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Translink Buzzer Blog

Open houses for Waterfront Station hub, Thu Mar. 5 & Sat. Mar. 7

Here's the area around Waterfront Station that's being considered in these open houses.

Here's the area around Waterfront Station that's being considered in these open houses.

Come down to one of two open houses about the Waterfront Station hub in downtown Vancouver!

The City of Vancouver and TransLink want your feedback on a framework to guide future development around Waterfront Station — the Central Waterfront Hub.

This is the second third round of open houses to be held (the first was in March 2007 and April 2008), so you’ll be able to see a draft framework that resulted from the earlier consultation.

Here are the dates and locations you’ll need:

Thursday, March 5, 2009 – 3:00 – 7:00 pm
Waterfront Station Concourse, 601 West Cordova St.

Saturday, March 7, 2009 – 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Central Library Concourse, 350 West Georgia St.

As the City of Vancouver’s Hub website says, the main objectives of the Central Waterfront Hub program are to:

  • Create a transportation hub which better integrates the many transit modes which converge in this area – Skytrain, Canada Line, West Coast Express, Seabus, Helijet and numerous bus lines.
  • Establish planning and urban design guidelines for the various development sites which exist in the area.
  • Introduce measures to enhance the public realm – streets and open spaces – in this important location.

The City of Vancouver’s website has much more info on the earlier open houses and the plans so far. Grab the open house flyer from the site too: you’ll notice it has a few pictures of Canary Wharf and Liverpool Street Stations in London as possible inspiration for the Waterfront hub.

Canary Wharf Station (left) and Liverpool Street Station serve as possible inspirations for the Waterfront Station hub.

Canary Wharf Station (left) and Liverpool Street Station serve as possible inspirations for the Waterfront Station hub.

And for more information, please contact Colleen Sondermann at 604 453 4687 or at

Video of the retired trolleybuses on the streets of Mendoza

A still from the video of a retired trolley on the streets of Mendoza, Argentina, taking a test drive.

A still from the video of a retired trolley on the streets of Mendoza, Argentina, taking a test drive.

Visit the Trolebuses Mendocinos blog to see video of a retired trolley on a test drive in Mendoza, Argentina! (They are uploaded via Blogger’s video service so I can’t embed the clips here, sorry!)

Again, a big thanks to Jorge Luis Guevara, who works for Mendoza’s public transit agency and runs the Trolebuses Mendocinos blog. He filmed the videos and let me know they were up!

And here are the past posts on the retired trolleys:

Bus re-routes on Hastings, Sun Mar. 1

Just a heads up that on Sunday, March 1, Hastings Street will be closed to all traffic between Seymour and Howe Streets to allow trolley overhead wires to be repositioned.

The following bus lines will be re-routed, beginning with the first bus Sunday morning:

#10 Granville, #16 Arbutus, #135 Burrard Stn & #160 Vancouver will turn off Hastings on Richards, then onto Pender to Howe Street and pick up their regular routes.

#135 SFU and #160 Port Coquitlam Stn will turn off Burrard onto Pender, then onto Seymour to Hastings and resume their regular routes.

The re-routes will stay in place until approximately 5 pm, or as directed by Transit Supervisors.

Friday fun poll: do you try to stand up before you get to your stop?

Last Friday, I asked if you had given up your seat in the past month — no judgment of course!

We had 87 people answer, and the majority (72% – 63 votes) said they had indeed given up their seat in the past month. The rest said they hadn’t (28% – 24 votes).

So that’s an interesting yardstick, although of course this might have been a bit skewed — no one really likes calling themselves out for not giving up a seat.

However, as usual, the comments delivered some very interesting perspectives on the whole issue of giving up your seat to others. Offering your seat up can be done — but it doesn’t mean someone wants to accept the seat! Scott Clayton describes it here:

I prefer giving up seats when there are no others available, and since I don’t sit up front, it is only in these instances. However, some people can take offense to being offered a seat, and I don’t want to offend anyone, so offering a seat can be tricky—I can’t count how many times people have said to me “I’m not that old yet.”

He also mentioned a situation that made me laugh out loud — and I have indeed seen it on many a bus before:

If there are no seats and someone has to stand, I’d prefer that person be me. I’m 23, fairly energetic, and can balance myself alright. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m alone on this standing-front. Often there might be >5 people standing and <5 available seats, so it can turn ridiculous. Like a reverse ‘tragedy of the commons’ or something.

LisaB points out that sometimes it can be hard to know when to give your seat up.

I virtually never sit in the courtesy seats up front ever since a friend pointed out that not all disabilities that would make one need a seat are visible/obvious. I prefer not to have to judge/guess who needs the seats, especially since I can certainly stand without hardship.

And Dion mentions that the seat-entitlement situation is totally different in Hong Kong:

On the bright side, as much as I love Hong Kongs transportation network, seats there are almost always first come first serve no exceptions. There are the rare times where a seat will be offered, but aside from that, usually everyone too busy to care who’s getting on and getting off. VERY sharp contrast to Vancouver.


Okay, new poll!

I’m curious to see what you think. Do you think one choice is more efficient than the other, too?

I Love Transit Week essay: Jon Coleman, about the #4 bus

To cap off I Love Transit Week, here’s another essay. Amazing local blog VancouverIsAwesome once ran a tribute to the #4 bus, written by contributor Jon Coleman, and I asked Jon to expand on it for I Love Transit Week.

Feel free to share your own favourite routes in the comments. And remember your responses might end up in the March Buzzer, as I’ll be putting reader contributions from I Love Transit Week into the next print edition!

Speaking of buses: the #4

by Jon Coleman

The #4, cruising down 4th Ave in Kitsilano.

The #4, cruising down 4th Ave in Kitsilano.

As a Kitsilano resident working in Gastown, my commuting method varies day to day. I most often hop on my bicycle for the journey but there are times when the weather isn’t in my favor or I am just too damn lazy to put in that kind of effort. Driving is almost always out of the question as the parking in the east of the city is both scarce and over priced. I enjoy hoofing it but that is dependant on me getting out of the house early enough. When all else fails I find myself on the #4 and have grown to love and look forward to the ride.

One of the #4’s obvious attractions for me is that its route has stops within a minute walk of each of my destinations, essentially providing door-to-door service. That is not what draws me to the ride however. It’s the filling of the transportation sandwich that really provides the flavor to the journey. Ooh “transportation sandwich”. That’s a good one! I think if I am gonna run with it then the #4 would have to be the toothpick that reaches each end of the city sammie by stabbing straight through the middle and pulling it all together.

In terms of people riding the #4 on any given day, it would equate to walking in a deli and ordering a sammie with “the works”. No ingredients left out. And as the toothpick pushes through that sandwich it passes the layers of ingredients until finally it pops out the other end.

When I hop on in Kits each morning I start in the company of a mix of UBC students heading into the city, downtown bound suits, west side residents on their way to Capers or maybe a yoga class and the entrepreneurial binner who has risen with the sun to scour the west sides alleys for it’s recyclable riches. Pushing on along fourth you lose some errand runners and perhaps an Emily Carr student or two at Granville Island.

Once over the Granville Bridge the suits have all filtered off by Georgia and more and more people begin to board. This crowd is usually a little more talkative and in fact if they aren’t talking to myself or someone close by, then often they are talking to themselves. Either way the conversation is usually quite interesting.

By the time I reach my stop in Gastown the amount of passengers has thinned out and over the course of the trip I have gotten in the mindset for work. The same process works in reverse on the way home also and the #4 can gradually wind me down as it makes its way through the city back in to the quiet west side. In one trip you see the diversity of multiple neighborhoods and witness the passengers unique interaction as their paths cross in the tight quarters of the #4.

I Love Transit Night = great success!


A huge thank you to everyone who came out and participated in I Love Transit Night yesterday! It was lovely to meet all of you in person!

Check out some photos of the evening from Jason Vanderhill’s Flickr account, which I’ve embedded as a slideshow above. (If you have any photos to share, send me an e-mail — I was so busy I didn’t manage to take any pictures!)

For those who didn’t make it out, here’s what happened: about 30 people were on hand to play transit games, grab buttons, and fold bus and SkyTrain cutouts. David from Trans-Vancouver also brought albums of bus photos to share.

I organized three rounds of games and divided everyone into two teams: Team Buses and Team SkyTrain. The teams competed to identify SkyTrain stations on a map without names, worked out transit-related numbers based on clues, did some straight-up transit trivia, and also did an instant scavenger hunt.

And Team SkyTrain won the whole thing, in no small part to transit enthusiast Reva. During the instant scavenger hunt, teams got five points for every 3-zone adult FareCard they could produce – Reva happened to have her collection of historical bus passes on hand, giving Team SkyTrain 19 FareCards for their side!

I also brought a giant bus model and giant SkyTrain model, which were won in a draw by George from Trans-Vancouver and Terry Muirhead respectively. (Although, in a shocking turn of events, somebody absconded with the SkyTrain model at the end of the evening!)

All in all, however, it was a great evening and wonderful to meet everybody. Thank you again for coming out to the End Café – it was lovely to have you there.

And I’m almost clean out of buttons, but here’s a gallery of what each button looked like, in case you were wondering :) Edit: I should mention that I designed the two I Love Transit Week buttons; Jason Vanderhill did the yellow bee button, the MkI/MkII buttons and the bus with a giant heart above it; and the Mustache Press designed the rest. Thank you to Jason and the Mustache Press for such fine work!

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Reminder: Buzzer blog live meetup tonight

Here's what the End Cafe looks like, as you approach it from Commercial Drive Station.

Here's what the End Cafe looks like, as you approach it from Commercial Drive Station.

Just a reminder that I Love Transit Night is tonight, if you’d like to join us.

I have a space at the End Café reserved on Thursday Feb. 26, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Look for us in the back of the restaurant! (The address is 2360 Commercial Drive, Vancouver – it’s located right next to Commercial Drive Station.)

At about 7:30 p.m., we’ll start playing transit games to test everyone’s knowledge of the system. Again, I’ll also have buttons, bus and SkyTrain cutouts, and more fun transit-related items on hand. And while we can’t provide the drinks, appetizers will be supplied. All ages and levels of transit-nerdery are welcome!

As always, if you’re coming, it would be nice to have an RSVP at, so I can get a head count and plan for food and the like.

I Love Transit Week essay: Dave Olson

For I Love Transit Week, I’m happy to share a contribution from Dave Olson, who is a prolific and talented local writer, podcaster, poet, Canucks superfan, and much more. You can find all of his work on his Feasthouse blog. Find more of Dave’s podcasts, essays, presentations and documentaries at his archive:

So without further ado, here is “Rolling to the End of the Line,” an essay about transit by Dave Thorvald Olson.

P.S. Dave has also put together a related podcast here, tracking his transit trip from North Vancouver to Kitsilano (it’s not the same text as this essay, btw):


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I Love Transit Week: paper buses and trains!

Well, who are these guys? They are miniature paper versions of a TransLink bus and SkyTrain, the two transit cutouts that I’ll have at I Love Transit Night on Thursday. (I hope you can make it – here’s the details!)

Making paper transit vehicles is in fact quite a popular activity. There’s quite a few transit enthusiasts who make and share models: you can find many links from Paper Bus Connection, including Ryan’s TTC Paperbuses, which even has several models based on the TransLink vehicles.

As well, for I Love Transit Week, I have a special treat to share from transit enthusiast Jason Vanderhill: paper historical trolleys!

A detail from one of Jason Vanderhill's historical trolley papercrafts.

A detail from one of Jason Vanderhill's historical trolley papercrafts.

Jason has built foldable models of two 1908 historic trolleys, based on technical sketches by David E. Reuss from 1999. He did them for the City Reflections project, which preserved and enhanced a film done on a Vancouver streetcar in 1907.

So, download this PDF I’ve created with Jason’s images, resized for printing on letter-sized paper. (If you have it, card stock would work well for the models, giving them a bit more structure.)

And if you find the PDF doesn’t suit your purposes, you can try working with Jason’s original GIF images: here’s the red trolley, and here’s the green trolley.

If you fold these trolleys, send me a picture – I’d love to see where they end up! And if you have any paper bus tips or recommendations, please do share with us in the comments.

Thanks again to Jason for sharing your papercrafts with us!

I Love Transit Week essay: John Calimente on exploring cities via transit

For I Love Transit Week, I’m happy to present an essay from John Calimente, who writes the TransitFan column over at Regarding Place. It’s about tourism on transit — feel free to chime in via the comments with your own transit holiday experiences. And thanks so much to John for sharing this with us!

Transit is the best way to explore a city

by John Calimente

I’ve rarely rented a car when travelling. I’m an urban dweller and what I most enjoy is exploring cities by transit. Automobiles shield you from the true city experience. Adventures happen using transit.

A busy Metro train in Montreal.

A busy Metro train in Montreal. Photo by caribb via Flickr.

Montreal’s metro stations are each unique, covered in wild art from the 1960s, and made me want to go back in time to work at Expo 67. For some reason you feel like you’re travelling much faster than on the SkyTrain – probably because the train cars are on rubber wheels, increasing the noise level and the feeling of speed.

New York has a great subway system with clear maps and a logical fare system. I never tried the buses. When you’re above ground in Manhattan, you just want to walk to everything. As I was sitting in the Carnegie Deli eating a pastrami sandwich with my subway map laid out in front of me, I had no less than three people advise me on the quickest route to my destination. New Yorkers are very hospitable once you get to know them.

San Francisco has kept its streetcars, which make the city feel much more accessible. Besides the one and only cable cars, the F Line running along Market Street and the Embarcadero uses heritage streetcars, packed at most hours of the day by tourists. The BART system probably has the most complicated fare calculation system in the world. Little gatherings form around the fare machines composed of tourists who have no idea where to begin.

Berlin has both the S-Bahn, a rapid rail service similar in style to our SkyTrain, as well as the largest tram network in Europe. The trams are a subtle reminder of the wall that used to slash through the middle of the city – the East kept its trams, the West ditched them. Guess which side gets all the tourists these days? I almost had to pay a fine for buying the wrong ticket – luckily the fare inspector had been to Canada, and loved it! Fifteen minutes of talking about how beautiful the fall colours are in Ontario and I was off with a warning.

The Yamanote Line in Tokyo. Photo by <a href=>eerkmans via Flickr</a>.

The Yamanote Line in Tokyo. Photo by eerkmans via Flickr.

And Tokyo. Its transit system is rather daunting at first, but so user friendly that you’re an expert in a couple of days. Buy one stored fare card and you can sail through the system without thinking about how much from station A to station B. Ride the Yamanote Line that loops around Tokyo in 29 minutes flat. Listen to the motorman announce each of the stops. Yoyogi is my favourite for some reason. They always accentuate it a bit: Yo-yohhhhh-gi. How safe is Tokyo? My friend left a bag on the baggage rack on a Yamanote line train car. He managed to intercept the same train on the other side of the loop. The bag was untouched.

Here, I like talking with Vancouver’s bus drivers when it’s not crowded, especially the NightBuses. I hopped on the N16 late on a Wednesday to find myself one of only two passengers. The driver told me that people just don’t go out drinking in the middle of the week like they used to – 25 years ago the bus would have been packed with people. Vancouver’s habits have changed. But coyotes are still plentiful. We saw one sauntering across Nanaimo St. heading into Pandora Park. The driver said he sees one almost every night.

John Calimente is enrolled in the Master of Urban Studies Program at Simon Fraser University and writes the TransitFan column for re:place magazine.

I Love Transit Week: favourite SkyTrain stations

Here’s another reminder to come to I Love Transit Night this Thursday! Send me an RSVP if you can make it: it’s the Buzzer’s first live meetup and will be on Thursday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m.

What’s your favourite SkyTrain station?

I think a favourite SkyTrain station can really depend on the criteria. For sheer prettiness, my favourite SkyTrain station is definitely Brentwood Town Centre.

Brentwood Town Centre Station. Beautiful!

Brentwood Town Centre Station. Beautiful!

But Broadway and Commercial, however, has a hustle and bustle all its own – so many shops are located right near the transit hub, and it connects to the 99 B-Line. Convenient!

Just outside Commercial Station -- the walkway above goes to Broadway Station.

Just outside Commercial Station -- the walkway above goes to Broadway Station.

And Main Street is a sentimental favourite – it was the very first SkyTrain station built for a demonstration project in 1982, along with 1100 metres of track. During this “pre-build” SkyTrain evaluation period, over 300,000 people visited the station and rode a two-car prototype train.

The Main Street demonstration line from 1982. Note the two-car prototype train!

The Main Street demonstration line from 1982. Note the two-car prototype train!

Anybody have their own favourites? (Also, just curious: has anyone actually visited every single station on the line?)

PS: Please do note that I might put your responses in the March Buzzer, as I’ll be putting reader contributions from I Love Transit Week into the next print edition! If you don’t want your comment in the print Buzzer, just say the word :)

I Love Transit Week: share your system secrets

First off: thanks to everyone who sent an RSVP for I Love Transit Night! If you’re planning on coming, please send me an RSVP too: it’s the Buzzer’s first live meetup and will be on Thursday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m.

System secrets: let’s share

Anyway, for the first I Love Transit Week post, let’s talk about system secrets.

What do I mean by system secrets? Well, during your travels on transit, you’ve undoubtedly come across some tricks and secrets to make your trip better in some way.

For example, prewalking a SkyTrain platform can really makes your trip go faster. Urban Dictionary defines prewalking as:

To position oneself on a subway platform such that, when the passenger steps off the train at his destination, he’ll be as close as possible to the exit or stairs to his transfer.

TransitFan has a similarly themed post from last Friday over at Regarding Place, discussing many tips that expert riders use to get around the system better. His tips include:

Getting a seat can be as easy as waiting at the last stop before a major intersection. When everyone disembarks at the major stop, you’ve scored a seat. If you’re headed from Vancouver to Surrey on the SkyTrain, take the trains headed for VCC-Clark, then transfer at Columbia Station to head over the Skybridge. There’s a much better chance you’ll get a seat for most of the ride, since most people don’t want to change trains.

And as for my own shining insights, I’ve noticed that when riding the B-Line in non-peak hours, if no one is boarding/exiting who requires the ramp, sometimes it can be faster to board the bus through the front door. While other passengers are waiting for riders to pour out of the back and middle doors, few are leaving via the front. You can sometimes make it on the bus before everybody else does!

So: what are your system secrets? Let’s share—maybe you can make someone else’s trip better! (But please, no tips encouraging fare evasion or other no-nos!)

Friday fun poll: have you given up your seat in the past month?

(Looking for the surprise post advertised in the February print Buzzer? Please click here — it’s about I Love Transit Week and our first live meetup to be held next week!)

So, in last Friday’s poll, I asked which direction you liked to face when sitting on the SkyTrain.

I thought it would be an even split between each direction, but “facing forward” swept most of the votes. Out of 119 votes, 93 preferred facing forward (78%), 14 liked facing sideways (12%) and 12 liked facing backward (10%).

I’m guessing that facing forward was most popular because people generally like facing the direction they’re travelling in. In the comments, exceptions were explained again. Bill Kinkaid offered his strategy for boarding, if he’s not travelling too far:

My commuting trip is just two stops, from one station with a centre platform to another with a centre platform, and a station with side platforms in between. So for only two stops, I try to be the last one to get on and just stand by the door!

Sideways seating also had its proponents and detractors: :-| and Mike liked the sideways benches for leg room, plus not having to get up for other people to exit the car, but Dan hated the lack of elbow room, and Bill Kinkaid said “I hate sitting sideways on any form of transportation.”

And I asked about how people liked the captain’s chair on the Mark II trains — turns out there is quite a bit of affection for that seat, although most leave it for the kids. Cow also mentioned that it was good for those new to the region:

I really like the captain’s chair, honestly. When I first moved to the region, I sat in it a few times and just rode the train around; it’s an amazingly good way to get the lay of the land in the Lower Mainland. Now that I’ve seen both routes the whole way, I’ll leave it for others, unless the train’s totally empty.


So, for this week, here’s a new poll:

Feel free to be honest, as there’s no judgment here: I’m just wondering whether people do find themselves ever giving up their seats to other passengers. If you do, who do you generally offer your seat to? If you don’t, why do you think that is?

Next week is I Love Transit Week – and the Buzzer’s first live meetup!

Here’s the surprise I warned you about in the February Buzzer: from Feb 23-27, it’s going to be I Love Transit Week on the blog!

Why? Because while there are things we don’t like about transit, I know there are many things that we do like about the system. And there just hasn’t been an official opportunity to celebrate what we like – until now!

So next week, I’ll have essays, discussion posts, and more, encouraging you to share what you enjoy about transit and what the system means to you. Plus I’ll cram the March print Buzzer as full as I can with your contributions from this week.

(If you want to write an essay, photo essay or put together any other transit tribute, please email me your contribution and I’ll put it up during the week!)

The Buzzer’s first live meetup!

A sampling of the I Love Transit buttons that will be available! Four of these have been designed by the kind and super talented <a href=>Jason Vanderhill</a>.

A sampling of the I Love Transit buttons that will be available, thanks to the Mustache Press! Four of these have been designed by the kind and super talented Jason Vanderhill.

I Love Transit Week will also include the Buzzer blog’s first live meetup: I Love Transit Night!

Come down to the End Café on Thursday Feb. 26, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.! (2360 Commercial Drive – it’s located right next to Commercial Drive Station.)

We’re going to play transit games and test everyone’s knowledge of the system. I’ll also have buttons, bus and SkyTrain cutouts, and more fun transit-related items on hand. And while we can’t provide the drinks, appetizers will be supplied. All ages and levels of transit-nerdery are welcome!

If you’re coming, please RSVP to – I’d like to get a head count so I can plan for food and such.

And let’s get this week started early — feel free to share what you like (or even love!) about transit in the comments below!

A few notes for the SkyTrain silent dance party on Saturday

SkyTrain will play host to a silent dance party on Saturday.

SkyTrain will play host to a silent dance party on Saturday.

So, it looks like thousands have signed up via Facebook for a silent SkyTrain dance party on Saturday, Feb. 21.

A few articles on the dance party have also been run in the media, which likely means many more have now heard of the event. Hey, and Toronto’s doing the same thing on the same day, too!

Well. My first response is: cool! I also know SkyTrain is totally all right with being the site for some old fashioned fun on Saturday. (Also: does me talking about this mean the event isn’t cool anymore? Uh… sorry about that.)

If you are going to attend, we just want to remind you of some basic rules so the event stays fun and safe for everybody. I’ll just quote them from the Facebook group page, so it’s all clear:

  1. No alcohol or drugs on the train. There is a zero tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol on the trains. It is against the law. That law will be enforced. Plus, trust me, drugs and or alcohol and dancing for an hour on a packed train do not mix.
  2. Pay your fare. It’s the law and it will be enforced.
  3. Do not hold the doors open. Another train is just minutes away. Plus holding doors open will delay all passengers including you.
  4. Consider boarding at a station other than Granville. A two-car Mark II train holds about 260 people. If everyone boards at Granville Station there is going to be a long wait.
  5. No jumping. Lots of deep knee bending moves, but no jumping. It’s not safe for the dancer or other passengers.
  6. Take your garbage with you. Organizers should consider bringing garbage bags. Recyclables can be sorted later.
  7. Safety. Remember, these are moving trains. Walk, don’t run when on platforms and at stations especially when travelling in large groups of people. We want this event to be a happy one. Plus, review safety features on trains and station platforms BEFORE the event.
  8. Respect. Remember not everyone on the trains and platforms will know about your event or want to be a part of it. If a train is full of “partiers” move to another train…it will be just minutes away.

Authorities including Transit Police are aware of the party, so they’ll be on hand in case they’re needed.

And in general: dance, have fun, and stay safe on Saturday! And let me know if you get any photo/video from the event — I’d love to put it up on the blog here.