Sunday, December 18, 2011

2011 Comes to a close

Well, its that time of year again, time for it to end. Seemed quick, and while I don't feel like I did much this year, looking back i actually did.

So this year biggest event to me was the approval of the CRC to save Metro (and my job), and that includes plans to dump the RFA by Oct.

While I visit Vancouver quite a bit, a highlight for the year was my visit Calgary for a couple of days (videos are here) and to Banff to take in some awesome views. Also had a one day visits to Spokane & Eugene for some transit riding.

A few other things to mention, the arrival of new buses, including Metros Orions & 60' Restyled New Flyers, and Sound Transit 60' non-hybrids.

Don't forget that Al visited us in Seattle, landmark event for him!!

I finally get to ride the West Coast Express Commuter Rail.

So, 2012? Sounder is supposed to extend to Lakewood next fall, major changes at Metro coming soon with routes drastically changing and the Ride Free Area vanishing, I'll be watching.

Below is the year end video looking back at this years filmings, don't forget to follow me on twitter if you don't for blurbs from my travels out and about. Thanks to you for reading and watching, have a great 2012!

West Coast Express

On Dec 10, Translink hosted its yearly Santa Train event, which includes a ride on the weekday/peak direction only West Coast Express Commuter Rail. This is a very difficult train to catch as a one day trip to Vancouver from here, so its much later departure, plus on a Saturday finally made this possible for me.

Just a few things to comment on about the operations of the WCE. First thing I noticed was a coffee shop on board the train. Get coffee and snacks all in route.

Like Sounder platforms, WCEs platforms are built to accommodate 7 cars, however, our train was a 10 car train. It appears 10 cars trains are a normal operation for them as well as they had the stopping down to a science. Clearly a 10 car train doesn't fit in the platform, so Cars 1 and 10 have the exit doors roped off and disabled, cars 2 and 9 have the doors closest to the end of the train, respectively, roped off in the same manner and only one door opens at stops. All doors open on cars 3-8. Might be the future of Sounder trains if ridership continues to rise.

If you purchase a "Return Ticket", lingo for RT ticket, it provides 2 things Sounder tickets do not. First, one way fare for the entire line is $11.50. A Return Ticket provides a slight discount, $1, AND it is valid on all Skytrains, buses and Seabus all day long! Despite our calls to Sound Transit to give us our day pass back, they refuse. (There is nothing wrong with a day pass Sound Transit, it makes things easy to use and understand, do YOU understand that?) ST should return Day Passes to paper tickets, for all to use.

One thing I was surprised WCE does not have is WiFi. There is none. If your spending upwards of 2 hours on this train per day, sure would be nice. With the high cost of this train, it should be an included service.

Overall is a very scenic ride, top speed I measured was 120km ph, or 73 mph. They have several ticket machines at every station as this train (like all of Translinks services) is honor based fares.

I took a few videos of the ride if you'd like to experience it for a YT point of view. I have hinted at Translink to run a train on a Saturday during the summer, but their response didn't sound promising. So for now it will be cloudy scenic rides.