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Heard of the bus herd? Reindeer buses back on Vancouver streets

They launched Tuesday!

Metro Vancouver's transit system is getting a bit more festive with some special buses.

They're TransLink's Reindeer buses, a herd of nine that'll be lighting up travel throughout the city. While riders will notice their seasonal decor, the buses also serve a more charitable purpose.

"The red-nosed Reindeer Buses will collect and deliver toys to families in need as part of the Toys for Tots program," states a press release from TransLink. "The initiative, now in its 37th year, collects toys and cash donations from staff at Coast Mountain Bus Company depots and TransLink offices, and delivers them to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau."

The Reindeer buses started in 1985 when staff decked out a bus with antlers, eyes, a nose, and a tail. Over the years nearly 90,000 toys have been collected, along with around $53,000 in donations. In 2020 the solo Reindeer bus became a herd of nine.

This year they launched Tuesday, Nov. 29, and will wrap up in the new year.

"Every year the Reindeer Buses light up our streets,” says TransLink CEO Kevin Quinn in a press release. “We encourage everyone to bring their festive spirit and play a role in making sure every child has a gift this holiday season.”

For those wondering what it takes to dress up a bus, it's mostly recycled and scrap material. For example, the antlers are made in-house using aluminum and styrofoam and the noses are a mooring buoy and part of an oil drum.

The buses are assigned different routes throughout the season. Anyone who would like to make a donation but doesn't want to wait for the bus can drop off new, unwrapped toys at the TransLink customer service centre at Waterfront Station, the SkyTrain customer assistance centre at Commercial-Broadway Station, or with SeaBus staff at the Lonsdale Quay.

And if you spot a Reindeer bus, they're encouraging people to share their photos or video using the #ReindeerBus

Santa Train pulling into the station again

The West Coast Express Santa Train is back for one weekend this year. While normally a commuter train, the weekend of Dec. 3 and Dec. 4 it'll be running with the goal of collecting donations.

"Families can take the train for free in exchange for a new, unwrapped toy or cash donation made during those mornings," states TransLink.

Those donations will go to the Mission Christmas Bureau, the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society, the Tri-Cities Share Society, and the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau.

Gifts for transit fans

TransLink has also launched some Christmas-themed gift items in their store. This year Reindeer bus shirts are back, and there are new seasonal sweaters with reindeer, snowflakes, and transit logos. There's also other winter gear, and two Christmas ornaments (a SeaBus and a SkyTrain).

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