TransLink cuts funding for the Transit Museum Society

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      A nonprofit organization that maintains a fleet of historic Vancouver buses is looking for a new home. The Transit Museum Society has learned that budget pressures at TransLink will bring funding for the group to an end next year.

      The society operates about 12 buses dating back to the 1930s as part of a “rolling museum” that’s used for community events, weddings, and movies. TransLink, which has been covering the cost of renting a warehouse to store the buses in, recently gave the group a year’s notice, until the end of September 2013, to find a new place to keep the vehicles.

      “We’ve been renting a lot in Burnaby from a landowner, and paying that plus vehicle insurance and liability insurance has added up to more than $91,000 a year to TransLink,” Drew Snider, a spokesperson for the transit authority, told the Straight by phone.

      “So with our current budgetary situation…we just decided that we can’t continue that support.”

      Dale Laird, president of the society, said his group is concerned about finding a new location. They plan to look for private partners to keep the bus museum going.

      “Our problem is going to be finding a place to store the buses, being able to afford a warehouse to put them in—that’s going to be our biggest problem,” he said. “We’ve got some ideas of partnerships…we’ve been making a list of who we could talk to and other museum groups that we could partner with.”

      The historic bus fleet includes one locally built bus from 1937, while the majority are from 1946 to 1957. The collection also includes buses representative of each decade.

      Laird, who was a bus driver in Vancouver for 36 years, added that he knows some of his peers support preserving the city’s transit history, but suggested the sentiment is being overruled by budgetary pressures.

      Transit commissioner Martin Crilly challenged TransLink earlier this year to find cost savings of $40 million to $60 million over the next three years. The authority recently identified $98 million in annual “efficiencies” over the next three years, amid lower than projected revenues.

      “It would just be sad to lose the history of these vehicles,” Laird said.


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      Oct 10, 2012 at 10:58pm

      Buses and trams are an important part of Vancouver's urban heritage. There are transport museums in cities around the world. In the UK alone there are impressive collections in London, Manchester, St. Helen's, and Glasgow, all of which are supported, in whole or in part, by public funds.

      It's bad enough that the City terminated the operations of the Downtown Historic Railway to Granville Island this past summer. If Vancouver, and the Lower Mainland generally, truly aspires to be "world class," it has to get serious about preserving its heritage. That includes its heritage of public service vehicles.

      9 6Rating: +3

      Nancy P

      Oct 10, 2012 at 11:47pm

      Why don't they reduce the executive salaries at Translink instead? Or better yet, fire them all and get people in there who can make better use of the funds they receive. Such a poor excuse for a company. They have no incentive to improve as long as they get buckets of our tax dollars year after year!

      10 8Rating: +2

      Evil Eye

      Oct 11, 2012 at 10:07am

      TransLink needs the money to operate its operating museum piece, the SkyTrain lines.

      11 6Rating: +5

      Peter Finch

      Oct 11, 2012 at 3:47pm

      I find it very disappointing that TransLink has decided to cut funding to the Transit Museum Society.
      While it would be far too costly for TransLink itself to preserve, restore or operate heritage vehicles, the service provided by the Transit Museum Society is a bargain by any standard. There is no advertising budget, no payroll--in fact the volunteers themselves pay to belong to the Society. These unpaid volunteers have managed to do something extraordinary in collecting and restoring some very significant and rare vehicles, all of which have historic connections to Greater Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.
      TransLink has received a great deal of positive exposure through its funding of the Transit Museum Society: surely the cost of funding is less than the cost of comparable advertising! TransLink's executives should think again.

      12 7Rating: +5

      Paul McGregor

      Oct 11, 2012 at 7:36pm

      While I do support preserving out transit history, this is something that the community as a whole should be supporting and getting behind financially. While Laird claims "his peers support" continuing funding and assistance, the support simply is not coming from the community. The same can be said for the restoration of the streetcar line, if the community does not show any inclination to support it, then nothing will happen. It would be unfortunate to lose these buses and I hope someone can step forward and provide the assitance needed to continue the work.

      10 6Rating: +4

      Rick Norman

      Oct 13, 2012 at 8:58am

      Many transit systems all around Europe boast huge museums full of mint, restored equipment going back to the 1920s and 1930s - many of which still run. They are there to remind people of their historic past and to preserve a piece of history. Like they say, once extinct, it is gone forever.

      Transit has had an interesting past and only these vehicles serve as a reminder of where and what we progressed from.
      So many properties across Canada have at least a half dozen vintage buses. Why not BC?

      I've attended many boat, car, truck shows over the years and public transit is the one venue where the masses were served by vehicles that ran day and night, year after year, decade after decade, tirelessly.... Shouldn't at least one vehicle from every decade be preserved?

      7 4Rating: +3

      Pat Rogoski

      Oct 15, 2012 at 10:57pm

      Museums can't survive on their own, except maybe the Smitsonian. Would people be happier to see these buses that are in very good condition go to the shredder?

      6 7Rating: -1


      Jun 16, 2013 at 6:32am

      All this over a lousy stinking $90,000?! That's 0.18% of their mandated budget cutting. ugh...

      12 8Rating: +4


      Sep 9, 2013 at 4:40pm

      TransLink plans to spend $600,000.00 on "art" for SkyTrain stations but cuts THIS! well this is "art" and is more relevant than some screwy pics and colours on a wall at a few SkyTrain Stations!

      12 9Rating: +3


      Jan 26, 2015 at 11:09pm

      Where is the Transit Museum now? Is it still in the Vancouver, BC area?
      Yes, we're interested in seeing the Hayes Bus, quite an oldie from what I hear. It was made in Vancouver, BC too! ! The company, Hayes Manufacturing, also made highway and off highway logging trucks, we still see them on the roads today. These pieces of transportation history need to be preserved as this is where we came from. This is good for the young people of today, they need to see more of this to understand the history of BC and of our country Canada. Cheers!

      3 2Rating: +1