Archive for the ‘Public Transit’ Category

Countdown to the Olympics: Transit adjustments


With the Olympics about to begin, the city – including those who saw the international games as a boon as well as those that originally expressed concerns – is starting to ask, “What effect, exactly, will the games have on the day-to-day living in the city?”

Well for starters, transit is gonna get weird – I don’t mean that in a negative way, but rather meaning it’s going to get shaken up, both good and bad. As in, there will be, they figure, a lot more transit users. This means potentially longer, frustrating waits for people who just want to get to work or school. The plan is to add more buses. This means potentially longer, frustrating waits for people who just want to get to work or school… in their cars.

And then there are transit fees – already, if you’re trying to use the Canada line out of the airport, the ticket price has gone up $5. Meaning, you pay the regular zone fare for the train (YVR is in a zone with Richmond, meaning travel into Vancouver or Richmond is two zones = $3.75) and then an additional $5 AddFare on top. $8.75 a person to get from the airport to their hotel or homes.

A cab from YVR to downtown Vancouver is approx. $35 (TaxiWiz puts it at $26 including 15% tip – this is because TaxiWiz is drunk… or measures linear distances only and cannot account for per minute charges while you wait at a light or two or ten.) Cabs can hold 4 people, so unless you’re traveling alone, the train might not be the best option.

It should be pointed out that this AddFare is for what TransLink calls CashFares. Meaning, any fare purchase right at the terminal – if you have a monthly pass, away you go. Mind you, as a visitor, if you’re staying in Vancouver, do you need a two-zone pass? And if you only have the one zone pass, then you’re paying the extra zone AddFare. This is around the point my head starts to bubble.

And there’s more!

TranLink is offering collector FareCards, which are on sale at all FareDealer locations now. The passes aren’t strictly speaking, monthly passes, but rather Olympic passes, covering exactly the period of time the Olympics and Paralympics are happening – February 8th to March 21st. Here are the prices on those cards;

1-Zone $110
2-Zone $149
3-Zone $204
Concession $63

And here is what it costs for a single month (consisting of +/- 30 days)

1-Zone $73
2-Zone $99
3-Zone $136
Concession $42

Looks like a deal, right! Yes! For people who will only be here for the Olympics!

Townies are out of luck, as the Olympic passes do not cover the first week of February or the last week of March, meaning you either pay for two regular passes, as you normally would (ie $146 for one zone), or pay for the Olympic FareCard ($110), plus two books of  FareSaver tickets (20 tickets for ten work days = $38), for a total of $148. God help you if you need to make multiple trips in a single day and two tickets will not be enough.

At this point I stopped trying to factor in things like the West Coast Express, buses to Whistler, HandyDart. All in all, the events will mean business as usual for Vancouver commuters, at best, and more likely than not it will mean exactly the kinds of hassles people hoped would not happen.

What’s got you worried about Olympic traffic and transit? How are you planning to weather the WorldParty?

Where were you when the Canada Line went on-line?

Photo by Uncle Buddha

Photo by Uncle Buddha

85,000 people took to the streets Monday, suffering hour long line-ups to be one of the first to try Vancouver’s new, expensive, Japanese rush-hour simulator – the Canada Line. I got to try the Expo line with everyone else at Expo – that was neat. Hopefully everyone that got to try the Canada Line – AKA “The path of least resistance to YVR or Richmond” – yesterday had a similar experience.

The Tuesday morning numbers were far lower, said Translink, which I’m assuming means it was merely a sane amount of travelers, and not 100 thousand gawkers. Translink however seems to think the numbers will increase in September, as the now redundant B-line buses are shut down or re-routed (mainly, the 98 B-line.)

For a flickr slideshow of people’s photos of the big day, click here.

Canada Line opens to public in two weeks!

Flickr photo by Rob Hernandez

Flickr photo by Rob Hernandez

First there was the Expo line, then the Millennium line, and now there is the Canada line. Thematically, I think they should have just called it the Olympic line and be done with it, but they didn’t. Now the next line will have to be called the Galaxy line. Or the Cyber line. Neo line. I like that one.

Originally slated to open a couple of months from now, the line is done early, and will open to the public on August 17th and for fun, you can ride it for free between 1PM and 9PM!

All 16 stations on the line, between waterfront station downtown, Richmond Center, and the airport, will be up and running. And the Expo rocket ship statue is back at Cambie and 6th Ave – here’s hoping they remembered to put the Expo time capsule back.

Where to get on;
-Vancouver – City Center
-Yaletown – Roundhouse
-Olympic Village (Cambie and 6th)
-Broadway – City Hall (Broadway and Cambie)
-King Edward (Cambie and 24th)
-Oakridge – 41th (Oakridge Mall)
-Langara – 49th (Cambie and 49th)
-Marine Drive (Cambie and Marine)
-Bridgeport (SPLIT)

-Sea Island Centre
-YVR – Airport

-Richmond – Brighouse

[VIA TransLink]


Trains = hooped

If you’re thinking to yourself, “hey, the train are probably running ok”, think again. The Skytrain system is enjoying a GVA-wide meltdown. Be prepared for multi-train waits at major stations and junctions. Heck, there’s a tree down near Nanaimo station.

The busses however, are doing ok, with b-lines stopping more frequently.

[UPDATE] Trains are slow, but spirits remain high. Please make room for everyone getting off before you get on. Seriously, the trains are packed.

[UPDATE] 7:15PM – train ops are on the intercom. Only two trains servicing downtown to Columbia on Expo. Scott Road station outwards has limited trains and big waits. Millenium line is a mess. Apparently the snow is messing with the switches. They are asking people to look for alternate options for getting home.

Stay warm!

N00bz on public transit.

Bus Pass

To the young woman who couldn’t understand why her friend from UBC got on the Skytrain with her “photo student card” but she wasn’t allowed to get on the Skytrain with her student card from a makeup and beauty school.

You need a bus pass, and this is what one looks like.

Your friend has a U-pass. You have a photo student card. Arguing with the Skytrain attendant about you “having the right” to get on the Skytrain with your photo student card is fruitless.

Let go. And stop holding up the line for the escalator.

You’ve got another rethink comin’!

Many years ago, shortly after I moved to Vancouver to pursue a career in video games, a pal of mine moved here to join a young ad company. Sick of working for one of the international advertising big dogs, he picked up roots and moved to Vancouver to start small. The company, Rethink Communications, has grown into a sort of marketing cultural force – you’ve probably seen dozens of their ads, and probably talked about at least one around the watering hole. A&W, Playland, Science World, you name it, they’ve come up with a plan to promote it, stopping only occasionally to make their own beer brand or unique floor lamps.

They get a great deal of attention for their unconventional outdoor campaigns, like sticking a million dollars or some plants in a bus stop shelter, or covering a billboard with road-side assistance gear from Canadian Tire and an offer for people to help themselves (then over a few weeks, gas cannisters and tire jacks go missing from the board.) But what I love are their print ads – the moving picture of a commercial or even the narrative of a radio spot leaves a lot of room to get a point across. But catching someone’s attention, holding it, and making a point with a single image… that’s tough.

My current favorite are the new BC Lions ads, featuring traumatized players from other teams hiding behind various sideline personalities (camera crews, furry mascots, etc.) If you like funny and/or smart ads, and you want to kill a couple of hours, their online archives of their various campaigns are worth checking out!

How the Hippies shaped Vancouver

Via David Drucker [lm]:


I knew Vancouver had it’s own fling with ’60s hippiness, and clearly we’re one of the most left-coast of the lefty cities on the continent even today, but I was completely ignorant of how much the ’60s and in fact a great influx of hippies had on the development of the city. From the fact that we don’t have a big freeway slashing its way through the heart of the city, to the formation of Greenpeace and even Vancouver’s current political believes all can be traced back to the Summer(s) of Love.

David Drucker found the video above on YouTube from Evening Magazine, a Seattle magazine style show, that demonstrates just how much the hippies shaped Vancouver.

It does seem quite jolly in the clip, but my uncle moved to Vancouver from Edmonton during this period of time and after getting further into a developing drug habit vanished forever. So while it turned out alright in for the city, it wasn’t without a few casualties. I also wonder how much of Vancouver current issue with IV drug abuse began to first develop during this period. Having grown up in the interior I know that the solution to most problems with the homeless, or drug users, is to just ship them to Vancouver.

Also I love how the narrator in the video says Kitsilano.

So where was all the traffic?

Burrard Street on Sunday by Cult Iconic on flickr

It was a lovely weekend, but CKNW didn’t find any traffic jams to report on. This is unusual when we have a long weekend and sunshine. So they called me to ask – why?

Best guess is that gas prices have a lot to do with it. Everyone has to commute, so that trip can’t be cut, but “discretionary travel” can be. There are always closer destinations, or you might decide to get out into the yard and catch up there rather than go to Bellis Fair Mall. The border crossing at the Peace Arch has construction work going on so there were only half the lanes available, and CBC were warning about that on Friday. But the ferries were not overloaded either.

Americans are coming here in fewer numbers, partly due to the lower US dollar, the economic downturn but also increasing restrictions at the border. They tended to drive here. They are being replaced by folk from further afield – China and Europe – who are less likely to drive when they get here.

Will we get used to higher gas prices and go back to driving? Only if incomes rise, something else gets cheaper or we decide to give up something else. Britain has much higher pump prices than we do – and has done for many years – but they still have chaos on the roads every bank holiday weekend. But the adjustment process is not going to be easy, and it doesn’t help that we have so few alternatives. Overcrowded transit and no trains off peak or at weekends on West Coast Express for instance.

The old trolleybuses are gone

Regular operation of the 1982-1984 built Flyer E901A/902 trolley coaches ceased shortly after midnight on Saturday April 19 2008.


‘Foyles War’

The bus in ‘Foyles War’ ?, originally uploaded by Renown.

I am a bit late with this news which appeared in the Guardian on April 9. But I am sure there will be many fans of the PBS Mystery series who will delighted to learn, as I was, the even though the last episode of Foyle was on VE Day he may yet return.

The image, by the way comes from a bus restorer/painter in England. One of the appeals of British tv is the care and attention that is given to historic recreation in period drama. This really is a prewar coach, and yes, when the blitz damaged large numbers of London’s red double deckers, all kinds of other vehicles were pressed into service.

Now all I need is a plausible excuse for posting a picture of a steam train. Anyone want to see the world’s biggest coal fired cappuccino machine?

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