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Translink Buzzer Blog

Here’s what precautions we’re taking for COVID-19 (coronavirus)

In addition to daily cleaning schedules, we’re spraying the entire bus fleet with a strong disinfectant each week. We’re also cleaning Stations and Bus Loops, SkyTrain, SeaBus, West Coast Express and HandyDART.

What is TransLink’s approach to COVID-19?

TransLink is following the lead of health officials when it comes to our response to COVID-19. We want to remind everyone that we need to work together, and that we need your help to keep the system safe and clean for yourself and those around you.

TransLink is closely monitoring the situation and we remain in contact with regional health authorities and other transit agencies in order to determine best practices and ensure our response is appropriate.

At this time, we have not been directed to make any operational changes, however, we are all taking steps to ensure a high standard of cleanliness is maintained in order to reduce any potential risk of viral spread.

How’s TransLink keeping the transit system clean?

  • Facilities: Stations and bus loops across the TransLink network are being cleaned at least once per day, including a disinfectant wipe down of stair and escalator handrails, elevator buttons, door handles, fare gates, Compass vending machines, garbage handles, benches, seats, emergency cabinets and emergency phones.
  • SkyTrain: All SkyTrain cars are cleaned overnight and receive a disinfectant wipe down of poles, seats, ceilings, handles, windows, sills, and other surfaces within the cars.
  • Bus & SeaBus: The entire Bus and SeaBus fleet are being sprayed using a strong disinfectant each week, which comes in addition to daily cleaning schedules.
  • HandyDART: All HandyDART vehicles are being cleaned and disinfected everyday.
  • West Coast Express: All trains are cleaned and disinfected each evening once they come out of service.

Social Distancing and Protective Measures on Public Transit

  • Consistent with the advice from health officials, if people are feeling unwell, they should stay home and avoid public transit.
  • The best ways to prevent contracting or spreading a contagious illness are frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water, coughing or sneezing into tissues, and staying home if you are sick.
  • Over the past several days we have seen ridership in decline, meaning that transit services have fewer passengers, which allows for more social distancing.
  • We are preventing customers from using some seats on SeaBus to allow social distancing for our operators.
  • On certain buses, customers will not be able to sit in seats which are near bus operators.
  • Coast Mountain Bus company is accelerating installation of operator protection barriers on all of its buses.  Nearly 700 of our buses currently have barriers installed.
  • Every Coast Mountain Bus Company bus and vehicle has been supplied with a sanitization kit, which includes gloves and sanitizing wipes for drivers.

If Public Transit Will Be Shut Down 

  • Transit services are essential for thousands of people who rely on our system to move around the region, including healthcare workers.
  • We follow advice from health officials and have been given no indication that shutting down public transit in Metro Vancouver would be an appropriate course of action at this stage.

What can I do?

According to health experts the best ways to prevent contracting or spreading a contagious illness are frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water, coughing or sneezing into tissues, and staying home if you are sick.

We advise everyone to follow the guidelines set out by the Canadian Public Health Agency:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the washroom and when preparing food. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Dispose of any tissues you have used as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands especially after coming in contact with commonly touched surfaces like handrails, vending machines and poles.
  • Stay home if you are feeling unwell.

Where can I get more information?

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Take part in the international survey and help us improve bus and SkyTrain

We need your help so we can make our services even better! 

Did you know that TransLink is a member of two international benchmarking communities, the International Bus Benchmarking Group (IBBG) and CoMET and NOVA Metro Benchmarking Group?

Both organizations were founded to create an international network for transit agencies to learn best practices, share knowledge and innovate. Each year they also measure the performance of transit systems across the world in their annual surveys.

Join the conversation and share you experience with TransLink’s bus and SkyTrain services in the 2-5 minutes surveys before April 5, 2020.

Share your experience with SkyTrain  service here

Share your experience with bus services here

Vancouver’s SkyTrain (BCRTC) is a part of CoMET and Nova Metro Benchmarking Groups, a global metro benchmarking community comprising of 42 metro systems in 39 international cities. Current members are some of the world’s largest metro systems, including Beijing Subway, Tokyo Metro, and Moscow Metro, as well as medium to small-sized ones, such as Tyne & Wear Metro (Newcastle) and Singapore SMRT.

IBBG features 15 medium and large international bus organizations, including London Buses, MTA New York City Transit (New York), and Vancouver’s Coast Mountain Bus Company.

Check out our interview from 2015 with IBBG associate director Mark Trompet to learn more about their organization:

 

 

Spring service changes to boost North Shore bus service

The new R2 Marine Dr RapidBus launches on April 6.

Beginning April 6, transit on the North Shore is being boosted to provide more frequent and reliable bus service. With the upcoming introduction of the R2 RapidBus along Marine Drive, there will be several additions of new routes and adjustments to existing routes on the North Shore. These changes will allow the North Shore transit network to better integrate with the high frequency RapidBus route.

New North Shore bus routes

R2 Marine Dr (Park Royal/Phibbs Exchange)

  • High frequency RapidBus service with limited stops
  • 8 to 10-minute service every day from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • 15-minute evening service every day from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

222 Willingdon Express

  • Express service with only six stops
  • Serves Phibbs Exchange, the Kootenay Loop, Hastings and Willingdon, Brentwood Town Centre SkyTrain Station, BCIT, and Metrotown
  • 10-minute peak service
  • Former 125 (Patterson/BCIT) customers are encouraged to switch to the new express service

245 Phibbs Exchange/Capilano University

  • 10-minute peak service during summer months
  • More service coming fall 2020 for the new school year

Adjusted North Shore bus routes

240 Lynn Valley/Downtown

  • Terminus extending from Grand Boulevard to Lynn Valley to integrate with the R2 RapidBus

28 Joyce Station/Phibbs Exchange and 130 Metrotown/Phibbs Exchange

  • Terminus moved from Capilano University to Phibbs Exchange

239 Park Royal/Capilano University

  • Service replaced by R2 RapidBus, and increased service on routes 240 and 255

Other major permanent service increases

 31 River District/Metrotown (New Service)

  • Will provide a direct bus connection to the Expo Line for residents of the River District

319 Scott Road Station/Scottsdale Exchange/Newton Exchange

  • Introducing 4 to 8-minute service all day on weekdays until 10:30 p.m.
  • Increasing to 4-minute peak service between Scottsdale Exchange and Scott Road Station

Seasonal changes

Each year, TransLink temporarily increases service during the spring and summer months to key tourist destinations like ferry terminals, parks, and beaches. On April 6, service will increase on route 620 (Bridgeport Station/Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal). In May, service will increase on route 19 (Metrotown/Stanley Park) to reflect growing demand.

In May, service will be temporarily reinstated on the 42 (Alma/Spanish Banks), 150 (White Pine Beach/Coquitlam Central Station), 179 (Buntzen Lake/Coquitlam Central Station), and 236 (Grouse Mountain/Pemberton Heights/Lonsdale Quay) until the fall.

TransLink also temporarily decreases service to post-secondary institutions in these months, as there are less students travelling to and from campus. Service will temporarily reduce on routes 9, 42, 145, 258, and 480.

#IWD2020: Envisioning a fairer world with Tasia

International Women’s Day on March 8 is a dedicated day to acknowledge the work that needs to be done for gender equality around the world. This year’s theme is #EachforEqual. It highlights that working towards equality is something that is the responsibility of every individual.

Part of this work is recognizing and celebrating the achievements of women in our workplaces. We’re proud to share the stories of those that work at TransLink and its family of companies.

Transit was not the first career that sprung to mind for Tasia Balding, the director of capital and major business Projects at BCRTC, which operates the SkyTrain’s Expo and Millennium lines. Instead, Tasia’s childhood dream was to become a judge – with ever so noble intentions.

“As a little kid, I was really concerned with things being fair and equitable,” she recalls. “My uncle was a judge and I thought I could become one to help make things fair for everybody.”

Ensuring fairness stuck with Tasia, even if the plan to become a judge didn’t. A key aspect of Tasia’s management approach is having a team of people who can learn from each other as they strategize and plan for the largest expansions in SkyTrain history.

“Weakness in the workplace can be hard for us to acknowledge. I think it’s important to surround myself with people who are equally talented and who make the team work better together. That’s what helps make my team a success.” Tasia says.

Tasia has taken many opportunities to learn from colleagues in other industries. She has a keen interest in environmental engineering, has spent time in the financial services industry and worked in construction across the continent. All of these experiences have built up Tasia’s skills allowing her to adapt to the transit industry with ease upon her arrival.

Joining TransLink as the manager of the Project Management Office in 2017, Tasia worked with the Infrastructure Management and Engineering division to mature TransLink project management practices. Then in June of 2018, she made the move to SkyTrain, taking a newly created director of capital and major business projects position.

“Coming into this role, there was already an established team, and we are in a period of growth to facilitate delivery of our portfolio,” she adds.

To achieve successful growth, Tasia is a big believer in team bonding and integration. The team needs to compliment one another and understand roles to work well with each other. Fortunately, Tasia is experienced in forming team and bringing people together to work toward common goals.

For the approaching period of rapid growth at BCRTC, Tasia expects her team to be harnessing all their tools and all their expertise together, regardless of gender. She’s also well aware that she is in a role and industry that is male dominated.   “We have a lot of engineers; not many of them are women. We have a lot of tradespeople; not many of them are women,” she emphasizes.

Tasia believes that a part of the discrepancy in female representation in the industry is linked to broader societal factors. She references how we need to encourage more female representation in STEM subjects and the trades from an early age to help drive longer-term systemic change and to stand up for change in work cultures if discriminatory language is used.  “We need to be persistent and work together to address these areas of inequality. If your message doesn’t work on someone the first time, do not give up!”

Perhaps with that conviction Tasia would have made a good judge after all – but she is excited about working on incredible technical and complex modernizations happening at SkyTrain right now.

Author: Alex Jackson

#IWD2020: “I wear a duty belt of tools. But the most important tool is my voice.”

Sergeant Cheryl Simpkin looks after the Community Engagement Unit at Transit Police. Her team works with with clients of the vulnerable sector and persons dealing with mental health problems.

International Women’s Day on March 8 is a dedicated day to acknowledge the work that needs to be done for gender equality around the world. This year’s theme is #EachforEqual. It highlights that working towards equality is something that is the responsibility of every individual.

Part of this work is recognizing and celebrating the achievements of women in our workplaces. We’re proud to share the stories of those that work at TransLink and its family of companies.

Sergeant Cheryl Simpkin has worked in law enforcement and community policing for over 18 years. Under her leadership, the Community Engagement Team at the Metro Vancouver Transit Police connects with diverse communities across six Community Service Areas within Metro Vancouver, and works with clients from vulnerable backgrounds.

A member of the Vuntut Gwitchen First Nation, Cheryl grew up in the Lower Mainland and, as an Indigenous woman, faced life experiences and challenges that helped her develop a life philosophy which she confidently brings into her current job.

“I am a strong Indigenous woman. When various difficult things happen in your life, you need to learn how to cope with that. And as a young person, I became a leader very quickly. I learned how to take a leadership role, how to manage crisis, and how to deal with difficult situations.”

The inspiration to join the police force came when Cheryl was only seven years old. While attending a Remembrance Day Ceremony with her parents, she saw a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. “I had no idea who he was, so I asked my mum. I knew instantly that’s what I’m going to do when I get older.”

Fast forward several years, Cheryl was studying criminology at the Native Education Center at Douglas College. She applied to the Stl’atl’imx Tribal Police, the only Tribal Police Service in British Columbia, to work with them as a part of her first year practicum. She appreciated their philosophy of community policing and accepted a permanent full-time position.

Despite the need to relocate to the rural area based in Mount Currie and Lillooet, Cheryl was pleased to be a female police officer working for the community.

The job was very challenging and extremely rewarding. She worked closely with the community and admired the cultural awareness and their focus on addressing challenges in the community.

The time in Mount Currie also taught her about the power of her voice. It also shaped her approach in meeting people at their point of need, while staying firm in her beliefs. As Cheryl explains:

“It’s all about understanding someone’s situation and treating people with respect and dignity, whether it’s a small child or a family that is dealing with crisis. Sometimes it’s also about telling the difficult truth. Back then I used to wear a duty belt full of tools, but I realized that my most important tool is my voice.”


Cheryl brings this cultural sensitivity to her current role at Transit Police.

Sergeant Simpkin supports her team of eight strong independent members, whom she describes as “absolute shining stars,” as they engage with boots on the ground to tackle issues of homelessness, addiction and mental health, and Indigenous relations. Their goal is to break barriers to address decriminalization and stigma. This enables the team to reach out to clients on a more personal level and take time to understand their needs:

“I had situations when I called up a client’s physicians to make sure they are taken care of, whether it was appropriate medication changes or just a simple appointment.”

What it means to be a woman in law-enforcement?

When asked about this year’s International Women’s Day celebration, Cheryl shared some of her thoughts:

Women have a huge part to play in policing. We need to be the leaders in our fields and bring our unique abilities and strengths to the job we do. For me, at least, it was always about finding ways in which we can all work together to build resources and focus on engagement rather than criminalization. It’s important we create a foundation for trust that helps people to see the police beyond our uniform and allows us to meet each other at the point of our needs.”

Cheryl is appreciative of the support she receives from Transit Police and the diversity that her department offers. If you are ever interested in meeting the amazing women that work in policing, give Cheryl a shout!

Cheryl’s team is also active on social media and documents their everyday work with the community.You can follow them here:

Sergeant Cheryl Simpkin https://twitter.com/SgtCSimpkin

Constable Gwen Ranquist https://twitter.com/CstGRanquist

Constable Julien Ponsioen https://twitter.com/CstJPonsioen

Constable Kirk Rattray https://twitter.com/CstKRattray

Constable Bruce Shipley https://twitter.com/CstBShipley

Constable Justin Biggs https://twitter.com/CstJBiggs

Constable Nicole Dennis https://twitter.com/CstNDennis

Constable Darren Chua https://www.instagram.com/cstdchua/?hl=en

River District and North Shore Express to Metrotown bus routes approved

The new 31 and 222 bus routes start operating on April 6, 2020.

Two new major bus routes have been approved to serve residents in Vancouver’s East Fraser Lands (the River District), the North Shore, and Burnaby. Beginning April 6, the new services will connect North Shore and River District residents directly to the SkyTrain at Metrotown Station.

New routes:

31 River District/Metrotown – A new service operating between Metrotown Station and the River District. This new route will serve the River District’s growing levels of residential and commercial development by providing a direct bus connection to SkyTrain.

222 Willingdon Express – This new route provides an express service connecting Phibbs Exchange in North Vancouver to Metrotown in Burnaby via Willingdon Avenue. This will be a limited-stop service with only six stops on the entire route. It will serve key transit hubs such as Phibbs Exchange, the Kootenay Bus Loop, Brentwood Town Centre SkyTrain Station, BCIT, and Metrotown. The demand for this route was identified as part of the Integrated North Shore Transportation Planning Project (INSTPP).

Both routes were accepted as part of the 2019 Transit Network Review – which consults on new ways to optimize the transit system for customers. The full Transit Network Review consulted on proposed changes to 12 routes last year, and these are the first two to have their proposals implemented. These and other transit expansion projects are funded through the Mayors’ 10-Year Vision.

Engagement results:

In total, there were 4,000 surveys completed for the two new routes. Nearly 80 per cent of respondents said they would be likely to use the Willingdon Express, and two-thirds of respondents said they would be likely to use the River District service.

More information:

Transit Network Review

#IWD2020: Qiu-ing up for success

Qiu Li is an Electrical Maintenance Engineer at Coast Mountain Bus Company. Her role involves fleet technical support and focuses on the the technology systems affecting the fleet, as well as working with battery-electric buses and on-board technologies.

International Women’s Day on March 8 is a dedicated day to acknowledge the work that needs to be done for gender equality around the world. This year’s theme is #EachforEqual. It highlights that working towards equality is something that is the responsibility of every individual.

Part of this work is recognizing and celebrating the achievements of women in our workplaces. We’re proud to share the stories of those that work at TransLink and its family of companies. 

Most semesters, Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC)’s Maintenance Engineering team gets some new co-op students. Women filling these positions have been few and far between.

Women are underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and computer science (STEM) fields at universities.

According to Statistics Canada, 44 per cent of first-year university students aged 19 or less enrolled in STEM programs were women, while women made up more than 64 per cent of students in other fields.

That’s why Qiu Li (pronounced q), an electrical maintenance engineer with CMBC, relishes the opportunity to mentor co-op students — both men and women — eager to apply their classroom learning to the real world.

A typical work day for Qiu runs the gamut.

There’s communicating with maintenance staff and vendor representatives to resolve fleet technical issues and providing design and functional inputs for new buses and onboard technologies. There’s also working with technicians to prototype new systems to better the fleet.

One of the projects she is involved in is TransLink’s battery-electric bus pilot project.

After overseeing the successful delivery of the battery-electric buses, she carved out a larger role for herself. She’s now looking after the day-to-day health of the buses and the chargers.

While doing all this, she’s helping to train and expose the co-op students to the environment they’re working in, guiding them through their learning process.

They have a good mentor to look up to, showing them the value of taking initiative.

Qiu has earned the respect of her peers for stepping up as an interim technical lead, continuing to push all the vendors to resolve issues, educating the operations department on how to improve charging success, and working with the maintenance department to improve bus performance.

Although universities have made headway in recent years to close the gender gap in STEM fields. The fact remains, Qiu is a woman in engineering — a field dominated by men — but that doesn’t define her in the office.

“Just because I work in a more male-dominated environment, I don’t feel like I have to be more assertive,” says Qiu, “but from my perspective and just the way I usually deal with people, I find the best way is to treat people with respect.”

Reflecting on this year’s International Women’s Day theme, #EachforEqual, Qiu says it means seeing people as people.

She would rather people confront issues that arise from personality or situation conflict, rather than singling out someone based on gender.

“I think it’s harder for people who have grown in environments where they are not exposed to diversity and different cultures,” says Qiu.

“But I think I’ve been pretty lucky in my life that I’ve always grown up in a very diverse cultural environment and a lot of people I interact with came from that background.”

Over the years, Qiu has also learned two important things.

First, if you treat people with respect and as equals, they reciprocate.

And second, she’s figured out what her favourite compliment in the office is – “they just see me as me with my personality traits, and they don’t treat me anything more or less just because I’m female.”

#IWD2020: A road less traveled to a rewarding career as a leader

Maria Su is TransLink’s director of research and analytics. Her team uses complex data to produce sophisticated solutions that resolve business challenges and improve the customer experience.

International Women’s Day on March 8 is a dedicated day to acknowledge the work that needs to be done for gender equality around the world. This year’s theme is #EachforEqual. It highlights that working towards equality is something that is the responsibility of every individual.

Part of this work is recognizing and celebrating the achievements of women in our workplaces. We’re proud to share the stories of those that work at TransLink and its family of companies. 

In 1996, Maria Su was hired as a transportation engineer on the team that was tasked with creating Metro Vancouver’s first regional transportation authority, which would later be known as TransLink.

She explains that at that time, she was perfectly content pursuing a strictly technical career – she went to engineering school after all, not business school. She had no desire to manage budgets, programs or people.

Today, Maria serves as TransLink’s director of research and analytics, overseeing a team of 24 analytical and planning specialists and dozens of advanced programs.

Despite her preconceived notions of what a leadership role involved, Maria is confident that this detour towards management has provided more career fulfillment than she could have ever imagined:

“When I was asked to lead this team in 2012, I wasn’t sure I could do it – I was working on policy planning at the time. I didn’t do computer modelling or particularly enjoy managing a big team of people, but life has a way of throwing you unexpected twists. Until you take a risk and try something new, you have no way of knowing if you’re going to like it. But I am so glad I did. Building this team from the ground up has been immensely rewarding.”

Part of the Research and Analytics Team’s job is to use complex data to produce sophisticated solutions that resolve business challenges and improve the customer experience.

One recent example is the team’s collaboration with our Business Technology Services division on the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to train 18,000 models to provide customers with highly reliable bus departure time estimates.

The result is a 74 per cent improvement in bus departure predictions, with riders spending 50 per cent less time waiting. Microsoft recently featured this innovative work on their website.

“I tell my team that no idea is crazy but should always be useful. We have many different viewpoints and very robust debates. It’s okay that we don’t all sing from the same song sheet.”

Maria explains that her role is to create an environment that enables her team to do their jobs as best as they can. She is fiercely passionate about making it as safe, equal and inclusive as possible:

“I have the most brilliant mosaic of individuals on my team. I have engineers, mathematicians, data scientists, market researchers, business professionals, planners, economists and geographers from all different backgrounds – this variation is what makes us strong. It helps us design efficient, well-rounded solutions that benefit our customers and advance regional goals.”

Reflecting on the theme of An Equal World is an Enabled World for International Women’s Day 2020, Maria believes there are things that we can all do to help accelerate equality, especially in the workplace:

  • Don’t limit or label yourself – “It’s one thing for others to label you, but it’s another to label yourself. Don’t create barriers for yourself or let your label be your excuse. If you limit yourself, you’ve already done the most damage.”
  • Advocate for those who think differently – “It takes courage to champion the people and ideas that go against popular thinking. I endeavour to promote and defend those who think independently and critically. They are often the ones with the most innovative solutions.”
  • Find something you’re passionate about and pursue it relentlessly – “Find your niche and become the best at it. With conviction, passion and excellence, you’ll prevail, regardless of obstacles.”
  • Respect one another – “Deep down, I view my team members as my equals, if not my superiors. They do things that I can’t do. They have amazing specialized skills and can deal with incredibly complex ideas and several billion lines of data without flinching. I trust them wholeheartedly and have a lot of respect for each of them.”

Looking to the future of work, Maria recommends that anyone looking for an inclusive and dynamic career consider analytics:

“By definition, data is ageless, genderless and colourless. It’s the field of the future.”

 

Author: Rebecca Abel

 

Read Other Stories from our #IWD2020 Series:

#IWD2020: Qiu-ing up for success

#IWD2020: “I wear a duty belt of tools. But the most important tool is my voice.”

#IWD2020: Envisioning a fairer world with Tasia

Enter to win transit passes and tickets to watch the HSBC Canada Sevens on March 7 and 8!

Canada Sevens

HSBC Canada Sevens isn’t just a celebration of sport, it’s the ultimate costume party! Annually, fans don their ‘fanciest’ attire from chicken to egg and everything in between. Come for the costumes, stay for the game!

This year, we’ve teamed up with HSBC Canada Sevens to give away a pair of general admission tournament passes (approximate value of $250) for March 7 and 8! We’ll also include four adult Compass Tickets so you can take transit to-and-from the games.

How to enter for a chance to win:

  • Comment below telling us who you’d take with you to the watch the HSBC Canada Sevens and how you’d get there using transit. (1 entry)
  • Like or follow TransLink and HSBC Canada Sevens on Facebook, and leave a comment below letting us know you did. (1 entry)
  • Follow @TransLink and @CanadaSevens on Instagram, like this post, and tag three friends. (1 entry)
  • Follow @TransLink and @CanadaSevens on Twitter, and tweet or retweet the following message. (1 entry)

    Win a pair of tickets to watch the #Canada7s in #Vancouver on Mar. 7-8! RT and follow @TransLink and @CanadaSevens to enter for a chance to win. https://buzzer.translink.ca/?p=58451

This means if you do all four actions, you’ll have four chances to win. Don’t forget to make sure your social media accounts are public so we can see your entry!

Grab the official contest terms and conditions here, and the quick lowdown here:

  • This contest is for two tickets to watch the HSBC Canada Sevens.
  • All entries must be received by noon on Thursday, March 5, 2020. Late entries will not be considered.
  • One entry per method, per day, per person — that means you can enter up to four times in total for this giveaway.
  • Winner will be contacted via their method of entry.

Take transit to the HSBC Canada Sevens

HSBC Canada Sevens are played at BC Place Stadium, conveniently located steps away from Stadium–Chinatown Station, a stop on SkyTrain’s Expo Line. Use our Trip Planner to find your transit route!

New to taking transit?

Watch the video below, or read our Rider Guide, and check out Transit 101!

A gold medal for transit during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics

February 28, 2020 marks the 10-year anniversary of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics’ final day of competition and the closing ceremonies. Of course, it’s also the anniversary of the “golden goal” scored by hockey player Sidney Crosby to win Canada the gold medal in men’s hockey.

Here’s an essay by Mohak Sood with The Buzzer blog on what the games meant for transit and transportation in Metro Vancouver. 

It’s winter. It’s February. It’s really not that cold, and it’s definitely not snowing much.  The coldest it got to this month was about -1 degrees Celsius.

It’s basically almost spring. Not ideal, really.

Anyways, you’ve got plans – you’re headed downtown.

You rip out a FareSaver from your booklet and head on down to see the Olympic Cauldron at Jack Poole Plaza, near the Vancouver Convention Centre.

But it’s guarded by a chain link fence, so it’s kind of hard to see.

Still, you hang around long enough to try and get a good look, and eventually you do. You see the glass that looks like ice. You see the cauldron, towering over you, all 30-plus feet of it. And then you see it. The fire. The flame. It’s lit.

And then you realize – it really isn’t that cold, like, at all. At the very least, it doesn’t feel anywhere close to cold enough. After all, it is the Winter Olympics!

You know just by simply thinking about Vancouver back in 2010, it feels like travelling through a time machine. Where does the time go!?

It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years since the Vancouver 2010 games, because, well, a lot has changed since then.

Did you know there was no Instagram during the 2010 Olympics? It didn’t launch until 2012. And FareSavers? Does anyone even remember those? It’s the Compass Card now.

The words “it’s lit” has taken on a whole new meaning. In 2010, it meant you were talking about turning on a light, lighting a candle or even the Olympic Cauldron. But now? Maybe ask a teenager.

Although times have changed since we hosted the Winter Olympics ten years ago, its impact continues to reverberate, especially when it comes to transit ridership.

During the 17-day long Olympics, there were 26 million boardings on all services. That’s an average of 1.58 million boardings per day, 40 per cent higher than the average weekday back in 2010.

“There was so many articles and information afterwards that the transportation during the 2010 Olympics was one of the best that [the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games] has ever seen,” says Ray Hamilton, Coast Mountain Bus Company’s manager of service analysis.

And we made sure we were ready for all the travel – before the games kicked off. TransLink launched a large-scale expansion plan that saw not only the arrival of SkyTrain’s Canada Line, but also 180 new diesel-hybrid buses, 48 new SkyTrain cars and a 400-passenger SeaBus.

During the games, TransLink saw a record high in use of public transit and that helped redefine our regions commuting habits. Regional mass transit saw a whopping 50 per cent increase during and after the Games!

“The numbers of riders, it didn’t drop back down to pre-Olympic levels. I think there were lots of people who realized through the Olympic experience that transit was a pretty viable option for getting around the Lower Mainland,” says Constable Jason White with Transit Police.

TransLink continues to win the gold medal in transit ridership, surpassing more than 437 million boardings in 2018 to set an all-time high for Metro Vancouver.

Ridership continues to climb on the Canada Line, which connects people from Vancouver International Airport to downtown Vancouver. It hit an all-time high in 2018 for annual ridership, including 39.65 million boardings in October 2018 alone, surpassing the one-month ridership record of 39.2 million set back during the Olympics.

Recognizing our ridership growth between 2016-2018 and excellence in a range of areas, the American Public Transportation Association named TransLink the Transit System of the Year for 2019.

But perhaps most importantly, all the new additions to TransLink’s fleet were easier on the environment with reduced fuel consumption and lower emissions.

The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics was a truly moment in time that brought the city, the province, and the country together.

We saw freestyle skier Alexandre Bilodeau become the first Canadian to win gold at an Olympic games held in Canada. We also saw the Canadian women’s hockey team shut out the Americans for gold and of course, hockey player Sidney Crosby’s “golden goal” in men’s hockey to end the magical tournament.

Everyone felt more connected during that time and because of the Olympics, everyone truly was.

Transit in Metro Vancouver has continue to transform 10 years later, so let’s take a look at selection of what we’ve accomplished since 2010:

Metro Vancouver’s cycling network nearly tripled last decade

HUB Cycling and TransLink have partnered to a release a 2019 State of Cycling report card.

HUB Cycling and TransLink have partnered to release the first ever State of Cycling Report for Metro Vancouver.

The report assesses the region’s quality and quantity of bikeways, the number of residents regularly cycling, and the safety of the cycling network. The rich new data set will help people who cycle better plan their trips by providing an accurate picture of the cycling network.

“HUB Cycling’s goal for the project is to advance the development of a complete regional cycling network that is accessible and comfortable to people of all ages and abilities” said Jeff Leigh, HUB Cycling’s Vice President.  HUB Cycling President Derik Wenman added, “We congratulate TransLink and staff from all the region’s municipal governments for agreeing to work with HUB Cycling on this project. We will all benefit from what we have learned.” Read more »

TELUS service arrives for the SkyTrain tunnel in downtown Vancouver

TELUS, Koodo and Public Mobile customers can now stay connected on the SkyTrain, even underground in downtown Vancouver.

We’ve partnered with TELUS to bring wireless service to the underground SkyTrain tunnel in downtown Vancouver, between Stadium-Chinatown and Waterfront stations, including the platforms at Granville and Burrard stations.

This means TELUS, Koodo and Public Mobile customers can stay connected on the SkyTrain line, even underground.

“We live in an era where many of us rely on uninterrupted connectivity,” says TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond. “Whether you’re getting a head-start to your day or winding down on your way home – our customers who rely on the TELUS network can now stay connected, productive, and informed while travelling through our downtown stations.”

The 1.4-kilometre route through the underground Dunsmuir Tunnel is one of the busiest stretches along the SkyTrain network.

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How TransLink Learned to Connect the World to the Olympic Games One Tweet at a Time

Few people know that the 2010 Olympics played a major role in getting the ball rolling on connecting our customer with transit information in real time via Twitter. The games inspired the Twitter pilot project in Fall 2010, and laid the foundation for how we communicate online with over 200,000 customers today. We sat down with Derek Zabel, Manager at Compass Operations Solutions and one of the main initiators of the Olympics pilot project on Twitter , to take a walk down the memory lane and see how everything started. 

 

Derek Zabel talking on the phone at CMBC office, 2015

Derek Zabel at Coast Mountain Bus Company’s office, 2015.

TransLink’s Twitter was around for so long that it’s difficult to imagine TransLink’scustomer service without it. Can you tell us more about how it all began?

Back in 2010, I was working on the Media Relations team with Coast Mountain Bus Company. Winter Olympics brought thousands of people to Vancouver and our team worked hard to make sure we could engage with the visitors and our regular customers in a timely and efficient manner.

The idea was sparked by our Director of Communication at the time, Ken Hardie. He wanted to connect to customers on a completely new platform. So during that time we had some discussions between Ken, others and myself – what can we do to equip people with as much information about transit as possible?

Twitter during that time was a place for people to get information from news media. Initially we planned to use Twitter to communicate with the press. But when we looked at the other transportation agencies, no one was really utilizing Twitter for customer service, so we kind of took a risk.

What were your team’s main objectives with getting Twitter running?

We really wanted to ensure that our customers would have all the information they needed at their fingertips.  We wanted to inform them about all the different service delays, numerous buses that we brought in to try to get people to various venues. And, most importantly, we wanted to make sure we can engage with them almost instantaneously. If anyone had a question about transportation or logistics for the Olympics events, we were on top of it and ready to respond. Our main goal was to make sure everyone could get to their end destinations, whether it was a hockey game, training locations or their homes.

How was the Twitter Team set up?

During the Olympics, I was an acting Director of Communications for a couple of weeks and had a small team of about four people. We would come in at 6 o’clock at night and would leave at about 6 in the morning. That was because various events in the city, including hockey games, were happening in the evening. We each had Tweet Deck set up and we had all those different streams lined up. We’d pick up hashtags and reply to people who’d mention us.

What were you main challenges?  

Having small teams communicating with thousands of new visitors was one of the main challenges. At the end of the day, Olympics for us was really about engagement and connection. We wanted to leave a good impression about Vancouver and our transportation system and ensure our customers’ experience of transit was as seamless as possible so they could enjoy the events. It was a real chance for our organization to shine. Of course, service delays and changes happened too. But our task was always to respond to customers instantaneously. Even if they were saying something about it negatively, it did not matter. We would reach out to them saying “You know we’re sorry you cannot get on that bus, but there is another one coming and it has more space or something like that”.  And I think that made a very good inroads to our customers and helped us to navigate through the major challenges.

What do you think was the legacy of this project on how we communicate with customers today?

Our initiative was so successful that it encouraged TransLink to roll out a month-long Twitter pilot project later that year and was subsequently handed over to the Customer Information team. After the Olympics, a lot of organizations were reaching back to us with positive feedback. I think we broke the ground on trying to engage with customers socially and in real-time fashion for a lot of transportation agencies across the world. We started with a few hundred followers and ten years later our Twitter following is phenomenal.

Today our Customer Information team provides updates about TransLink buses, SeaBus, SkyTrain, Handy DART, and WestCoast Express, responding to over 100 questions on Twitter daily and keeping an eye on important alerts. Do you follow @TransLink on Twitter? Perhaps you were around in 2010 and have a story about your engagement with us on Twitter? If so, let us know – we’d love to hear about it! Who knows, maybe we’ll get the Olympics again.

 

 

TransLink reveals bus fleet electrification plan, requests Mayors’ Council endorsement

TransLink is asking the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation to support its updated Low Carbon Fleet Strategy, which puts the region on the path to converting all buses to zero emissions technology by 2050. Metro Vancouver can make significant progress over the next decade by replacing 50 per cent of the diesel and natural gas fleet with clean, zero-emissions battery electric models.

The Low Carbon Fleet Strategy calls for investments in several key areas:

  • Procurement of up to 635 battery electric buses to replace diesel and diesel-hybrid fleet
  • Installation of charging infrastructure on-route and at depots
  • Construction of BC’s first fully electric capable bus depot

TransLink will require $95 million to $447 million in new funding over the next ten years to proceed with the strategy. The amount of funding required is dependent on which approach the Mayors’ Council chooses; cautious, progressive or aggressive. This ambitious plan is unfunded and requires significant support from senior governments.

“Transitioning the bus fleet to zero-emissions technology is an essential step toward breaking the region’s dependence on fossil fuels,” according to TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond. “This strategy sets out a bold course that will eventually allow us to provide 100% green public transportation.”

TransLink is recommending that the Mayors’ Council endorse this phase of the Low Carbon Fleet Strategy and direct staff to start finalizing the plan.

(CONTEST) RapidBus brings faster, more frequent service to eight Metro Vancouver communities

We know that fast, frequent service is key to getting more people onto transit — that’s why we’ve introduced a new service called RapidBus! It comes with faster travel times, more reliable service and new customer amenities.

On these routes, customers will enjoy service that’s up to 20 per cent faster than local bus service. Coming every 10 minutes or better during peak hours and every 15 minutes or better in non-peak hours, customers can now catch a RapidBus on these four routes:

  • R1 King George Blvd (Guildford Exchange/Newton Exchange)
    • Every eight minutes during peak hours
  • R3 Lougheed Hwy (Coquitlam Central Station/Haney Place)
    • Every ten minutes during peak hours
  • R4 41st Ave (UBC/Joyce-Collingwood Station)
    • Every three to six minutes during peak hours
  • R5 Hastings St (SFU/Burrard Station)
    • Every four to five minutes during peak hours

Time-savings have been achieved by introducing bus priority on roadways, such as bus lanes and signal priority, and less stopping.

What’s awesome about RapidBus is not only the service itself, but the new customer amenities at bus stops and onboard buses!

We’ve introduced new bus stops, called RapidBus posts, that have real-time information, telling you upcoming departure times for all the buses that use that stop. There’s an audio button customers can push to hear these next-bus announcements too. The RapidBus routes will also use 60-foot articulated buses that have softer seats.

Isn’t the new RapidBus service great?! We want everyone to know about this new service and could use some help in spreading the word. We want to give you the chance to win a RapidBus prize back that includes a RapidBus toque, gloves and the new model that just dropped on the TransLink Store.

Keep reading to find out how you can enter to win.

Enter to win!

There are three prize packs up for grabs with each of the following:

  • A RapidBus t-shirt
  • A RapidBus model
  • A RapidBus toque
  • Pair of RapidBus gloves
  • A handful of RapidBus buttons
  • A handful of RapidBus stickers
  • A handful of I Love Transit buttons

To enter, simply complete one — or all — of the following actions:

  • Comment below telling us which RapidBus route you’ll be taking and where you’ll be going (1 entry)
  • Follow @TransLink on Instagram, like this post and tag three friends you’d like to tell about RapidBus. (1 entry)
  • Follow @TransLink on Twitter, and tweet or retweet the following message. (1 entry)

If you do all three actions, you’ll be entered to win three times! Don’t forget to make sure your social media accounts are public so we can see your entry.

The rules:

Check out the official RapidBus Prize Pack Contest Terms and Conditions, but here’s the lowdown:

  • The contest for a RapidBus prize pack will open on Monday, February 24, 2020 and all entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. PST on Sunday, March 8, 2020. Late entries will not be considered.
  • We’ll do one draw each for The Buzzer blog, Instagram and Twitter.
  • One entry per method, per person, per day.