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Pattullo Bridge update for Tuesday

(Youtube clip is from yesterday evening – Ken Hardie is doing the voiceover.)


Demolition work on the compromised portion of the bridge began yesterday, starting with the asphalt being lifted. The wooden part of the structure will be demolished starting Tuesday, and we will be working round the clock until that section is fully demolished.


One of the more challenging points of the afternoon rush yesterdaytook place on the roadways leading to the Queensborough Bridge, and then connecting onto the Alex Fraser Bridge. Compared to the Knight Street Bridge, this area experienced very high traffic volumes.

The Alex Fraser Bridge, Port Mann Bridge and Massey Tunnel also experienced significant congestion yesterday afternoon, though the Massey Tunnel’s counter flow lane, operating an extra 25 minutes, helped ease the way for commuters travelling south-bound.

**For those who cannot use transit, we ask that you assist us with congestion problems by adjusting your commuting times for both the morning and afternoon rush hours. Please consider starting your trip before 7am or after 9am. Carpooling and telecommuting are other options that would help the cause.



For travellers from Surrey, SkyTrain is the best alternative to getting to where you need to go. SkyTrain was running smoothly with new passengers taking advantage of the Expo line, and also wisely using the Millennium Line. No capacity problems were found yesterday as we ran extra trains during extended peak hours and extra cars during off- peak hours.

Today, volumes are higher at King George, Scott Road and Columbia Stations. The trains are on time. There are extra trains in service from King George to Waterfront. Please squeeze in, carry your backpacks, allow extra travel time and remember that bikes are not currently permitted on the train.

We’d like to remind our biking passengers that bikes cannot be brought onto SkyTrain until further notice. Thanks for your patience during this time — cyclists are still a big part of our system and we will restore access for you guys just as soon as we can. For those with backpacks, we would appreciate it if you could carry and not wear them onboard the SkyTrain or buses. This will allow us to make everyone’s ride more comfortable.

CMBC (buses)

Buses are being diverted around Guildford and are missing a few stops on 152.
Delays on 108 towards Guildford means buses are diverted onto 104.
There are shuttles in place and the seem to be helping the above mentioned diversions.
If possible, it’s best if people can board on 104.

72/Scott Road is experiencing heavy backups, so buses are being diverted off of 72 and going on 80.

The 601 service is being diverted due to an accident (Delta Port Way/53?) – it is servicing downtown Ladner from 44.

Trolleys in Vancouver are experiencing some difficulties due to the colder temperatures on the east side.
Shuttles are servicing Renfrew, Hastings, Powell and Nanaimo. On Hastings the 135 and 160 are picking up at local stops, so the buses are crowded.

The 4 and 7 are not going east of downtown, so the 210 is picking up at local stops.

Yesterday, the rush was fairly slow till after 4pm, which was normal.
We experienced very heavy traffic onto the Queensbourough Bridge, and slow going around Braid, Stewardson Way and Columbia.
Shuttles helped keep us on schedules at various stops on the south side of the Fraser.

We’d like to thank the provincial Ministry of Transportation, the municipalities of New Westminster and Surrey, and the RCMP for all the contributions they are making to make travel in the region as easy as possible at this time.

I’ll continue to update you on the traffic situation as I can, and remember, you can also check out our Customer Alerts page or the Youtube info stream for more info.

SkyTrain service for tomorrow morning

Just a heads up: tomorrow morning the first train heading west (to Waterfront) from King George Station will be at 4:30 AM. The first trains heading east are from Edmonds to King George at 4:37 AM (Expo Line), and from 22nd Street Station at 4:36 AM to VCC/Clark (Millennium Line). Go SkyTrain!

And as always, you can also check out our Customer Alerts page or the Youtube info stream for more info on reroutes and service.

Pattullo Bridge update at 2:30 p.m.

Here’s the latest as of 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 19:

Status of the Bridge:

  • Met with contractor to deal with asbestos removal of 60 feet of asphalt
  • Creosote and asbestos dealt with by two different companies
  • Equipment for demolition due to arrive this afternoon – it could take up to 48 hours to remove the damaged structure.
  • By tomorrow evening, replacement span design completed – looking at dropping a ready-built span in place, with support structure constructed underneath.
  • Still looking at a four-week window to complete the work, but an update to the schedule will be available within a few days.

Road Adjustments:

  • Counter-flow lane at the Massey Tunnel for the morning commute in 45 minutes earlier
  • HOV Lanes will be maintained
  • Travel time shifts away from the morning and afternoon peak periods are the primary way of alleviating traffic congestion.
  • Municipalities will look at signal timing adjustments to ease the flow of traffic.

Transit Adjustments:

  • SkyTrain
    • Extra trains in service but no significant issues. Staff was on hand to help new customers with the ticket machines.
    • A few people tried to bring bikes on the trains – access to bikes suspended until further notice.
  • CMBC
    • Six shuttles put in service in Surrey for use as needed – Guildford / 108th areas badly congested causing re-routes.
    • Some buses re-routed to King George Station from the Scott Road Station, but this will not be necessary to the same degree tomorrow.
    • Six shuttles available on Columbia, but only one was needed for the morning commute. However, the same number of shuttles will be available for the afternoon commute.
    • 320, 332, 335, 375 are currently on their REGULAR routes.
    • The C71 remains rerouted.
  • TransLink’s Call Centre is opening an hour earlier at 5:30 am
  • Park & Ride expansion possibilities
    • Options are being reviewed to expand the number of Park & Ride spots near the Surrey SkyTrain stations.

We anticipate that more motorists will adjust their travel plans tomorrow, with more opting for transit and/or changing their travel times to avoid congestion on Highways #1 and #99.

Businesses are urged to work with their staff to adjust work times and with customers and suppliers to move deliveries to non-peak periods.

Please be reminded that traffic may be quite congested tomorrow. Travellers need to plan ahead, allow for long commutes, travel outside of peak-periods or not travel at all (if possible).

Remember, you can also check out our Customer Alerts page or the Youtube info stream for more info.

Transit service update – 10am

Well, look at that, we’ve already got an update on the transit/traffic conditions out there.

  • 320 Service is severely delayed
  • The two shuttles looping at Surrey Central / Guildford are working well at present
  • Northbound 152 Street is now backed up to 88 Avenue
  • 104th Ave is flowing very well 152nd Street to King George Highway
  • Hwy 99 is still backed up somewhere between Hwy 91 and King George Hwy
  • Minimal delays on River Road affecting 640 service
  • C74 and C73 are running late due to traffic volume

Other System Issues

  • Heavy icing on the trolley overhead lines is delaying bus services on the trolley routes in Vancouver this morning. De-icing units and ice cutters are at work, but fog and freezing temperatures are causing ice to reform quickly. The situation is expected to improve shortly as temperatures warm up at sunrise. In the meantime, diesels are running shuttles, particularly on Oak, 41st and Broadway.
  • The de-ice truck is very busy as a result of fluctuating temperatures.
  • East Vancouver wires are experiencing ice issues. Shuttles are being deployed to assist from Columbia Station.
  • One shuttle on Nanaimo / One on Arbutus…more being deployed.
  • Several buses are stuck on McGill between Nanaimo and Renfrew due to ice on wires.

Pattullo Bridge closure – bridge status and travel info

(Video above from TransLink’s Youtube info stream, posted at 8pm yesterday. Ken Hardie is doing the voiceover.)

As you most likely have heard by now, a fire broke out on the Pattullo Bridge yesterday, prompting an immediate closure of the bridge. Here’s more info on its status, and the consequent changes throughout our transport systems to cope with the rerouted traffic. (Did you know TransLink owns and maintains the Pattullo Bridge, btw?)

I’ll keep you updated throughout the day as the situation changes. Also, as many people at TransLink are quite busy dealing with the bridge situation, my answers to comments on this post might be a bit slower than normal.

Status of the bridge:

  • The Pattullo Bridge is closed to all traffic (vehicle, bicycle and foot ) until further notice due to a fire at the south end of the bridge.
  • A 60 foot section of the bridge was damaged by the fire and will require replacement, which may take four to six weeks. Cause of the fire is under investigation by Surrey RCMP.
  • The damaged section of the bridge will be demolished shortly.

The remedy:

  • The final design of the replacement is underway and will be completed shortly. Based on the availability of materials, the reconstruction will begin as soon as possible.
  • The Ministry of Transportation has pledged its support to assist in getting the bridge re-opened as soon as possible.

Traffic and Transit Options for commuters:

  • Notes to customers:
    • The Pattullo handles about 20 per cent of vehicle traffic across the Fraser River. As such, as motorists and commercial operators divert primarily to the Port Mann and Alex Fraser Bridges and the George Massey Tunnel – all motorists should expect additional traffic congestion and longer travel times.
    • There will be additional demand on SkyTrains and bus routes for transit customers travelling between Surrey and the New Westminster, Burnaby and Vancouver areas – transit passengers should expect delays and crowding on routes crossing the Fraser River.
    • Motorists and transit passengers leaving the South of Fraser to destinations in Vancouver, Burnaby, the Tri-Cities and New Westminster are asked to plan for earlier trips (prior to 7 am) or later trips (after 9 am) to avoid the peak demand periods.
    • Carpool with neighbours or work mates. TransLink provides on-line ridesharing services via Jack Bell Ride-Share.
    • The RCMP advises that they will step up enforcement on HOV lanes.
    • Telecommuting (work from home) is encouraged if possible
    • Bicycle access to SkyTrain is suspended until further notice due to capadity limitations.
    • For commuters who normally drive through New Westminster to Surrey, there is ample parking available in New Westminster’s Front Street Parkade near the New Westminster and Columbia SkyTrain stations.
  • Emergency services are already planning their contingencies to attend emergencies and provide ambulance services while the Pattullo remains out of service.
  • SkyTrain will add from two to four additional trains between Scott Road and Waterfront Stations to provide extra capacity in the peak period.
  • There will be ten additional trains left in service in the off-peak periods.
  • SkyTrain will begin service at 4:30 am
  • Peak service will be maintained as long as necessary into the mid day and evening
  • CMBC will supply extra buses to increase services as required on existing routes, plus additonal service where necessary to support the extra SkyTrain capacity
  • Discussions will be held with Surrey and New Westminster to provide more on-street parking areas for buses near SkyTrain stations

Bus reroutes and other traffic information as of 9:30 a.m.:

  • The following bus routes are back in regular service: 640, 321, 316, 319, 391 and C71.
  • All westbound 320 service to Surrey Central Station rerouting off of 152 Street, via 100 Ave, 154 Street, 104 Ave, then reg. route into Surrey Central station. Eastbound 320 from Surrey Central Station (opposite to above).
  • 332s and 335s rerouted eastbound only via 104th Ave, as they can’t get through on 108th Ave—westbound on regular route via 108 Ave
  • Westbound 88th/Nordel Way is backed up to 125th Street
  • 301s significantly delayed along route
  • Eastbound 108th Ave is backed up to 140th
  • Two shuttle buses are on a loop routing from Surrey Central to Guildford Mall and back
  • Eastbound and westbound 104th Ave is flowing as of 0800
  • Northbound 152nd street is backed up to 96th Ave
  • 99 Hwy North backed up to King George Hwy exit South Surrey
  • Ladner Trunk road has experienced short term closures this morning due to black-ice and associated accidents

Again, I’ll keep you posted as things develop. You can also check out our Customer Alerts page or the Youtube info stream, as always.

Profile: Tafyrn & Seamora Palecloud, Canada Line construction photographers

A double rainbow over the Operations and Maintenance Centre --- one of the many fabulous photos found at Canada Line Photography.

A double rainbow over the Canada Line's Operations and Maintenance Centre --- one of the many fabulous photos found at Canada Line Photography.

For Friday, here’s the second profile in a series on Lower Mainland transit enthusiasts — our first was on the Trans Vancouver bus photo archive.

Look up “Canada Line photos” in Google, and the first hit you’ll get is Canada Line Photography, an enormous repository of terrific photographs chronicling the train line’s construction.

There are two people behind the site, Tafyrn and Seamora Palecloud, who were kind enough to do an interview with me for the Buzzer blog. (And I did ask about their unusual names: Tafyrn just laughed, saying, “As you probably know, it’s good practice not to use our real names on the internet.”)

So, here’s the interview, and sprinkled throughout you’ll find some of the Canada Line photos that Tafyrn and Seamora consider favourites—they link back to related pages from the Canada Line photo blog, too.

Tafyrn, Seamora — thanks again so much for helping me put this together!

Read more »

The first of the new SkyTrain cars has arrived!!

The first of 48 new SkyTrain cars has arrived at SkyTrain headquarters! I took a video because a photo couldn’t quite capture the whole train — beware, you can hear me talking in it.

Bet you didn’t expect it to be grey and blue, did you? The cars are painted to match the new livery on the bus fleet. It’s so different from the white SkyTrain cars, but you might see them mixed and matched in the future—the new cars, which are all Mark II cars, can be attached to the older white Mark II cars.

Two of the 48 cars have actually arrived: you can see one in front of the other in the video and the photos later in this post. They will be paired into a single train with that grey accordion bit in the middle. (For those that don’t know, the Mark II cars are the newer looking cars with the grey accordion gangway in the middle. Mark Is are the classic cars from the 80s.)

The new cars are currently being un-shrink-wrapped and getting some parts installed, and will then undergo testing and commissioning before starting service later this year. They also have awesome new interiors with exciting features — but I can’t share them all with you until we do an official launch in a month or so! Be patient though: I’ll be all over that when the official launch happens :)

And as promised, I’ve got more photos of the new cars after the jump! Click each photo for much, much larger versions.

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Look, the #125 is going strong so far

The lineup for the #125 at BCIT.

The lineup for the #125 at BCIT.

Hey—the #125, which you might remember as a trial route launched in our December service changes, is actually showing excellent ridership so far. Just thought we’d showcase some pics of the growing lineups hopping on!

Why is the #125 a trial run? The key issue was (and continues to be) bus congestion at the Metrotown loop. With the #125, we were trying to give BCIT riders another option to connect to the SkyTrain line, and reduce the number of buses going to Metrotown. We were going to look for another solution if the bus wasn’t popular, but so far, the bus route is turning out to be in high demand. The #125 was also established partly at the suggestion of our operators, too—great work there!

The #125 runs every 10 minutes on Monday through Friday during peak periods only. Here’s a few more photos.

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Regional Commissioner approves TransLink’s customer survey and complaints processes, with conditions attached

Martin Crilly, TransLink’s Regional Transportation Commissioner, plays an independent advisory and approval role in TransLink’s governance structure. (Here’s a link with a diagram describing how his role relates to the Board and others.)

Among many things, the Commissioner is responsible for approving of TransLink’s customer complaints processes, and today he made an announcement stating that he’s approving of those processes, with a few conditions attached.

As the press release describes:

Overall, the Commissioner found that TransLink’s current customer survey process enables TransLink to gather meaningful customer feedback and input, and act on it. Mr. Crilly’s approval order also notes that TransLink conducts customer satisfaction surveys more frequently than the statutory minimum of one year, and that its survey process compares favourably with other Canadian transit operators.

The Commissioner’s approval of the current customer complaints process is conditional on TransLink demonstrating over the coming year that it is identifying patterns and trends in customer complaints, reporting them to its respective Boards, and tracking progress in addressing the causes of complaints.

Check out the Commissioner’s website for the full investigation into our complaints processes. (There’s even a 17-page PDF available with immense detail on the complaints structure from all our subsidiaries, if you like detail.)

CMBC’s Snow Plan

Trolleys stuck in the snow on Main Street, January 4, 2009. Photo by the indefatigable Terry Muirhead. (Thanks Terry for all the photos you send in!)

Trolleys stuck in the snow on Main Street, January 4, 2009. Photo by the indefatigable Terry Muirhead.

Okay, again as requested in the comments from the first entry of 2009, readers Dan, Sungsu and Coffee Barista were interested in seeing the snow plans from SkyTrain and CMBC.

I’ve posted SkyTrain’s snow plan, and now here’s the snow plan from CMBC.

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Pantsless riders hit subways worldwide

All right, here’s a pretty funny transit-related tidbit that caught my eye this morning.

On Saturday, Improv Everywhere, a well-known public space performance art group in New York City, held its eighth annual No Pants! Subway Ride in New York City. Estimates say 1,200-1,500 people showed up to ride the subway pantsless this year! (Everybody wore underwear by the way–the point was to make people laugh, not to make them angry.)

This is slightly NSFW, so don’t click if your boss is strict — but here’s the NYC NYC 2009 report and the general overview of their mission. The event was held simultaneously in many other cities too: in Toronto, 300 people showed up to ride their subway pantsless.

Improv Everywhere has also done other transit-related performances in the past, including the Human Mirror, where pairs of twins dressed identically and sat across from each other in an NYC subway car, seriously confusing passengers who happened to hop on.

Downtown Vancouver reroutes for Monday

Just a heads up about Monday, Jan. 12 reroutes owing to Canada Line construction in downtown Vancouver.

Bus service will be re-routed off Hastings between Richards and Howe Streets on Monday, Jan. 12 between 7am and 1pm (or otherwise required).

This temporary re-route affects the #10 Granville, #16 Arbutus, #135 Burrard Stn and #135 SFU (via off Hastings onto Richards, Pender and Howe); #160 Vancouver and #160 Port Coquitlam Stn (from Burrard Stn via Pender and Seymour to Hastings).

(NB: We can expect general traffic in the vicinity to be congested as a result of this lane closure on Hastings.)

You can get the full details of the reroute at the Customer Alerts page discussing this road closure.

Poco Pete, the raccoon at Port Coquitlam Transit Centre

Poco Pete, the raccoon who has taken up residence on a bench at Poco Transit Centre.

Poco Pete, the raccoon who has taken up residence on a bench at Poco Transit Centre.

So, with all this bad weather, a raccoon has taken up residence on a bench at the Port Coquitlam Transit Centre! The staff has taken to calling him Poco Pete. (You may have seen Pete’s story in the Province too the other day.)

Apparently Pete showed up on Tuesday morning seeking refuge and spent all day on the transit centre’s bench. His den has likely been flooded or frozen over.

The staff put a container with bleach underneath the bench to see if the smell would drive him away, but Pete has just simply moved further down the bench. Options to send him on his way are tricky — SPCA and Wildlife Rescue say Pete is not an injured or sick animal, so unless he is inside someone’s home, there is nothing they can do. The other option is to call a pest control company but it has been stated that that can be traumatizing for the animal. So for now, while the bad weather persists, he’s sleeping on our bench.

By the way, the centre has taken precautions to keep Pete away from staff. A barrier has been put up to prevent him from getting close to the staff who might be using a nearby swipe card reader. For the most part, however, Pete apparently just sleeps all day, with a few breaks in between to groom himself.

Pete has in fact always lived in the vicinity of Port Coquitlam Transit Centre area, as he’s been spotted for years living off the centre’s dumpsters and garbage cans. Staff originally nicknamed him PT Raccoon for Poco Transit Raccoon—over time, the name become shortened to just Poco Pete. Hopefully once the bad weather recedes, he’ll be able to go back home!

SkyTrain’s snow plan

The snowy 29th Avenue SkyTrain station on Dec. 24, 2008. Photo courtesy kind reader Bill Kinkaid!

The snowy 29th Avenue SkyTrain station on Dec. 24, 2008. Photo courtesy kind reader Bill Kinkaid!

In the comments from the first entry of 2009, readers Dan, Sungsu and Coffee Barista were interested in seeing the snow plans from SkyTrain and CMBC.

CMBC is still working on getting us their plan, but SkyTrain has sent along their plan to me already. So here it is!

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New federal funding helps expand our fleet and service!

Stockwell Day, Canada's Minister of Public Safety, gets behind the wheel of one of our low-floor diesel buses. Minister Day attended our event on behalf of John Baird, the Transport and Infrastructure Minister.

Stockwell Day, Canada's Minister of Public Safety, gets behind the wheel of one of our low-floor diesel buses. Minister Day attended our event on behalf of John Baird, the Transport and Infrastructure Minister.

We held an event at the SeaBus maintenance centre today, and federal and municipal leaders helped us announce $186.4 million in new federal Gas Tax funding for TransLink over the next two years!

The new funding will support the purchases of:

  • 146 conventional buses
  • 34 articulated trolley buses
  • 23 Community Shuttles
  • 55 HandyDART buses
  • 38 SkyTrain Mark II cars

As well, in 2009, the funding will provide $10 million for the $54 million SkyTrain Operations and Maintenance Centre expansion, and in 2010, the new Maintenance and Transportation Training Centre (MTTC) in Maple Ridge will receive $50 million of the nearly $165 million cost.

You can grab the full press release and backgrounder here for more info.

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