Jawn Jang spills the T on the third season of TransLink’s podcast

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      Love it or hate it, you can’t deny transit is a core part of Vancouver’s urban fabric. 

      Whether you’re hopping across the Burrard Inlet on the SeaBus, fighting for a seat on the Canada Line at rush hour, or stuck behind a string of struggling buses on Granville Bridge in a snowstorm, it’s rare to be completely divorced from the mass transit network that keeps the 604 moving. 

      But that doesn’t mean transit users necessarily understand how the whole spidery system works. 

      “I’ve grown up here essentially my whole life,” Jawn Jang, host of TransLink’s What’s the T podcast, says over video call, “but I didn’t know the answers that I was hearing when I was interviewing a lot of guests.” 

      The first season, which debuted in May 2023, started by answering the question that TransLink’s customer information team is most frequently asked—and that Jang didn’t know the reason for, either—why doesn’t the SkyTrain run overnight? 

      As a former radio journalist, he set out on a mission to find out, and brought listeners along for the ride.

      “Unlike systems like NewYork, where they have redundancy—which I learned means they have extra lines, so you can close a portion of one line and have maintenance workers go even in the middle of the day, and there’s no impact to service—we don’t have that in Metro Vancouver,” Jang summarizes. “So we do this overnight, where our staff can work on the rail systems safely without worrying about SkyTrains coming through every few minutes. It’s things like this that I was naturally very curious about.”

      Since then, the podcast has explored some other burning transit issues, such as making buses more reliable, the weirdest lost property stories, and, uh, whether ghosts are haunting the network. 

      “That one took a little bit of convincing,” Jang says with a laugh. “I went into it like, ‘Let’s give something that’s totally a curveball, because it will stand out.’ All these companies are trying to pursue podcasting now as a storytelling avenue, which is great—but a lot of it is content that maybe doesn’t really shock or surprise people. Let’s be the ones that are trying to be a bit different, a bit bold … I’ll never view Waterfront Station the same way again.”

      The third season of What’s the T premiers today (April 11), kicking things off with a guest who sure sounds familiar: Laureen Reagan, the voice of the SkyTrain announcements. Jang’s been trying to get her on the show for a year, and was thrilled to finally get the chance to sit down with someone who is so ubiquitous, yet so mysterious. 

      “She got into this whole role as the voice of the SkyTrain on a bit of a whim, so we got the backstory on how it all started, what she’s been up to, does she ever get recognized in the street just talking,” Jang explains. “There are certain iconic sounds that you just can’t replace, and one of the most iconic sounds we have on our transit system is the chime and the voice of SkyTrain.” (After all, Seth Rogen only lasted a few months.)

      Season three also features the series’ first debate, as well as a mailbag episode in which Jang responds to comments from listeners. There’s also plenty more of Jang’s classic show-and-tell storytelling, where he gets an expert on bus operations, transit etiquette, or winter weather preparation, to explain the topic. Still, there’s always room for new ideas.

      “It’s been really fun,” Jang says. “We want to try new things, because we’re still very much experimenting.” 

      Clocking in at around 20 minutes, the episodes are snappy and easily digestible: accessible not just not to urbanists and policy wonks, but to anyone with a passing interest in learning more about how transit works. 

      That, after all, is the whole point of What’s the T. If you’re wondering why the West Coast Express is so damn weird, someone else is, too. 

      “The litmus test is: if it’s interesting to me,” he says, “it’s probably interesting to other people.”