Posts Tagged "bus"

25Jul

Kelowna band bringing back live music with mobile bus | CBC News

by admin

After months of gig cancellations, a Kelowna band decided to take its show on the road and bought a bus. 

Tomy Thisdale and Paul Minor, members of The Carbons, say when pandemic restrictions cancelled their touring plans, they wanted to find a way to continue playing for people. 

The pair says that since they couldn’t play shows, they instead resorted to writing and recording more music. Thisdale says after awhile they started to miss the face-to-face interaction that came with live music. 

Enter Carol the Carbon Bus — a decommissioned accessibility bus the band acquired and decided to turn into its own personal concert on wheels. 

“We’ve been pulling up to different neighbourhoods, just knocking on people’s doors and trying to revive live music,” Thisdale said in an interview for CBC’s Daybreak South.

Drummer Paul Minor pictured playing in Carol the Carbon Bus. (Dominika Lirette/CBC News)

The band purchased the bus a few months ago and has slowly been turning it into a mobile venue with a rooftop stage. 

The bus, which originally had 24 seats, now has just four to make room for all its instruments and sound equipment.  

Door-to-door performances

Thisdale says it’s fully equipped with stage lights, live sound system, solar panels and a new paint job.

He says the band mostly plays in and around the Okanagan region but, on request, would travel as far as Saskatchewan.

Thisdale says the band has found a thrill in playing door-to-door performances where it pops in to surprise people at their homes. 

“We just were knocking on doors and just asking people if they want to listen to music for like 10 minutes,” Minor said. 

Minor says they are sometimes met with apprehension during the surprise visits, but after a couple songs they always seem to get them having a good time and dancing.

He says when the band first bought the van, they had no idea when they would be able to play live gigs again due to COVID-19 restrictions. They saw the van as an opportunity to do something different and spread a little cheer during an otherwise tough year. 

“We can still have a great summer and bring smiles to people and hopefully, you know, do some rock and roll healing.” Minor said.

Daybreak South11:41Kelowna band, The Carbons, have transformed an old bus into a travelling concert venue and have been giving surprise pop-up concerts all over the city

Kelowna band, The Carbons, have transformed an old bus into a travelling concert venue and have been giving surprise pop-up concerts all over the city 11:41

28May

Carol Volkart: Just say it, we’re cutting your bus stops

by admin

As for the promise of more comfortable rides with less stopping, starting and lane changing, I suggest it’s a hint that TransLink doesn’t understand its own purpose.

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Down the block and just around the corner from me is a bus stop where, for more than four decades, I’ve waited for the east-bound bus along Vancouver’s West 25th Avenue. It’s a fine, recently refurbished stop right across from busy Lord Kitchener Elementary, with a Plexiglas shelter, a bench, and a big new slab of concrete for easy bus access.

I haven’t been using transit during the pandemic, but passing the stop recently, I was stunned to find a sign announcing that it, along with others along the route, is being removed. The reason: “To provide faster and more reliable service.” The nearest stop, the sign said, “is a three-minute walk or roll away.”

I thought a lot of things at that point, but one of the first was about the jauntiness of that phrase, “walk or roll.” Is it an accident that it rhymes with “rock ‘n’ roll”? Doesn’t it sound light-hearted, maybe even fun? Sure, some transit users are young and may arrive at bus stops with skateboards in hand. But in the real world of transit users — the elderly, the disabled, people hauling groceries or children, or just trying to get to another grueling work shift — that wording has a touch of unreality. “Bus much?” we might ask its authors.

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As I dug further into the bus-stop plans, it was clear the jauntiness of the sign wasn’t a one-off. It was a deep dive into the chirpy double-speak we’ve come to expect from authorities these days — the euphemisms that paint over unpleasant realities and seem irrelevant unless you’re the one trudging extra blocks with a bum hip, a heavy load of groceries, or a squalling child.

What’s happening at bus stops isn’t cuts, folks, it is “balancing.”

The Bus Stop Balancing Project so far has slashed stops on the No. 2, the No. 17, and the No. 25 routes, and if your route hasn’t been affected yet, it soon will be. Go to the busstopbalancing website, and you will learn that you have been spoiled so far. Two-thirds of bus stops are closer than the recommended 300 to 800 metres apart (a five- to 10-minute walk), and it won’t hurt you a bit to trudge a little farther.

Removing the excess stops is a “win-win proposition,” says TransLink’s breathlessly upbeat site. For riders, it means shorter travel times, more reliable service, more comfortable rides and reduced operating costs, “which can be reinvested as longer hours or higher frequency of service.”

For non-riders, it’s equally great. Former bus stops can serve many other uses — “patios, bike racks, pedestrian bulbs, queue jumps, short-term loading zones, or on-street parking.” Fewer bus stops free up sidewalk space “to enhance physical distancing and accessibility.” And — bonus for bus riders watching cars zip past while they queue in the rain — it improves traffic flow.

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Some anomalies rear up amidst all the happy talk. When green-minded governments are supposedly encouraging transit use over cars, why kill bus stops and gloat that they can be used for on-street parking? Or tout fewer stops as a way of improving traffic flow? This plan may cut actual travel times, as TransLink promises, but is it counting the extra minutes — painful and difficult for some — it takes to reach the stops? One of the oddest suggestions is that fewer stops means “more space on buses for physical distancing due to evenly distributed passenger loads.” There is no explanation of how bigger crowds at fewer stops will help distribution or distancing — on or off the buses.

As for the promise of more comfortable rides with less stopping, starting and lane changing, I suggest it’s a hint that TransLink doesn’t understand its own purpose. Local transit service is just that — the frequency of its stops is not a slow and bumpy hindrance, but the very reason it’s accessible and serves the needs of locals without cars. Riders know that close, convenient stops for others also means convenient stops for themselves.

Don’t expect to stop the process, which TransLink considers such a success that it will be extended by four to eight routes per year. My own protests — through a survey and letters to TransLink, the provincial transportation minister, and Vancouver city council — got nowhere. However, I was reminded that TransLink had listened enough to some complaints that it reinstituted a handful of stops on the three routes, including one (1!) on No. 25.

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Despite my annoyance at the happy talk, I understand TransLink’s difficulty. Hammered by plummeting passenger numbers and revenues due to COVID, no wonder it’s clutching at the promise of saving $3.5 million a year by cutting stops on 25 of its most frequent routes.

I’m resigned to losing my convenient bus stop, along with five others in my immediate area, and to trudging up a hill or across a busy street for the bus. But after a year of government blundering and obfuscation throughout the pandemic, I fantasize about what an honest “bus balancing” announcement would have looked like.

How about: “Hey folks, we’re in deep financial trouble. It will be inconvenient and difficult for lots of you, but we have no choice: We’re cutting your bus stops!”

Carol Volkart is a former Vancouver Sun editor and reporter, now retired, but still fascinated by civic issues.


Letters to the editor should be sent to sunletters@vancouversun.com. The editorial pages editor is Hardip Johal, who can be reached at hjohal@postmedia.com.

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2Jan

TransLink driver has bus stolen during a bathroom break

by admin


The N19 bus was stolen around 2 a.m. from outside the Surrey Central Station


Francis Georgian / PNG

A 28-year-old man was arrested after a TransLink bus taken for a joyride through Surrey early Thursday morning.

The Metro Vancouver Transit Police say the N19 bus was stolen around 2 a.m. outside the Surrey Central Station while the driver was taking a bathroom break.

“The operator went inside to use the washroom and when he came out the bus was no longer there,” said Transit police Sgt. Clint Hampton. “He reported it to police right away.”

Police were able to track the stolen bus using GPS.

The bus, which was empty at the time of the theft, was stopped with the help of Surrey RCMP around 2:15 a.m. at 176th Street and Fraser Highway, about 10 kilometres away.

Hampton said it was lucky that no one was injured and the bus was not damaged.

A man, whose name has not been released, remains in custody. It’s expected he’ll be charged with theft of a motor vehicle over $5,000.

Alcohol is not believed to have been a factor.

“I don’t believe there was any impairment but there may be some mental health issues, but that will be part of the investigation,” said Hampton.

6Dec

Cost of three-year deal with bus and Seabus workers won’t affect TransLink expansion plans

by admin


Transit workers from Unifor Locals 111 and 2200 vote whether to ratify a contract agreement with Coast Mountain Bus Company.


Jason Payne / PNG

The cost of the new three-year deal with TransLink’s bus company employees, which will add at least $3 an hour to wages for 5,000 workers, won’t derail transit expansion, according to the agency.

“We can’t cost out the deal,” until after negotiations are completed with 900 workers from another union for SkyTrain workers, spokeswoman Jill Drews said Friday.

But she said, “Expansion plans will not be affected. The deal that was negotiated is within our ability to pay. There’s no fear of that (affecting expansion) anymore.”

Workers at TransLink’s Coast Mountain Bus Company voted more than 83 per cent in favour of the deal on Thursday, reached in negotiations between the company and Unifor just before the union planned to begin a full-scale strike.

Unifor had been seeking a 15.2 per cent increase over four years for bus drivers and 16.7 per cent compounded over four years for maintenance workers. Coast Mountain had been offering 12.2 per cent for skilled trades over four years and 9.6 per cent for transit operators over the same period. The company had said Unifor’s would have cost more than $600 million over the 10 years and that kind of deal would jeopardize transit system expansion plans.

“It’s fair to say it’s below that” $600 million,” Drews said., adding the deal is “somewhere in the middle” between the initial demands.

Related

Drews said the cost for the bus company will be made public after negotiations are completed with Canadian Union of Public Employees in a separate set of contract talks for 900 employees, including station attendants and maintenance workers of TransLink’s B.C. Rapid Transit Company.

The strike by the Coast Mountain workers began Nov. 1 with a uniform ban by transit operators and an overtime ban by maintenance workers, which reduced SeaBus sailings.

Unifor national president Jerry Dias said in a news release that the deal with Unifor Locals 111 and 2200  included “historic gains” for wages, benefits and working conditions.

Unifor said the deal reduced the “wage gap with Toronto’s transit operators,” brought the wages for Coast Mountain’s skilled trades workers more in line with the about $3 more an hour paid to SkyTrain’s skilled trades workers, set out “guaranteed minimum rest and recovery allowances of 45 minutes” and better washroom breaks and facilities.

The salary range for drivers before the settlement was $24.46 to $32.61 an hour after 24 months. After four years, with a two per cent raise retroactive to April 1, one per cent on ratification, and three per cent a year thereafter, the range would rise to $27.49 to $35.64 an hour.

Coast Mountain’s skilled-trades workers received a two per cent retroactive pay to April 1 and an additional $1.95 an hour increase, followed by two per cent raises in future years of the contract.

6Dec

$7M approved to install tactile and braille signage at bus stops across Metro Vancouver | CBC News

by admin

TransLink says it’s moving ahead with plans to implement a program to help transit users who are blind or partially sighted.

Beginning in 2020, tactile walking surface indicators (TWSI) and braillle signage will be installed at every bus stop, station and exchange. It’s a move TransLink claims will make it the first transit authority in North America to provide such accessibility aids.

“We know that a lot of our customers with vision loss rely on transit to get around the region and this is another example of the work we are doing for a very important community,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond.

The signage will provide information about each stop, terminal, bay, route and a telephone number for customer service.

Community milestone

TransLink began testing universally accessible bus stops as part of a pilot project in 2012, which included the installation of TWSI, tactile and braille at bus stops around the Joyce-Collingwood station. 

The transit authority will also be looking at developing a wayfinding technology it hopes will help customers navigate the system using data sent directly to a phone or tablet.

“It is important to understand that changing an environment actually lessens the effect of the disability,” said Rob Sleath, a member of the Access Transit Users’ Advisory Committee.

“Today marks a special milestone for our community.”

8Nov

‘2 minutes to use the washroom’: Bus drivers say short breaks leading to stressful days

by admin

VANCOUVER – During the ongoing Metro Vancouver transit dispute, bus drivers say one of the big issues they’re upset about is their daily workload.

They’re especially frustrated about the amount of time they get between finishing one route and starting the next.

CTV News Vancouver went on a ride on one of the region’s busiest buses to get a first-hand look at working conditions.

On a Friday morning 99 B-line route to the University of British Columbia, driver Adam Flores was scheduled to have a 9-minute break between runs.

Due to traffic, his route was delayed, leaving Flores only two minutes to offload passengers, park his bus and use the washroom.

“We need that recovery time for our mental aspect and just to get out of the seat,” Flores said.

Another driver, Krista Lee Hanson said in these situations, drivers may have no time to get up.

“The worst part about it is you kind of have to think … ’do I stop here and run into a coffee shop?’,” Lee Hanson said. “If I do that I have to tell the passengers I’m running into a coffee shop … so I am inconveniencing them if I take care of my needs and there is always a risk of violence when you do that.”

Coast Mountain Bus Company president Michael McDaniel said the company hears drivers loud and clear; agreeing there needs to be more recovery time.

“I share that concern,” McDaniel said. “We have talked to our operators many times over the last number of months, it is something we’ve been working on prior to bargaining and in the bargaining process.”

CMBC said its latest offer to the union will promise more break time, but the two sides remain far apart and are not even talking.  

31Oct

Metro Vancouver bus strike: Action to start with uniform, overtime ban

by admin

VANCOUVER – The union representing Metro Vancouver’s bus and SeaBus drivers has announced what possible strike action will look like on Friday if a tentative agreement is not reached by their deadline.

According to Unifor, if an agreement isn’t settled by 8 a.m. on Nov. 1, transit operators won’t wear uniforms on the job and maintenance workers will refuse overtime shifts. 

“Our number one goal is a fair contract that ensures our members are working under safe and reasonable conditions so they can best serve the public,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor national president, in a news release.

“To minimize the disruption to the public while still ramping up pressure on the employer, we have chosen a measured level of strike action in the first phase.”

Unifor says they think this first phase will increase exposure to negotiations.

“It is a strange experience to see an operator out of uniform, and we hope that starts conversations with the passengers about our struggle with this employer to get a fair deal,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor western regional director and lead negotiator during the talks.

But if a deal isn’t reached, a ban on overtime could start to impact transit users, Unifor has warned. 

“The system has normalized overtime, so without it, the turnaround for repairs and other maintenance will build up quickly,” said Mike Smith, president of Unifor Local 2200 representing maintenance and SeaBus workers. 

“We trust that TransLink will not put unsafe vehicles back on the road, so it is a question of fewer vehicles available in the system.”

Contract talks are expected to continue Thursday. 

Earlier this month, Unifor Local 111 voted 99 per cent in favour of striking after months of contract negotiations broke down on Oct. 3.

When the 72-hour strike notice was announced, McGarrigle told CTV News Vancouver there continues to be issues over wages, benefits and working conditions for bus drivers.

“They need to have time to go to the washroom, have a bite to eat, just simply reset themselves and they aren’t having the time to do that,” McGarrigle said. “We need to make sure wages are fair and competitive and make sure generally they are respected by the company.”

Unifor also said overcrowding on buses is also leading to safety concerns.

“It has an impact on their mental health,” McGarrigle said. “When the passengers are feeling they are being passed up, when the drivers are being overworked eventually something’s gotta give.”

Earlier in the week Coast Mountain Bus Company said in a statement it remains committed to “reaching an acceptable negotiated settlement and is ready to return to the bargaining table as soon as possible.”

Before Unifor announced its plans, TransLink said it would use social media and its website to let transit users know if the system was going to be disrupted.

“It’s important to note that only bus SeaBus service is going to be affected by any job action Unifor undertakes,” said Jill Drews, a spokesperson for TransLink on Wednesday. 

The last time bus drivers walked off in Metro Vancouver was in 2001. That strike lasted four months. 

With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Sheila Scott  

31Oct

Metro Vancouver bus strike: Job action to start with uniform, overtime ban

by admin

VANCOUVER – The union representing Metro Vancouver’s bus and SeaBus drivers has announced what possible strike action will look like on Friday if a tentative agreement is not reached by their deadline.

According to Unifor, if an agreement isn’t settled by 8 a.m. on Nov. 1, transit operators won’t wear uniforms on the job and maintenance workers will refuse overtime shifts. 

“Our number one goal is a fair contract that ensures our members are working under safe and reasonable conditions so they can best serve the public,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor national president, in a news release.

“To minimize the disruption to the public while still ramping up pressure on the employer, we have chosen a measured level of strike action in the first phase.”

Unifor says they think this first phase will increase exposure to negotiations.

“It is a strange experience to see an operator out of uniform, and we hope that starts conversations with the passengers about our struggle with this employer to get a fair deal,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor western regional director and lead negotiator during the talks.

But if a deal isn’t reached, a ban on overtime could start to impact transit users, Unifor has warned. 

“The system has normalized overtime, so without it, the turnaround for repairs and other maintenance will build up quickly,” said Mike Smith, president of Unifor Local 2200 representing maintenance and SeaBus workers. 

“We trust that TransLink will not put unsafe vehicles back on the road, so it is a question of fewer vehicles available in the system.”

Contract talks are expected to continue Thursday. 

Earlier this month, Unifor Local 111 voted 99 per cent in favour of striking after months of contract negotiations broke down on Oct. 3.

When the 72-hour strike notice was announced, McGarrigle told CTV News Vancouver there continues to be issues over wages, benefits and working conditions for bus drivers.

“They need to have time to go to the washroom, have a bite to eat, just simply reset themselves and they aren’t having the time to do that,” McGarrigle said. “We need to make sure wages are fair and competitive and make sure generally they are respected by the company.”

Unifor also said overcrowding on buses is also leading to safety concerns.

“It has an impact on their mental health,” McGarrigle said. “When the passengers are feeling they are being passed up, when the drivers are being overworked eventually something’s gotta give.”

Earlier in the week Coast Mountain Bus Company said in a statement it remains committed to “reaching an acceptable negotiated settlement and is ready to return to the bargaining table as soon as possible.”

Before Unifor announced its plans, TransLink said it would use social media and its website to let transit users know if the system was going to be disrupted.

“It’s important to note that only bus SeaBus service is going to be affected by any job action Unifor undertakes,” said Jill Drews, a spokesperson for TransLink on Wednesday. 

The last time bus drivers walked off in Metro Vancouver was in 2001. That strike lasted four months. 

With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Sheila Scott  

31Oct

Metro Vancouver bus strike: Union says talks have broken off the day before planned job action

by admin

VANCOUVER – Less than 24 hours before planned job action was set to take place if no deal was struck, the union representing Metro Vancouver’s bus and SeaBus drivers says talks have broken off.

Friday morning, Unifor said that if an agreement wasn’t settled by 8 a.m. on Nov. 1, transit operators wouldn’t wear uniforms on the job and maintenance workers will refuse overtime shifts. 

Shortly before 12:30 p.m., the union said talks had broken down.  

“Our number one goal is a fair contract that ensures our members are working under safe and reasonable conditions so they can best serve the public,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor national president, in a news release.

“To minimize the disruption to the public while still ramping up pressure on the employer, we have chosen a measured level of strike action in the first phase.”

Unifor says they think this first phase will increase exposure to negotiations.

“It is a strange experience to see an operator out of uniform, and we hope that starts conversations with the passengers about our struggle with this employer to get a fair deal,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor western regional director and lead negotiator during the talks.

But if a deal isn’t reached, a ban on overtime could start to impact transit users, Unifor has warned. 

“The system has normalized overtime, so without it, the turnaround for repairs and other maintenance will build up quickly,” said Mike Smith, president of Unifor Local 2200 representing maintenance and SeaBus workers. 

“We trust that TransLink will not put unsafe vehicles back on the road, so it is a question of fewer vehicles available in the system.”

Contract talks continued Thursday and Coast Mountain Bus Company said it’s urging the union to hold off on job action until a deal is struck.

“If the union proceeds with job action, it will only punish transit users in Metro Vancouver, many of whom rely on our system for their daily commute,” CMBC president Michael McDaniel said in a statement.

“Without maintenance over time, we will see bus and SeaBus service cancellations, affecting customers.” 

Earlier this month, Unifor Local 111 voted 99 per cent in favour of striking after months of contract negotiations broke down on Oct. 3.

When the 72-hour strike notice was announced, McGarrigle told CTV News Vancouver there continues to be issues over wages, benefits and working conditions for bus drivers.

“They need to have time to go to the washroom, have a bite to eat, just simply reset themselves and they aren’t having the time to do that,” McGarrigle said. “We need to make sure wages are fair and competitive and make sure generally they are respected by the company.”

Unifor also said overcrowding on buses is also leading to safety concerns.

“It has an impact on their mental health,” McGarrigle said. “When the passengers are feeling they are being passed up, when the drivers are being overworked eventually something’s gotta give.”

Before Unifor announced its plans, TransLink said it would use social media and its website to let transit users know if the system was going to be disrupted.

“It’s important to note that only bus SeaBus service is going to be affected by any job action Unifor undertakes,” said Jill Drews, a spokesperson for TransLink on Wednesday. 

The last time bus drivers walked off in Metro Vancouver was in 2001. That strike lasted four months. 

With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Sheila Scott  

31Oct

Metro Vancouver bus strike: Talks break off the day before planned job action

by admin

VANCOUVER – Less than 24 hours before planned job action was set to take place if no deal was struck, the union representing Metro Vancouver’s bus and SeaBus drivers says talks have broken off.

Friday morning, Unifor said that if an agreement wasn’t settled by 8 a.m. on Nov. 1, transit operators wouldn’t wear uniforms on the job and maintenance workers will refuse overtime shifts. 

Shortly before 12:30 p.m., the union said talks had broken down.  

“Unfortunately it became very clear that we’re going to have to commit strike action tomorrow,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor western regional director and lead negotiator, after the talks ended.

“Minutes before we sat down with the company they were already putting out a press release saying we were trying to punish transit users, which of course is the last thing that we want to do.”

McGarrigle claimed Coast Mountain Bus Company didn’t adequately address wages or competitive issues within the company.

“Most importantly, they made no changes at all to the working condition language that had already been rejected by the union. That working condition language that they tabled means that no transit operator has a guaranteed minimum level of break time on any given shift.”

If a deal isn’t struck soon, McGarrigle said transit users will start to feel the impact. 

“Transit users we will see maintenance and SeaBus overtime ban commence, that will have a very quick impact on the service,” he said. 

“The transit system is much, much bigger than it was in 2001. A lot of people rely on transit. So if there is impact, we think it will be substantially worse than in 2001. It may not happen right away, but it very quickly could be a significant inconvenience to the public.”

Ahead of contract talks on Thursday, CMBC urged the union to hold off on job action until a deal is struck. 

“If the union proceeds with job action, it will only punish transit users in Metro Vancouver, many of whom rely on our system for their daily commute,” CMBC president Michael McDaniel said in a statement.

“Without maintenance over time, we will see bus and SeaBus service cancellations, affecting customers.” 

Earlier this month, Unifor Local 111 voted 99 per cent in favour of striking after months of contract negotiations broke down on Oct. 3.

When the 72-hour strike notice was announced, McGarrigle told CTV News Vancouver there continues to be issues over wages, benefits and working conditions for bus drivers.

“They need to have time to go to the washroom, have a bite to eat, just simply reset themselves and they aren’t having the time to do that,” McGarrigle said. “We need to make sure wages are fair and competitive and make sure generally they are respected by the company.”

Unifor also said overcrowding on buses is also leading to safety concerns.

“It has an impact on their mental health,” McGarrigle said. “When the passengers are feeling they are being passed up, when the drivers are being overworked eventually something’s gotta give.”

Before Unifor announced its plans, TransLink said it would use social media and its website to let transit users know if the system was going to be disrupted.

“It’s important to note that only bus SeaBus service is going to be affected by any job action Unifor undertakes,” said Jill Drews, a spokesperson for TransLink on Wednesday. 

The last time bus drivers walked off in Metro Vancouver was in 2001. That strike lasted four months. 

With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Sheila Scott  

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