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Translink Buzzer Blog

Category: Transit History

TransLink 20: the secret Mark II SkyTrain cars

When TransLink took over transit in 1999, the Millennium Line was announced by the provincial government and about to break ground. Construction began in October 1999 and the new line opened in 2002.

As part of the project, SkyTrain added 60 Mark II cars to the fleet to the new line and to meet booming ridership. The Mark II cars were the next generation that followed the original Mark I cars that arrived when the Expo Line opened in 1985.

A Mark II train undergoing testing at SkyTrain’s Operations and Maintenance Centre in the early 2000s. (Photo: John Wollenzin)

But did you know – the first bit of work designing the next generation of SkyTrain cars began about a decade earlier?

A mock-up of what a Mark II could look like was developed by BC Transit in 1991. It was displayed at the PNE and Scott Road Station to gauge the public’s reaction and test seating configurations.

Built from wood by a movie production company – oddly at Celtic Shipyards in south Vancouver, it was only half a car and had mirrors at the end to make the interior look larger.

Read more »

TransLink 20: Enter to win a New Look bus model, t-shirt, keychain and more!

Three of the new products that just launched in the TransLink Store!

Twenty-years ago this month, TransLink began operating with a strong vision: to remain a unique, made-in-B.C. solution, unmatched by any transportation authority in the world. Throughout this week and the rest of the month, we’ll be celebrating our 20th anniversary!

Anniversaries are a time to celebrate where we’ve come from, but also how we’ve changed and where we’re headed. That’s why we threw it back to 1999 for the latest line of merchandise in the TransLink Store! We added a 1999 New Look bus model, t-shirt and keychain.

As a thank you for choosing us to get around and allowing us to serve the region over the past 20 years, we’re giving away THREE TransLink Store prize packs with the new merch!  Read more »

TransLink 20: our names through the years

A staffer scrapes off the BC Transit logo from a a bus in preparation for TransLink’s launch.

Nearly 130 years ago, on June 25, 1890, transit burst onto the scene in Metro Vancouver with the interurban streetcar.

Over the years, myriad companies – both private and public – have operated transit in the region.

Between 1890 and 1962, transit was operated privately; first by Vancouver Electric Railway and Light Company, and later BC Electric Railway Company (BCER).

The BCER was sold to the provincial government and BC Hydro took over transit. Later came the Metro Transit Operating Company and BC Transit.

Finally, in April 1999, the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority began operation with a strong vision: to remain a unique, made-in-B.C. solution, unmatched by any transportation authority in the world. Our mandate expanded to include roads.  Read more »

New Look bus model among new transit merchandise launching

The GM New Look bus, which operated in Metro Vancouver until the early 2000s, is now available as a model from
the TransLink Store!

 

Take your childhood bus home!

For TransLink’s 20th anniversary, we’re throwing it back with an all new line of retro products in the TransLink Store.

The featured product is GM’s iconic New Look “fishbowl” bus which rolled through Metro Vancouver streets from the 1970s until the early 2000s. In fact, locals can still spot, and even charter this bus thanks to the Transit Museum Society of B.C. (TRAMS).

It’s gone from the streets, but not from our hearts.

This bus model is also available as a keychain and a t-shirt!

Head on over to the TransLink Store to grab yours today!

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Celebrate TransLink’s 20th anniversary with us!

An employee installs the TransLink logo on the side of this bus after scraping off the BC Transit logo.

An employee installs the TransLink logo on the side of this bus after scraping off the BC Transit logo.

Twenty-years ago this month (April 1 to be exact!), TransLink began operating with a strong vision: to remain a unique, made-in-B.C. solution, unmatched by any transportation authority in the world.

We’re inviting you to celebrate our 20th anniversary with us!

As a thank you for choosing us to get around and allowing us to serve the region over the past 20 years, we’ll be hosting four pop-up photo booths throughout April.

  • Friday, April 5 at Waterfront Station, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

 

  • Saturday, April 13 at Party for the Planet, Surrey Civic Plaza near Surrey Central Station, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

 

  • Wednesday, April 17 at Metrotown Station, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

 

  • Thursday, April 25 at Lougheed Town Centre Station, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

It’s a rare opportunity to snag a FREE photo with the “Vancouver icons” background, so bring your friends and strike your best pose.

On The Buzzer blog, look out for stories that celebrate our shared transit history starting on Monday. We’ll have a contest for your chance to win a TransLink Store prize pack. Finally, we have new merchandise that pays homage to the ’90s.

Transportation shaped Metro Vancouver’s past. Together, we’ll shape the future of how we move and live.

Lol isn’t it funny that TransLink’s birthday lands on April 1 — April Fools’ Day?!

I mean, a little bit, I guess…if that’s the kind of humour that floats your boat? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

April marks the start of the fiscal year. That’s why we have some good company when it comes to April 1 birthdays!

Apple celebrates its birthday on this day, so does the Wrigley candy company and Gmail. And fun fact — Nunvaut was created on April 1, 1999 too!

 

Photos: all-door boarding at New Westminster Station in the late 1980s

A photo of a SkyTrain stopped on Platform 2 with the temporary structure on top of Platform 1.

The upgraded Commercial–Broadway Station is now open and with that, all-door boarding has arrived at the station!

But, eagle-eyed readers pointed out that technically this is not the first time. SkyTrain temporarily had all-door boarding at New Westminster Station in the late 1980s. Read more »

(PICTURES) The Vancouver trolleybus network turns 70 today!

Stanley Park (Chilco) Loop circa 1972

August 16, 2018 marks the 70th anniversary of Vancouver’s trolleybus network.

Today marks the 70th anniversary of Vancouver’s trolleybus network!

The electric trolleybuses first burst onto the scene as part of the ambitious “rails-to-rubber” conversion to decommission the streetcar network. The first trolleybus, a Canadian Car Brill T-44, hit the roads on August 16, 1948, forever changing the way we move around in the city.

Have you checked out the new items in the TransLink Store? We’ve released a commemorative shirt, recognizing the 70th anniversary of Vancouver’s trolleybus network! Available in men and ladies sizes.

For more than 60 years, the streetcar was the backbone of the region’s transit system. The end of the Great Depression and World War II challenged us to rethink public transit: stay with streetcars and their tracks, or look towards rubber-tired buses.  Read more »

Did you know there’s a time capsule at New Westminster Station?

Premier Bill Bennett seals commemorative time capsule as Ontario Premier David Peterson and
New Westminster Mayor Tom Baker look on.

Our Transit History section just scratches the surface of what we have in The Buzzer archives, which includes eight issues of the Vancouver Regional Rapid Transit Project Quarterly.

The 12-page Winter 1986 edition, released a month after SkyTrain’s opening, contained a myriad of photos and stories touting the launch of Vancouver’s first rapid transit system. Perhaps, the most interesting tidbit is the existence of a time capsule.

Mhmm, that’s right! A stainless steel time capsule, sealed by then-B.C. premier Bill Bennett, was buried at New Westminster Station. It will be opened in 2085—a hundred years after SkyTrain opened.

Luckily, we won’t have to wait until 2085 to find out what’s inside!

According to quarterly, it includes the names of the 5,000 people that built SkyTrain and a letter from Bennett to the British Columbians that will open the capsule. He writes,

[The inauguration of SkyTrain is] a milestone as important as the arrival in 1885 of the first transcontinental passenger train in British Columbia. The documents which accompany this letter in the time capsule are the essential records relating to the design and construction of SkyTrain and represent the creative efforts of thousands of British Columbian and Canadian architects, engineers, construction workers, planners-and designers. Together, we have shown the world what imagination and determination can achieve.

Also inside:

…the opening day commemorative editions of the Vancouver Sun and Province, which contained special SkyTrain supplements, a copy of the rapid transit film, Going to Town, a filmed message from Grace M. McCarthy, minister responsible for the project, one of the invitations to the SkyTrain opening ceremonies, and a copy of each of the seven quarterly reports of the Rapid Transit Project.

Also, luckily, we have a copy of Going to Town uploaded to our YouTube account! Watch it here.

Happy 32nd birthday, SkyTrain!

SkyTrain bursts through a banner on its very first day in service: Dec 11, 1985!

It’s birthday time, again!

Thirty-two years ago today, Premier Bill Bennett proudly announced the opening of SkyTrain, forever changing the face of transit for Metro Vancouver! Rides were free for the first eight days while SkyTrain staff worked out any glitches on the system.

According to the Vancouver Sun newspaper, on opening day there were “bands, balloons, political speeches and a crowd of admiring fans” as vehicle 049 smashed through “five colourful banners stretched across the tracks and glided to a halt at Waterfront Station” (“Bands, Balloons, Fans and Glitter,” Vancouver Sun, Final Edition, Wednesday, December 11, 1985).

Nearly a month later, SkyTrain would mark its official launch with the start of regular service on January 3rd, 1986.

Let’s look at some of our major milestones of the last 32 years:

  • 1986: SkyTrain opens for regular revenue service between Vancouver and New Westminster
  • 1989–1994: Three Expo Line expansion projects are built adding service to Surrey with King George as the terminus station
  • 2002: Millennium Line officially opens operating along the Expo Line to New Westminster Station and adding new service between Columbia and Commercial-Broadway
  • 2006: Millennium Line service is extended to its current terminus station, VCC-Clark
  • 2009: Canada Line opens, connecting downtown Vancouver with Richmond and the Vancouver international airport
  • 2016: Millennium Line Evergreen Extension opens connecting the Tri-Cities to the existing SkyTrain system, regional bus network, and West Coast Express

Happy Birthday, SkyTrain!

Photo: Rob Chew/Bob Webster

Photo: Rob Chew/Bob Webster

The 1985 SkyTrain system map

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

Print buzzer front page

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 Vancouver streetcars with a fitting send-off at the PNE.

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, 3:30 am – The last official revenue streetcar went out of service
April 22, 1955 – Last streetcar route replaced with trolley bus
April 24, 1955 –
Last streetcar (free!) ride and No. 53 display at the PNE
1958 – The end of interurban service

“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 a streetcar today? Just head to the Old Spaghetti Factory in Gastown to see the No. 53 or cruise by East Broadway at the Kingsway and….. tada a lovely little streetcar replica!

No 21 Mount Pleasant

A nod to transit years gone by

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

Burnaby Transit Centre turns 30!

First bus
On November 3, 1986 at 4:35 a.m. bus #5101 was the very first to pass through the gates of the brand new Burnaby Transit Centre.

Who knew that 30 years later, BTC would still be such a hub for our bus fleet?!

This transit centre is made up of a north and south campus and holds fleet overhaul as well as the paint and fabric services for all of CMBC’s buses plus the sign, fare box and bus stop maintenance shops.

Some notable bus routes coming out of BTC are the ever-popular 99 B-line, 43 Joyce/UBC, 135 SFU/Burrard Station and 236 Grouse Mountain/Lonsdale Quay – just to name a few!

BTC is a highlight for I Love Transit week each year as transit ‘campers’ get to explore buses behind the scenes.

To BTC, we wish you a happy 30th birthday and thank all of hard working employees that keep it running and in turn, keep our buses running and serving the transit network!

Author: Adrienne Coling

BC Law Enforcement Memorial adds Special Constable to Honour Roll

Cst Walker at W 6th Ave & Moberly (2)

Constable Walker who, at 34 years of age, is the same age as Charles Painter at the time of his death, standing near the location of the shooting.

Transit Police as an organization is relatively new. Policing the transit network, however, dates back to the turn of the 20th century.

There have been thousands of men and women who have protected and supported the riders of transit and this is the story of one named Charles Painter. Special Constable Charles Painter, officer with the British Columbia Electric Railway Company, who was shot and killed in the line of duty in 1915.

One hundred and one years after this tragic event, Painter was recently added to the Honour Roll of the British Columbia Law Enforcement Memorial in Stanley Park.

Read on about this interesting piece of transit and transit police history!

In the early hours of Friday, March 19, 1915, while on duty in the area of the railway tracks at 6th Avenue and Willow Street, Vancouver, Special Constable Charles Painter spotted a man carrying a bundle of wire he believed to be stolen. While handcuffing the suspect following his arrest, a struggle took place during which the suspect grabbed Special Constable Painter’s revolver and shot him in the abdomen. The suspect ran from the area leaving the officer gravely wounded.

Special Constable Painter died several days later after providing a statement to police. Media reports at that time connected a man, later brought to trial in Seattle for a double murder, to the Vancouver shooting, but charges were never laid. Charles Painter was born in Ireland in 1881 and had served in the British Army before coming to Vancouver. He was single and had no known family at the time of his death so was laid to rest in an unmarked grave in Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver. memorial_ribbon_lg

Constable Graham Walker of the Metro Vancouver Transit Police was curious about the history of transit policing in British Columbia and while conducting research, uncovered the murder of Special Constable Painter. Further research showed that his death was not recorded on the BC Law Enforcement Memorial Honour Roll although he qualified for inclusion. Discussions are underway with the Metro Vancouver Transit Police union to fund the engraving of a suitable headstone for Special Constable Painter’s grave.

While Metro Vancouver Transit Police may be only just over a decade old, it can trace its roots back to the turn of the 20th century. Research has unearthed a great deal of information about how policing of the hydro lines and transit in those early days of the last century evolved into our modern day police service. Thanks to Constable Walker and his research, we are learning more about the evolution of the transit police organization.

The British Columbia Law Enforcement Memorial was held on September 25, 2016 at Brockton Oval in Stanley Park.

We honour Special Constable Painter and all of the law enforcement officers who keep us safe on and around transit and in our communities.

Some cool photos from a friend at TRAMS

Angus next to a 1957 GMC bus

Angus next to a 1957 GMC bus

If you follow the blog, you’ve met Angus before and TRAMS is old hat – but oh, so awesome!

However, if this is your first foray into the transit enthusiast world, you might be unaware that old transit vehicles are HUGE for fans here in Metro Vancouver, across Canada and the world!

Angus recently sent us some great pictures (captioned by the man, himself) of an old streetcar, refurbished and being used in service on Sundays all this summer in Toronto.

He rode this streetcar as a part of a chartered tour and shared some shots from his ride PLUS some way-back-play-back pictures of transit vehicles in 1970s Toronto.

Take a look!

Thanks for thinking of us on your travels, Angus!

Do you have some interesting transit photos from around Canada and beyond?
Email us with your photos – we’d love to share them on our social channels!

Author: Adrienne Coling

February 22, 1890 – the beginning of transit in B.C.

streetcar Fort St Victoria 1890s

Streetcar on Fort St., Victoria – 1890s Courtesy of BC Archives

“Let’s go back, let’s go back, let’s go way on way back when…” – Aretha Franklin

To February 22, 1890.

This is such an important date for the province because this day in history marks the launch of public transit in British Columbia!

It all started in Victoria with four small electric streetcars, two routes and nine kilometres of track laid down the centre of the city by The National Electric Tramway and Light Company.

Streetcar No. 5 Victoria - 1898 Courtesy of BC Archives

Streetcar No. 5 Victoria – 1898
Courtesy of BC Archives

This was only the third electric streetcar system in Canada at the time.

Vancouver wasn’t far behind! Four months later on June 26th, the first car went for a ride all the way down Main St. and on June 28th, the whole 9.6 kilometre system was in service.

We celebrated the region’s 125 years of transit milestone this past summer!

The next major transit launch was in New Westminster a year later with interurban trams connecting to downtown Vancouver through Burnaby which created easy travel for residents of different cities to explore the region.

These first benchmarks in B.C.’s transit history began over a century of transit expansion in the province.

It is so valuable to know where we’ve come from to see where transit can go in the future!

We salute those early transit pioneers that paved the way (sometimes literally) for BC Transit and TransLink to be here today and provide transit service to British Columbia!

You can learn lots more about transit history by visiting the BC Archives.

Author: Adrienne Coling

A history of the 14 Hastings in Vancouver: an interview with planner Peter Klitz about the iconic bus route

A Brill trolley with the BC Hydro colours, operating as the 14 Hastings in 1967.


Repost: Written by Jhenifer Pabillano and originally published April 7, 2011.

During our April 2011 service changes, we brought back the 14 Hastings trolley route—an iconic former bus route that ran through Vancouver’s downtown for many years!

The 14—which even had a famous play named after it—makes its triumphant return to the streets due to optimization changes for the 10 and 17 trolley routes.

Here to tell us more about the 14’s history and its current incarnation is Peter Klitz, one of TransLink’s planners involved in the project. Read on for more insights and some classic photos of the 14 through time!

Read more »