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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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!

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!

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SkyTrain track maintenance on Wed Nov. 26

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

The following service will be in effect for Nov. 26 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!

SkyTrain track maintenance on Wed Nov. 19

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

The following service will be in effect for Nov. 19 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!

Open houses for the new Golden Ears Bridge bus route

When the Golden Ears Bridge opens in 2009, we’re going to use the new connection to offer a brand new bus route between Langley Centre and Haney Place. That bus is the #595 Langley Centre (not the #555 as listed in the Buzzer) and we want customer input on it!

So, we’re inviting the residents of Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, North Surrey and Langley to attend our two #595 open houses next week. The listings are the same as in the November Buzzer:

  • Tuesday Nov. 18, 3-8pm: Langley Public Library, 20399 Douglas Crescent, Langley
  • Thursday Nov. 20, 3-8pm: Haney Place Mall, 11900 Haney Place, Maple Ridge

It’s currently anticipated that the route will operate every 30 minutes from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., between Langley Centre, Walnut Grove, Maple Meadows Station (West Coast Express) and Haney Place, using conventional 40-foot buses. It will be a limited stop service, providing a fast connection to significantly shorten existing trips. We’re looking to start service in September 2009!

For more information on the open houses or the new bus route, contact John Timms at the Coast Mountain Bus Company, john.timms@coastmountainbus.com or (604) 953-3251.

Remembrance Day service and parade reroutes

Just a reminder that on Remembrance Day tomorrow, all transit services will run on a Sunday/holiday schedule.

There are also Remembrance Day parades going on in various parts of the Lower Mainland, which means some bus reroutes. Here’s a link to all the customer alerts:

Vancouver reroutes
Burnaby & New Westminster reroutes
Richmond reroutes
North Vancouver reroutes
Surrey reroutes
Port Coquitlam reroutes

As well, veterans ride free on all TransLink services on Nov. 11, in recognition of Remembrance Day.

The concession applies to Ordinary and Life Members of the Royal Canadian Legion, the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans and the Korean Veterans Association. Veterans just have to show their membership card to receive free transportation (and sorry, associate members aren’t eligible).

All TransLink services—meaning Coast Mountain buses, West Vancouver Blue Bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus, Albion Ferry and Community Shuttles—will also observe a period of silence at the stop they reach closest to 11 a.m. on Remembrance Day.

Plus, remember! On a holiday, you only need a single-zone fare to travel in all zones all day. As well, on a Sunday or holiday, those with an adult FareCard, West Coast Express 28-Day Pass, or Annual Employer Transit Pass can take either five children or one adult and four children on transit with them for free.

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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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