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Category: Talking Transit

Talking Transit: An afternoon tea with Levi

Meet Levi!

Meet Levi!

I met Levi on a lovely afternoon at Brentwood Town Centre Station in Burnaby.

I must admit, this was not a typical stop for me as I usually use the Expo Line and the other side of the Millennium Line, but I love exploring the transit network and meeting riders where they use the system!

Levi is just 18 and uses transit daily to commute from her home on the North Shore to her job downtown and to school at BCIT.

She says transit does more than just gets her where she needs to go, it creates a community of those who use it and connects our region in a way nothing else can.

Levi has lots to say about transit, so let’s get to it!

What does transit mean for someone growing up in this region?

When I was in grade five, one of my best friends had so much independence and I had very protective parents and if I wanted to go anywhere, I was given a ride. Sometimes I didn’t want a ride, I wanted to take the bus! That never happened. Somehow, the bus turned into the symbol of independence for me that represented true mobility and maturity. It may sound funny but it really was for me!

When was the first time you took transit?

I think the first time I got to take the bus all by myself was finally in grade eight and I was so scared! I remember a million things going through my mind: What if I got on the wrong bus? What if I pulled the cord at the wrong time? What if it doesn’t stop when I need to get off? It turned out absolutely fine and from then on, it was my favourite way to get around.

Why do you take transit now, as an adult?

Honestly, parking is super expensive at school and I have a UPass! It would just be so silly of me not to use it. I live just on the other side of the water so it doesn’t take me very long to get to school. It seemed redundant to me to live so close to transit and pay for another mode of transportation including gas, insurance, parking and deal with traffic just for a tiny bit more convenience. Plus, I would only drive myself, I don’t have anyone to carpool with so that would be pretty wasteful and expensive.

What is your favourite mode of transit?

Out of all the modes, I would say SeaBus. Mainly because I think there’s an operator or captain person. I like the idea of seeing the person driving my vehicle — the SkyTrain is super fast and awesome but no driver kinda creeps me out. I know that’s strange, call me old fashioned!

Plus, it’s the only transit that you can never miss your stop! When I worked downtown on the later shifts, it was great because I could have 15 minute power naps without worrying about not getting off at the right place!

Do you have any fun or sweet stories about transit?

One day when I was first commuting to and from BCIT, I was on my way home and the buses were very busy. It was looking like the bus was full so I would have to wait another 30 minutes for the next one.

Then a driver came along and asked if anyone, who wasn’t going to the final destination in North Vancouver, could wait for another bus just behind. A bunch of people were kind enough to get off and get the other bus meaning I could get on and go home after a long day.

It was great on two levels; one, the operator taking control of a situation to be more efficient and just help out and two, the other passengers who did get up and change buses to help some other people out.

Now, THAT bus driver is my favourite in general because he always talks to the riders. He has a series of jokes he goes through and he always says the connecting buses at major intersections so people know. He just goes above and beyond all the time!

If you had a transit wish, what would it be?

I bet everyone says they want more buses on their route or in their neighbourhood, right? Well, I’m no different! Ha ha! I actually completely understand why my bus route doesn’t have a lot of frequency. I know there aren’t a lot of people that take it and it wouldn’t make a ton of sense but I can still wish for more!

Thank you for the tea and the transit talk, Levi! It’s great to learn more about our riders’ experiences on the system.

Do YOU want to be featured in a Talking Transit interview here on the Buzzer blog?
Email us at with the subject line “Talking Transit.”

Author: Adrienne Coling

Talking Transit: 5 minutes with Lora

Talking transit is a new series that features interviews with riders sharing their transit stories!

Lora Talking Transit

Lora relies on transit to get where she needs to go!

Welcome to another edition of Talking Transit!

This time we’re talking with Lora, an avid transit user and not just because she wants to, she has to!

Lora has a visual impairment that doesn’t allow her to drive, but does that stop her from jetting all across the region?

Of course not, because she takes transit!

I sat down with Lora to find out all about her transit story.

**Spoiler Alert! SkyTrain is her favourite mode!**

What do you need as a transit user?

Reliability, frequency and safety. As a transit user I really don’t have complaints. The buses here in Surrey are so accommodating and helpful. Being visually impaired, I do need that extra bit of understanding at times. The buses have really been modified with the visual component as well as the person’s voice telling you about the stops or the station connections. I really find that helps quite a bit. I’m very pleased about that because it allows me to use my hearing rather than relying on my sight.

What about the system makes you happy?

There are so many improvements to the system for people with disabilities. You guys have really stepped up for people with different disabilities because I remember as a child in the region, I was basically left to my own devices and that was scary. And at that point, trying to get through to transit on the phone was next to impossible. Now, it’s so easy!

I’ve called Customer Information when I’ve been lost or don’t know exactly where I’m going and if I tell them I’m visually impaired, they’re really good at giving me specific instructions with intersections, landmarks, etc. They really take into consideration that I’m visually impaired. I’ve always found them so, so helpful and very pleasant. Because nothing freaks me out more then getting on a bus and not knowing where to go after that. There is a feeling of relief and accomplishment when I get off the bus and arrive at my destination and I think, “I did it!”

What would your wish be for our transit system?

I’ve always thought more articulated buses would be wonderful. Particularly South of the Fraser River. Because some of the routes get really, really crowded and it’s packed. There’s a lot of strollers, people with mobility devices plus the rest of the population all trying to squeeze onto the traditional buses.

I’m not sure what would be better, SkyTrain extension or an LRT line but something a little more rapid than buses would be my wish.

What other places have you taken transit?

Hawaii, Las Vegas, Calgary, Mexico.

What were your experience as a visually impaired person on those systems?

Honestly, it was a mixed bag. Some were good, some were… less than good! Mexico was not great and while Vegas has a quick monorail that goes through the strip and beyond, it wasn’t very user friendly for someone with a visual impairment. Usually, I will take transit over any other way of travel any time, anywhere but there have been times in other cities where I’ve had to take a taxi. Here at home, I never need to.

What is your favourite mode of transit?

I like SkyTrain! I love the view. I like watching the world go by. I took it for years when I worked downtown and I never got bored. It’s very relaxing. I have been known to fall asleep and miss my stop and go around a few times!

What are your pet peeves as an avid transit user?

Oh… there are quite a few! People that leave their bags on seats they aren’t sitting on. Or those who sit on the outside and make you climb over them to get in. Then they look at your like you are the crazy one! Also, riders who listen to their music or watch videos on their phone without headphones. I loved the Buzzer’s pet peeves campaign! You need to revive that and add some more characters in there!

Thanks for talking transit with us, Lora!

Are you a transit rider and want to share your transit story? Email us with the subject line “Talking Transit” and tell us how transit is a part of your life!

*We will try our best to include all stories but we may not be able to feature everyone*

Author: Adrienne Coling

Talking Transit: 5 minutes with Sarah

Sarah at Surrey Central Station!

Talking transit is a new series that features interviews with riders sharing their transit stories!

Why do you take transit?

I take transit because I got a job right along the SkyTrain Line. I take it to and from work everyday and I jump on the SkyTrain and SeaBus to see friends on the weekend.

Do you have a favourite mode of transit?

I’d say SkyTrain because it is fast and it arrives pretty often, so I don’t have to follow a bus schedule. I can just go to the train whenever I’m ready and one appears!

What makes you happy about riding our system?

For the most part it is reliable and runs pretty often. It is convenient for me and I don’t have to worry about driving or having a car. I like how I can rely purely on transit to get around and get to work.

If you had a transit wish what would it be?

I guess I would wish that the SkyTrain would extend to other locations with more tracks and more routes so I could get everywhere and never have to use a car.

You sketch when you are on transit. Can you tell me a bit about what you draw and how you got started?

I started drawing on transit because at work I do a lot of designing on a computer, but it doesn’t fill the same artistic need as drawing with pen on paper. I realized I could fill my commute time with drawing so I sketch people on the train before and after work. It can be challenging because you don’t know how long they will be on the train or if someone is going to come in and block your view. Either the person you are drawing is shifting or the train is shifting itself. It keeps it interesting and makes the daily commute a bit less mundane.

Has anyone caught you drawing them on transit?

Not yet, actually. People who have sat next to me definitely watch me draw and kind of look back and forth from what I’m drawing to the person I am drawing. Sometimes they might comment, but no one has walked up to me yet. I’ve been nervous that someone might be uncomfortable with me drawing them. I try to be discreet, but I found out that I am so not discreet! It’s hard because when you are drawing someone properly you need to look up a lot to make sure you are drawing them accurately.

You can check out more of Sarah’s sketches on her Instagram page Between Stops.

Author: Laura Tennant

Are you a transit rider and want to share your transit story? Email us with the subject line “Talking Transit” and tell us how transit is a part of your life!

*We will try our best to include all stories but we may not be able to feature everyone*

Talking Transit: Tell your transit story!

Lisa is someone who told us her story. What’s yours?

We all have our transit stories!

From our regular bus routes and stations to where we like to sit; favourite places to visit to secret transit tips for a smooth ride. Transit is a big part of many people’s lives in our region!

With that in mind, we are starting a new profile series on the blog with video, audio and interviews with riders just like you!

Everyday transit user or just an occasional rider, we want to hear your transit story and how it is a part of your life.

Profiles will be shared here on the Buzzer blog, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Interested in participating?
Email us with the subject line “Talking Transit” to get started!

*We will try our best to include all stories but we may not be able to feature everyone*