ALERT! : More info
Translink Buzzer Blog

Something neat: MeetInBetween.us

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.

Read more »

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!)

Read more »

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!)

Read more »

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.

Read more »

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.

Read more »

Bike lockers still available at Metrotown

Bike lockers at Rupert station

An example of bike lockers in use at Rupert station

We’ve still got bike lockers available for rent at Metrotown!

If you didn’t read about it in this month’s Buzzer, bike lockers are for people who want to ride their bike to connect with rapid transit. Each locker has space for one bicycle and related equipment (sorry, you can’t put anything else in there), and costs just $10 a month, with a minimum three month rental period.

Read more »

About the SkyTrain disruption this morning

There was a rather unusual SkyTrain disruption this morning, and I thought you might be curious about just what happened.

Essentially, 17 trains just stopped on the SkyTrain tracks at around 9 a.m., disrupting service for two hours.

Why? Because a problem with the electric motor on one train caused it to “time out,” or lose contact with the central computer.

Read more »

Get ready for electronic tolling on the Golden Ears Bridge

We’re currently building the Golden Ears Bridge over the Fraser River, connecting Surrey and Langley to Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows—hurrah!

Golden Ears also features the first electronic tolls in Western Canada, and we’re trying to get the word out about how the system works. I sat down with Mahrokh Arefi, tolling manager for the Golden Ears Bridge project, to talk about the subject. Feel free to add your own questions in the comments below – I’ll get Mahrokh to answer them at a later date.

Read more »

Quality over quantity

It turns out that putting together good blog posts takes a lot longer than you think–especially when you’re writing the print Buzzer at the same time.

As such, I’m going to have to withdraw my earlier promise of putting out one piece of new content every weekday, and pledge instead to update the blog as often as I can.

Never fear though: I am fiercely devoted to keeping this arm of the Buzzer media empire going, so keep on checking back for more! There just might be a space of a day or so between posts, as I gather the research and write up the posts for you.

Quality over quantity, right?

Buzzer Podcast: Voice of the SeaBus

Listen to the voice of the SeaBus in our very first podcast!

(Some of you might be asking “What’s a podcast?” Well, a podcast is a lot like radio-on-demand. Podcasting Alley has a good definition of podcasting, and Wikipedia has info too. But for our purposes, it means the Buzzer can bring you radio-quality sound stories in files you can download — and this, believe it or not, is a really exciting thing.)

Read more »