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Retired trolleys set sail for Argentina

A trolley being hoisted into the cargo hold of a ship bound for South America.

A trolley being hoisted into the cargo hold of a ship bound for South America.

We bid a fond farewell to 80 retired trolleys down at the Fraser Surrey Docks this morning.

The city of Mendoza, Argentina bought the trolleys from TransLink this year, and the buses were being lifted into the cargo hold of a ship bound for South America.

We invited the media and some transit enthusiasts out to watch the trolleys get sent off. It was actually quite sad to see such familiar buses go. “It’s like an angel going up to heaven,” one transit fan even said after we watched them lift this bus away.

I took some video and photos of the buses’ departure, and here’s more details on the sale of the buses and the logistics of shipping them to Argentina.

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Party on the SkyTrain this Halloween

Put your costume on and board the SkyTrain for a Halloween party tonight!

Seriously: this Friday night, the Vancouver Public Space Network is hosting its second annual Halloween SkyTrain party, complete with a 500MW sound system.

Everyone is invited, and here’s how you can join in, according to the official invitation notice:

All souls should converge in their finest costumes at VCC Clark SkyTrain Station at 8:45pm and wait for instructions. We’ll be leaving promptly at 9:00pm and will be riding the loop into the nether regions of the Lower Mainland before returning to Vancouver.

From there, we’ll disembark and hold court with a 100% rain-proof after-party in our newest top-secret public space location. The whole thing will be wrapped up by 11:00pm – leaving you plenty of time to rock out at all the other good parties going on around town.

Andrew Pask from the Vancouver Public Space Network says the Halloween party is just a way for people to experience public spaces from a different perspective. “People think of public spaces as a static entity, that what they’re used for is the only thing they can be used for,” he said. “We encourage people to celebrate them and animate them, and these transit parties enable that.”

Remember, make sure you’re carrying proof of payment when you’re on the train. The Vancouver Public Space Network also wants to remind everyone to be kind to the train carrying you on the loop, remember to take everything with you when you leave, and to mind your manners and keep the good vibes going—no smoking and no jumping around, especially.

Check out the official Halloween SkyTrain party page for more!

Cherry Blossom Festival haiku contest

You know the cherry blossom haiku you see on bus ads in spring? Now’s your chance to get your haiku up there!

Just enter the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival haiku contest, which is open until on Friday, December 19. Come up with one unpublished English haiku on the theme of cherry blossoms, then visit the festival’s contest website to submit your entry.

As always, winning entries will be displayed on bus and SkyTrain ads next spring. The poems will also be read during a Vancouver Symphony Orchestra performance in spring, too!

SkyTrain unconference final summary

Head on over to the SkyTrain Unconference blog to see the final summary from the unconference. That’s all the discussion info compiled into one delicious Word document!

If you hadn’t heard, the SkyTrain Unconference was an event we held on Saturday Oct. 4, inviting the public to discuss SkyTrain security. The unconference format is a more constructive, participant-driven style which we were eager to try, since we’re always exploring new formats for community dialogue. The unconference blog was also a big part of the event, allowing for longer discussion on security issues and driving interest in the unconference itself. (Find out more about the whole SkyTrain unconference here.)

The chief points that bubbled up from the discussion were:

  • Station Design and Community Integration
  • Internal Station Environment
  • Role of Municipalities Around SkyTrain Stations
  • Disabled Access/Planning for Access
  • Impacts of Media Reporting
  • Media

Many suggestions were provided on these points – check out the full post at the unconference blog for the full details.

And TransLink and SkyTrain staff are really planning to translate these suggestions into action. We are planning to directly address any issues or suggestions that can be acted upon now, while investigating other issues that need more research and discussion in our organizations, and during future stakeholder consultations on SkyTrain security.

Plus, both TransLink and SkyTrain are planning to report back to participants on how we have responded to each suggestion, so stay tuned to the unconference blog and the Buzzer blog for updates!

Get into the groove: a SkyTrain advisory for Madonna concertgoers

Madonna fans! We know over 50,000 of you will be rushing to Madge’s B.C. Place concert on Thursday evening, so SkyTrain is extending afternoon rush-hour service to get you downtown for the show. When the concert’s over, SkyTrain will also run extra trains to get everyone home as quickly as possible.

We’ve also got some tips to make your trip as easy and convenient as possible:

  • Have exact fare, if you don’t already have a monthly FareCard, FareSaver, DayPass or U-Pass.
    While our ticket machines do make change, and also accept debit and credit cards, these transactions can be slower. If you are travelling in a group, take advantage of the “Multiple Fares” option to get more than one ticket for a single payment transaction.
  • Prepay for your trip home
    You can also take advantage of “express pay” options before the event at King George station (5:00 to 7:00pm) and at Stadium station (6:00 to 7:30pm), prepaying for your trip home, to avoid ticket machine lineups at the end of the event. Exact fare required; no refunds; valid until last train.
  • Please be patient
    There will be lineups at the station after the event – please be patient, and we will get you home as quickly as possible.
  • Move along the platform and move down the aisles
    Some trains will be crowded, especially after the event. Please move along the platform to take full advantage of the roomiest cars. Please move down the aisles inside the cars, and don’t block the doors.

Something neat:

Okay, this is just something interesting I came across yesterday: MeetInBetween.Us.

After you punch in multiple addresses into the site, it calculates a midway meeting point between all of them. Plus it will locate coffeeshops, restaurants, and other good spots for meetups in the area — super handy for transit riders or even ridesharers!

(Even more fun is the story behind the site: it was developed in just two days as part of Rails Rumble 2008, where teams had to create something in 48 hours or less using the Ruby on Rails web framework. Check out the site of one of the MeetInBetween.Us developers’ for more on just how it was brought to life!)

One caveat. I tried it out with some local addresses, and the coffeeshop/restaurant-type data for our area is good but not great. But the site is just a week old, and they’re planning upgrades after the Rails Rumble challenge is totally over (currently they’re in the phase where you have to vote for your favourite site developed during the challenge). So hopefully data will only get better!

And I should also probably say that TransLink has no affiliation with the developers or their creation, just that I thought it was a pretty great concept worth sharing.

Now, I’d like to throw it out to you guys: do you know of any other good sites or tools that travellers in our region might find handy?

An update on iMove

Reader xl asked for an update on iMove, the transportation information website launched in November 2007 by TransLink and a number of partners. (xl’s original request can be seen here.)

For those who don’t know, iMove is like a one-stop shop for transportation information in the Lower Mainland. On one map, you can see which roads are under construction, what upcoming events might be blocking traffic (and where), what traffic cameras are seeing around a road you might be travelling on, and much, much more. There’s also transit routes, cycling maps, trucking routes outlined… but you get the picture. Municipalities and other sources update the data on a regular basis.

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Buzzer Podcast: John Abou-Samra, the bus driver with a trivia contest

Listen to the trivia contest that John Abou-Samra runs on his trolley bus, plus an interview with John, all in the third podcast from the Buzzer blog!

Who is John Abou-Samra? John is a trolley bus driver who holds a trivia contest on his bus during the morning and afternoon rush hours. He gives away chocolate bars to the lucky winners who correctly answer his challenging trivia questions, and for many riders, his contest has become a wonderful part of their daily routines.

He’s been featured in articles in the Province and the Sun, and CTV News did a story on him this past summer. In this podcast, you’ll hear John’s trivia contest, plus an interview about how he came to do the contest and more. (You can also check out the article on John in the Oct. 10 Buzzer for more!)

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SkyTrain weekend advisories: track replacement, plus a perfect storm of Lions and Canucks fans

Two advisories for SkyTrain riders this weekend.

Track replacement, with minimal impact on riders
First, on Saturday Oct. 25 and Sunday Oct. 26, SkyTrain is replacing a section of running rail on the eastbound track east of Edmonds station (the curve leading to the Operations and Maintenance Centre). Over two million trains have passed over that track since the Expo Line opened, so they’re due for a little love.

The impact on riders should be minimal. The affected track section will be closed, but SkyTrains will use a bypass track to get around the worksite. On occasion, eastbound trains may be held at Edmonds while new track is moved into position. These delays are not expected to be longer than five minutes at a time, so the impact on connection times with buses will likely be small. Work will go on through the day and night on both days.

Canucks + Lions home games = extra busy SkyTrain on Saturday night
Second, Saturday Oct. 25 is that rare occasion when both the Canucks and Lions are playing at home. SkyTrain will be carrying about 12,000 more customers than usual for a Saturday night, particularly in the 6-7 pm and 9:30-11 pm periods (before and after the game).  As usual during sports events, SkyTrain will run rush hour service and minimize any track construction delays during that time.

Portable fareboxes will also be available at King George and Stadium Stations so customers can pre-purchase return tickets (valid until 12:30am), in order to avoid bottlenecks at regular ticket vending machines after the game.

U-Pass holders: win an iPod in our photo contest!

People with U-Passes! You could win an iPod if you enter a photo in our contest!

There’s two 8GB iPod nanos up for grabs, along with U-Pass t-shirts and stainless steel water bottles. All you have to do is take a photo of yourself or someone else creating good karma and less carbon, fill in a release form for the person photographed and agree to the rules, and then submit your picture via our contest website. (If you’re under 19 the release form must be filled in by your parents or legal guardian.)

The contest is a chance for students to show they care about the environment and making a difference, as well as an opportunity to show off their creativity. And the public can participate too–if you check the gallery of entries, you can cast a vote for your favourite photo. Votes will be taken into consideration in the judging.

Plus, the gallery also shows that there are only FOUR people currently entered in the contest. (The first four are pictures are example photos from the TransLink photo library.) Yeah, just four, and at least one of those is more about fabulous good looks rather than the good karma/less carbon concept (I’ll let you guess which one).

So don’t wait! Take a photo and enter now!

New route reviews: the 33

Just came across an interesting post over at Regarding Place, a really good local blog exploring public space issues in the Lower Mainland. It’s a review of the new #33 route, which launched in September and connects UBC and 29th Street SkyTrain along 16th and 33rd Avenues!

The writer is named Transitfan, so as you might have guessed, it’s a positive review (how lovely!). And now I’m interested in hearing more thoughts on the route too. Has anyone else taken the new #33 route? What do you think?

Cambie Street reroutes this weekend

A heads-up for people travelling on the #15 Cambie this weekend: the #15 is going to be rerouted on both Saturday, Oct. 25 and Sunday, Oct. 26, due to ongoing work on the Broadway–City Hall Canada Line station.

Between 7:00 am and 3:00 pm (or at the direction of the Transit Supervisor), Sat. Oct 25 and Sun. Oct 26, the #15 will not operate on Cambie between the north (downtown) end of Cambie Bridge and 16th Ave.

The #15 Cambie (southbound) will follow its regular route downtown to Cambie and Nelson, then stay on Cambie to Pacific, Granville Bridge, Fir, Broadway, Oak and 16th, then left on 16th to Cambie and resume its regular route. 

The #15 Downtown (northbound) will turn off Cambie onto 16th, then right on Oak, left on Broadway to Granville, over the Granville Bridge to Seymour and the regular route.

The buses will stop at all bus zones along the re-route, and customers are reminded that they may not get on or off a bus anywhere but at bus zones.

See the official customer alert, or visit our main customer alert page, where you can get information on all of the customer service updates happening in the near future.

Buzzer Podcast: Voice of the SkyTrain

Hear the voice of the SkyTrain in our second Buzzer blog podcast!

So if you didn’t know, the voice announcing the stations on our SkyTrain comes from an actual person. That person is Laureen Regan, president of Regan Productions in Calgary, who recorded the announcements for the launch of the Millennium Line. In this interview, I ask Laureen to do a few of the station announcements, how she got into the job, and whether she’s the voice of any other train systems. (You can also check out the article on Laureen in the Oct. 10 Buzzer for more!)

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Lady on the poster

A Weekly Pass Saves Gas

Click the image for a larger version!

For some Friday fun, here’s bit of transit history hanging around the office that I thought we should share.

This B.C. Electric transit poster from 1941 hangs on a cubicle wall in our offices. It was obviously to urge gas conservation during wartime, but the message could be just as applicable today!

We also actually know the identity of the model in the poster – but not much else.

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Transit police shave heads for charity

Transit police officers Cst. Keith Grace and Bernard Florido had their heads shaved for charity this weekend.

Transit police officers Cst. Keith Grace and Bernard Florido had their heads shaved for charity this weekend.

Our colleagues over at the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Police Service sent along a note about two of their officers, who had their heads shaved for charity this weekend.

Cst. Keith Grace and Bernard Florido went down to an event called the Baldy Bash in Las Vegas, participating to raise money for PEP, an organization of professionals helping parents and families of very sick children.

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