Archive for the ‘Translink’ Category

I’ll take another snow day, please.

I have to give a big thumbs up to Translink and the District of Burnaby & the City of Vancouver (and whoever takes care of our roads during inclement weather). My best two days of commuting have been these last two snow days. I mean it.

Yesterday: I had to make another trip to the bank due to ANOTHER episode* of fraudulent transactions to our account. Only, this time not only was a duplicate card used to withdraw money out of our account, there was the added surprise of the people making a “deposit” of fifteen hundred non-existent dollars in an attempt to trick the bank machine to take out more money. Lucky for us, the bank machine didn’t fall for it and stopped all action into and out of our account, which I found out at the grocery store on Monday night. ANYWAY…
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The $14 Billion Transit Plan

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The provincial government has announced a massive plan, with lots of money, to increase the amount of public transit infrastructure in the province.

Of course, by “in the province” I mean $2.8 billion in bus improvements, with much of that going to Vancouver, Victoria, and Kelowna, and $10.3 billion to rapid transit in the Metro Vancouver area.

The key goal is to get the proportion of trips in Vancouver that use transit from 12% (today’s figure) to 17% by 2020.
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Google Transit Vancouver

It seems like Translink is finally coming up with some new ways of implementing time-saving technology to help with the growing transit-induced frustration in the region.

They have the recently-launched i-Move.ca, but what I find most helpful are MyBus, TextBus etc. – apps and services that give you the info so you can plan your trip and get going. Things might be changing soon as Google took Translink by the hand and is introducing a brand spankin’ new Google Transit for Vancouver. Here’s an early review:

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It turns out that Google Transit Vancouver is live: if you visit http://www.google.com/transit and type in directions for two points in Vancouver, you’ll get reasonably good routes. Some are reasonable, like getting from Port Moody to Waterfront Station (it recommends the 160 in the afternoon, and the West Coast Express in the morning, though it shows it as a straight line hovering over Burnaby and Vancouver). Some aren’t so great: getting from my work to UBC they recommend taking the #4 or the #8 all the way, when I would have suggested getting to Broadway and Granville via the multiple ways to do that, then take the #99 B-Line express bus to the university campus. But still, did you see that? I can now directly link to transit directions so that I can share it online. [Just a Gwailo]

All skepticism aside, this is a step in the right direction. They do have system maps in PDF form tucked away on their site but those are hardly precise and barely informative. We’ll see how it goes and what will happen on November 1, when it is officially launched.

Windows strikes again

Seeing a Translink information kiosk die a horrible Windows-y death on the weekend, or at least require someone to find the boot volume, got me hoping that the Skytrain controls aren’t run on Windows. I don’t even trust my blogging to Microsoft, let alone my riding around in a metal tube at high speeds.

Not much of a point beyond that. I know everything in the world runs on Windows, and I don’t want to start an OS Holy War in the comments. Just thought it was funny to watch befuddled tourists standing around trying to get it to reboot using on a touch screen.

Talking adverts in Vancouver

Has anyone seen Nokia these billboards around town yet? Do they work? From Wired.com [wn]:

The Finnish cell phone company has implemented a bus stop advertisting campaign that has Canadian commuters talking…to each other. The poster, which features a photo of Nokia’s new Solo push-to-talk phone, shows off the mobile’s walkie-talkie feature by actually allowing commuters to talk to other commuters standing at other bust stops in different cities in real time, just by pushing a button. The campaign is under way in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, and Calgary.

Trolley Bus Problems


They were shiney and new with little stop request buttons at waist heigh, oooh! We had finally caught up to 1995 transit technology where buses are concerned and now the plug er.. cable has been pulled on our new fleet of trolley buses.

TransLink has confirmed 39 of the brand new trolley buses have been pulled from service because of power steering problems…

..diesel buses have been brought in to help on those routes affected. The new trolley buses are under warranty and mechanics are working on the problem [News1130]

The problem should be resolved within the next few days, but until then, that 7:45am bus that you’re used to catching at 7:56 will now be arriving around 8:12.

(Photo Credit: nep on Flickr)

3 Lanes for Bridge of Death?

killercurve.jpgIt seems that I’ve started a series, posting about the Pattullo Bridge in all its glory [1][2]. Whether it be another accident, the talk of adding a median or ripping up the asbestos-ridden deck, this is one sad excuse for a major thoroughfare.

As I flipped through the Vancouver Sun looking for the daily crossword to enjoy and concur on my lunch break I noticed something on the front page of the Westcoast section. Well, well, if it isn’t my deadly little nemesis.

The regional transportation authority, which has been trying for more than two years to figure out what to do with the 70-year-old bridge, has commissioned a feasibility study on a three-lane system with a counterflow lane like the one on the Lions Gate Bridge [VancouverSun]

Bob Behnke from The John Heida Project chimes in:

“If there’s no median, you haven’t fixed the problem,” he said. “You’ve made it a little safer because the lanes will be wider. But you haven’t fixed the problem that took my friend’s life. The killer on the Pattullo Bridge is that curve.

Putting a barrier between northbound and southbound traffic would prevent the deadly head-on collisions that occur when drivers take the curve too fast and drift into opposing lanes. Behnke said it’s about “idiot drivers going way too fast and losing it on the corner.”[VancouverSun]

Exactly. This is what we’ve been saying all along. By “we” I mean those who drive it often, who know what this bridge is actually like, and those who unfortunately lost loved ones over the years to its killer curve. Aside from that, 3 lanes could make traffic worse. How many more options are going to be tossed around every couple of years? To stay on top of Translink’s Pattullo ideas, you can read through their 2007 Transportation Plan on their website.

Found

I hear it all the time – if you lost it on a bus, it’s gone forever. But that’s not always the case.

Translink’s got a lost and found deep in the bowels of the Chinatown/Stadium skytrain station, and in it, thousands upon thousands of lonely cell phones, blackberries gloves, hats, umbrellas, dentures and other such artefacts. I’m not entirely sure how many people know about it, but it’s there.

It was there that I went in search of my phone earlier this week, and miraculously enough, found one that was identical, lost on the same day in roughly the same area. Imagine my excitement when the first name in the phonebook was my sister’s.

Unfortunately for me, the second one was someone named Coral and I don’t know anyone at all by that name.

However, it could have just as easily been my phone. I realize that when you lose something like that your chances of ever seeing it again are pretty low, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a shot.

Their number is (604) 682-7887 and they don’t bite.

Get Home Safe, Eh

Whether you’re partying it up downtown, going on a dinner cruise, making crafts at First Night Surrey or getting to and from work, on News Years Eve Translink is offering all services at no charge, starting in the evening.

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Once again this year, TransLink is offering free rides on New Years Eve from 5 pm until the end of the service day, to make sure New Year’s revelers and everybody else gets home safely.

SkyTrain and SeaBus will run on Sunday schedules, but extending their service until 2:15 am.

Coast Mountain Bus Company will also follow the Sunday schedule, and extend service on some of its regular routes until 2:30am and in some cases 3:35am.

For more information check out Trankslinks website at Translink.bc.ca [News1130]

It’s a much better option that passing out in the street, taking a cab (which you’ll have to wait hours to get) or crashing on my couch, cause there ain’t much room.

Face Lift for Bridge of Death

pattullobridge.jpgIt’s not that I enjoy writing about the “Bridge of Death” aka Pattullo Bridge [wiki], it’s that I feel I need to, really. First of all, who else will blog about New Westminster or Surrey, and the big ugly, rusted orange structure that spans the Fraser River between the two shores? [Bridge of Death]. Most would rather forget about it, and not consider it an option for daily travel, but there are some who really don’t have a choice.

Latest news is, the bridge will be getting some work done, which will make driving conditions slightly more pleasant but also more ideal for speed-freaks, don’t you think?

VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980) – The Pattullo Bridge will get a new deck in the new year.
The mammoth task of rehabilitating the bridge deck and re-paving is expected to run into 2008.

Translink’s Ken Hardie says it won’t be an easy job, “The bridge deck, being built quite a long time ago, among other things, has asbestos in it, which means that extra care has to be taken when it’s being taken out, to make sure it doesn’t fly into the air or into the river.”

About $40-million worth of upgrades are currently underway.
There’s no word yet on whether Translink will install a permanent barrier down the middle of the bridge.

Hardie says a study looking into replacing the bridge will also continue in the new year, but warns a new bridge would cost $800-million. [CKNW]

I have a big problem with this entire issue, especially since the Lion Gate [wiki], a tall, green, lovely welcome to cruise ships and residents of the British Properties for which it was built, gets upgrades and a new coat of paint annually (or so it seems). Not that I’m opposed to it but really, shouldn’t all major thoroughfares get regular upgrades regardless of their landmark status?

The Pattullo is rickety, rusty and the railings and under side are painted some kind of pale blue you’d see in an elementary school bathroom circa 1950. The deck is far too small for the amount of traffic that crosses it daily, including emergency vehicles and commercial trucks. It’s overused and far far outdated. As for the repairs, well that’s great, but it seems like a band-aid solution for the time being. It hardly solves any of the major issues such as the width of the bridge and the dangers to drivers at all hours of the day, year-round. Lowering the speed limit from 60km/h to 50km/h didn’t really change much either.

I know I’m pretty biased, being born and raised on the other side of the Pattullo myself, but the problems are quite clear. Yes, it’s the taxpayers’ money, yes they just did seismic upgrades over the last year but the stats don’t lie [1, 2], the flowers laid in mourning every couple of months along the rails don’t either.

For more info on the effort to install a median: The John Heida Project.

Asbestos, I still can’t get over that…

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