ALERT! : More info
Translink Buzzer Blog

Category: Special Series

#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

My TransLink – February 7, 2017

Another edition of My TransLink coming atcha’!

ICYMI: My TransLink is a rider-focused series where we want you to share your transit photographs from across the system on social media and in turn, we share your amazing pics right here on the Buzzer blog. Basically, this is all about you!

Let’s see what you’ve captured over the last few weeks!

The daily commute ? #mytranslink

A photo posted by Jaemie Sures | ?Vancouver (@jaemiesures) on

I’m in love with this photo #95 #bline #95bline #135sfu #mytranslink @translinkbc

A photo posted by Damien (@rainyday59) on

Morning Production way ❄️☀️❄️☀️❄️ have a nice productive day everyone ????

A photo posted by Cherlens (@cherlens) on

55 #sfu #burnabybc #burnabymountain #winter #snow #britishcolumbia #mytranslink

A photo posted by Vancouver, Persian Style (@persianyvr) 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: Adrienne Coling

So, you wanna be a bus operator? Come to our Reddit AMA!

 

asktranslink

If you haven’t heard, we’re currently looking for busloads of new operators to help us move the region.

Being a Coast Mountain Bus Operator is an amazingly rewarding career. With over 1,300 Conventional buses and 140 Community Shuttle buses in our fleet, we’re once again adding drivers to keep the wheels on the bus going ’round and ’round.

Our Transit Operators play a vital role in keeping our region moving, literally, and with ridership in the region growing at a rapid pace, and we’re looking for motivated, energetic and customer-centric people like you to hop on board!

Bus Operator AMA

Want to get an inside look at what it’s like to be a Bus Operator? Join us this Friday, February 3rd, 2017 at 1:00pm PST on Reddit for an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with one of our very own seasoned Bus Operators! Come prepared with your questions about what it’s like moving people each day, how you apply, or anything else related to what it’s like to be a Bus Operator. If you can’t make it to the AMA, post your question below and we’ll do our best to answer it during the AMA.

If you’re interested in applying online, check out our video tutorial on how to use our careers page!

 

Author: Sarah Kertcher

My TransLink – January 24, 2017

Welcome to the first official post of My TransLink!

A couple of weeks ago, we asked you to be our photographers on your commute and share with us your transit pics from across the system on social media.

The social team wants to share your content, your views of transit and our community.

Here are just a few from the first installment – including some very snowy scenes!

As seen from the Skytrain.

A video posted by Trevor Jansen (@tr3vorjans3n) on

The next station is… Inlet Centre.

A photo posted by Juan M. Sanchez (@jmsuncheese) on

the night shift #TransLink #Buses #NightRides #Vancouver #SFU #burnaby #mytranslink

A photo posted by Kobie Huang (@kobiehuang) on

Thanks to everyone for their photos. Keep them coming!

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

Author: Adrienne Coling

Vivienne King – BCRTC President & CEO wants to answer your SkyTrain questions online and in person (Sept 7 & 8)!

Vivienne King, President & General Manager of BCRTC will be taking your questions about SkyTrain at noon on September 7, 2016!

Vivienne King, President & General Manager of BCRTC, will be taking your questions about SkyTrain at noon on September 7, 2016 and in person on September 8!

Have you ever had burning questions about Metro Vancouver’s SkyTrain? How safe are SkyTrains? What exactly do SkyTrain attendants do? Why are different SkyTrains painted different colours?

Well, on Wednesday September 7th, from 12pm – 1pm, we’ll have Vivienne King, President and CEO of BCRTC, live on Reddit for an AMA! (Ask Me Anything).

Busy for lunch tomorrow? Well, maybe you wanna ask Vivienne your question in person. Vivienne will take your questions in person on Thursday September 8th, from approximately 7:30-9a.m. at Waterfront station at the entrance of SeaBus/West Coast Express and SkyTrain (just inside the fare paid zone and not far from Starbucks).

So, mark your calendars transit fans! Here is the link that will be live at noon.

Can’t make either one, but still have a question to ask? Just post your question in the comments section or on Twitter or Facebook and we’ll do our best to ask Vivienne for you! See you soon!

Author: Sarah Kertcher

Buses: The next generation

Picture1

The newest member of our bus family

Some cool news for bus fans!

TransLink will soon have 21 New Flyer Xcelsior XDE60 articulated 60-foot buses in our fleet!

Each bus will help TransLink be even greener because they are all diesel-electric hybrids!

Twelve of the new buses will serve routes out of the Surrey Transit Centre (STC) replacing all of the existing articulated buses on the 96 B-Line.

The rest of the buses will call Burnaby Transit Centre (BTC) home and will add to the modernization of the articulated bus fleet in Burnaby.

This includes the 99 B-Line, the 135 and the 44, to name a few!

There are some great new features with these buses, including:

– LED headlights
– A better-optimized seating layout
– Electric doors which provide consistent opening and closing times
– Air conditioning!

Where the rubber meets the road

The artics at STC will start to be in service at the end of January with all of them on the road by March.

At BTC, the new buses will start being integrated onto the routes mid-February with full service in March.

Author: Adrienne Coling

Here’s lookin’ at you, 2015!

2015 2
As 2015 comes to a close we thought an end of year wrap up was in order!

After all, the past 12 months had more than a handful of memorable transit moments.

From the plebiscite and transit anniversaries to the Compass Card roll-out and fare structure changes, this year had it all!

So, in no particular order, let’s take a look at some of what made 2015 a year to remember:

Transportation and Transit Plebiscite

plebiscite-vector- smMarch 16, 2015 marked the beginning of the Transportation and Transit plebiscite.

Voting packages were mailed out and voters were asked to decide if they supported the 0.5% Metro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Tax (in the form of a provincial sales tax). The tax would support improvements for better transit and transportation in the region.

On July 2nd, the results were announced— Metro Vancouver voted against the 0.5% tax.

Compass Card roll-out

In 2015 more people started tapping their Compass Cards on the system than ever before.
Compass Vending Machines were installed at all SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express stations with U-Pass BC holders and West Coast Express customers kicking off the transition in June.
Since then, even more customers have made the switch to Compass!
Starting January 1, 2016 traditional Monthly Pass FareCards are no longer valid and Monthly Passes are on Compass only so there will be a surge of users in the New Year.
We’ve also been closing more and more faregates across the system in order to help remind riders to tap in and out on SkyTrain, SeaBus, Canada Line and West Coast Express.
To help this transition go as smoothly as possible, we produced many Compass 101 videos to help our riders learn the Compass basics!

Fare Structure Changes — Bus Anywhere with 1-Zone Fare

2015 also brought with it changes to our fare structure.afs_bus_anywhere_1200x628

As of October 5th, all travel by bus became a 1-zone fare.

With the new 1-zone bus fare riders can now bus across Metro Vancouver with just a one-zone bus fare.

In November, we asked in a Buzzer blog poll how the 1-zone bus fare has changed your travel — about half of you said your commute became less expensive!

I Love Transit Week 2015

And who could forget I Love Transit Week 2015?buzzer_header_ilovetransit

We took adult campers and kid campers to our transit facilities, held contests and had special blog content dedicated to transit love!

We even did a special I Love Transit print Buzzer!

If those brilliantly coloured print Buzzers aren’t a 2015 highlight, then I don’t know what is!

125 years of Transit, SkyTrain 30th Birthday and Transit Police 10th Anniversary

Davie streetcar, 1903

Davie streetcar, 1903

What a year for transit anniversaries!

First we celebrated 125 years of transit in June with vintage trolley rides, old photos of our system and special interviews with transit historians like Angus McIntyre.

The celebration continued on December 4 when Transit Police celebrated 10 years as a police service and 30 years serving the transit system!

Finally, in honour of the SkyTrain’s 30th Birthday, we threw back to more than a few hilarious 80’s videos and photos of SkyTrain’s early years.

All in all it’s been a busy year! Anything we missed? Let us know in the comments section!

Author: Laura Tennant

New policy for electric and folding bikes on transit

Fashion Electric BicycleElectric and folding bikes are now being allowed on board the system!

BCRTC and CMBC are updating their operational policies to allow different types of cyclists access.

Electric bikes will now be permitted on SkyTrain, West Coast Express and SeaBus.

UPDATE Folding bikes will be allowed on all modes buses, when folded.

Riders of folding bikes are asked to use a slipcover or carrying pack while on buses.

All the existing rules for bikes on transit still apply. Here’s a refresher:

  • Bikes are not allowed at Metrotown Station at anytime.
  • There is a maximum of two bikes per SkyTrain car and one per Canada line car.
  • No e-scooters allowed on the system
  • Morning and afternoon rush hour restrictions are still in place — Canada Line: Peak times in all directions. Expo & Millennium Lines: Peak times except for the allowances listed below.

Westbound:
7am – 9am Monday-Friday travelling from Columbia Station to VCC-Clark Station; and from Columbia and King George Stations towards Waterfront Station.

Eastbound:
4pm-6pm Monday-Friday travelling from VCC-Clark Station to Columbia Station; and from Waterfront Station towards Columbia and King George Station.

You can read more about our bike policy here.

Author: Adrienne Coling

TransLink 101: What is an express and pick-up/drop-off only bus?

TransLink 101 blog feature series banner

We’re going back to basics again with TransLink 101—explaining TransLink and its operations!

One of our buses carrying an 'express' designation

One of our buses carrying an ‘express’ designation

Express and pick-up and drop-off only are both stopping procedures for our bus routes.

“Express for the most part in the Lower Mainland really means limited stop. There are large gaps between the bus stops, such as on the three B-Line routes,” explains Katherine McCune, Manager of Service Planning at Coast Mountain Bus Company.

“These buses stop at major transfer points for customers, but do not stop at every stop located on the corridor. They offer a travel advantage over local service.”

Bus routes, such as the 160 and 503, are pick-up and drop-off only provide directional express-type service.

“Both these routes offer local stops along a portion of the route to collect customers and then at a point they become express and only drop off at major transfer points,” Katherine says.

“The reverse trip only picks up on the return trip. This ensures that customers to a particular area will have space on the bus to get there. Customers in the area the bus is travelling through are then encouraged to use the local services already available so they do not fill the bus and exclude those customers that are destined for the terminus.”

Katherine continues, “For example, someone wanting to go from Surrey Central to Clayton Heights has several travel options to get between the two locations. A customer from Aldergrove to Surrey Central does not have the same options and has only the one bus to rely on.”

What does it mean when I see an ‘Express’ designation on a route such as the 135 or 49?

“The buses are programmed to show 135 SFU / Burrard Station, but some operators like to add the express to make sure customers are aware that it is slightly different from a regular route,” Katherine says.

The 135 is different because it serves local stops between Simon Fraser University and Renfrew Street in Vancouver, but beyond that, it becomes a limited stop service all the way to Burrard Station.

On the 49, select trips are an ‘Express’ because they do not serve the Champlain area on 54th Avenue. These are extra trips put in to allow us to better serve and meet the demand of Langara College and the University of British Columbia during the school year.

Still have questions about why your bus says ‘Express’ on it? Ask our awesome drivers!

Author: Allen Tung

TransLink 101: What does farside and nearside bus stop mean?

TransLink 101 blog feature series banner

We’re going back to basics again with TransLink 101—explaining TransLink and its operations!

Why is this bus stop located where it is?

Why is this bus stop located where it is?

Have you ever used Google Maps to plan your trip or called 604.953.3333 with your transit stop number? Then you might have heard of farside (FS), nearside (NS), and mid-block bus stops.

What does that exactly mean?

Nearside is the side of an intersection before you cross and farside is the side after. Mid-block bus stops are located in between intersections.

Katherine McCune, Manager of Service Planning at Coast Mountain Company tells us farside stops are the standard due to safety and customer convenience considerations.

“Farside bus stops are preferred so that the cars do not cut in front of the bus stopped nearside or block the right turn lane and cause traffic congestion,” she says. “Also, the bus does not have to stop twice – once for picking up and dropping off customers and then again at the red light. All pedestrian activity takes place behind the bus when it has left the bus stop thus increasing the pedestrian safety.”

Nearside and mid-block bus stops are only used when it is absolutely necessary, such as a driveway is in the way or passenger amenities are poor on the farside.

“Nearside stops result in buses blocking the view of motorists and pedestrians, and often pedestrians running out in front of the bus,” Katherine says. “Mid-block stops are only used when we have a major [pedestrian traffic] generator in the area and generally there is a crosswalk or pedestrian signal nearby.”

When it comes to planning the placement of bus stops, the planning team works with the local municipalities and has spacing guidelines that they follow.

“We do not want stops too close together such that the bus cannot travel in a reasonably quick manner,” according to Katherine. “We also look at where people may be going to and coming from. We look for locations that will provide safety for our passengers, such as the location of crosswalks and signalized intersections nearby.”

Author: Allen Tung

TransLink 101: What’s interlining?

TransLink 101 blog feature series banner

We’re going back to basics again with TransLink 101—explaining TransLink and its operations!

This is our biggest service improvement yet: 14.7 million extra trips were added to the Metro Vancouver region!

What’s interlining?

Interlining combines two or more independent routes into one operational schedule. By doing so, we eliminate extended periods of down time where a bus would just be parked and out of service.

Katherine McCune, Manager of Service Planning at Coast Mountain Bus Company, tells us bus routes are interlined for several reasons, but one of the main reasons is scheduling efficiencies.

“It helps us minimize the footprint we use in the downtown core, for example,” she says. “A bus can arrive downtown as one route and sit very just a very few minutes and then leave as the next scheduled trip on another route.

Examples of interlined routes around the region include the 110, 144 and 116; the 403 and 480; and 601, 602, 603 and 604.

Wouldn’t it be most efficient if the buses ran nonstop – an operator drives his route and immediately goes back the opposite direction? Katherine tells us that is not the case.

“If you run buses nonstop you would no longer have a fixed schedule,” she says. “Customers require a schedule so they can make transfers to other services and have some idea of bus arrival at their stop. Without a schedule customers would not know when to expect the buses.”

One of the challenges of interlining is incidents on one leg of the bus’s journey can impact the service on the other end, Katherine notes.

“An accident on Hastings Street slowing the 135 could result in a delay in service on the 145, for example. However, with any serious incident our Transit Communications centre gets involved and makes adjustments on the road to ensure that service interruptions are minimal.”

Interlining also gives our operators some variety in their work, so they are not constantly driving the same roadways all the time!

Author: Allen Tung

TransLink 101: What is short turning?

TransLink 101 blog feature series banner

We’re going back to basics again with TransLink 101—explaining TransLink and its operations!

A 6 Davie bus on Graville Street

A 6 Davie bus on Graville Street

Sometimes situations beyond our control, such as weather, road conditions or heavy traffic affect how reliable our service can be.

In the rare event that a bus is regrettably significantly behind schedule, Transit Supervisors and Transit Communications (T-Comm), the traffic control centre so-to-speak for our bus operations, use “short turning” as a way to get buses back into the schedule.

“When a bus falls behind schedule, the bus can be ‘short turned’ – meaning the operator is directed to drop any passengers off and then go directly to another location on the route,” explains Fergie Beadle, Supervisor of Surrey Transit Center Operations. “This puts the bus back on schedule and then back into service.”

Often this means a bus ending its trip short of the terminus to begin the return trip in order to get back on schedule.

On the SeaBus, short turning exists too – although its done a little differently since you can’t really shorten the route of the SeaBus! At the direction of the bridge, the SeaBus will simultaneously load and discharge passengers in order to regain schedule.

Author: Allen Tung