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Translink Buzzer Blog

Category: State of the System

New interactive tool supports transit use for people of all abilities

TransLink is launching a series of online tools designed to help people of all abilities, including those on the autism spectrum, confidently and independently utilize Metro Vancouver’s transit system. The tools include an interactive 360-degree virtual tour of a TransLink bus and eight educational videos about how to use transit throughout Metro Vancouver.

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TransLink completes Granville Station upgrades

Longest escalators in Metro Vancouver replaced as part of station overhaul

The newly upgraded Granville Station is set to reopen with six new escalators to improve customer experience. Three of the new escalators are the longest in Metro Vancouver with over 500 steps in total. Two entrances at Granville and Seymour streets will also reopen.

Starting on July 17, customers travelling through Granville Station will have access to:

  • Six new escalators with enhanced safety, durability, and reliability
  • New wayfinding signage and monitors displaying the next arriving trains
  • Granville Station’s main entrance from Granville Street
  • Granville Station’s Seymour Street entrance and staircase

Read more »

All buses begin operating out of the Lonsdale Quay Exchange again

Lonsdale Quay Exchange, picture of the Seabus Terminal

The upgrades to the Lonsdale Quay Exchange are almost complete! Starting on Monday, June 22, all buses will begin operating out of the Lonsdale Quay Exchange.

The entire bus island has been upgraded and is now complete. This means that the temporary stops along Carrie Cates will no longer be required and customers can now catch and disembark their buses inside of the loop. Read more »

Waterfront’s Expo Line eastern entrance to temporarily close

Beginning June 12, the eastern entrance to Waterfront’s Expo Line platform will be closed for approximately three weeks. This closure is necessary to ensure customer safety during the replacement of the escalators, which requires the use of heavy machinery.

TransLink has expedited this project while ridership remains low – this will minimize the impact to customers while delivering the project earlier than planned. Once complete, the new escalators will be more durable and reliable for customers using Waterfront Station.

During the construction period, Waterfront Station’s Expo Line platform will only be accessible from the western entrance on Howe Street. Customers seeking to transfer between the Expo Line and the Canada Line, SeaBus, or West Coast Express should plan extra travel time into their commute to walk between the Howe Street entrance and the Cordova Street mezzanine. Read more »

Why are escalators at SkyTrain stations out of service so often?

At a height of 13 metres (43 feet), the escalators at Metrotown Station’s west stationhouse are the second highest in the SkyTrain system, surpassed only by the escalators at Granville Station at 14 metres (46 feet).

It may feel like it, but surprisingly, escalators at SkyTrain stations are not out-of-service that often.

Across the SkyTrain network, monthly escalator availability during January 2020 was 99.42 per cent for the Canada Line, and 93 per cent for the Expo and Millennium Lines.† During the rest of the times when an escalator was unavailable, it usually wasn’t because it was broken, but rather it was undergoing inspection.

There are three types of inspections that happen over the course of year.

  • Monthly: includes checking all external safety devices to ensure they are functioning and a visual of all exterior parts. This inspection takes approximately two hours per unit.
  • Quarterly: involves removing 10 steps, cleaning the top and bottom interior ends of the escalator, checking all internal and external safety devices, and inspecting the interior for wear or damage. This inspection takes approximately two days per escalator.
  • Annually: involves removing 50 per cent of the total steps in the escalator, cleaning the entire inside, checking the entire escalator for wear or damage, and inspecting all safety devices. This inspection takes approximately five days per escalator.

These inspections are part of our rigorous and robust maintenance program to ensure our escalators are safe and reliable for our customers, and ensures we maximize the escalator’s life expectancy.

“Because of this program many customers believe that our escalators are continuously out of service due to break downs when actually we are performing maintenance,” explains Harry Schmidt, manager of elevating devices at SkyTrain.

“Usually our inspections go as planned, and the escalator can be returned to service in a timely manner. However, if our escalator technicians discover any device or part that affects the safety of the unit during inspections, it must be repaired before it can carry customers again.”

Read more »

New maps and signs help improve wayfinding at YVR–Airport Station

New bilingual signs at the YVR–Airport Station letting customers they can head straight for the faregates if they have a contactless Visa, Mastercard or American Express credit card.

New bilingual signs at the YVR–Airport Station letting customers they can head straight for the faregates if they have a contactless Visa, Mastercard or American Express credit card.

We’ve made it easier for tourists, many who are first-time transit users in Vancouver, to find their way from the Canada Line’s YVR–Airport Station!

We want to be the best hosts that we can be, so that’s why we teamed up with YVR to improve signage at YVR–Airport Station to help customers decide what transit fare they need and how to pay for it. There’s now:

  • Bilingual awareness signage conveying Tap to Pay benefit for travellers
  • Maps with colour-coded fare zones
  • Signage with fares to popular tourist destinations

With better signs, our hope is more customers will skip the lines for a Compass Vending Machines, head straight to the faregates and use Tap to Pay option to pay their transit fare using a contactless Visa, Mastercard or American Express credit card. For customers who are purchasing a fare from Compass Vending Machines, new colour-coded maps help with identifying fare zones for popular destinations such as the outlet mall, ferry terminals and cruise ship terminals.

New colour-coded maps on Compass Vending Machines makes trip planning easier for transit users at YVR–Airport Station.

New colour-coded maps on Compass Vending Machines makes trip planning easier for transit users at YVR–Airport Station.

New colour-coded maps on Compass Vending Machines makes trip planning easier for transit users at YVR–Airport Station.

Previously, Canada Line Attendants would sometimes have to help customers calculate the fare to popular tourist destinations such as downtown Vancouver, Canada Place and the ferry terminals. Now, with better signage, it’s clearer and all our customers can have a better experience at the YVR–Airport Station – and we’re still always there to help!

But the best part of all? The new signage was installed December 17th, 2019 – so we were ready for all of our city’s visitors this holiday season!

Author: Mohak Sood

Your questions answered about snowy weather preparations

Today is an extreme travel day and our transit system hasn’t escaped the impact of the snow.

We’re receiving a high volume of enquiries about transit conditions, so we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions by you, our customers, on social media.

Don’t forget! Sign up for Transit Alerts to be notified about updates, changes, and disruptions to the transit services you take:

Q: How’s SkyTrain preparing?

A: SkyTrain Attendants are onboard all trains monitoring the tracks to improve reliability on the system by limiting emergency braking triggered by heavy snowfall. We also run trains throughout the night to keep the tracks clear and used a special train to spray de-icer on the power rails. On the Millennium Line, we’re operating four-car trains instead of the usual two-car trains to increase capacity, but that will mean longer than usual waits for customers.

Read more »

TransLink activates snow plan to keep customers moving

Customers should plan ahead for potential weather-related delays

Customers should plan ahead for potential weather-related delays

With the likelihood of snow in the early morning hours tomorrow, TransLink is activating plans to ensure transit service stays as reliable as possible.

Environment Canada is forecasting late night rain, followed by snow through the morning commute. This sequence of precipitation will not allow for early salting and sanding as the materials will wash away before snow hits. We are encouraging customers to dress for the elements and use proper footwear to avoid slips and falls.

Customer information will have extra staff on hand, but customers should expect larger-than-normal call and social media request volumes.

Here’s what we’re doing right now

  • Calling in extra staff to assist customers and coordinate service.
  • Coordinating with municipalities on snow clearing if priority routes are impacted.
  • Coupling Millennium Line trains into 4-car configurations to increase capacity while SkyTrain attendants monitor guideways.
  • Deploying special trucks to spread anti-icing solution on trolley wires.
  • Installing brass “cutters” on some trolley buses to cut through ice on trolley wires.

Read more »

Tactile and braille signage to be installed at bus stops across Metro Vancouver

TransLink Board approves $7 million for industry-leading accessibility program.

TransLink moves ahead with plans to implement an industry-leading program benefiting customers who are blind or partially sighted. Beginning in 2020, tactile and braille signage will be installed at every bus stop, and tactile walking surface indicators (TWSI) at stations and bus exchanges – making TransLink one of the first transit authorities in North America to provide this level of information across the bus network.

“We are committed to making our transit system accessible for as many people as possible,” says TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond. “We know that a lot of our customers with vision loss rely on transit to get around the region and this is another example of the work we are doing for a very important community.”

The tactile and braille signage will be installed at approximately 8,500 bus stops with:

  • The unique five-digit bus stop ID number;
  • The words “STOP” or “BAY #” to identify the bus stop;
  • Route numbers; and
  • The customer service telephone number.

TransLink will also be looking at developing a wayfinding technology pilot that will help customers better navigate the system using data sent directly to a phone or tablet.

“It is important to understand that changing an environment actually lessens the affect of the disability,” says Rob Sleath, Member of the Access Transit Users’ Advisory Committee (UAC). “I applaud TransLink for being a leader and continuing to provide accessible public and custom transit services for people who need it most. Today marks a special milestone for our community.”

The work to test Universally Accessible Bus Stops first started in 2012 and included the installation of TWSI, tactile and braille at various bus stops including Joyce-Collingwood Station as part of a pilot project. Throughout the process, TransLink has consulted with representatives from the community through a wide-reaching survey and direct engagement with key stakeholders.

“The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) Foundation BC/Yukon are proud of the strides that TransLink is undertaking to become a leader in accessibility by making the investment to ensure that bus stops are equipped with the TWSI and the addition of braille and tactile signage,” says CNIB’s Executive Director Jennifer Yankanna.

TransLink releases details of Winter Plan 2019/20

New initiatives and improvements to prepare for the season ahead

New initiatives and improvements to prepare for the season ahead

TransLink is releasing details of new initiatives and improvements to prepare for any adverse weather events this winter.  This comes amid the launch of a new winter marketing campaign aimed at promoting safety for transit users this season.

“Our initiatives this winter are focused on increasing safety and customer communication at stations, bus exchanges, and throughout our online channels,” says TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond.  “We’ve learned from previous seasons and have been working hard to ensure customers are kept informed of any significant delays or issues on our system.”

Last month, TransLink also hosted a meeting between Metro Vancouver municipalities to share and discuss winter preparedness plans.  These regional partnerships are crucial to ensuring that any issues can be swiftly dealt with, in order to limit the impact on transit and transportation. Read more »

Metro Vancouver transit strike: carsharing and carpooling options

We’re beyond pleased to share that Coast Mountain Bus Company, and Unifor Locals 111 and 2200 have reached a tentative agreement! We’re working towards providing regular schedules for all transit modes.

Evo at Braid Station

The reserved parking stalls for Evo cars at Braid Station.

While the SkyTrain, West Coast Express and HandyDART will continue to operate during the anticipated three-day strike, we recognize it will be a challenge for the our 350,000 customers who rely on bus and SeaBus services each weekday to get around.

That’s why TransLink’s doing what we can by facilitating options so commuters can reach their destination or connect to transit that’s operating regular schedules. It’s our job to keep the region moving. We’ve reached out to our partners to help give some relief. Read more »

Metro Vancouver transit strike: cycling the city

We’re beyond pleased to share that Coast Mountain Bus Company, and Unifor Locals 111 and 2200 have reached a tentative agreement! We’re working towards providing regular schedules for all transit modes.

Cycling

We’ve got some good news and some not-so-good news…

The not-so-good news: on Wednesday, November 27; Thursday, November 28 and Friday, November 29, escalating job action will result in the suspension of SeaBus and most bus service in Metro Vancouver

The good news: the forecast is calling for sunny skies for the latter part of the week, which means that despite the cooler temps cycling is a brisk, yet possible option for getting around the city during the transit strike.

Here are some important tips, tricks and reminders to ensure help your cycling commute:

Read more »

Metro Vancouver transit strike: what’s running on November 27, 28 and 29

We’re beyond pleased to share that Coast Mountain Bus Company, and Unifor Locals 111 and 2200 have reached a tentative agreement! We’re working towards providing regular schedules for all transit modes.

Bus Alert

On Wednesday, November 27; Thursday, November 28 and Friday, November 29, escalating job action will result in the suspension of SeaBus and most bus service in Metro Vancouver. 

SkyTrain, West Coast Express and HandyDART will operate their regular schedules on these days. Also running on these days are a very limited number of bus routes operated by West Vancouver Blue Bus and other contractors.

Each day, half-a-million people take transit within our region, and we recognize that this job action will create challenging and uncertain commutes for many.

The following summary breaks down what transit service IS running on November 27, 28 and 29. Read more »

8 things you need to know about the Metro Vancouver Transit Strike

We’re beyond pleased to share that Coast Mountain Bus Company, and Unifor Locals 111 and 2200 have reached a tentative agreement! We’re working towards providing regular schedules for all transit modes.

If you’re a resident, a visitor, or just have a stake in what’s going on in Metro Vancouver, you’ve likely noticed that a transit strike is underway. As avid transit users ourselves and lovers of the system, we want to address some of the chatter about the job action and provide some context. Read more »

The first new Canada Line train arrives and new escalator opens!

Exciting things are happening for SkyTrain’s Canada Line!

We’re adding 24 SkyTrain cars, or 12 trains, so we can increase Canada Line service by 30 per cent for our customers. We’re also installing new escalators at Waterfront, Vancouver City Centre and Yaletown–Roundhouse stations to help with increased customer demand and passenger flow throughout the stations. Read more »