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UBC students: you’ve got many ways to get to school

A chart of the different routes you can take to get to UBC.

A chart of the different routes you can take to get to UBC.

If you’re a UBC student, check out this handy chart showing all your bus route options to campus.

We gave it out in a wallet-size card for the first week of school, but I think it’s worth sharing again, especially if you didn’t grab a copy.

What we want to emphasize is that there are MORE options than the 99 B-Line, and MORE places to catch UBC buses than Commercial-Broadway. If it’s at all possible, please do give the alternate routes a try!

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Friday fun poll: which type of train do you like best? (Now includes new SkyTrains and Canada Line cars!)

If you like, skip to the end of this post to answer the favourite train poll.

Last week’s survey: what do you read when you ride transit?

Last week the New York Times asked people what they read on the subway, so I thought it would be fun to run the same survey here.

So, see the full Times results here; the full Buzzer results are in this Excel spreadsheet.

Here’s a summary though!

While 8,000 people answered the Times survey, a modest 48 put their answers into the Buzzer poll :)

In the comments it seemed that some didn’t really read on transit: Steven caught up with news on his BlackBerry/iPhone, and some couldn’t read on the bus without feeling sick (Sally, I feel for you)!

Just like the Times, I asked about the last book, magazine, and newspaper everyone read — however I didn’t analyze by bus routes/train lines since there was such a wide variety.

The only category with some clear results were the newspapers:

New York Times survey Buzzer survey
1. New York Times (3,143 readers)
2. AM New York (a free paper – 1,117 readers)
3. Metro (524)
4. Wall Street Journal (337)
5. New York Post (226)
1. 24 Hours (18 readers)
2. Metro (10)
3. Vancouver Sun (3)
4. The Province (2)
5. Surrey Leader/The Peak (SFU) (1)

(Seems likely that the Times would come out tops in its own poll, no? Free papers did definitely dominate in both surveys though. And four kind people listed the Buzzer as their newspaper reading.)

Books and magazines were much harder to report on, since every single person surveyed was reading something different. The Times survey seemed to show this too: while 8,000 did the survey, the top books have just 58 readers each (there was a tie for first).

Our survey reported 31 different books, and here’s some commonalities:
– Three books were sci-fi (Traitor’s Sun, Lord of the Rings, Handmaid’s Tale)
– One person was reading Pride and Prejudice, and another was reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
– Two books were by Margaret Atwood (Negotiating with the Dead, Handmaid’s Tale)
– Several were nonfiction or educational (Shock Doctrine, Post America World, Bottom Billion, or training manuals or textbooks)
– The rest were a wide range of novels!

We also had 20 different magazines. Observations:
– A lot had to do with hobbies, arts and/or crafts (Photo Life, What’s Cooking, Somerset Studio and Altered Arts, MARK Magazine, Room Magazine)
– Sports and cycling had fans (Runner’s World, Sports Illustrated, Canucks Yearbook)
– General interest popped up (Time, The Walrus, Economist)
– And someone was reading the H&M Magazine!

Last notes here. Devin, I didn’t include your answers because you mostly ride in L.A. :) And Cliff had a reading experiment to conduct:

I’m awfully tempted to bring a hidden camera and record people’s reactions to my reading the Kama Sutra on transit.

This week: which type of train do you like best?

Last time I asked about your favourite train car, the new Mark IIs and the Canada Line trains weren’t on the system. So now let’s throw them into the mix!

The Mark I photo is courtesy ms_cwang at Flickr btw. OK, let’s hear your thoughts in the comments!

8am-ish transit update for Wed Sept 9

Right now: trains to Waterfront are alternating between quite full and half full at City Hall. Platforms are always cleared tho. Lots of ppl get off here: about 10-20 off the half full trains, and 30-40 on the full trains. Southbound trains are basically empty. Lots of room!

Many exiting City Hall are going to the 99 westbound now. Probably about 30-40 ppl here constantly. Buses are managing to clear the stops though.

Which brings me to a side note: yesterday the 43 and 41 were certainly not seeing these lineups. Students, if you can, try alternate routes: the 84, 41, 43, 49, 25, 33, etc.

News from Drew:

‪‪‪99 B-Line is experiencing extremely heavy loads now. Coast Mountain Bus is sending additional coaches from Commercial-Broadway, running empty at first to pick up customers at stations from Clark Drive westward.  Some of these are already full when they reach Main Street.‬‪ ‬‪

Many people are transferring from Canada Line to the 99B-Line westbound at Broadway-City Hall, which means they’re looking at some full buses going by (even though a lot of people tend to get off the B-Line at Cambie).  It might mean some students aren’t aware of the other options for getting to UBC:‬‪#41 & #43 (from Oakridge-41st Ave)‬‪#25 & #33 (from King Edward)‬‪#84 (from Olympic Village)‬‪ ‬‪

Canada Line trains have been very busy this morning, with the ones out of RICHMOND-BRIGHOUSE leaving nearly full and some people being left behind; the ones leaving YVR, though, are managing to accommodate the people coming in from South of the Fraser at BRIDGEPORT station.‬‪ ‬‪

PRODUCTION WAY station is getting busier, with some being left behind on the #145 SFU, but it’s maybe a 2-bus wait, and with 4-minute gaps betwen buses, it’s still not onerous.‬‪ ‬‬ ‪

Friday fun post: what do you read when you ride transit?

If you like, skip to the end of this post to take the reading on transit survey.

Last week’s poll: as of Friday, Aug 28, how many times have you been on the Canada Line?

In the poll from last week, I asked you how many times you’d been on the Canada Line as of August 28.

And out of 201 votes, the highest percentage picked “5 or more times” (39%). Two times came in second (20%) and once was third (18%), followed by three (16%) then four times (6%). Someone called “Not my real fake name” pointed out that I forgot to include zero again — and argh, I’m guilty as charged.

In the comments, we heard why everyone got on the line. Lots of people certainly were taking it just for the ride, but it is starting to become a useful link. For example, here’s Jaye Sunsurn:

I’ve taken the Canada Line more than a few times, and while the first few were for novelty reasons, I do find myself more apt to head to south Vancouver or Richmond now because of the accessibility that the Canada Line affords heading into that part of town.

Not my real fake name also had a similar tale to tell.

For me, twice for the heck of it, connecting to the M line via the 84 at Olympic Village or the 99 at Broadway City Hall instead of my usual Burrard to Brentwood via “Commercial-Broadway”. Maybe one day I’ll take the 25 from King Edward to Brentwood, but the 41 minute rush hour ride is a bit of a downer.

Also, once last weekend to attend a wedding reception near Aberdeen; that was the one trip that was not contrived, and it was great that the line was open in time to use it for “real” reasons.

Off topic, but still interesting: the comment thread discussed why the train curves at 33rd Avenue, and it is actually due to volcanic rock in Queen Elizabeth Park. Did you know it sits upon an extinct volcano? And that it was originally mined for basalt?

This week: what do you read when you ride transit?

The New York Times is currently asking people what they read on the subway, and I thought it would be fun to do the same thing here. They’re posting the answers today, but don’t look: let’s compare our results next week!

Here’s the intro from the Times article, for some inspiration:

Americans seem to be doing less recreational reading these days, spending time instead watching television, surfing the Web, sending text messages and talking on cellphones. But one place where a vibrant culture of reading remains strong — to some extent out of necessity — is the New York City subway.

So, click here to take the reading survey for Vancouver! No registration or personal info is required.

It’s just four questions and only the first is mandatory. I’ll repeat them here too if you’re curious:

1. What is your main SkyTrain line or bus route?
2. What was the last book you read on transit?
3. What was the last magazine?
4. What was the last newspaper?

Feel free to share any thoughts on transit reading in the comments. I’ll make up a fancy infographic next week once we get the results!

Travel tips and info for the first weeks of September

The first weeks of September are the busiest for Metro Vancouver roads and transit, so here’s some tips and information to help get you on your way.

Please keep these in mind particularly for Tuesday, September 8 when everyone starts back at school and the major bus service changes happen!

(Why is it so busy at this time? Everyone’s back from holidays, plus students are all heading back to school. Things usually improve once university students settle into their class schedules and start spreading their travel times throughout the day.)

Advice for everyone

Our main advice to road and transit commuters: shift your travel times away from the 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. peak periods if you can, but if you must travel then, please allow extra time for your trip. Starting off 20 or 30 minutes earlier is a good strategy if you absolutely have to be on campus by 9 am.

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Podcast: Angus McIntyre celebrates 40 years as a driver

Angus McIntyre celebrated 40 years as a bus driver on Tuesday, August 25, 2009.

Angus McIntyre celebrated 40 years as a bus driver on Tuesday, August 25, 2009.

Transit operator Angus McIntyre celebrated 40 years of driving Vancouver buses on Tuesday, August 25!

Keith Daubenspeck (Seattle Transit driver), Angus McIntyre and Brian Kelly about to head out for a fan trip with Brill trolleybus 2031 at Oakridge Transit Centre. (Photo by Wally Young circa 1970.)

Keith Daubenspeck (Seattle Transit driver), Angus McIntyre and Brian Kelly about to head out for a fan trip with Brill trolleybus 2031 at Oakridge Transit Centre. (Photo by Wally Young circa 1970.)

On that very day, Angus started with B.C. Hydro in 1969. To mark the occasion, he pulled out his 1969 B.C. Hydro driver’s uniform (it still fits!) and the classic coin changer that all drivers used back then.

Several media outlets came out to capture Angus’s moment (here’s a story from the Province), and a few friends and longtime riders also came out to cheer Angus on. He’s a great guy and a longtime member of the Transit Museum Society (TRAMS) so lots of people were happy to see him reach this milestone!

I did a short podcast with Angus to talk about his 40th anniversary as a driver.


To listen to the podcast, press play on the player above, or download the mp3 here. You can also subscribe to our podcast via RSS, so this and all future podcasts will download straight into iTunes or your RSS reader.

Angus also sent along an article he wrote for the CAW local 111 newsletter Frontline, which I’ve reprinted with his permission below. It talks about his experience as an operator in 1969, and how coin changers worked!

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More public art debuts on Main Street

An articulated trolley on the 3 route, wrapped in a design by artist Germaine Koh for 88 BLOCKS, the Main Street public art program.

An articulated trolley on the 3 route, wrapped in a design by artist Germaine Koh for 88 BLOCKS, the Main Street public art program.

Look for a new art-wrapped trolley on the #3 Main route this August!

The trolley is part of the second installation in Main Street’s public art program, 88 BLOCKS • Art on Main.

Artist Germaine Koh is behind the second installation, and her project MAINstREetBUS focuses on the Main Street corridor itself.

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Guest post: Vancouver Transit and Art

Ink illustration by Peter R. Bach.

Ink illustration by Peter R. Bach.

Here’s a lovely change of pace from all the Canada Line stuff. This is a guest post by Jason Vanderhill, who is an avid artist and photographer, as well as designer of several transit buttons that you might have in your collection.

Over the past year or so, I’ve taken up a new hobby. Call it SkyTrainSpotting in Fine Art, I am essentially looking for cameos or references to Vancouver transit in fine art.

Of course, I’m not limiting myself to SkyTrains, but I am trying to limit the scope as much as possible to public transit, just to remain focused. Thus far, my search has brought together scenes featuring the SkyTrain and surroundings, TransLink buses, a Seabus, and even a Coastal Renaissance BC Ferry. To be clear, I’m not always purchasing these artworks, as much as I would like to. I am, instead, making note of the work, keeping an eye on the artist’s work for future consideration.

One of the first pieces I did acquire was a print of an ink illustration of Vancouver’s skyline prominently featuring a Seabus, illustrated by graphic designer Peter R Bach of Burnaby.

The illustration (shown above) was part of a series of 6 prints showcasing Vancouver cityscapes and architectural landmarks. Peter passed away in 2006, but I’ve learned from the artist’s family that he came to Canada in 1979 and did these illustrations between 1982 and 1984, showcasing Vancouver Pre-Expo! Some pretty dramatic changes have occurred to the skyline since then!

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Weekend transit service: extra SkyTrain service, Critical Mass, and B.C. Day info

A couple of things to be aware of for the weekend!

Edit: Make sure you check the Alerts page for many more events besides the ones mentioned below, including the Vancouver Pride Parade and Dyke March!

SkyTrain ramps up service for the World Police and Fire Games

The enormous World Police and Fire Games is in town, and owing to the opening ceremonies tonight, SkyTrain will run at “rush hour” service levels all evening, with last trains leaving Waterfront Station for King George at 1:15am, VCC-Clark at 12:31am and Lougheed at 1:11am.

The Games will also prompt earlier Sunday service: the first train from King George station in Surrey starts at 6:08 am on Sunday, August 2. But Skytrain will close the system at its regular/Holiday time, with the last Expo Line train eastbound from Waterfront to King George leaving at 12:15 am. The last Millennium Line train leaves Waterfront station at 12:16am.

Critical Mass may cause bus service delays on Friday, July 31

Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) is expecting major traffic congestion and the possibility of lengthy bus delays due to the Critical Mass bike event on Friday, July 31.

Since it’s not a licensed event, a designated ride route and schedule has not been provided to CMBC.
With a designated parade route, decisions can be made in advance specific to the routing of bus service during the period of concern. Without this knowledge CMBC has not been able to set up reroutes and unfortunately doesn’t know when the event will start or end.

CMBC Transit Supervisors will be at the scene following the procession and transit service will be adjusted and or held as required. We do expect if there are road closures, bus service could be compromised.

If you have time sensitive appointments to make, please give yourselves extra time to where you need to go tonight!

B.C. Day holiday service

All transit services will run on a Sunday/Holiday schedule for B.C. Day on Monday, August 3.

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. Enjoy the long weekend, everyone!

Reminder: transit service for the HSBC Celebration of Light, tonight and Saturday

With fireworks displays set for tonight and Saturday, here’s a friendly reminder to check out my earlier post on transit service to the HSBC Celebration of Light.

You’ll find all the details about extra SkyTrain service, extra bus service and reroutes, plus SeaBus and West Coast Express info (West Coast Express runs a special train to the finale on August 1).

The UK will be doing the fireworks tonight, and China will be up on Saturday. Have fun watching the show!

TransitDB: a prizewinning Vancouver transit website

Carson Lam, all dressed up for the Microsoft FTW Ultimate App Throwdown.

Carson Lam, all dressed up for the Microsoft FTW Ultimate App Throwdown.

At the end of June, UBC computer science student Carson Lam emerged victorious in Microsoft’s FTW Ultimate App Throwdown, a programming contest pitting a student project against a professional one.

What was Carson’s winning project? TransitDB, a super handy implementation of TransLink’s transit data!

Check out the site: you can see bus routes mapped onto Google Maps, the next buses leaving from each stop at a bus loop on a single page, and an RSS feed of current system alerts.

The site is quite prescient—many of its features are actually already being put together for the TransLink website! But we’re still absolutely thrilled to see great developers building great tools to help our customers out, and we’re working to make our data accessible to all developers so they can do even more (really!).

For more, here’s a Q&A with Carson, explaining bit more about TransitDB, the Microsoft contest, and where he and the site might end up next.

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Friday fun trivia: what years are these tickets are from?

If you like, you can skip to the end of this post to see some classic transit tickets and tell us what year they’re from!

Results from last poll: how many stop numbers have you memorized?

Last week I asked how many stop numbers you know by heart.

And okay, at 75 votes this wasn’t our most popular poll ever. But in this poll, both extremes got the most votes.

45% said they had one number memorized, while 33% said they knew 5 or more numbers by heart. 11% knew two numbers, and 5% each knew 3 or 4 numbers.

The lack of votes could certainly be because I forgot to include “zero” as an option. There was a big outcry in the comments suggesting this would have been an popular choice! As Catherine Winters describes:

Seriously, there’s no “zero” option? :) I have them stored in my phone’s SMS app, so at least I can copy and paste the last few, but honestly, my route isn’t regular enough that I can rely on that. I’ll have to make do with good old fashioned sign reading, I’m afraid.

David also voted for zero:

I’m another zero. I know when to catch the bus that goes past my street and rarely use any of the other routes. When I need another bus I’ll check the schedule online ahead of time at home/office or, on those rare occasions when I get to SkyTrain and find it’s not running, I just go to the bus stop and wait. I see no point texting in those cases; it won’t make the bus come any sooner.

Sorry guys! I’ll do better next time. Basically, nine of 18 comments in total said “zero” would be their choice: you can read those and all the rest at the original post.

This week: trivia! What years are these tickets from?

OK, since we might all have poll fatigue by now, I thought I’d try something different: transit trivia!

Check out the tickets below: can you tell me in the comments what years they are from? (I’m really just looking for a rough estimate like “late 60s” or “early 70s” — although if you can tell me the exact year, that’s cool too.)

Classic bus tickets! Click for a MUCH larger version.

Classic bus tickets! Click for a MUCH larger version.

Here is the back view of the tickets, if you want to see those too. Next week I’ll have the answer and any background stories I can gather from people in the company :)

Summer spot: the Main Street Farmers Market

The Main Street Farmers Market in Thornton Park, near Main Street SkyTrain Station!

The Main Street Farmers Market in Thornton Park, near Main Street SkyTrain Station!

As you might recall, I wanted to do some posts highlighting summer destinations you can get to on transit. So here’s one: the new Main Street Farmers Market!

Map of the market location.

Map of the market location.

The market is held every Wednesday from 3pm to 7pm in Thornton Park, which is just next to Main Street SkyTrain Station.

It used to be at Riley Park near Nat Bailey Stadium, but they moved it this year to serve more people at a more accessible location.

It’s a great new place to stop on the way home for fresh dinner ingredients — and there’s even bike delivery service in case you buy too much!

You can grab the SkyTrain to get there, or use bus routes 3, 8, 19, and 22, which stop at Main and Terminal. It’s also close to several bike routes: you can use Cycle Vancouver to plan a route there.

And catch it while you can: the Main Street market will only be open from June 10 – October 21. More about the market and its organizer, the Vancouver Farmers Markets, can be found here.

If you have a transit/bike-accessible summer spot to nominate, email me!

Transit service to the HSBC Celebration of Light, Wed July 22

Fireworks from the HSBC Celebration of Light!

Fireworks from the HSBC Celebration of Light!

We’ve scheduled service to help you get to and from the HSBC Celebration of Light fireworks festival on Wed July 22 (Canada), Sat July 25 (South Africa), Wed July 29 (U.K.), and Sat August 1 (China).

SkyTrain will operate at “rush hour” service levels for the evening, with last trains leaving Waterfront Station for King George at 1:15am, VCC-Clark at 12:31am and Lougheed at 1:11am.

Extra trains will be available in case there are customers still inside stations when the last scheduled trains leave – no one will be left behind!

Also, due to expected crowds, bicycles may be restricted westbound to downtown at the discretion of transit staff when trains are crowded, and will not be permitted on SkyTrain after 10pm on fireworks days until crowds have cleared. If you’re biking, travel early and avoid the inbound peak of 8 pm to 9:30 pm. As you likely know, bikes are limited to two per SkyTrain car, and please be mindful of the safety and comfort of other passengers.

West Coast Express will run a special train on August 1 only (that’s finale night). The train will leave Mission City Station at 7:00 pm and return from Waterfront at Midnight.

SeaBus will have both vessels in operation throughout the evening: 15-minute service will run between Lonsdale Quay and Waterfront station until 12:15am on Wednesdays and 12:45am on Saturdays.

West Vancouver Blue Bus will also provide more buses from Dundarave and Park Royal. Buses returning to West Vancouver will load east of the regular bus stop (nearer to Stanley Park) at Georgia and Denman.

For buses, please note that several bus routes will be re-routed away from the immediate area of the fireworks in the evening, so you’ll need to walk a few blocks to get to your viewing point after:

  • #5 Robson will go as far as Denman and Georgia
  • #6 Davie will terminate at Davie and Thurlow
  • C21 Beach will go as far as Beach and Hornby
  • C23 Davie will go as far as Davie and Thurlow
  • #22 Knight/Macdonald will use Granville Street Bridge, 4th Ave., Burrard and Cornwall in both directions

Transit supervisors will be on-hand to decide if additional buses are needed. And as always, Transit Police and Transit Security will assist Vancouver Police in crowd management, particularly on transit vehicles. A zero-tolerance policy for drugs, drunkenness and open liquor will be maintained.

The HSBC Celebration of Light remains one of the premier events in the Metro Vancouver calendar, and we are happy to help as many people enjoy it as possible!

The Central Park Line: the very first interurban in greater Vancouver

A map of the Central Park Line,  outlined on a 1936 Wrigley's transit map supplied by the <a href=>Burnaby Village Museum</a>.

A map of the Central Park Line, outlined on a 1936 Wrigley's transit map supplied by the Burnaby Village Museum.

Today, I’m pleased to present a brief look at the Central Park Line, one of the interurban lines that used to run in the Lower Mainland.

(If you’re not familiar with the interurbans – electric railways that ran between cities – you can check out this earlier blog post on the history of the interurbans in greater Vancouver.)

Again, Lisa Codd, the curator at the Burnaby Village Museum, helped me put this article together. It’s a continued collaboration to explore transit history and Burnaby’s archival holdings!

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