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Fighting spam, Buzzer style

We got a huge wave of Christmas-themed spam comments with single URLs in them yesterday! So unfortunately, from now on, any comment with at least one URL will have to be moderated by yours truly. This is all just to say that if you put a link in your comment and it doesn’t show up on the blog, it hasn’t disappeared into the ether. I’ll approve it during office hours, unless your link is related to Levitra, online gambling, or stock tips. Deposed Nigerian princes also need not apply.

U-Pass photo contest winners

Malloreigh Hamilton in one of the winning photos from our U-Pass photo contest.

Malloreigh Hamilton in one of the winning photos from our U-Pass photo contest.

We declared two winners in our U-Pass photo contest a while back, and Malloreigh Hamilton and Daniel Loke had the best photos capturing the concept of “good karma and less carbon.”

Malloreigh, who is a Langara College student, submitted the photo at right. It was taken by Lindsay Elliott (you can check out Lindsay’s photo website too). Here’s what Malloreigh had to say about the photo:

The photo I entered into the U-Pass Photo Contest was taken in early September – a warm early autumn day in Vancouver. I ride my bike all summer, and in the winter, too, if I can – but on those dismal rainy days when I have schoolwork to do, I take the bus. I consider it my responsibility to do everything I can to minimize my impact on the planet – I love what we have left of it and I want to help save it. I take a lot of joy in riding my bike around beautiful Vancouver, and I love the friendships I make on the bus to and from school. My goal is to infect everyone with the contagious happiness that comes from doing little things that help make the world a better place for everyone to live in.

Daniel Loke's photo, one of two winning entries in our U-Pass photo contest.

Daniel Loke's photo, one of two winning entries in our U-Pass photo contest.

Daniel Loke goes to UBC and took this photo himself. Here’s how he described his picture:

My photo represents a lot of what I think of the environment. Besides just riding a bike and reducing carbon emissions, I was riding it on Rottnest Island in Australia, which generates 37% of its power through renewable resources. In fact, there’s a wind turbine just behind me! Ecotourism is becoming a big thing now, and I’m happy to be a part of it. For me, taking local buses and transit is the real way to travel. In addition to ‘being a local’, it’s just part of being environmentally friendly. I ride my bike to work and bus to school every day, even though I have a car available to me (why not? I have a U-pass anyway!). It’s just little things like that that means I use less carbon, and gain more karma. Earth gives so much to me, I just have to give something back!

Thanks again to everyone who entered! It’s great to see that students care about the environment and are trying to make a difference!

Canada Line photos: Yaletown Station construction

Yaletown Station: an illustration of what it will look like when complete!

Yaletown Station: an illustration of what it will look like when complete!

I’ve been noticing some interest in posts about the Canada Line lately, so this here will be the first of three posts on Canada Line station construction.

We’ll start with a look at Yaletown Station. Some of you may recognize these pictures from the Canada Line website, except I’ve got some detailed comments on the photos from John Walker, senior technician from the Canada Line project. (We’ll look at Vancouver City Centre and Waterfront Stations in the next few days.)

A brief overview: John took all these photos of the stations on Nov. 26. The heavy construction is mostly done on the stations, and they are now mainly focused on the finishes in the stations and the electrical and mechanical systems. I know that testing has also started with train cars on the Vancouver portion of the line. That’s all underground, so unfortunately you can’t see those trains in action.

Click on each photo for much, much larger versions.

Read more »

Something neat: the bike-rack rap!

If you haven’t seen this already, it is quite possibly the best thing you will see all day. It’s a rap on how to use bus bike-racks from TARC, the transit agency in Louisville, Kentucky! You can find out a bit more on the making of the video at Active Living By Design. (Big thanks to one of my co-workers for sending me this: and thanks to Streetsblog for the link to Active Living.)

Retired trolleys make their way to Mendoza

One of our retired trolleys on a flatbed truck, arriving in Guaymallen, Argentina en route to Mendoza.

One of our retired trolleys on a flatbed truck, arriving in Guaymallen, Argentina en route to Mendoza.

Thanks to the kindness of Jorge Luis Guevara, we have pictures of our retired trolleys arriving in Argentina on Friday, Dec. 5!

(Recap for those new to the story: we sold 80 of our retired high-floor trolleys to Mendoza, Argentina. Older stories on the trolleys’ voyage to South America can be found here, here, and here.)

Jorge works for Empresa Provincial de Transportes de Mendoza (EPTM), the transit agency who bought our trolleys. He’s promised to send more photos of the buses during their journey in the Andes, too!

Read more »

Our 2009 budget and capital plan

The 2009 budget will support many major initiatives that are reaching completion, such as the 48 new SkyTrain cars set to arrive next year.

The 2009 budget will support many major initiatives that are reaching completion, such as the 48 new SkyTrain cars set to arrive next year.

Our 2009 budget and capital plan was released to the media over the weekend, and it’s resulted in some prominent news stories today. I thought we’d take a little time to talk about the highlights and answer some questions you might have. Here’s the official press release that was sent out, if you’d like to read it as well.

Read more »

More about the December 29 bus service improvements

This is our biggest service improvement yet: 14.7 million extra trips were added to the Metro Vancouver region!

This is our biggest service improvement yet: 14.7 million extra trips were added to the Metro Vancouver region!

While you can find the full list of Dec. 29 bus service improvements in the print Buzzer, I also wanted to direct you to the full list of service changes on the TransLink website.

I’ve also got some more information about the overall service changes, and some highlights and further info behind many individual service improvements. Shall we?

Read more »

Christmas parade reroutes this weekend

The Canada Line float from last year's Rogers Santa Claus Parade. This year, there will be a Canada Line float and a TransLink bus in the parade!

The Canada Line float from last year's Rogers Santa Claus Parade. This year, there will be a Canada Line float and a TransLink bus in the parade!

No less than four Christmas parades are happening this weekend! Unsurprisingly, there will be some bus reroutes owing to all the Christmas cheer — please use the links below to see what reroutes will apply to your local event.

Saturday parades
Langley: Magic of Christmas Parade – #320, #341, #501 reroutes
New Westminster: Hyack Santa Claus Parade – #106, #112, #123 reroutes

Sunday parades
Cloverdale: Santa’s Torch Light Parade – #C70, #320, #341 reroutes
Vancouver: Rogers Santa Claus Parade – many, many downtown Vancouver bus reroutes.

SkyTrain will provide additional trains before and after the Rogers Santa Claus parade in Vancouver, to give you an easy, traffic-free way to get there and back. The parade starts at 1 p.m., and to get there, exit SkyTrain at either Burrard or Granville Station, and walk to Georgia. The Skytrain site has more info.

The December Buzzer is out today!

Get the latest Buzzer on all our buses, SeaBus, SkyTrain, and West Coast Express today!

This issue has all the service changes planned for December 29, plus info on transit service over the holidays.

The Back Issues history item is from 1947, about a special Buzzer issue that was home-delivered to the residents of Vancouver. Fares saw the first hikes in 18 years, including a cash fare increase from seven to 10 cents, which horrified transit customers. (Read the item for more on that story!)

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 December issue PDF.)

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, Jan. 12 at 9 a.m. to win!

Enjoy the latest Buzzer: comments are welcome below!

The retired trolleys arrive in Chile!

The retired New Flyer trolleys, being offloaded at the docks in San Antonio, Chile.

The retired New Flyer trolleys, being offloaded at the docks in San Antonio, Chile.

After 20+ days at sea aboard the ship Wisdom, the retired trolleys arrived in Chile on Nov. 28!

CTL Westrans Shipbrokers, the company shipping the trolleys, sent us some photos and the following update on the trolleys’ progress:

M/V Wisdom arrived safely in San Antonio Chile on Friday Nov 28th, and completed discharge of all 80 buses by Sunday Nov 30th. We understand the buses will now be transported in sets of 10-12 at a time on flat-bed trucks over the Andes highway into Mendoza.

And CTL Westrans promises to send more photos when they get to Mendoza in Argentina!

There’s one more offloading photo below, plus a few more of the trolleys being loaded onto the ship at the Fraser Surrey Docks. Click each picture for a for larger version.

Read more »

Police dogs, text-message crime reporting: SkyTrain ramps up security measures based on new research

Doug Kelsey and Ward Clapham at the press conference, held at Broadway Station today.

Doug Kelsey and Ward Clapham at the press conference, held at Broadway Station today.

We held a press conference at Broadway Station today about new security measures SkyTrain is putting in place (or already has put in place!) on the system.

Doug Kelsey, president and CEO of SkyTrain, and Ward Clapham, Chief Officer of our Transit Police, talked about these changes at the conference, and explained that they are happening due to the results of major research and public consultation initiatives on the topic of SkyTrain security.

Here’s the items we released to the press, for your reading pleasure:

I’ll also talk a little more about the major items from the announcement below.

Read more »

SkyTrain track maintenance on Wed Dec. 3

Late-night Wednesday Surrey SkyTrain travellers, look out! We’re doing the last bit of our track maintenance in the Surrey area, which affects service after 9:30pm on Wednesday, Dec. 3.

The following service will be in effect for Dec. 3 after 9:30pm:

  • Normal evening service on Expo Line from Waterfront to Scott Road (every 8 min), and Millennium Line from Waterfront to VCC-Clark (every 8 min); combined service every 4 min between Waterfront and Columbia.
  • Reduced frequency between Scott Road and King George (every 16 min). All passengers must change trains at Scott Road.

Passengers going to or from Gateway, Surrey Central, or King George, please allow an extra 10 minutes for your journey!

Podcast: the story of the SkyTrain chime

The Buzzer blog podcast is back!

This time, I’ve got the story behind the SkyTrain chime for you to hear. Ian Graham, operations planner for SkyTrain, talks all about how the chime was recorded, why we ended up with that particular sound, and who in the world actually played the chime.

Read more »

Profile: the transit fans behind the Trans-Vancouver bus photo archive

Chris Cassidy, George Prior, and David Lam, the photographers behind Trans-Vancouver. (They\'re wearing safety vests because the docks made us all wear them.)

Chris Cassidy, George Prior, and David Lam, the photographers behind Trans-Vancouver. (They're wearing orange vests because the docks made us all wear them for safety reasons.)

For your Friday Buzzer fix, here’s the first in a series of profiles I hope to do with transit enthusiasts from the Lower Mainland.

Poke around the web in search of Vancouver transit info, and you’re bound to come across Trans-Vancouver, an insanely comprehensive bus photo site.

Online since 2004, the site’s neatly organized galleries boast over 1,400 photos of every single bus in the Lower Mainland. That includes almost every ad wrap, heritage bus, and even one-offs like TransLink’s alternative energy test buses, or the time we tried out a double decker bus.

You can’t go through the site without wondering who’s behind it, so I got in touch and did an interview with David Lam, George Prior, and Chris Cassidy, the photographers behind the gallery. (David started the site and has taken about two-thirds of the 1,400 photos—the rest are from George and Chris, who began contributing their photos to the site a few years after its start.)

As you’ll find out, they’re all very young guys who just happen to love buses. I got to meet them in person at the send-off for the retired trolleys in October, and managed to grab some photos of them in action. (Fun fact: at the send-off, the guys told me that they had previously located the retired buses at the Fraser-Surrey docks, sleuthing out the location from just one photo they saw on Flickr. They’d already been down to photograph the buses at the docks, albeit from outside the fences.)

My full interview with David, George, and Chris is below!

Read more »

Moscow celebrates 75 years of trolley buses

A vintage trolley bus in Moscow's 75th anniversary of trolley buses celebration. <a href=http://74.125.93.104/translate_c?hl=en&sl=ru&tl=en&u=http://vartal.livejournal.com/29314.html&usg=ALkJrhgCXHAX6dfH1hrM3apHz94saadJ_w#cutid1>Photo by Vartal</a>.

A vintage trolley bus in Moscow's 75th anniversary of trolley buses celebration. Photo by Vartal.

Dale Laird from TRAMS passed along some links today showing Moscow’s Nov. 22 celebration of 75 years of trolley buses. They celebrated with a parade of eight vintage and new trolleys, much like we did in August for the 60th anniversary of our trolley buses.

According to this English-language news video from Russia Today, Moscow has the largest trolley bus network in the world, with 1,600 trolleys on the system, 87 routes, and one million riders a day!!

And through the magic of Google Translate, I managed to do a little digging and find a bunch more photo galleries of the Moscow trolley parade.

Here’s one from a user named Gazolin, and one from a user named Vartal, and one from Tov. Amen. (There is a really good chance I’m spelling everybody’s name wrong here, but I do it in the name of trolleys.)

And if you go to this forum page, there’s a huge list of parade photos from a Chinese bulletin board about halfway down the page. Not sure how that happened, but there’s trolley fans everywhere, I guess!