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Translink Buzzer Blog

A tour of the Central Valley Greenway: a major new bike and walking path through three municipalities!

A section of the Central Valley Greenway in New Westminster.

A section of the Central Valley Greenway in New Westminster.

I don’t know if you know about this, but after more than six years of development, the Central Valley Greenway is launching on Saturday, June 27!

What’s the Central Valley Greenway? It’s a new 24-kilometre pathway through Vancouver, Burnaby, and New Westminster. (Here’s the Greenway page on the main TransLink site.)

That means you can now walk or cycle on a dedicated path from Science World to New Westminster Quay, with all sorts of parks, shopping, worksites, and major transit hubs along the way. (Most of the trail is accessible to wheelchairs, skateboarding, and in-line skating, too.)

It’s a new, high-quality backbone for the regional cycling network, helping our region cut greenhouse gases and encouraging alternative modes of travel.

But more than that—the Greenway is just a really great walk or bike ride!

And to show you just what I’m talking about, I’ll do a picture/video tour of the Greenway here. (The route is still not totally finished, but I got to bike the route a few weeks ago!)

Just bear in mind that this will be a highlights tour. For more detail, check out the Buzzer’s Flickr set of Greenway photos, which illustrates the entire route and provides lots of commentary and instructions on the trickier bits.

Read more »

Try out a public bike share system in Vancouver this weekend!

The Bixi bike share system in Montreal. The City of Vancouver is trying the same self-serve bike rental system this weekend.

The Bixi bike share system in Montreal. The City of Vancouver is trying the same self-serve bike rental system this weekend.

Drop by Science World this weekend and try out a public bike share system!

The City of Vancouver will be demonstrating a self-serve rental station for bikes. Bring a helmet if you want to ride!

The station is actually from Bixi, the City of Montreal’s award-winning public bike share system. Trying it out and getting feedback is the City of Vancouver’s first step in exploring how to implement such a system here.

A map of the demo location.

A map of the demo location.

The details:
Friday, June 12 to Monday, June 15
Where: Seawall area south of Science World
When: 7am to 7pm (June 12 and 15)
10am to 4pm (June 13 and 14)

And you can find out lots more at the City of Vancouver’s site.

Maps and info for the Golden Ears Bridge celebration

A map for the Golden Ears Bridge celebration on Sunday, June 14, showing park-and-ride and other locations on the south side of the bridge. Click for a larger version.

A map for the Golden Ears Bridge celebration on Sunday, June 14, showing park-and-ride and other locations on the south side of the bridge. Click for a larger version.

If you’re going to the Golden Ears Bridge celebration, we’ve now created two maps describing the park-and-ride, bike valet, and pedestrian access locations on both sides of the bridge. (There’s no vehicle access to the bridge during the celebration.)

You can download both maps in PDF format here:

And you can get the full schedule of events in PDF format here:

You may have already seen these maps and the schedule in local papers, but it’s definitely info worth repeating.

As well, I’ve also put up all the details of the celebration in this blog post.

Pattullo Bridge night-time lane closures start early tonight only

The Pattullo Bridge nightly lane closure will start at 8 p.m. instead of 10 p.m. tonight, so permanent lane markings can be applied to the bridge deck.

The lane closures will begin at 8pm sharp and will involve single-lane alternating traffic throughout the work zone. Expect delays and a 30km/h speed limit.

If the work is not finished on Wednesday night, it will be completed on Thursday night, June 11, weather-permitting. The overnight lane closures at on Thursday will begin at 10pm.

Olympic mascots take over transit

Miga and Quatchi behind the wheel of a bus.

Miga and Quatchi behind the wheel of a bus.

Miga and Quatchi, two of the Olympic mascots, were caught on transit at an event a few days ago!

I don’t think they’ve actually qualified as conventional bus operators, so don’t expect to see them on your route any time soon :)

Thank you to the Olympic Transportation team for passing these snaps along!

Quatchi plays with a miniature bus at Surrey Transit Centre.

Quatchi plays with a miniature bus at Surrey Transit Centre.

Pattullo Bridge paving work is complete!

Just a note to say that repaving is now complete on the Pattullo Bridge, and temporary lane markings are in place.

There will be no further bridge closures for this project. The regular nightly centre lane closures from 10pm to 5am will recommence tonight.

Permanent lane markings will be applied, followed by installation of the traffic delineator posts, during the regular nightly lane closures.

Thanks for your patience during this time!

Local band spotlight: The B-Lines

The B-Lines playing the Cobalt on May 8. Left to right we have Scotty Colin on Guitar, Ryan Dyck on vocals, Bruce Dyck on drums and Adam Fothergill on bass. Photo by <a href=http://mattdayphoto.com/>Matt Day</a>

The B-Lines playing the Cobalt on May 8. Left to right we have Scotty Colin on Guitar, Ryan Dyck on vocals, Bruce Dyck on drums and Adam Fothergill on bass. Photo by Matt Day!

A few weeks ago, a co-worker told me about this local band called the B-Lines.

“Really? Are they named after the transit service?”

“Yes!”

Which meant the Buzzer blog had to interview them. And Ryan Dyck, the B-Lines’ lead singer, was kind enough to call and tell me all about the band and its name.

(You may have read a slightly shorter version of this in the June Buzzer, btw!)

Read more »

The Coast Mountain bus roadeo was on this weekend!

Carmen Chai from the Province drives the bus roadeo course -- oops, a few cones have been knocked over! Photo by <a href=http://www.trans-vancouver.fotopic.net/p58805142.html>David Lam</a>.

Carmen Chai from the Province drives the bus roadeo course -- oops, a few cones have been knocked over! Photo by David Lam.

Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) held its 33rd annual bus roadeo last Sunday morning!

The bus roadeo is where CMBC employees pit their driving and maintenance skills against one other. Maintenance employees compete to diagnose and treat buses with problems. For the drivers, the big test is an obstacle course with many precision driving challenges, like trying not to knock over barrels outlining a narrowing course, or maneuver without crushing several tennis balls laid out nearby.

Roadeo trophies, awarded to the winners from each transit depot and to the overall winner. Photo by <a href=http://www.flickr.com/photos/chsscassidy/3605371837/in/set-72157619329708329/>Chris Cassidy</a>.

Roadeo trophies, awarded to the winners from each transit depot and to the overall winner. Photo by Chris Cassidy.

For some fun, Coast Mountain also invited the media out to give driving a bus a try.

So here’s the reports from Carmen Chai at the the Province, and Dave White from News 1130. The general conclusions seem to be that bus driving is much harder than it looks!

The top two from the driving competition and a team of three from the maintenance division will be off to Cleveland in 2010, to compete at the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Roadeo.

I didn’t manage to make it out on Sunday, but David Lam and Chris Cassidy did, and they have photos to share! Check out their galleries here:

Thanks guys, and congrats to the roadeo winners — good luck in the finals!

Reminder: Get your feedback in at BePartofthePlan!

Just want to keep reminding you to go over to BePartofthePlan.ca and give us your thoughts on the 10-Year Plan options we’re presenting.

The consultation period closes on June 30, so you have 22 days to get your thoughts in as of today.

There’s two key ways to give us your feedback:

  • First, play It’s Your Move, our consultation exercise/game. Pick transport priorities for the region, choose your preferred existing funding options, and rank the future funding options we should pursue!
  • Then, if you want to talk more, visit our consultation discussion boards. Answer the “sticky” questions I’ve posted in each forum, and feel free to post your own discussion topics too.

Some perspective: transit funding challenges in other places


View United States of Transit Cutbacks in a larger map

I came across this map a while back and thought it would be interesting to share.

It shows proposed transit cuts in 94 American communities, put together by the Transportation for America advocacy group from media reports and online coverage.

Here’s the legend:

  • Yellow = Service Cuts
  • Green = Fare Increases
  • Purple = Service Cuts and Fare Increases
  • Red = Service Cuts and Job Losses
  • Turquoise = Fare Increases and Job Losses
  • $$ = Service Cuts, Job Losses, and Fare Increases.

(Transportation for America also has more data from this map in its transit cuts section.)

Now, the analogy between TransLink and these American communities is by no means perfect. We have a unique structure with many dedicated revenue sources that other communities do not enjoy, and our transportation mandate and spending histories are different from many agencies.

But it’s still worthwhile to point out that many agencies are struggling with the cost of funding their services even as ridership increases, and are grasping at funding mechanisms like fare increases to meet their costs. (Mass Transit magazine has a good article explaining the transit funding “paradox.”)

It also shows that to keep systems running, transit agencies are often forced to make service cuts, much like the drastic cuts TransLink will be forced to make if we have no new funding. (We do have scenarios for mid-level investment and maximal investment too, never fear!)

Closer to home, an article in the Toronto Star today discusses the funding challenges facing Metrolinx, the regional transportation agency in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

Which is all to say that these transportation funding challenges that face TransLink and our region today are challenges present elsewhere too. The cost of transportation is high. And we need you to weigh in at BePartofthePlan.ca so you can have a say in how much we invest in our transportation future, how we should pay for it, and what that transportation future should look like.

Okay, serious talk over! More Buzzer blog fun stuff soon :)

Friday fun poll: if you already have a seat, do you jump to a more empty seat if it becomes available?

If you like, you can skip to the end of this post to answer the empty seat poll.

Results from last poll: signalling to a driver that you don’t want their bus

Last week I asked about how you signal to a driver that you don’t want them to pick you up.

The winning strategy: step back from the bus stop, which swept the poll with 71% of votes. “Use some sort of hand signal” was a distant second with 16% of the vote. Hide behind the bus shelter (5%), just ignore the bus (4%) and “other” (4%) were less popular options.

In the comments, some said they try to really not look at the bus to indicate they don’t want it. Here’s Holly:

I step back, turn around and start admiring the building behind the bus stop. I don’t even look in the direction of the bus!

Others try to shake their head “no” as the bus approaches. Joseph Bilac wrote:

I normally shake my head, it’s the most universal signal there is for no, no chance of them getting confused.

And as a side note, Dora mentioned the different strategy applied at London’s request stops.

Something I found really confusing the first time I visited London is that some stops (generally ones in less busy areas) are “request stops”, meaning that if you’re waiting at the stop you have to wave to the driver if you want the bus to stop and let you on. It takes a bit of getting used to if you’re more familiar with our system here, where the driver will always stop if there is someone waiting, unless you indicate that you don’t want to be picked up.

In other words, if you don’t signal for your bus, at a request stop, your bus will just pass you by! Very interesting.

Again, you can find everyone’s full comments at the original post!

This week’s poll: do you jump to an empty seat if it becomes available?

So here’s the situation:

You’re in an aisle seat on a two-seater bench facing forward, with someone you don’t know sitting beside you. All the other seats on the bus are occupied.

However, at the next stop, two people leave and now one of the two-seater bench seats is entirely empty.

Sometimes I see people leap for those seats like crazy, and in other cases nobody seems to mind. What are your thoughts?

Two nice little changes on the TransLink website

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but there are two nice little changes on the main TransLink website.

Trip planner now shows five trip options

Five options now appear when you use the trip planner!

Five options now appear when you use the trip planner!

First, the trip planner now gives you five trip options instead of three!

And yes, this change was directly due to a comment left on the Buzzer blog. Thanks for the suggestion, ;-) — it turned out we could do it, so we did!

(Also, for all those who are probably saying “Yes, but it’s still the same old trip planner,” improvements are coming to the planner in phase 2 of the site’s development, which will launch very soon. Soon, I tell you!)

WestCoast Express map now up

The WestCoast Express map is now on the website!

The WestCoast Express map is now on the website!

The second change is that the West Coast Express map with travel times is now on the site.

So if you liked seeing the WCE travel times in map form, go to Schedules & Maps/West Coast Express and click the “West Coast Express Map” link. (Here’s the direct link too).

And a big thanks to our web staff for these changes. They’re working very hard on updating the site content and implementing more features right now. I’ll keep you posted on what’s new as it happens!

The June Buzzer is out today!

The June 2009 Buzzer is now on all buses, SeaBus, SkyTrain, and West Coast Express!

In this issue we talk about the Golden Ears Bridge opening and celebration, the launch of the #595 bus route across the bridge, as well as the debut of the Central Valley Greenway on June 27.

We’ve also got details of the June bus service changes (it’s a small one this time), Bike Month, and the Design for Diversity event at Oakridge celebrating the end of Canada Line construction.

Again, it is our pleasure from another lovely Canadian illustrator, Genevieve Simms. Wonderful work, Genevieve!

As always, if you can’t get the Buzzer on the system, you can always read it in PDF form on our website. Visit our Buzzer PDF archives, which stretch back to the heady days of June 2006. (Here’s the direct link to the June issue PDF.)

Please don’t forget to enter the FareCard contest too: you can win a free FareCard in every issue of the Buzzer. Read the issue, then answer the question right by Monday, July 6 at 9 a.m. to win! (The date for the next Buzzer issue in the contest section is wrong btw: the next issue is July 10, not Jan 16. Le sigh.)

Enjoy the latest Buzzer! Comments are welcome below!

SkyTrain starts early for the Pattullo weekend closures (#321 riders, take note)

SkyTrain service will start early on Sunday, June 7, to accommodate early passengers during the planned Pattullo Bridge closure that weekend.

The bridge closure for paving means that two early morning trips on the #321 bus, normally running from Surrey to New Westminster (departing Surrey Central Station at 6:33 and 6:50am), will have to terminate at Scott Road Station. They will also not be able to make the usual 6:56am and 7:18am departures from New Westminster to Surrey.

On this date, SkyTrain will start approximately 30 minutes earlier than regular Sunday schedule. First train will leave King George at 6:36am (32 minutes earlier than normal), and every 8 minutes thereafter (6:44, 6:52, 7:00, 7:08, etc.). Eastbound service will also start earlier, with the first train from New Westminster to Surrey at 6:52am, and every 8 minutes. Trains will also start earlier from Waterfront (approximately 7:20am), and on the Millennium Line from Lougheed (6:41am in both directions).

The earlier start will also benefit earlybirds and volunteers going to the Rio Tino Alcan Dragon Boat festival in False Creek, convenient to Main Street station.

In the event that a second weekend closure is required (June 14), SkyTrain service would also be advanced on that date. Service end times will be unchanged on all days, since the N19 NightBus schedule can accommodate a diversion via the Port Mann Bridge. Throughout the Pattullo Bridge closures, SkyTrain will monitor passenger loading, and increase service where and when required.

Video of our retired trolleys in service in Argentina

Our dear friend Jorge Luis Guevara from the transit agency in Mendoza, Argentina, has posted a new video showing our retired trolleys in service. Check out how they reconfigured the interiors at the front of the bus!

Jorge says the trolleys are performing really well and is currently gathering more material to put up online. Here’s Jorge’s blog about Mendoza’s trolleys if you’d like to see more. Thanks to Josh for emailing this video to me too!

The past posts on our retired trolleys and their voyage to Argentina:

More details about the Golden Ears Bridge celebration on June 14!

The Golden Ears Bridge!

The Golden Ears Bridge!

Here’s a few more details about the Golden Ears Bridge celebration on Sunday, June 14—two days before the bridge officially opens on June 16.

The celebration runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Things kick off at 11 a.m. with performances including Kutapira, the Langley Ukulele Ensemble and First Nations blues performer Murray Porter.

The Official Ribbon Cutting ceremony starts at 1 pm, followed by the music of Rick Tippe, Maple Ridge country recording artist and winner of 30 country music awards, The Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration, and Delhi 2 Dublin.

At 2 pm, you’ll have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play hopscotch, hula hoop, breakdance and take part in other activities on the bridge deck. The most enthusiastic participants will be awarded a limited edition “I Made History on the Golden Ears Bridge” button.

Six passport stamping stations will be set up along the bridge deck and guests who collect all six stamps can enter a prize draw.

Also, a fun run across the bridge deck begins at 8:30 am on the north side of the river. Langley’s George Tabert, the winner of the bridge naming contest held in 2004, will lead runners across the bridge on the bicycle he was awarded as a prize for naming the bridge. The run is sponsored by Running Room and pre-registration is required at www.runningroom.com.

How to get to the celebration

A map of the connections to the Golden Ears Bridge, once the bridge is open. Click for a larger version.

A map of the connections to the Golden Ears Bridge, once the bridge is open. Click for a larger version.

There will be no vehicle access to the bridge or new road network on June 14.

Three-hour free parking will be available at the Langley Events Centre, Colossus Langley, Pitt Meadows Regional Airport, Westcoast Express Pitt Meadows Station and Westcoast Express Maple Meadows Station. Coast Mountain Bus Company buses will shuttle guests to drop-off spots at each end of the bridge, about 800 metres from the event. Wheelchair access to the bridge deck is provided through these parking lots. Shuttles from the parking lots are free.

Those biking to the celebration on the north side of the river can proceed southbound on Maple Meadows Way to Stewart Crescent and then take the new paved pedestrian and cyclist path to the new 113B Avenue roundabout.

Cyclists can check their bikes at the free bike valet operated by Better Environmentally Sound Transportation Association (BEST). Bike valet locations are near 201st Street and 100A Avenue in Langley and near the north side bridge approach near 113B Avenue.

Pedestrians can access the bridge deck near the bike valets on both ends of the bridge.

The celebration will take place outdoors on the one-kilometre bridge deck, so guests should wear comfortable walking shoes, bring bottled water and dress for the weather. For safety reasons, bikes, rollerblades, skateboards and pets will not be permitted on the bridge deck.

As well, the celebration is looking for volunteers, if you’d like to help us make history.

We’re all really proud to launch this bridge and hope you can join us!

And for more info on the Golden Ears Bridge, check out TransLink’s Golden Ears Bridge website and the Golden Ears Bridge construction website.