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Enviro 500

Transit in Vancouver: Questions and Answers

516 posts in this topic

With a growing population of new members in our Vancouverite transit fan community, I have noticed that there are lots of keen learners who are enthusiastic about learning all the fine details related to Translink's transit operations and mechanisms. When you have a question to raise, the chances of someone having a same or similar question in mind is quite possible! There's no such thing as "stupid question", as long as it's appropriate and purposeful. From now on, if you have a burning desire to find an answer to your question, share your question with everyone under this topic! Please be respectful and nice with each other throughout these discussions. The purpose of this post is to keep all questions (and answers) centralized under one designated topic, as to prevent off-topic discussions from taking place under other topics, notably "General Sightings". At the same time, someone with a question might find an answer somewhere in the discussions. For detailed information regarding Translink's bus fleet or transit-fanning locations, please consult with the Transit-Fanning Guide available for download in "Vancouver Transit Fanning Guidebook" pinned on the top of Vancouver's section for your pleasure and delights.

Dave

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With a growing population of new members in our Vancouverite transit fan community, I have noticed that there are lots of keen learners who are enthusiastic about learning all the fine details related to Translink's transit operations and mechanisms. When you have a question to raise, the chances of someone having a same or similar question in mind is quite possible! There's no such thing as "stupid question", as long as it's appropriate and purposeful. From now on, if you have a burning desire to find an answer to your question, share your question with everyone under this topic! Please be respectful and nice with each other throughout these discussions. The purpose of this post is to keep all questions (and answers) centralized undergone designated topic, as to prevent off-topic discussions from taking place under other topics, notably "General Sightings". At the same time, someone with a question might find an answer somewhere in the discussions. For detailed information regarding Translink's bus fleet or transit-fanning locations, please consult with the Transit-Fanning Guide available for download in "Vancouver Transit Fanning Guidebook" pinned on the top of Vancouver's section for your pleasure and delights.

Dave

I do have a question that I have brought up indirectly a couple of times, and I have never really received an answer to it.

What is the process involved for programming (or re-programming) the signs/route announcements on the buses? I have noticed many changes over the years that are odd and silly, such as moving from a centred double pixel font to a left-aligned single pixel font on the D40LFs, and "Comm'l-Bdway Stn" on the 9 and 99. I don't understand why they do this, or even why they use the signs that are ok. To me, it would make sense to have the journey and the destination noted on the sign, whether it be in two-line mode on the LED signs, or two-screened mode on the flipdot signs. I was in Hamilton a couple weeks ago, and their buses have LED signs -- the journey is on the top line in a nice bold font (easily readable), and the destination is on the bottom (still readable). I understand that our D40LFs aren't capable of two-lined programming, but the Novas and trolleys should be.

Also, any time a route's terminus changes (or a new route is created), the announcement outside the door leaves off the number. For example, when the Canada Line opened, all the suburban services terminate at Bridgeport Stn. Well, you'd think that the annunciator would announce "three hundred fifty-one, Bridgeport Skytrain Station" rather than just "Bridgeport Skytrain Station." This also occurred on the 33 when it first came in, but it was even weirder in that it used "UBC Loop" for "33 UBC." Now, the number is added, but the announcement is still unique to the rest of the UBC routes -- "thirty-three, UBC Loop" rather than just "thirty-three, UBC."

I know I'm probably being picky, but it's these things that I notice all the time, and it is actually quite annoying that they can't make a simple fix like that. Sometimes I think I could just go into their computers myself and fix it. They did read my mind when I was thinking about the inside annunciator announcing the wrong street when turning. They should go one step further on this one too -- use the scrolling feature on the interior sign to show both streets for those of us who cannot hear the announcements unless they are really loud (or the bus is quiet).

I'm just curious as to how this works, because I think it would look better to have consistent signs and announcements. I could go on about this all day, but I won't. Oh well.

Opal

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I do have a question that I have brought up indirectly a couple of times, and I have never really received an answer to it.

What is the process involved for programming (or re-programming) the signs/route announcements on the buses? I have noticed many changes over the years that are odd and silly, such as moving from a centred double pixel font to a left-aligned single pixel font on the D40LFs, and "Comm'l-Bdway Stn" on the 9 and 99. I don't understand why they do this, or even why they use the signs that are ok. To me, it would make sense to have the journey and the destination noted on the sign, whether it be in two-line mode on the LED signs, or two-screened mode on the flipdot signs. I was in Hamilton a couple weeks ago, and their buses have LED signs -- the journey is on the top line in a nice bold font (easily readable), and the destination is on the bottom (still readable). I understand that our D40LFs aren't capable of two-lined programming, but the Novas and trolleys should be.

Good question, I have been thinking about that over the years too.........why do they bother doing stupid things like that? I know for a fact that in order to update the sign programs on buses, I have been told by Derek Cheung personally that they have to pull in each bus to update the program, it's not like they can click one button and all the buses in the system become magically up-to-date! Aside from the destination sign programming, one thing that may be somewhat related are garage prefixes: why do they bother with those? Just because the driver won't try to return the bus at another depot by the end of the day?! Yet, they have to constantly let mechanics change the "B" into "R" or "P" into "S" as soon as a bus transfers to another depot. After a lengthy amount of considerations, I came down to one conclusion: people must be kept busy to keep their jobs.......if there's no work to do anymore, then someone will probably be laid-off, given how tight Translink budgets are all the time! <_< Of course, that's only my personal assumption which may be inaccurate with reality.

Also, any time a route's terminus changes (or a new route is created), the announcement outside the door leaves off the number. For example, when the Canada Line opened, all the suburban services terminate at Bridgeport Stn. Well, you'd think that the annunciator would announce "three hundred fifty-one, Bridgeport Skytrain Station" rather than just "Bridgeport Skytrain Station." This also occurred on the 33 when it first came in, but it was even weirder in that it used "UBC Loop" for "33 UBC." Now, the number is added, but the announcement is still unique to the rest of the UBC routes -- "thirty-three, UBC Loop" rather than just "thirty-three, UBC."

I know I'm probably being picky, but it's these things that I notice all the time, and it is actually quite annoying that they can't make a simple fix like that. Sometimes I think I could just go into their computers myself and fix it. They did read my mind when I was thinking about the inside annunciator announcing the wrong street when turning. They should go one step further on this one too -- use the scrolling feature on the interior sign to show both streets for those of us who cannot hear the announcements unless they are really loud (or the bus is quiet).

I'm just curious as to how this works, because I think it would look better to have consistent signs and announcements. I could go on about this all day, but I won't. Oh well.

Opal

Welcome to Vancouver.........you better be patient with Translink. If it takes years for them to change garage prefixes (well, they have been getting better at it lately......but still not perfect, P8093 has been running in Burnaby for over 1 year now!), it probably takes more to change complicated "technological" glitches. From the past, I noticed when they shortened the 404 from Airport Station to Richmond Centre, for some reasons, the side destination sign will spontaneously lie to passengers by displaying "404 via Airport"; when they shortened 301 from Airport Station to Richmond Centre, the rear dest sign will lie to the passengers by displaying "310"..........so yea, get used to it! :P

Dave

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it probably takes more to change complicated "technological" glitches.

CHK/MW, case and point <_<

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CHK/MW, case and point <_<

Yes, or "Range Exceeded" displayed on the front dest signs of the Cassidy Shuttles :P

Dave

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How many VTC busses have the new scrolling effect? Also, Is it me or is the TMac system really irritating. I find myself going all

"Four Hundred Thirty.. Brighouse.. Sky!Train.. Station.." Whenever I hear it. Or on my way home, "One Hundred Fourty Four.. Ess Eff You..". The TMac System can get repetitive and annoying. I hope one day it'll be more pre-recorded rather than computerized.

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How many VTC busses have the new scrolling effect?

Don't think anyone has been keeping track on this board..........too many trolleybuses to count, let alone all the Novas AND the trollies <_< Maybe you can be the first to give us an answer!

Also, Is it me or is the TMac system really irritating. I find myself going all

"Four Hundred Thirty.. Brighouse.. Sky!Train.. Station.." Whenever I hear it. Or on my way home, "One Hundred Fourty Four.. Ess Eff You..". The TMac System can get repetitive and annoying. I hope one day it'll be more pre-recorded rather than computerized.

Agreed.

Dave

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I think i've seen like one or two busses (the 95xx series) on the T-Drive Nova's at Brentwood Station one time, but lately, ive seeen the traditional text "Sorry/Not In Service" Crap.

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I know for a fact that in order to update the sign programs on buses, I have been told by Derek Cheung personally that they have to pull in each bus to update the program, it's not like they can click one button and all the buses in the system become magically up-to-date!

I realize that with a large fleet of vehicles, most of which have a 15 - 20 year service life, updating to the latest technology is not a speedy process, however, one would hope that within ten or 20 years, this will be a reality. Translink buses already have GPS capability, how hard would it be to add wifi or some other wireless connectivity that would allow programming updates to be downloaded to buses while they're parked for the night at the garage?

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Do the T-Comm/GPS controllers integrate with the destination sign?

They are already paying for some sort of system-wide data system already so they could probably integrate the destination sign programming into the same system. If they are paying for data by the MB, they would potentially have to pay big bucks to a cell phone company to do data transfer to that many buses. I don't think it would be a lot of data for one transfer but over a thousand buses it would probably add up.

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Do the T-Comm/GPS controllers integrate with the destination sign?

They are already paying for some sort of system-wide data system already so they could probably integrate the destination sign programming into the same system. If they are paying for data by the MB, they would potentially have to pay big bucks to a cell phone company to do data transfer to that many buses. I don't think it would be a lot of data for one transfer but over a thousand buses it would probably add up.

On the new Luminators, yes. On the old ones, no. Apparently Balios (or axion) threatened to sue CMBC if they tampered with the software on their signs.

The Tmacc system can do SO much more than what it's used for, just like the fareboxes.

Chris Cassidy

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Apparently Balios (or axion) threatened to sue CMBC if they tampered with the software on their signs.

Chris Cassidy

That's unfortunate, I guess the sign firmware source code isn't released under GPL or similar open license. If it were, Translink could modify the software however they see fit, instead of (hypothetically) paying more money to Axion to modify the firmware to suit their needs. Granted, they could write completely new firmware for the signs, using only the Axion/Balios hardware, which would be legal, and would prevent them from being sued (provided that they don't reuse ANY of the original source code), however, CMBC is a bus company, not a software engineering company, so this would be unlikely to happen anyways. (This is why I have an Android phone instead of an iPhone, I can take MY hardware and do whatever I want with it from a software point of view).

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On the new Luminators, yes. On the old ones, no. Apparently Balios (or axion) threatened to sue CMBC if they tampered with the software on their signs.

The Tmacc system can do SO much more than what it's used for, just like the fareboxes.

Chris Cassidy

If I was in the purchasing department and Axion pushed that crap the next RFT/RFP would specify "Destination Sign: Luminator Horizon" instead of "Luminator or Axion"

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On the artics in the fleet, I noticed that some of the gangways are different from others. On the D60LF's, the big circle covering the joint is like a half circle, the bottom is attached to the tractor section and the other half is to the trailer. But on the newer artics like the D60LFR and DE60LFR's, the gangway circle looks like a complete circle and is like it's own floating platform. Are all a free floating platform or is one end attached to the tractor section?

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D60LFs only bend on the front portion of the artic joint. D60LFRs/DE60LFRs bend on both portions..... Think about it.

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On the artics in the fleet, I noticed that some of the gangways are different from others. On the D60LF's, the big circle covering the joint is like a half circle, the bottom is attached to the tractor section and the other half is to the trailer. But on the newer artics like the D60LFR and DE60LFR's, the gangway circle looks like a complete circle and is like it's own floating platform. Are all a free floating platform or is one end attached to the tractor section?

Updated Artic joint. Pretty much found on all Newer New Flyer Artics. Changed in 2006 or 2007? Basically is to give the artic a better resistance in turning. Because artics in the city turn constantly, having a "own little platform" doesn't wear down the joint as much, as having the half circle joint as you mention.

Anyone wanna clarify?

Artic_Joint.png

Artic_Joint.png

post-2106-1285124575_thumb.png

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D60LFs only bend on the front portion of the artic joint. D60LFRs/DE60LFRs bend on both portions..... Think about it.

The D60s had the same configuration as the newer LFRs, with the floating platform (I call it the "disc").

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I do have a question that I have brought up indirectly a couple of times, and I have never really received an answer to it.

What is the process involved for programming (or re-programming) the signs/route announcements on the buses? I have noticed many changes over the years that are odd and silly, such as moving from a centred double pixel font to a left-aligned single pixel font on the D40LFs, and "Comm'l-Bdway Stn" on the 9 and 99. I don't understand why they do this, or even why they use the signs that are ok. To me, it would make sense to have the journey and the destination noted on the sign, whether it be in two-line mode on the LED signs, or two-screened mode on the flipdot signs. I was in Hamilton a couple weeks ago, and their buses have LED signs -- the journey is on the top line in a nice bold font (easily readable), and the destination is on the bottom (still readable). I understand that our D40LFs aren't capable of two-lined programming, but the Novas and trolleys should be.

Also, any time a route's terminus changes (or a new route is created), the announcement outside the door leaves off the number. For example, when the Canada Line opened, all the suburban services terminate at Bridgeport Stn. Well, you'd think that the annunciator would announce "three hundred fifty-one, Bridgeport Skytrain Station" rather than just "Bridgeport Skytrain Station." This also occurred on the 33 when it first came in, but it was even weirder in that it used "UBC Loop" for "33 UBC." Now, the number is added, but the announcement is still unique to the rest of the UBC routes -- "thirty-three, UBC Loop" rather than just "thirty-three, UBC."

I know I'm probably being picky, but it's these things that I notice all the time, and it is actually quite annoying that they can't make a simple fix like that. Sometimes I think I could just go into their computers myself and fix it. They did read my mind when I was thinking about the inside annunciator announcing the wrong street when turning. They should go one step further on this one too -- use the scrolling feature on the interior sign to show both streets for those of us who cannot hear the announcements unless they are really loud (or the bus is quiet).

I'm just curious as to how this works, because I think it would look better to have consistent signs and announcements. I could go on about this all day, but I won't. Oh well.

Opal

So I don't have first hand knowledge of how Translink does it -- but I have first hand of how my agency and others do ..

Programming is usually done in one of two ways, either you send it to the vendor with a list of things you want and they do it, or you buy the software and do it yourself.

For headsigns the software is often not as easy to work with as you'd think it would be. If you want things done well you're essentially forced to program each sign type without any automated assistance. Sending the job to the vendor can be very problematic too, they can get stuff pretty wrong some times.

For things like voice it's usually better to have the vendor handle it, but things of course can go wrong, i.e. when the door opens it doesn't say the line # and destination, but instead "stop requested." :)

Some systems allow for Wifi programming but I've personally never seen it used.

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Do the T-Comm/GPS controllers integrate with the destination sign?

They are already paying for some sort of system-wide data system already so they could probably integrate the destination sign programming into the same system. If they are paying for data by the MB, they would potentially have to pay big bucks to a cell phone company to do data transfer to that many buses. I don't think it would be a lot of data for one transfer but over a thousand buses it would probably add up.

For such infrequent updates, and updates that are not required in real-time on the road, technology such as Wi-Fi can be used. This is already leveraged with TMAC software updates that are broadcast to the buses while in depot. Quite an ingenious design in my opinion...I probably wouldn't have thought of that off hand. Whether or not destination signs can use such a technology is a different story -- that is ultimately determined by the manufacturer.

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For such infrequent updates, and updates that are not required in real-time on the road, technology such as Wi-Fi can be used. This is already leveraged with TMAC software updates that are broadcast to the buses while in depot. Quite an ingenious design in my opinion...I probably wouldn't have thought of that off hand. Whether or not destination signs can use such a technology is a different story -- that is ultimately determined by the manufacturer.

So the hypothetical I posted earlier regarding some sort of data link at the depot is in fact already in use. I suppose then that the only sticking point is that only one of the systems on the bus can actually use this connectivity. I could foresee a system where the bus itself has wifi capability, which any compatible installed system could then use for whatever purpose, even for things such as engine diagnostics. Engine computer throws a code mid run? Garage knows about it as soon as the bus enters the premises, before the bus is even parked.

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So the hypothetical I posted earlier regarding some sort of data link at the depot is in fact already in use. I suppose then that the only sticking point is that only one of the systems on the bus can actually use this connectivity. I could foresee a system where the bus itself has wifi capability, which any compatible installed system could then use for whatever purpose, even for things such as engine diagnostics. Engine computer throws a code mid run? Garage knows about it as soon as the bus enters the premises, before the bus is even parked.

Yes such a communications link can be very useful for statistics gathering too... passenger counters and farebox stats. Not sure if these are being done already? If I remember correctly there is a manual link for the farebox stats when the bus gets its farebox changed... Again, dependent on those devices' connection availabilities.

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I have been noticing that Surrey Transit Centre and Port Coquitlam Transit Centre have TReO on the windshields of their buses. Does any one know why?

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I have been noticing that Surrey Transit Centre and Port Coquitlam Transit Centre have TReO on the windshields of their buses. Does any one know why?

Probably because PTC does the 555 and STC vehicles frequently travel across the Port Mann.

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Probably because PTC does the 555 and STC vehicles frequently travel across the Port Mann.

So why do the C40LFR, D40LF and D60LF need them in PTC?

Why do STC go a cross Port Mann frequently?

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