Ride on an old Brill trolley bus

TransLink is celebrating 125 years of transit in the Metro Vancouver region this year.  Tomorrow, Sunday June 28th, 2015 between 11am-3pm, there will be an opportunity for the public to ride on one of the first-generation Brill trolley buses which operated in Vancouver between 1948 and 1984.

First generation trolley buses served Vancouver between 1948 and 1984
First-generation (Brill) trolley buses served Vancouver between 1948 and 1984.
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Second-generation (Flyer) trolley buses served from 1982 to 2008
A third-generation New Flyer E40LFR, serving from 2005 to present day.
Third-generation (New Flyer) trolley buses serving from 2005 to present day

This particular bus entered service in 1954 and was retired in 1984 when the second-generation Flyer trolleys entered into service.  It has been restored and preserved by the Transit Museum Society (TRAMS).

The bus will be making a loop around Downtown Vancouver via:

  • Southbound Cambie (stopping at Hastings – Victory Square)
  • Westbound on Pender (no stops)
  • Southbound Burrard (stopping at SkyTrain station and Robson)
  • Eastbound Davie (stopping at Howe)
  • Northbound Seymour (stopping at Dunsmuir)
  • Eastbound Cordova (stopping at Waterfront Station)
  • And looping back to Victory Square

For further details and a map see the event page on the Buzzer Blog.  Rides are free!

Fun ways to get from Richmond to Downtown Vancouver on transit

I commute from Richmond to Downtown Vancouver every day for work.  Normally I take the Canada Line, which is a quick and reliable way to and from work.  As much as I like trains, some days it just seems boring; after all, the majority of the ride is underground.

So I tasked myself to find five different ways to get to work (potentially one for each day of the week), if I wanted to take a break from the Canada Line.  Let’s assume we’re commuting from Richmond Centre to Waterfront.  Obviously we’re not optimizing for travel time.

Option 1: 403, 480, 44

A nice ride to UBC then along 4th Avenue, Burrard Street Bridge downtown.  If you’re lucky, you can complete this entire route on articulated buses.

Option 2: 407, 22

I’d probably consider this one the most unscenic one, but it only involves one transfer and is a bus-only route.  Probably a good one for napping.

Option 3: 430, Expo/Millennium Line

An express bus to Metrotown, then a ride on the SkyTrain downtown.  If you’re extremely lucky, you may find a seat at the front of the SkyTrain.

Option 4: 410, Expo/Millennium Line

Kind of the same as the previous option except this one includes a highway run along Highway 91, but no express through the city.  This has a longer SkyTrain ride too, which also includes passing the SkyTrain yard.

Option 5: 407, 480, 17, 50

And finally the crazy bus-only route.  Almost guaranteed to ride four different types of buses – a New Flyer 40 footer on the 407, an articulated bus on the 480, a trolley bus on the 17 and most likely a Novabus on the 50.

Of course these options aren’t exhaustive; there are many other combinations that can loop through all parts of town.  But these are the ones off the top of my head that balance being interesting and getting to work in a reasonable amount of time.

New Xcelsior buses hit Vancouver streets

12007
12007 on #49 on the first day of revenue service

It has been quite a while since we’ve received new buses, especially a new model, here in Metro Vancouver.  This past Monday, the newest buses of the fleet, New Flyer Xcelsior XDE60s, commenced revenue service on the #49.

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A West Vancouver XD40

West Vancouver also has some Xcelsiors, but they are the 40 foot diesel versions as shown on the right.  They have been in service since January.

According to New Flyer, Xcelsiors boast several advantages such as better fuel economy, streamlined design, and a better experience for both the driver and passengers.

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12007 on #49 on the second day of revenue service
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A DE60LFR, the older diesel-electric hybrid articulated buses with “charcoal top” livery

These new buses look a lot sleeker than their predecessors, however I would have personally preferred the “charcoal top” version of the livery.

XDE60 Rear Door
Push bars are back!

On the inside, there are a few differences in comparison to existing buses.  TransLink made an excellent decision in bringing back push bars to activate the rear doors.  In the past few orders, buses were fitted with ultrasonic sensors to activate the rear doors.  From personal observation, many passengers had difficulty activating the sensors to open the door.  Also, doors wouldn’t close because people were standing too close to the door, although they were not obstructing the door in any way.  The return of the push bars should solve these problems.

XDE60 joint
The articulation joint – no seats

There are no more seats in the articulation joint.  Buses used to have double seats (in the oldest models), or “bum bars” that were later converted into single “angel wing seats”.  Now there’s a nice stanchion on both sides that better allow standees and people moving across the joint.

There are rear-facing seats right before the articulation joint.  Considering you aren’t sitting directly in front of someone, I’d say this is fine, although I prefer the bench seating in the old models.  It seems like the wheel well on these new buses are wider (but why?).

A shot from the back to the front.
A shot from the back to the front.

The Xcelsior buses are air-conditioned, which is a first for urban buses in Metro Vancouver.  The only other buses in the fleet that are air-conditioned are the Orion suburban highway coaches.

There are 25 of these articulated Xcelsior buses and they are assigned to the Richmond depot.  This means you will likely find them on the #49, #480, #403 and #620 in the near future.

The shorter versions of the buses are in West Vancouver, and you can find them now on a variety of West Vancouver routes.

12007 makes the loop around Metrotown Station
12007 makes the loop around Metrotown Station

Check out my Facebook album if you want to see some other photos.

My take on free entertainment at the Richmond Night Market

I went to check out Richmond Night Market at its new location near River Rock Casino. Something they don’t advertise on their website is that there’s a $1.50 admission fee into the venue (side note: they must be making on the order of tens of thousands of dollars a night with this system, not even including booth rental fees!).

I decided it wasn’t worth it since all I wanted to do was a quick wander.  I had my radio scanner on during the walk in from Bridgeport Station after seeing some of the traffic control personnel on their FRS walkie-talkies.  So as I was walking back through the parking lot, I was listening more intently on the constant broadcasts from the parking crew.  I actually walked around the parking lot trying to correlate what I was hearing over the radio to actions on the ground.

Lineup of traffic into the Richmond Night Market parking lot. Backups on No. 3 Road extend to Cambie Road at times.

From what I could tell, parking and traffic management was taken care of by two groups.  Traffic flagging on the streets was contracted out to ATC Traffic Safety, while parking lot direction was done by an in-house team.

I focused on the parking lot situation since that was much more interesting than what was happening on the streets.  The setup was that there was one entranceway that extends past No. 3 Road to the northwest.  There were several tracks of parking spaces, each labeled an alphabetic letter.

I finally realized that the person spewing out commands over the walkie-talkie was situated on top of a construction lift in the middle of the parking lot.  This person acted as “ground traffic control”.  From this vantage point he could see which tracks had spaces, and could inform his flaggers on the ground (each also equipped with a walkie-talkie) where to stand and which tracks were best to direct cars into.

The parking team communicated constantly back and forth.  From which tracks to push cars into, to dealing with cars needing jump starts, to dealing with drivers who ignore one-way signs, everything was communicated.  They were also in constant contact with the site team, so that any related issues were relayed back and forth.

Their test tonight came when there was an accident on stage, and an ambulance was called.  Parking was notified by the site team immediately, and the parking supervisor (who I assumed was the guy on the lift) came up with a plan and made sure everyone knew where they were supposed to be, and what they were supposed to do.  People were assigned to clear emergency paths, to ensure emergency access gates were manned, who was going to lead the ambulance, etc.  They got a plan together within a few minutes, while still dealing with the lineups of traffic coming in and out.

Whether the ambulance actually did arrive is unknown to me as I was leaving around that time.  There was quite a delay since it was a non-emergency call, and there was talk about using a car to transport the patient, but when I was waiting for my bus at the Bridgeport bus loop, I once again heard talks of an ambulance.

I think props goes to the parking crew, people who probably don’t receive enough credit, for having an efficient system and excellent communication in trying to get cars parked and departed quickly.

Given the proximity of Bridgeport Station on the Canada Line, I don’t see why more people take public transit to Richmond Night Market.  I’d understand needing to drive out to a location like where Summer Night Market is, where there are only limited transit options.  But Bridgeport Station is the hub for many suburban services to the south, services to the east, and serviced by the Canada Line for people coming from Richmond or Vancouver.  The location is ideal for access via public transit.  I’d think that this was a major factor in deciding the location for the venue.

An articulated bus at Bridgeport Station waiting to be dispatched on a Summer Night Market tripper.

So it turned out instead of having a pointless wander inside Richmond Night Market, I ended up having a nice time analyzing parking lot logistics with my radio scanner.

Finally fully working camera again, and some buses in the snow

In August of this year, some pressure from an unknown source cracked my LCD screen, and since then I have been using it without an LCD screen (quite difficult, but still usable).  A week ago, I ordered a replacement LCD from Foto Geeks and I received it today (coincidentally the day I was home).  Following Andy’s LCD replacement tutorial I successfully replaced the cracked LCD screen I have had almost for half a year.  Wondering what the cracked LCD looks like?

Cracked LCD Screen
Cracked LCD Screen

The replacement was without problem except I made two scratches on the backlight, and nearly damaged the backlight ribbon cable, but hey at least I can see the camera settings without trying to guess whether the flash is on or off.

So while I was running a couple of errands, I quickly went out to UBC to see how the snow is over there.  Along the way I took some photos.  Presenting…snowy Vancouver (and its buses):
Snow on my block 2780 IMG_2488 2107 R3222 2739 2929 2142 2142 2142 2924 2924 2924's pair of trolley shoes Looking east on Agronomy Road in UBC Agronomy Road UBC Main Mall UBC Abdul Ladha Science Student Centre Wesbrook Mall & University Blvd 99 To Boundary B-Line on Wesbrook Mall

Guess I should go back to studying now =)