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Retired trolleys make their way to Mendoza

One of our retired trolleys on a flatbed truck, arriving in Guaymallen, Argentina en route to Mendoza.

One of our retired trolleys on a flatbed truck, arriving in Guaymallen, Argentina en route to Mendoza.

Thanks to the kindness of Jorge Luis Guevara, we have pictures of our retired trolleys arriving in Argentina on Friday, Dec. 5!

(Recap for those new to the story: we sold 80 of our retired high-floor trolleys to Mendoza, Argentina. Older stories on the trolleys’ voyage to South America can be found here, here, and here.)

Jorge works for Empresa Provincial de Transportes de Mendoza (EPTM), the transit agency who bought our trolleys. He’s promised to send more photos of the buses during their journey in the Andes, too!

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Version 1.1 of TransLink’s iPhone App is now out

The updated iPhone app features Google Maps integration!

The updated iPhone app features Google Maps integration!

Hey, version 1.1 of TransLink’s iPhone app is now available!

Version 1.1 is both an update of our original iPhone app and an update to our mobile site, adding new features and fixing some old bugs. If you have the app installed, it should already be updated on your phone, and you’ll find it includes:

  • Google Maps integration
    Instead of using PDF maps, Google Maps are now integrated into the app. Google Maps are more interactive maps that can display data like bus routes and stops, unlike a static PDF.
  • Full-text search
    You can now search for bus stops using full text, instead of inputting specific bus stop ID numbers. For example, search for “Burrard” and you’ll get a list of bus stops related to Burrard Street.
  • More information about bus stops
    Bus stops are now marked with directional information (westbound, eastbound, etc) to help users figure out which stop on an intersection they are looking for.
  • Location-awareness, to help you find nearby bus stops
    Tap the bus icon and if GPS is enabled on your phone, the app will automatically locate the closest bus stops to you. (This feature was included when the app moved to the App Store.)
  • The Buzzer blog!
    Huzzah! A big hello to all of you who reached the blog through the app today!
  • And of course, multiple bug fixes and interface improvements

As always, our iPhone app and the improvements are the handiwork of Handi Mobility, who develops the app for TransLink. And if you haven’t read it yet, here again is a past interview with Igor Faletski from Handi on the development of the iPhone app. Igor also mentioned why the app is mainly focused on iPhone customers at the moment in another comment thread:

While a lot of phones support Java, only a little fraction of them have data services enabled. On the contrary, 98% of iPhone users actively access the Internet. Moreover, the demographics of RIM and Symbian users in Vancouver do not match the transit rider population in a way that the iPhone does.

We carefully measure the stats of the universal mobile portal at http://m.translink.ca and iPhone users are the absolute majority there, with RIM being in a very distant second place. It’s a priority for us to provide service to everyone, but at the same time we work hard to improve the quality for those who use it the most.

Did you know, by the way, that TransLink is the first Canadian transit system to create its own iPhone app? I found that out from a post by Greg Andrews over at Techvibes. Greg also says that the Toronto and Montreal transit systems have third-party iPhone apps that cost $1.99 and $0.99 respectively. Ours, on the other hand, is free.

Also, here’s a few updated stats on how the rest of our mobile and web services are doing. Woo!

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A visit to the Lost Property Office

The Lost Property Office, located in a corner of Stadium Station.

The Lost Property Office, located in a corner of Stadium Station.

Regular readers will remember that I did a story on the Lost Property Office in the March 14 Buzzer. However, since this blog lets me show you way more photos and details, I thought I’d go back to Lost Property and do an update to that article.

I went down to Stadium Station, where the office is located, and work leader Barb Szumilak gave me another tour behind the scenes. They collect about 4,000 items a month, and really, just about anything you could lose on transit winds up at the office. So next time you leave a shopping bag or an umbrella behind, go down there—they really might have it! Let’s take a closer look.

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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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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.

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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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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.

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Massey Tunnel bike shuttle service operates this winter

The Massey Tunnel - bikes can shuttle through it all winter!

The Massey Tunnel - bikes can shuttle through it all winter!

Big news in the world of regional cycling! The Massey Tunnel bike shuttle service will be extending its weekday operation through the wintertime, as a service trial project by the B.C. Ministry of Transportation.

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About this blog

bloglogoThe Buzzer blog is the online place where TransLink shares news, commentary, and behind-the-scenes stories directly with customers.

Launched on October 9, 2008, the blog is the web companion to the Buzzer newsletter, the free publication found on all Metro Vancouver transit vehicles since 1916. (Find out more about the Buzzer’s history!)

The blog is a frank, fun, ongoing conversation about TransLink and its work, and you’re invited to join in with your own comments and stories.

After four years, the blog has over 1,900 posts, more than 17,900 comments, multiple in-person meetups, and a 2010 and 2012 Best Blog Award from the American Public Transit Association!

Make sure you read the comments on each post. The comments are where the magic happens!

Looking for info on the Buzzer newsletter?

You’ve come to the right place. Here’s a few useful links:

How to contact the Buzzer blog (and more)

You are more than encouraged to write comments on each post—just keep our participation guidelines in mind. (If you want an icon instead of that big G next to your comment, go to Gravatar.com and sign up!)

Other ways to contact us:

Comments, e-mails, tweets and the like will be responded to during normal business hours (around 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday), unless your hosts are otherwise occupied.

Who’s behind the Buzzer blog?

Robert Willis!

The Buzzer blog has one main author: Robert Willis. From time to time, there are also contributions from the TransLink Communications team.

 

Robert Willis joined the team in 2011, and is now the main author and editor on the Buzzer blog and print Buzzer!

Robert was previously a journalist for the CBC and a communications manager for IBI Group. He likes to take transit in any form. You very well might bump into him on a bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus, or West Coast Express talking to commuters and taking pictures! Curious about the untold story, Robert is keen to hear about the experiences of others on transit. He also loves robots and Japanese food.

Jhenifer Pabillano started the blog in 2008.

 

The Buzzer’s history

The Buzzer was first published on June 2, 1916, distributed on the streetcars that made up public transportation in Metro Vancouver at the time.

Originally, the Buzzer was designed as a strategic weapon in a long-forgotten war between streetcars and ‘jitney’ operators—private citizens who patrolled streetcar routes and offered rides for five cents.

George Kidd, general manager of B.C. Electric—the private electric company that ran public transit at the time—thought the Buzzer would keep people informed about service and foster rider loyalty to the streetcars.

As it turned out, jitney service was abolished in July 1918, but the Buzzer kept going for another 98 years (and counting!).

And today, the Buzzer has become a mainstay of public transit in the Lower Mainland, remaining a constant no matter how much transit itself has changed.

Have a look at the Buzzer blog’s Transit History category for more posts on transit history in greater Vancouver.