TransLink celebrates 75 years of trolley bus service

Photo by SUKHWANT DHILLON / AM 600 Sher-E-Punjab Radio

TRANSLINK is celebrating 75 years of iconic trolley bus history with the release of a new limited-edition Mini-Trolley Compass keychain and free tours riding one of Vancouver’s first trolley buses.

The new Compass product will be available from Wednesday – the day of the official anniversary – starting at 8 a.m. at TransLink’s Customer Service Centre.

Free rides on a preserved Brill trolley bus, one of the first to drive on the streets of Vancouver, will also be available outside of Waterfront Station between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Trolley buses have been a familiar sight in Vancouver for the last 75 years. Since their first appearance in 1948, trolley buses have been providing vital zero-emission transit services to Vancouverites. Now, over 100,000 zero-emission transit trips are taken on trolley buses every weekday. By running trolley buses instead of conventional diesel buses, over 18,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions are saved every year, leading to less pollution and cleaner air.

TransLink encourages everyone to post their favourite photos of trolley buses on social media with the hashtag #75YearsOfTrolley.

Mini-Trolley Compass keychains
* Mini-Trolley Compass keychains will be available at the TransLink Customer Service Centre, beginning at 8 a.m. on August 16.
* There will be 4,000 Adult Mini-Trolley keychains, and 1,000 Concession Mini-Trolley keychains.
* Each Mini-Trolley Compass keychain works to tap at fare gates and on buses, just like a Compass Card.
* Customers will be limited to purchasing two Mini-Trolley keychains.
* Each bus can be loaded with your favorite Compass pass or stored value and the headlights light up when tapped on a reader.
* Each Compass Product can be paid for with a $6 refundable deposit.

Trolley bus tours
* Free rides on a historic brill trolley bus are available outside of Waterfront Station.
* These tours will be available between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
* Those interested should meet on the south side of Cordova Street, across from the entrance to Waterfront Station (601 W Cordova Street, Vancouver).
* Tours will commence approximately every 20 minutes.
* Availability is limited and on a first come first served basis.

Trolley bus facts and history
* Vancouver is the only city in Canada with trolley bus service.
* With 262 buses, TransLink has the second largest trolley bus fleet in Canada and the US.
* Vancouver’s first trolley bus went into service on August 16, 1948. It was operated by BC Electric Railway Company.
* The first trolley bus was a Canadian Brill T-44, which was built in Thunder Bay Ontario at the Canadian Car and Foundry bus manufacturing plant. These vehicles had a 140-horsepower motor and drew 550 volts of power from overhead wires.
* The first trolley bus route was called the Fraser-Cambie. It started service at Queen Elizabeth Park, went over the Cambie Street Bridge, through Chinatown, and down to Marine Drive and Fraser Avenue.
* The last brill trolley bus was retired in August of 1976 after 28 years serving Vancouver streets. A total of 364 Brill Trolleys were in service over that period.

Kevin Quinn, TransLink CEO, said: “For 75 years, trolleybuses have shaped the transit landscape of Metro Vancouver. Trolley buses have delivered zero-emissions transportation options for generations of Metro Vancouverites and are a key part of regional climate action.”

Sean Fraser, federal Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities, said: “Vancouver’s trolley bus system has been connecting people to the community for 75 years. This extraordinary milestone demonstrates the importance of public transit to the well-being of a city. We will continue to partner with local governments to ensure that as Vancouver continues to grow, it has the means to connect its residents to their workplace, to their neighbourhood, and to one another.”

Dan Coulter, B.C. Minister of State for Infrastructure and Transit, added: “The long history of electric trolley buses in B.C. serves as a reminder that cleaner, greener public transportation is not a new idea. Our government is taking the province’s commitment to increasing access to cleaner modes of travel by supporting the transition to electric buses and developing the Clean Transportation Action Plan.”

Brad West, Mayors’ Council Chair, said: “It gives me immense pleasure to celebrate the trolley bus system that has been an integral part of Metro Vancouver’s transportation system for the last 75 years. The regions transportation needs have changed in the last many decades but the trolley system has remained steadfast in providing clean transportation options to customers in this region.”