50th Anniversary of Exact Fare in Vancouver

Greetings Everyone, in August of 1969, the week after Woodstock, I started my training as a Vancouver bus driver. First off, my hire photo, AKA Mug Shot. I have been assigned the seniority number 3281 in our class of 6 trainees. I was 21. I made change and sold tokens for 7 months until Wednesday 1 April 1970 when Exact Fare arrived and we no longer had to do so. I worked an evening run on Stanley Park/Nanaimo driving a Brill trolleybus, and sold my last tokens at Cordova and Carrall downtown, and changed a quarter for the final time at Nanaimo and Charles Street. While so many drivers cursed the changers, B.C. Hydro allowed the drivers to purchase their changers, and a large number did so. I bought my 6 barrel Johnson changer. 


Six years later, here I am in a 1947 Canadian Car Brill T-44 trolley coach in the Stanley Park Loop. I have my feet up on Grant Money Meter fare box. Tie was compulsory during winter months. To differentiate between the two types of vehicles, the instructors called a trolley a “coach”, and a motor bus a “bus”. And we were “operators”, not drivers. Photo courtesy of Sean Nelson.


B.C. Hydro took this publicity photo in a “Fishbowl” General Motors New Look diesel bus at the Oakridge Transit Centre to make people aware of the 1st April 1970 date for the Exact Fare policy.  The EXACT FARE card behind the transfer rack was put in the exterior card holder on the front of every bus in the system. Looks like they borrowed the secretarial pool for the photo. Lady standing has a $2 bill in her wallet. You can see the change dish, and the rack for the changer above the transfer cutters. The operator is wearing his Chauffeur’s “A” Badge on his cap visible to the public, a requirement of the commercial driver’s licence back then. I wore mine on my jacket. This photo also shows the Grant Money Meter, a musical fare box


Grant Money Meter fare boxes annunciated the coins and tokens thusly:

1¢ – BUZZ
5¢ – BONG
10¢ – BONG-BONG
25¢ – BING-BING
“A” token – BING
“B” token – BRRRINGGGG
“C” token – no sound. These were made of blue plastic the size of poker chips and had to be collected by operating the lever for the scavenge door.


Fares: Student “A” tokens – 10 for $1.00; Adult “B” tokens – 4 for 75 cents; Child “C” tokens – 4 for 35 cents; Cash fare – Adult – 20 cents; Cash fare – Students – 15 cents; and, Cash fare – Children – 10 cents.

When I tell younger people today that when you bought four adult tokens for 75¢ back in 1969 you saved a nickel over the regular fare, they say: “Why bother?” I respond: “Well, 5¢ was half the price of a cup of coffee.” It also became apparent that we functioned as change machines. If you ran out of a certain coin or token on the road, you could always stop another bus and see if the driver could sell you what you needed.  


The employee newsletter published the following article in 2005:


An excellent film made by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1965 shows what it was like when I started the job few years later, and you can hear the Grant Money Meter tinkling away:


The Grant Money Meters were phased out in 1976 and replaced with Duncans. They in turn were replaced with Cubic electronic fare boxes in 2001, which are still in use. Community Shuttle buses have recently been fitted with drop fare boxes and those drivers issue paper transfers. Over 90% of fares are now registered with a Compass proximity tap card. 


Upon viewing the action here, one man came up to me and said: “This is more fun than watching the parade.”

When I started we drove Brill trolleys with manual steering and no right side exterior mirror. We learned to drive with our left hand and fill the changer barrels with our right. We were trained to climb up on the roof of a trolleybus, walk down the pole and repair a broken retriever rope. Neat trick: If one retriever jammed, you cut its rope and tied it to the other rope. You can put up both trolley poles on the wires with a single retriever rope. I once had this happen and didn’t have a knife with me, so I asked the passengers if someone could help. A man came to the rear of my bus with me and produced a switchblade knife, which did the job.

And if you think climbing up onto the roof of a Brill trolley was adventuresome (see fold-out steps just behind the rear door), check out how we kept service running back in the day. My friend John Day snapped this photo of me riding the back bumper at about 30 km/hr on Commercial Drive for a parade detour circa 1972.


Until 1952 Vancouver’s streetcars had conductors and conductorettes on the heaviest routes to handle fares. Here is Edra McLeod alighting from a streetcar during World War II. She became a bus driver and retired in 1976, two years after a new generation of women operators were hired. The last conductors collected fares on the Marpole to Steveston Interurban in 1958.

All the best,

Angus.

I Remember When…

The Point Grey Bakery was on Dunbar Street

Angus McIntyre

The woman on the right was Dorothy, and the taller one, who had a British accent as I recall, was named Flo’. As it turns out I happen to have the cash register in the photo! When I told them that I had lots of rhubarb in my yard, they said I could bring it in and they could make pies with it, and as payment I got one of the pies gratis. 

In the next photo there is a sign above the door with a little chef’s head and hat. The sign read: LOAFING DEPT. Of course there was always a ginger snap or small cookie handed to the children that came in with a parent. Beside the cash register is a tape dispenser. It had a brush built in that wet the gum on the tape, and that tape was used when the bread was wrapped in light-brown paper. Flo’ lived in the 1950’s apartment building at 16th and Highbury.

I wrote to my neighbour Dave Kileen about the photos, and he responded with his memories. They made a very good malt bread, and also Hovis. I think we should do a little research and list all the bakeries on Dunbar in 1980, and include a short piece on the Ideal Bakery, the oldest one, and currently still a “toney” bakery, which maybe should also be mentioned as the last one standing.

Here’s what Dave said:

The Point Grey Bakery was where my mother would go, often with me, to purchase our bakery items. This is where all my birthday cakes in my early years came from. I remember both of those ladies, the shorter of the two I knew as Mrs. Skinner. She was the primary customer-service person, and my favourite; while the other, also pleasant, was either her sister or sister in law and seemed to take the roll of a backup person during busy times. I have often thought of those ladies, but hadn’t given much thought to the interior of the bake shop, but those interior pictures brought everything back to me immediately, those display cases and especially that faux log cabin back wall with its shingle roof. Mr. Skinner was the baker, but in all the years I went there, I never saw him. I remember that there once was a serious fire in the rear of the building, that required closure of the shop for many weeks, but it was all repaired and continued in business for many years after. There was of course another bakery one block North, on the same side of the street, but while we would look in their window as we walked past, we never went inside and I don’t know why.

Thanks for the pictures, I never thought I’d see them again.
Dave