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Translink Buzzer Blog

No more registration for comments

Everyone: we’ve dropped registration for comments on the blog!

Why? Because lots of people were having trouble writing comments on blog posts, and we wanted people to be able to communicate with us easily. So, goodbye registration.

Now all you have to do is write in your name and e-mail address to comment on any post. But we still want you to follow our participation guidelines when commenting here, and we’ve placed a link to the guidelines above the comment entry area to remind you of that.

So with that in mind, comment away! And feel free to send me an e-mail if the comment system still isn’t working properly for you.

Edit: If you’ve already created an account, feel free to continue using it if you like. Just login here:

Edit 2: We have removed all existing subscribers from the database to deal with a weird commenting issue described in the comments below. So, unfortunately, it means you can’t log in with your old accounts anymore.

Update on the retired trolleys sailing to South America

Trolleys being loaded into the cargo hold of the vessel Wisdom. Photo courtesy CTL Westrans Shipbrokers.

Trolleys being loaded into the cargo hold of the vessel Wisdom. Photo courtesy CTL Westrans Shipbrokers.

I’ve received some more info and a few more photos of our retired trolleys being shipped to their new home in Mendoza, Argentina, so here’s an update to my earlier post on the trolleys setting sail.

CTL Westrans Shipbrokers, the shipping company sending the trolleys on their way, told us that the motor vessel Wisdom completed loading and lashing operations for all 80 trolleys on Tuesday Nov. 4, and sailed from Fraser Surrey Docks at 1600 hrs (4 p.m.).

The buses will then be offloaded in San Antonio, Chile, and their estimated arrival date in Chile is Thursday Nov. 27, if all goes well and the weather is good.

CTL also sent along some pictures of the trolleys in the cargo hold, and you can see one of them above. For safety reasons, the TransLink staff and photographers weren’t allowed to go up on the ship, so these are probably the only views of the trolleys inside the ship that you’ll probably see!

Here’s a few more photos from CTL Westrans…

Read more »

Thinking ahead: A backgrounder on Transport 2040 and our 2010 10-year plan

TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast gave a speech at the Vancouver Board of Trade this morning, discussing our long-term strategies and the challenges we’re facing as our transportation network grows.

So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to start highlighting the same topics, since we’re actually going to be talking about this a lot over the coming year.

It really might sound kind of sleep-inducing, but please don’t let your eyes glaze over! We’re planning the future of transportation in our region here, and we want you to be informed about what we’re doing and where we’re coming from.

Read more »

Poll: do you want service alerts on Twitter?

Edit: Garr—the poll doesn’t seem to be working for everybody. We’re working on a solution and the poll itself might have to be restarted in another post. But feel free to leave your comments in the interim!

Edit 2: Fixed, yo! We have a new poll up.

You might not be able to vote in the U.S. elections today, but you can certainly vote in our Twitter poll!

We’re thinking about using Twitter to send out emergency notices for service disruptions. You know: bus cancellations owing to heavy snowfall, or SkyTrain’s at a halt because there’s a fire on the tracks, that kind of thing.

Before we jump headlong into tweeting, though, we’d actually like to know whether you would like us to issue these kinds of notices via Twitter.

Please vote in the poll below, and feel free to leave a comment if you have anything to add. The poll will be open until 4 p.m. next Wednesday, Nov. 12.

Would you like TransLink to start issuing service disruption messages using Twitter?

  • Yes (80%, 4 Votes)
  • No (20%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 5

Broadway Station gets an upgrade

Did you see the TransLink staff out at Broadway Station this morning? They were out to let everybody know that the station is getting renovated starting this November! (The staff will also be there on Nov. 6, 12, 13, and 15, in case you want to catch their info session again.)

Before you ask, YES, Broadway Station will remain open during the upgrades!

And here’s a little more information about exactly what renovations you can expect to see at the station, and how the project came about.

Read more »

SkyTrain track maintenance on Wed Nov. 5

Late-night Wednesday SkyTrain travellers, look out! We’re doing some ongoing track maintenance in the Surrey area, which affects service after 9:30pm on Wednesday, Nov. 5. (This maintenance will also happen on Nov. 19, 26, and Dec. 3.)

The following service will be in effect for Nov. 5 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!

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.

Read more »

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.

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.