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Public art hits the road on Main Street

The two sides of the afghan-wrapped articulated trolley that will be travelling the #3 route. (Click for a larger version!)

The two sides of the afghan-wrapped articulated trolley that will be travelling the #3 route. (Click for a larger version!)

Note: I’m still on holiday until Jan. 5. This post was scheduled to launch before I left!

Watch out for an articulated trolley wrapped in an afghan print travelling on the #3 Main route on Monday. It’s the first sign of a Main Street public art program that’s been in the making for over three years.

This program is called 88 BLOCKS • Art on Main, and it’s part of the Main Street Urban Transportation Showcase project, an innovative transportation improvement program launched in 2004 and jointly funded by Transport Canada (through the Urban Transportation Showcase Program), TransLink and the City of Vancouver. (Check out the official Main Street Showcase page for more on the project.)

The public art is just one of many measures in a broad package of improvements being installed to give people a better transportation experience on Main Street.

Urban design, new transit technology, and a fleet of new buses all contribute to a more efficient transit system and make Main Street more welcoming for pedestrians and transit riders, in turn serving the ultimate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

So far, the project has brought Main Street some new street furniture, sidewalk improvements, and the new articulated trolleys on the #3 route. In the coming months the busiest stops on the route will be fitted with next-bus information and on-bus technology will ‘talk’ with traffic signals to help keep the buses on time.

One of the sandwich boards that make up Instant Coffee's permanent Main Street artwork.

One of the sandwich boards that make up Instant Coffee's permanent Main Street artwork.

For the public art program, an artist collective called Instant Coffee is behind the afghan design on the bus, as well as a few more art works that will also crop up on Main Street.

One of those upcoming works is a trolley containing 20 artworks in place of its interior ads, commissioned from artists from North, Central and South America and Europe. You’ll be able to vote for your favourite piece of artwork at Instant Coffee’s website or through text messaging, and the winning card will be blown up and put on the outside of a third trolley in January.

Another Instant Coffee work is a series of brightly-coloured sandwich boards bearing hand-painted slogans permanently installed up and down Main Street.

And in addition to the Instant Coffee installation, 88 BLOCKS will present four more art installations over the next three years, wrapping up by April 2011.

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day holiday service and fares

Here’s the overview of holiday service and fares for this week!

For more details, please visit the TransLink website or call 604-953-3333 for more information. (I’m on holiday until Jan. 5, so I won’t be able to respond to your comments.)

Christmas Eve – Wednesday, Dec. 24

Regular weekday fares in effect

West Coast Express afternoon trains depart downtown at 1:00, 3:00, 4:50, 5:30 and 6:20, plus the regular TrainBus service.

Christmas Day – Thursday, Dec. 25

Regular holiday fares in effect — only a single-zone fare is needed for travel in all zones all day. As well, on a Sunday or holiday, all passengers with an adult FareCard, West Coast Express 28-Day Pass, or Annual Employer Transit Pass can take either five children, or one adult and four children on transit with them for free.

Most bus routes will run according to their Sunday/holiday schedules; however, some routes will also run with further frequency modifications.

SkyTrain and SeaBus will run on a Sunday/holiday schedule.

There will be no West Coast Express service on Christmas Day.

Boxing Day – Friday, Dec. 26

Regular holiday fares in effect—see Dec. 25 entry for more info.

Most bus routes will run according to Sunday/holiday schedules. Service frequency will be enhanced for routes that serve major shopping destinations and entertainment venues.

SkyTrain will run according to its Saturday schedule, but will feature more frequent service during midday to accommodate shopping crowds.

SeaBus will run according to a Sunday/holiday schedule, but will extend late-night service according to a Saturday schedule.

There will be no West Coast Express service on Boxing Day.

Merry Christmas and good luck with the shopping!

I’m away until Mon Jan. 5

Just a quick note to remind you that I’m away for Christmas holidays, returning on Monday, Jan. 5.

So you don’t get a crazy serving of spam comments over the holidays, all comments will be moderated for the next two weeks. Sorry about this – if you write in, your comment will appear after Jan. 5!

In the meantime, for the latest service updates, check in on the TransLink Youtube service update stream, or the current operating conditions page on the TransLink website.

For customer information, call Transit Customer Information at (604) 953-3333, 7 days a week, 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

If you have any service complaints or want to just give feedback, give Customer Relations a call at (604) 953-3040, or use this handy form.

Have the happiest of holidays and I’ll see you in the New Year!

A holiday gift from me to you: the very first Buzzer!

The very first Buzzer, ever. Click to download it.

The very first Buzzer, ever. Click to download it.

You’re getting an early holiday treat this year — click to see the very first Buzzer from 1916! (~2.6MB PDF)

This little gift comes early because I’m on vacation for the next two weeks. A couple of scheduled posts will be popping up to alert you of holiday transit service, but other than that, I’ll return to regular Buzzer blogging starting Monday, Jan. 5.

Anyway, to the issue at hand. As you can plainly see, the first Buzzer wasn’t even called the Buzzer — it had no name at all and implored riders to enter possible names for the newsletter. (The next issue of course announced the Buzzer as the winner, with “Current Comments” in second place, and “Between The Lines” third!)

This Buzzer hails from our mostly complete Buzzer archives. We’re only missing a bunch from 1916-1923, and a few here and there in the 1950s and 1960s. Feel free to get in touch if you have old Buzzers to donate or share!

We are also indeed looking to create a digital Buzzer archive, but this project has its own challenges. One of the biggest is that almost all of our Buzzers are in little bound books, since that’s how they collected Buzzers at the end of each year—and it’s tricky to unbind and rebind the books to scan each issue. (We also don’t want to damage the paper itself, as lots of them are newsprint.)

Nonetheless, this 1916 issue was a loose copy and thus scannable. And we have a few more issues of that nature, which I’ll share with you in the upcoming year. Rob, a transit enthusiast, also has some images of older Buzzer issues on his page, too, if you’d like to see more, and you can also check out our 92nd anniversary Buzzer PDF for more Buzzer history.

As for this year: have a happy holiday season! Celebrate with family and friends, take care of yourselves, and I’ll see you on Jan. 5!

Albion Ferry update, plus ice photos from yesterday

The Kulleet crossing the Fraser after leaving Fort Langley, heading for the Albion terminal.

The Kulleet crossing the Fraser after leaving Fort Langley, heading for the Albion terminal.

Update: the Albion Ferry will remain in operation with one vessel right now, MV Kulleet. The last sailing from Albion will be at 10pm, and the last from Fort Langley will be at 10:15pm. And we’ll decide closer to the start of service tomorrow (4 a.m.) what level of service can be provided then.

I’ve also got some great visuals of the MV Kulleet sailing through icy waters. Terry Muirhead, a local transit enthusiast and photographer, took these pictures yesterday and sent them in. (He last sent in some pictures of the retired trolleys setting sail.) Look at those chunks of ice in the river!

Read more »

The retired trolleys on Argentinian TV!

Jorge Luis Guevara, our indefatigable friend from the transit agency in Mendoza, Argentina, sent along this clip of our trolleybuses on Argentinian local TV news (the program is Noticiero 9 Mendoza, if I’m not mistaken.)

I don’t speak Spanish, so if someone can translate the content of the story, that would be fantastic. Wasn’t it amazing to see the sweeping shot of our buses in their new home, though? It’s really wonderful to know they’re going somewhere where they’re going to be cherished—like a gift from one transit system to another.

If you couldn’t tell already, Jorge and his colleagues are over the moon to get the trolleys. As he wrote to me, “Here is all euphoria and Canadians are the star of the EPTM.” (Translated from Spanish via Google Translate, so hopefully that’s correct. EPTM is Empresa Provincial de Transportes de Mendoza, the Mendoza transit agency.)

Judging from the clip, more and more of the trolleys must be arriving via truck as the weeks go on, and Jorge has been very happy with the state of the buses. Jorge wrote that “really we are all surprised by the good level of controls.” He also wrote that the TV clip highlights that “the culture of the people of Vancouver can be seen reflected in the great state of the seats, panels etc.”

He also sent along a few more photos and talked about some of the items found in the buses!

Read more »

Broadway Station construction update for December 2008

The hoarding on the south end of the platform.

The hoarding on the south end of the platform.

Hey, the Broadway Station upgrade project released its first update yesterday!

(If you hadn’t heard, Broadway Station is getting an upgrade to better handle customer traffic and security. I wrote all about the details of the upgrade on the blog in November.)

Anyway, if you’ve been to the station lately, you’ve probably already seen that the first phase of construction is underway, focusing on the south side of the station at both ground and platform level.

As you can see in the photo, construction hoarding (plywood wall) is up on the south platform level around the former emergency exit stairway. This is where the new south-side stairs, elevator, and escalator will eventually go, connecting down to the new entrance on 10th Avenue at the ground level.

Read more »

Scott Road Station’s getting a second elevator

Scott Road station, taken from the Park & Ride lot. (Photo from <a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Road_Station>Wikipedia</a>!)

Scott Road station, taken from the Park & Ride lot. (Photo from Wikipedia!)

Good news: we’re going to install a second elevator at Scott Road Station!

This finally addresses a longstanding issue with the Scott Road elevator situation. The current elevator connects the SkyTrain to the park and ride, but not the bus loop. So if a person with mobility concerns arrived at the bus loop and wanted to transfer to SkyTrain, they needed a taxi to get to the elevator in the Park & Ride lot across the street. And vice versa if they wanted to get over to the bus loop from SkyTrain. Yikes!

So, following the recommendation of the Access Transit Users’ Advisory Committee, we have now approved the necessary capital funds to build a new elevator going from SkyTrain to the bus loop, and we’ll make sure the elevator construction will take precedence over other renovations at Scott Road.

This whole project is part of TransLink’s commitment to make transit accessible for as many people as possible. You can find out more about this at our Access Transit page.

Plus, more station upgrades are also being completed to increase accessibility. So far, four major stations have been identified for improvements. In 2006, an elevator was installed at Granville Station making the downtown core accessible. Broadway Station is currently being upgraded. And future improvements are anticipated for Metrotown and Main Street Stations.

The full press release on this issue is available here.

The Albion Ferry is back (for now), plus other snow service updates for Thursday morning

Here’s your morning update on service for Thursday, which is looking much better than yesterday.

First, the Albion Ferry will resume service around 9am, with restrictions. Only one vessel is in operation, and it will only run in daylight. This may change — one way or the other — depending on the condition on the river. Customers are advised NOT to park their cars on one side and walk on, as the ferry service may have to be shut down if the river freezes up again.

Media relations also sent this update on our services as of 8 a.m.:

BUS: all buses are on regular routes, including the #253 Caulfeild in West Van, which had been on snow route earlier.

SKYTRAIN: no issues so far: SkyTrain is running longer trains, and there may be longer delays between trains. Rush hour service level will be extended later into the morning, since yesterday people were arriving at stations later because of the weather conditions.

HANDYDART: all HandyDART providers are running “essential services” only — in otherwords kidney dialysis appointments and other priority medical calls — except Vancouver and Richmond, which are on normal service.

REMEMBER … with the snow holding off, the forecast is now for a significant windchill, especially South of the Fraser. Customers should dress for the elements and wear proper footwear, and be prepared for longer than usual waits at bus stops and the possibility of walking a distance if a bus is detoured unexpectedly due to road or traffic conditions.

You can catch a clip recapping this info and more over at TransLink’s YouTube service info stream — keep checking the YouTube stream for the latest info as the day goes on, and I’ll of course post major updates here on the blog.

Snow service updates

Here’s the latest clip from TransLink’s YouTube service updates stream as of 9:45 a.m. Stay in touch with the Youtube stream to get the latest on service in the region.

Here’s what the above clip covers: things are starting to get worse out there. So far, all buses are on regular routes, but there are delays in some places, depending on weather and road conditions. Coquitlam and Burnaby are particularly hard-hit by snow. The C29 Community Shuttle serving Westwood Plateau has had some issues.

SkyTrain has moved to Stage 2 of its Snow Plan, which means all stations are being attended by staff to respond to any weather-related issues and crews are de-icing the doors at the King George and Waterfront termini. Managers are monitoring the situation in case any further action is needed. (SkyTrain actually kept trains running overnight to make sure the tracks wouldn’t ice over.)

HandyDART service is scaling back in some areas. Vancouver, North Shore, Delta and Maple Ridge all are on essential-services, only taking priority medical calls like kidney dialysis appointments. (Update: All HandyDART service are running essential services only now.)

Albion Ferry is still shut down because of the ice.

And despite the weather, the SkyTrain/West Coast Express “Moving Forward – Giving Back” campaign is still going ahead to raise contributions for the Greater Vancouver and Surrey Food Banks. If you manage to make it out there, you can drop off non-perishable food items in collection boxes at selected stations. A special decorated train will run “not in service” between the rush hours to pick up the food.

Again, stay in touch with TransLink’s YouTube service updates stream for the latest on service. I’ll update the blog if anything major happens.

Albion Ferry shut down due to ice

(Listen to Drew Snider’s media update on the Albion Ferry shutdown above… or just read on…)

Yikes — owing to ice on the Fraser River, the Albion Ferry is shut down until further notice. The ice is building up against the docks, making it impossible for the ferries to land safely.

Unfortunately, that means the many customers who walk on the ferry and leave their vehicles on the other side will need to take an alternate route to get to their vehicles. CMBC is looking into providing alternate bus service due to this situation, but no word yet if they can get the resources to help out right now.

Drew’s Youtube clip says that the Albion Ferry was last shut down due to ice seven years ago, and back then, it took two days to restore service. And apparently, this current ice situation is worse than that previous ice problem seven years ago, meaning that it could be longer than two days before service is restored.

Stay tuned to the TransLink info profile on Youtube for more updates on the situation. I’ll update the blog if any more major news happens.

Something neat: London cyclist awareness videos

This video is part of a campaign to make motorists more aware of cyclists in London, England. It’s also a fun psychological experiment! Give it a try, and remember to look out for cyclists when you’re driving in our region too. Share the roads and take care of each other out there!

PS. There’s a whole series of these videos at the campaign website, dothetest.co.uk, if you want to see more. The cycling department has also told me that BEST is planning their own local motorist-cyclist awareness campaign for bike month (June!) next year.

(Also: the concept behind the video is based on an actual study called “Gorillas in our midst: sustained inattentional blindness for dynamic events,” by D.J. Simons and C. Chabris. Check out some of the original videos they used!)

The reindeer buses are out and about

Santa and his friends with CMBC's reindeer bus!

Santa and his friends with CMBC's reindeer bus!

Here’s one of our two reindeer buses, who have been out on the road spreading Christmas cheer this week!

Our reindeer bus and reindeer community shuttle have been travelling around Vancouver, surprising passengers with a little Christmas fun on their regular routes. (There’s no telling where they’ll be –operators have to request the reindeer bus each day, and it’s popular!) The reindeer were also in a number of Christmas parades this year, including the Rogers Santa Claus parade and the Hyack parade.

But the chief job of the reindeer is delivering toys to charity every year. On Dec. 17 and 18, the buses will be loaded up with toys collected by TransLink and its subsidiaries, and the reindeers deliver them to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau. (That’s 46,000 toys and $37,000 so far, and that doesn’t include 2008!)

Read more »

Snow updates on Youtube

Due to all the snow, our media relations department is trying something new today — updates via Youtube for the media.

Check out our latest second update clip above (here’s the first clip we did too), and you can follow TransLinkInfo on Youtube for more updates. It might seem kind of odd to have the updates read to you, but the clips help give media outlets audio to use if necessary. Anyway, I just thought you would like to hear them too, so you can keep on top of the situation. You can also check out our Customer Alerts page for updates.

(Twitter fans: we are working on doing Twitter updates and will launch that service early next year. Sorry it can’t be sooner! We are keenly aware you want Twitter updates, as our Twitter poll showed, so now we are just working out processes for reporting the info and other such things before we can start. Really, we want to put out reliable updates, so that’s what’s guiding us here.)

Hey, a positive SkyTrain story

Lindsey Lewis posted a positive SkyTrain story over at her Joy Yoga blog. It’s a little story, but really great.