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“It’s a lifetime of freedom to travel”: Overcoming the fear of SkyTrain

Read the story of how Jon, a teen with autism, overcame the fear of boarding the SkyTrain with some help from Mo Hassabou from BCRTC (SkyTrain) and Jon’s teachers.

 

We all have our own unique phobias and some of them are pretty common – claustrophobia or arachnophobia for example are often listed as fears that large numbers of us share. But for some people, their phobias can intrinsically impact their day to day life and present a number of challenges in navigating the world.

For high school student Jon, the SkyTrain presents this very challenge. As a teen with autism, Jon often finds himself unable to enjoy the same hobbies and interests as his classmates, and in some cases, cannot participate in school field trips as he is too scared of our transit system to board the train and join his classmates on activities downtown. Jon gets frustrated with this and it is a problem that both the student and his teachers find upsetting.

Trying to bridge this impasse, some of Jon’s teachers got in touch with SkyTrain to see if anything could be done to help encourage their student onto transit and overcome this hindering fear. Fortunately, Mo Hassabou, a Field Operations Duty Manager, was excited to answer that call and invite young Jon to the Operations and Maintenance Centre (OMC) facilities to coach him through this particular obstacle.

“I worked with children with special needs in my previous career as a teacher and I worked with autistic children then and I thought it would be nice to do that again,” recalls Mo, who was not daunted by the challenge at hand.

Mo had to use all his previous teaching expertise and knowledge of the SkyTrain to make sure Jon felt as comfortable as possible during his visit to the OMC. It wasn’t an easy task as Jon has a fear of confined spaces, crowds and vehicles moving without being in control – the SkyTrain is a perfect mix of these triggers and quite a stressful environment for him.

Despite Jon’s hesitation, Mo could see how interested and determined his student was to board the train. He kept watching all the things Mo was showing him from a distance and was always listening.

“I got him used to what to expect from the train. He saw us all walking in and out, we opened the doors and closed the doors, and I even honked the horn. I asked him if he wanted to come and push buttons. He would come to the door and look but then back away again.”

Mo and Jon’s teachers weren’t beyond a few bribes to get some success.

“The teachers said he liked Michael Jackson songs so I hooked up my phone to the speaker in the train and put Michael Jackson on to get him closer to the train to listen to the song. I played Michael Jackson and we all sang a little,” laughs Mo.

Of course, the way to any teenager’s heart is food and the final trick that encouraged Jon to step onto the train was an offer of raspberries around midday, just when he started to want some lunch. “I think by the end he was a little hungry so the raspberries helped, he wanted some of the snacks so food for sure got him on,” says Mo.

Although Jon didn’t stay on board the train for too long, it was a huge step for the teenager who had never managed to get onto a train before and his teachers were ecstatic with the development, saying that they hoped it would allow him to participate in more school activities and help him integrate all the more with his classmates.

“For me, it’s just three hours of my life; for him, this is the step towards the freedom to travel anywhere at any time.” adds Mo.

Mo hopes that in the future, BCRTC will have more education and interactive elements fall under their scope as they continue to serve Metro Vancouver. Mo sees an opportunity to teach school children (and some adults alike) the importance of train safety and encouraging transit usage from a young age.

“I like to imagine that soon we could have our own ‘Science World’ for SkyTrain, where school trips can come in and classes can learn. That’s what I would like to see in the future. In 10 or 20 years, we would have our own interactive museum where we can have MKIs that aren’t running anymore and kids can come and learn about our system, our history, what makes the train special. They can drive simulators and see what it takes to keep us running. That’s how I see the future, because those kids are our future,” finishes Mo.

Written by Alex Jackson

 

Transport 2050: Why Metro Vancouver’s youth should take part in the future of transportation

Did you know TransLink hires co-op students?

It’s true! Your friendly neighbourhood transit authority has opportunities for student interns. There’s plenty of students spending their summer helping with transportation planning, data analyst, quality assurance, maintenance and communications. I’m one of those students and I’m lucky enough to be working with the Social Media team! My work covers a range from writing articles for the Buzzer Blog, creating videos, live-streaming media events and scanning social media throughout the day. One of the projects I’m helping with is supporting the Transport 2050 campaign.

What is Transport 2050?

Have you seen our posts on social media or the dark pastel-tinted posters around your neighbourhood transit hubs with ‘Transport2050’? This is TransLink’s largest campaign to engage the community of those who live and work in Metro Vancouver on what they want public transportation to look like in thirty years. Read more »

Get to celebrations and home safely with Canada Day 2019 holiday transit service!

Making my way downtown, walking fast… because I want to see the firework show!  🎉

We know that Canada Day celebrations are a big thing, cause we are excited for them too! That’s why on Monday July 1st, the SkyTrain, SeaBus and buses will be running on the holiday schedule, but with additional service to help you get to the celebrations and getting you home safely. 🤗

Because of this spectacular event, that also means that there will be changes to our regular bus routes and access to SkyTrain stations downtown. Don’t worry, it’s just for Canada Day! Read more »

Talking transit and the future of mobility with Tim Papandreou

As TransLink prepares to update Metro Vancouver’s transportation plan through to 2050, we brought in Tim Papandreou, a leading global expert in the future of mobility and automation, to introduce the challenges and opportunities of next generation mobility.

Read more »

New bus loop at Joyce-Collingwood Station and more!

The TransLink Maintenance and Repair Program is improving aging infrastructure across the system

Upgrades to Joyce-Collingwood Station are well underway. The new bus loop at Joyce-Collingwood Station is now complete – a milestone in the TransLink Maintenance and Repair Program that’s improving aging infrastructure across the system.

The next phase of construction will start next week, with crews completing necessary upgrade work.

The west stationhouse at Joyce–Collingwood SkyTrain Station will be closed from August 13 until spring 2019 as station improvements continue. During construction, the station will remain open and accessible to all customers.

Where do I catch my bus or SkyTrain?

Two new bus shelters at the Joyce-Collingwood Station – opening August 13.

 

Beginning August 13, customers will use the east stationhouse and newly-constructed bus loop to access SkyTrain and buses.

  • Buses will move to the new bus loop adjacent to the east stationhouse.
  • From August 13 to spring 2019, the west stationhouse will close and customers can catch their bus at the new bus loop adjacent to the east stationhouse.
  • The bus loop has larger shelters and is the new permanent location for the 28 and 41/43 routes.

 

Read more »

A day in the life of Metro Vancouver transit

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A streetcar in North Vancouver sets out for its first ride, 1906

A streetcar sets out for its first ride, 1906

A lot has changed over the last 125 years in this region and transit has changed right along with it!

Take a look at some of the Buzzer’s posts about our history.

Say hello to The Conductorettes! A group of 180 women from 1943 to 1975 blazing the trail in the industry as the first female operators.

Hop on the SkyTrain to the past for some memorabilia and collectables.

See how the interurban trams mapped transit for the entire region! (Psst. An interurban is like a street car only bigger and more powerful.)

And where are we now? Let’s find out! Watch a day in the life of our operating companies and some of the great staff that keep us moving year after year.

Stay tuned for more awesome 125 celebration posts on the Buzzer blog, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Have something you want to share? Comment below, email us or join in the celebration on social media with the hashtag #transit125

Author: Adrienne Coling

Today marks 125 years of transit in the region!

buzzer_banner_125_yearsWhen you think about what can happen in 125 years, it boggles the mind!

Now, think about how far transit and transportation has come since its humble, yet forward-thinking beginning.

We can’t truly understand where we are or where we’re going without taking a look at where we’ve been! So, let’s do that!

Streetcar on Columbia St ca. 1900

The interuban streetcar on Columbia St. circa 1900

New Westminster, the oldest municipality in the province, started construction on a streetcar in 1890.

It was then called an interurban and used electric rails above ground to connect residents from city to city.

BCE bus with school children 1948

A BCE bus in 1948 waits for school children to cross the road

For 60 years, this mode of transit dominated the region until buses came around!

Diesel and trolleybuses were used and allowed residents to venture around their neighbourhoods and even further out.

Times changed again when we saw our SeaBus come into action and eventually our elevated rapid transit system, the SkyTrain.

Public transit has really shaped the way this region has grown and will continue to grow!

Take a look at some of these great photos throughout our transit journey.

In 1990, there was a special edition of the print Buzzer released documenting the centennial of transit in the region.

Check out some of the excerpts:

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Keep your eyes open on the Buzzer along with our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages throughout the summer for lots of fun events celebrating our transit history! Also, make sure you don’t miss the free vintage bus ride on Sunday!

Author: Adrienne Coling

 

A celebration of 125 years of transit… with a vintage trolley bus!

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vintage trolley bus

This summer, you’re invited to join our celebration of 125 years of public transit in BC!

And wow, do we ever have a lot to to celebrate!

Transit in the region has come a long way since the first streetcars rumbled through Vancouver’s core in 1890.

Just look at how our system has expanded over the years to meet the growing population.

Following our initial trolley bus and rubber-tired bus fleets of early days, when the SeaBus hit the scene in 1977 our system began carrying more passengers to the North Shore.

Then the SkyTrain cruised in a few years later for EXPO 86 with The Millennium Line following hot on its heels in 2002.

And then the Canada Line infrastructure further grew our system for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Now, the Evergreen Line is set to expand our transportation network even further to the east.

So, all in all, it has been a busy 125 years!

In honour of this special anniversary we have a few things up our sleeves to mark the occasion…including free rides on a vintage trolley bus!

This Sunday, an old 1954 Canadian Car-Brill  trolley bus (originally acquired by BC Electric Railway
Company) will be brought out of retirement to give passengers a free ride to designated downtown stops.

Sunday’s vintage trolley bus route! The bus is running from 11am to 3pm, picking up and dropping off at stops marked on the map.

Running from 11am to 3pm, the old trolley will tour on a 30 minute schedule from these stops:

  • Southbound from Victory Square –
    Cambie St at Hastings St, stop #50410
  • Burrard Station – Burrard St at Melville St, stop #50043
  • Burrard St at Robson St, stop #50045
  • Davie St at Howe St, stop #50011
  • Seymour St at Pender St, stop #61519
  • Waterfront Station – Cordova St at Richards St

A couple of TRAMS BC volunteers will also be on board, so if you have questions about the trolley or just want to chat about transit history, these guys got you covered.

Please note, the trolley is not accessible for passengers with disabilities.

Over the upcoming weeks we will continue to celebrate 125 years of transit, so stay tuned for special interviews, archival photos and more!

Author: Laura Tennant