancouver transit riders and enthusiasts don’t seem to disappoint with your amazing transit shots! Since we started this social media photo series, you’ve shared over 400 photos with us across all platforms!

Amazing!

Let’s check out what you guys have captured since last time!

Huge thanks to all of our latest transit photogs! Keep snapping and sharing!

Want to be featured on the blog?
Simply follow us on Twitter and Instagram, tag us and use the hashtag #MyTransLink.

Author: Sarah Kertcher

Secure bike parkades secure top spot at HUB awards!

HUB Bike Parkade Award

HUB Cycling recently hosted their 4th Annual Bike Awards – a celebration of organizations, individuals, schools and municipalities who have led the way in increasing biking across Metro Vancouver.

This year, we took home more than just our bikes! TransLink was awarded Best Public Bike Parking Facilities for our King George Station and Main Street Station Secure Bike Parkades!

TransLink is a big supporter of multi-modal transportation (did you know that our entire bus fleet is equipped with bus bike racks?) and participate annually in Bike to Work Week.

All of our secure bike parkades are Compass enabled, and easy to use! Check Jess out in action!

Thanks to HUB Cycling for this awesome award!

Author: Sarah Kertcher

Stadium–Chinatown Station hosts Capture Photography Festival exhibit

Capture Photography Festival installation
You may have noticed some work at the third track at Stadium–Chinatown Station the past few days and now, you’ll see a lovely new art installation in this space!

What is art? Are we art? Is art, art? – Lisa Turtle

What’s going on?

TransLink is teaming up with the Capture Photography Festival running from April 1 to 28 and installing a public art piece on our SkyTrain system.

Public art is a key element to creating a welcoming environment, encourages community connections and encourages gathering places which help reduce crime and vandalism.

This temporary installation is called Precession of the Feminine by Alinka Echeverría and will be available for all to enjoy at Stadium–Chinatown for the next year.

A little more about the art

ALINKA ECHEVERRÍA, PRECESSION OF THE FEMININE, 2015

With her combined training in photography and social anthropology, Alinka Echeverría weaves critical questions of visual representation through her work. Precession of the Feminine (2015), which is part of a larger series of works entitled Nicephora, was created while she was completing the BMW Residency at the French Musée Nicéphore Niépce, named after the inventor of photography.

Inspired by Nicéphore’s biography, and the histories of ceramics and photography, Echeverría fuses blown-up images of women from the museum’s archive with ceramic vases in three-dimensional digital simulations.

Using the form of the vase as a metaphor for our understanding of the feminine, the artist invites us to see that which is invisible with our bare eyes – the underlying photographic and printing techniques behind the image itself.  The medium is the message (Marshall McLuhan 1972) and in this series the vase is the vessel through which to reflect on this fragile construction of the female image.

In this way, the works subtly reveal how economic and cultural power are linked to photography as an artistic and documentary medium, and have been carried forward through largely invisible codes and techniques, thus becoming normalized and entering our collective unconsciousness.

A precession is a change in an object’s orientation or rotation around an axis. In this work, Echeverría aims to present the precession of representations of femininity. Echeverría quietly questions the perception of photography as a marker of truth, while examining more broadly the way that codes and symbols of femininity are constructed and understood.

Keep your eyes peeled today for the installed exhibit at Stadium–Chinatown Station!

Author: Adrienne Coling

March is Fraud Prevention Month! Register your Compass Card

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March is Fraud Prevention Month and before the month comes to a close, we’re giving you a friendly reminder to register your Compass Card!

One of the added benefits of the Compass system is that it’s far safer and more secure than our old paper fare media.

Did you know?!

When you register your Compass Card online at compasscard.ca, you can to take advantage of AutoLoad, valuable record keeping information such as trip and purchase information and Balance Protection.

With Balance Protection, users can report their Compass Cards lost or stolen and any passes or Stored Value will be transferred to a new Compass Card. Additionally, a found registered Compass Card can easily be returned to it’s owner.

750,000 of our 1.1 million Compass Cards are currently registered and we’d love to see that number grow!

Register your Compass Card today at CompassCard.ca.

Author: Sarah Kertcher

World Water Day 2017

Today is World Water Day 2017!

This annual event is about taking action to tackle the world’s water crisis and this year’s theme is wastewater (aka as the water that runs down the drain and we aren’t actively using) and how we can utilize this resource.

At CMBC, water conservation and using wastewater is an important part of our operations.
DID YOU KNOW?!?
Starting in 2016, CMBC has committed to reduce bus washing by at least 50% each summer between June and the end of September!A bus in the car wash at Surrey Transit Centre.
Plus! Anytime Metro Vancouver introduces Stage 2 water restrictions, CMBC will voluntary stop all bus washing, except in special circumstances.
 
These changes yield BIG water savings! At Burnaby Transit Centre alone, suspending bus washing translates to saving up to 35,000 litres of water each day!

At all transit centres, we use recycled or “wastewater” for the wash and fresh water is used only for the final rinse.

These water recycling systems reduce the amount of water required to wash each bus by about 75 per cent!

Want to learn more about World Water Day?
Visit WorldWaterDay.org or join the movement on Facebook.
 Author: Adrienne Coling

#MyTransLink – March 21, 2017

It’s that time again! We’re back featuring content from you – our riders!

Check out what our transit travellers have snapped lately…

“Explore more” – – Photo – 56 of 365 #photography #photo365 #mytranslink

A post shared by Jamie Taylor (@cryptic_photos) on

Visions📷 – Westcoast Express X Skytrain 🚅 – Have a great weekend🔥

A post shared by Ibrahima Cisse 👓 (@thevancityphotographer) on

Foggy bus windows on chilly days. #mytranslink

A post shared by Julie Ratcliff (@juliemratcliff) on

Thanks to all of our latest transit photogs!

Want to be featured on the blog?
Simply follow us on Twitter and Instagram, tag us and use the hashtag #MyTransLink.

Author: Sarah Kertcher and Adrienne Coling

UBC designs a winner at NAIOP Vancouver’s Pacific Northwest Real Estate Challenge

NAIOP Vancouver

January kicked off with the start of the 14th Annual Pacific Northwest Real Estate Challenge. This annual event was hosted by NAIOP’s Vancouver Chapter and marked the first time in history that this competition has been held on Canadian soil.

About the Pacific Northwest Real Estate Challenge

The Pacific Northwest Real Estate Challenge has teams consisting of real estate program students from various Northwest universities competing for the best design of a high profile development in a major metropolitan area.

Each team must design and propose a development and strategy that may be implemented after the competition.

This year, TransLink partnered with NAIOP to have students propose plans for Coquitlam Central Station on the Evergreen Extension, a 14-acre project with a high volume of transit, residents and commuters.

On March 9th, less than eight weeks from the first site visit, teams presented their final development to a panel of judges, TransLink officials, and members of the commercial real estate industry.

The home team from UBC finished ahead of University of Washington and Portland State, winning the NAIOP Bob Filley Cup and the potential opportunity to have their plan implemented by TransLink.

“It was a difficult decision to make, as we were very impressed with all of the proposals from the students,” said Guy Akester, Director of Real Estate Programs & Partnerships at TransLink. “Coquitlam Central Station is a very important and critical transportation hub. Ultimately we were looking for a highly walkable, mixed-use site that brings the community together. The UBC students were able to deliver this on all fronts.”

“We are ecstatic to be named the winners, and the fact that we won the first competition held in Canada makes us feel extremely proud,” said Stephanie Yeargin, UBC Student. “It was very challenging, and we worked around the clock. Coquitlam is a dynamic and growing city, so we hoped that our proposal would be able to meet the needs of the community and of TransLink. We couldn’t be more thrilled.”

Congratulations team UBC! We hope to see your plan in Coquitlam in the future!

For more information about NAIOP and the Pacific Northwest Real Estate Challenge check out their website.

Author: Sarah Kertcher

TransLink once again named one of BC’s Top Employers for 2017!

BC's Top Employer
We’re thrilled to share that TransLink (also known as South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority) has been named a top employer in BC for the third year in a row!

In addition to taking this title for the last three consecutive years, TransLink made the list of Forbes Magazine’s “Canada’s Best Employers” this year.

With nearly 7,000 employees across the enterprise, it’s clear that our employees love where they work and take pride in delivering top-notch service across our entire system, every single day.

It’s an honour to have been named again this year among so many other amazing BC employers.

About British Columbia’s Top Employers

Now in its 12th year, BC’s Top Employers is an annual competition organized by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers.

This special designation recognizes the British Columbia employers that lead their industries in offering exceptional places to work. Read the press release announcing the 2017 winners.

About Forbes Magazine

Forbes Magazine compiles annually a list of companies across Canada and ranks a list of Canada’s Best Employers.

This year, the TransLink enterprise ranked #202! Check out what other employers made the list.

For more information on BC’s Top Employers, visit the BC Top Employers website.
Information about Forbes Magazine ranking can be found on the Forbes Magazine website.

Author: Sarah Kertcher

What Wednesdays are here! Help us find the cool, weird and wonderful things on and around transit

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Did anyone else see that? Wait, are those raccoons at my bus stop? Is that a panda taking SkyTrain?

Yes, anything that makes you say, “What?!?” We want to know about it.

Welcome to a new series on the Buzzer blog and our social channels that will bring a little more fun to hump day – What Wednesday!

As commuters, we often see some weird and wonderful moments on transit and since so many of us have smartphones, so, let’s share these wacky snapshots. Why? Because who doesn’t want to see a giant fish with a laptop bag buying a transit ticket?!

A few guidelines:

  • Please respect people’s privacy and try not to capture faces or any personal identification.
  • Be kind. This is a fun series – no trolling allowed!
  • Be safe! No hopping onto the guideway or running to the front of the bus to grab the shot.
  • Use the hashtag #TLWhatWednesday on Instagram and we’ll choose one lucky photog to be featured on our social channels each week!

Check out TransLink’s Instagram channel to see our first post!

Now, go out there and find us some whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?????

Author: Adrienne Coling

Transit Police took the plunge and were #FreezinForAReason!

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On Saturday, March 4th, 2017 our Transit Police Officers and civilians took the Plunge, The Polar Plunge in support of Special Olympics Canada.

This annual event takes place at Kitsilano beach in Vancouver, with the support of other police agencies and organizations, Polar Plunge participants are #FreezinForAReason raising money in support of adults and children with intellectual disabilities providing the opportunity to participate and excel in sporting activities.

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Transit Police have supported Special Olympics BC in a variety of ways over the past number of years, from fundraising through the BC Law Enforcement Torch Run, an overtime drive for personal donation by staff, an annual golf tournament and of course this event – the Polar Plunge.

Transit Police surpassed their fundraising goal for this event, however if you’re interested in giving back and supporting a great cause or learning more, check out the Transit Police Polar Plunge page.

 Author: Sarah Kertcher

#MyTransLink – February 20, 2017

Hey Buzzer readers! We’re back with another edition of #MyTransLink, sharing your photos from around the system!

With a transit network spanning land, sea, and Sky(Train), it’s no surprise that you, are riders are able to capture some of our best photos.

Here’s what you shared this week!

 

[=]’These are the days we’ve been waiting for’ [=] #vancouver #burnaby #SkyTrain #MyTranslink

A post shared by Kobie Huang (@kobiehuang) on

Bridge life #newwestminster #mytranslink

A post shared by Rich Elliott (@therichelliott) on

This is why i love #beautifulbritishcolimbia.. taken from #carvolthexchange in #langley.. @translinkbc

A post shared by FerretLover (@atomikangel69) on

Want to be featured on the blog? You know you do! It’s easy!
Simply follow us on Twitter and Instagram, tag us and use the hashtag #MyTransLink.

Author: Sarah Kertcher