The site wasn’t really designed for day-to-day navigation, but more for transit enthusiasts who are looking to find specific buses (e.g., the double decker test buses we have on the streets right now, 1008 and 1009). In addition, I’ve also heard that bus drivers also use the site to locate their bus as it arrives to their pick up point.
I wish I took some time to polish up the site over Christmas, since it’s pretty much still running on the same code base (both in the user interface, and behind the scenes) as when I created it six years ago! Nevertheless, it’s cool that the site’s been found and mentioned by some local online media, and to spread some “transit geekery” out there.
This past Wednesday, TransLink started to put the newest batch of buses out onto the streets, in particular, Surrey streets. The transit enthusiast in me could not resist seeking out that new bus smell.
These buses are the same model as the previous set of articulated buses back in 2013. However, this new batch has the “charcoal top” livery instead of the light grey which I think looks much better and fitting with the rest of the fleet. Like the last batch, these buses are fully air-conditioned. (Recently, TransLink announced that all future bus orders will have air conditioning standard.) These will be great to ride in the summer!
Surrey hasn’t seen a new bus delivery in ages (better transit enthusiasts can quote the exact date); they’ve always been getting “hand-me-down” buses from other depots in the area. I guess it is a show of good faith for further development of transit in the South of Fraser area and the #96 B-Line corridor. Twelve of these new buses will serve the #96 B-Line while the remaining eleven in the order will be distributed to other articulated bus routes in the region.
Have you had a chance to ride the new buses? Leave your impressions in the comments!
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.
In one week, Whistler’s fleet of hydrogen fuel cell buses will be parked as their five-year pilot project ends. Nova Bus diesel buses will be replacing them as of April 1st, 2014.
The fleet of twenty buses is currently the largest fleet of hydrogen fuel cell buses operating in the world. The fuelling station for the fleet is also the world’s largest hydrogen filling station.
The hydrogen fuel cell buses were brought to Whistler by a five-year demonstration project sponsored by the federal, provincial and municipal governments, and the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association. The buses arrived in late 2009 and the fleet commenced full operation in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
The hydrogen fuel cell is a green technology as the only by-product is water. That means there are no harmful fumes emitted from the bus! In addition, the efficiency of the fuel cell is about 60-70%, which is significantly higher than the average diesel engine at 30-40%.
One of the difficulties for the project was getting the hydrogen fuel from a green source. Up to this day, hydrogen is trucked in from a supplier based in Quebec. Although it is possible to produce the hydrogen fuel closer to home, using non-renewable resources to perform the electrolysis would negate the environmental friendliness of using the hydrogen fuel cell in the first place.
The hydrogen fuel cell demonstration project is deemed a success. The technology is still at its infancy so there’s high hope for it in the future. Although the hydrogen buses were environmentally friendly, the overall operating cost per kilometre far exceeded those of diesel or CNG buses. As the technology matures and the hydrogen infrastructure expands, hopefully the operating costs will decrease to something comparable to diesel or CNG.
For the twenty buses in Whistler though, let’s hope to see them repowered with a different engine (compressed natural gas maybe?) so that they don’t need to see the scrap heap so soon.
While I was in Toronto these past few days, I got a chance to see two of Toronto Transit Commission’s (TTC) newest transit vehicles.
For those unfamiliar with public transportation in the Greater Toronto Area, a number of transit authorities provide local transit service within different regions in the GTA. The TTC provides transportation services within the Toronto proper, including the subways, streetcars and bus service. I suppose a more detailed introduction to the different public transportation services would be ideal in a separate post.
The articulated buses
The first were the Nova Bus LFS articulated buses. These buses, introduced mid-last year, were the first articulated buses in the TTC fleet since 2003. This one was seen on the #7 Bathurst line.
I must give credit to an Android app called Transit Now Toronto for helping me find out when the articulated buses were coming down the line. I actually did not realize that TTC had real-time arrival data available, so actually I spent half the time trying to find these buses the “old-school way”.
The new streetcars
The second was one of the new streetcars. This was a bit of a lucky catch as I was at Bathurst station originally looking for the Nova Bus articulated buses. When I was coming up from the subway as I saw the streetcar demonstrator pulling through the streetcar loop. I would have liked to chase it further for better photos, but my time was constrained.
The new Toronto streetcars are built by Bombardier, and are similar to the ones that were demonstrated here in Vancouver during the Olympics. A fleet of 204 Flexity Outlook units have been ordered and are replacing the aging fleet of CLRV and ALRV streetcars that were built in the 1970s and 1980s.
On an unrelated topic, the weather in Toronto was very forgiving while I was there. I was hoping to see some real snow fall, but the weather turned out to be “relatively warm” (by Toronto standards); on some days it was even sunny. So before my flight back, my cousin took me to the largest (manmade) snow mound he knew of. I climbed on top of it just for kicks.