Hey Vancouver, Put on the Brakes

Seth Rogen’s Translink announcements have already lost their appeal

Nirosh Saravanan, Contributor // Illustration by Laura Pummell

If you’ve been on the bus or skytrain in Metro Vancouver in the last few months you’ve probably heard the phrase, “Hey Vancouver!” booming over the intercom in Seth Rogen’s distinctive voice. However, earlier in the year, Translink had announced that it would have actor Morgan Freeman record announcements for use across its services as part of a promotion with Visa until the end of August. This project came to a halt after Freeman faced allegations of sexual misconduct. Fortunately for Vancouver, Canadian actor and comedian Seth Rogen gleefully stepped up to the plate, offering to pick up after Freeman as a kind gesture to the community he grew up in. A few months later, the allure of the etiquette messages is starting to dry up.

Rogen later went on to make announcements for the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) as well, which dilutes the value of what was initially a unique gift for Vancouver. In Toronto, the announcements were met with mixed reviews, though the TTC stated that feedback was mostly positive. Communications Director Brad Ross remarked that they helped tackle an issue facing commuters by taking a more casual approach, rather than “lecturing the public”. However, they were also cited as being, “Annoying, hard to understand” and being unrepresentative of Toronto.

While the TTC has since dropped the announcements for “fear of being repetitive”, Translink will run them until the end of October, which couldn’t come soon enough. Despite there being some initial buzz surrounding the announcements, they’ve started to lose their draw. You may hear some giggling on the bus as they play, but most commuters just mindlessly listen and follow the instructions conveyed to them over the speakers. Translink should leave the announcements behind, with pleasant memories in our minds, before we too start to loathe them.

If feedback from the public ends up being positive, Vancouver also has a large pool of talent to draw from, so if the need arises the likes of Ryan Reynolds or Michael Bublé could be called upon to add more variety to the mix. There is also the opportunity to have different announcements for different seasonal occasions, such as Santa throughout December. Though, if other cities wish to follow suit, Rogen tweeted “[He’ll] do the whole country”.

Although it was initially a fun idea, just like having Christmas decor out for sale in September, having the announcements out for too long will let them go stale. This may lead to many ultimately resenting Rogen for what was once a sweet gesture. If Translink decides to keep him as the voice of etiquette on their services, they should at least consider using his laugh more often. Otherwise, it’s time to pump the brakes on the announcements.

1 Comment
  1. Beautifully written, just what I was thinking, when I heard of the news that Toronto got the same thing, I felt like it really was for the $$ and felt like all what he says about “this is my home, Vancouver” was ultimately void with him voice overing in toronto… Loved the fact that he did it when this all started but the more I hear his voice the more I sigh and plug in my headphones… and quite frankly, almost surprisingly tired of him since all my connotations to his voice now trace to the muffled transit speakers that I dread hearing at 6am…

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