TransLinkai??i??s seven ai???deadly sinsai??i??

The reverberations of TransLink’s double SkyTrain fiasco continues to echo in Metro Vancouver.

I think transit customers can understand system wide shutdowns, but when the captain and crew leave the passengers to fend for themselves, then very pointed questions will be asked.

Jordan Bateman has become a serious thorn in the side of regional bureaucrats, exposing waste, but I wish Mr. Batemen dig a little deeper with SkyTrain’s largesse, but that, I think, will expose Mr. Bateman’s Liberal friends. He digs, but doesn’t dig deep.

TransLinkai??i??s seven ai???deadly sinsai??i??: Art installation and Compass Card snafu just a couple of its dubious spending decisions

Ai??By Michael Smyth, The ProvinceJuly 26, 2014

What do stranded commuters trudging wearily along the SkyTrain tracks and a giant porcelain poodle sitting on top of an eight-metre-high pole have in common?

Both are examples of a Metro Vancouver transit system that has lost its way and gone to the dogs.

The commuters who abandoned their crippled SkyTrain cars were among thousands inconvenienced by a rash of SkyTrain breakdowns.

The giant porcelain poodle was part of a recent $100,000 public art project TransLink sponsored.

The point: Maybe if TransLink spent more of your money on an efficient, safe transit system instead of on dog statues, people wouldnai??i??t have to risk their lives to escape broken-down SkyTrain cars.

An unfair comparison? TransLink thinks so. But the uproar over ai???poodles on pogo sticksai??? is just one example of dubious TransLink spending and mismanagement that upsets critics like Jordan Bateman of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

ai???There are so many examples ai??i?? I call them the ai???deadly sins of TransLink,ai??i??ai??? said Bateman.

Since no one was accidentally electrocuted during last weekai??i??s train-tracks exodus, maybe ai???deadlyai??? is too strong a word.

But thereai??i??s little doubt TransLinkai??i??s record is a spotty one. Consider:

Compass Card capers: The smart-card fare-gate system was supposed to stop freeloading fare cheats and offer greater convenience for the public.

It still might. But the system is already well behind schedule and $23 million over budget ai??i?? more than the cost of a backup computer system that might have prevented last weekai??i??s SkyTrain snafus.

Executive feeding frenzy: TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis made $394,730 in 2012 ai??i?? more than Premier Christy Clark and even more than Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

More significant, Jarvis made $88,000 more than Torontoai??i??s transit CEO and $97,000 more than Montrealai??i??s. The comparisons get uglier south of the border. Jarvis made $203,000 more than the King County transit boss in Washington state, and $166,000 more than the transit CEO in Portland.

Sunday is payday for SkyTrain cops: The budget for TransLinkai??i??s independent police force was $27 million last year and is set to rise steadily.

Among the cost drivers: a contract that pays officers a 25-per-cent bonus if they work Sundays. Try finding a deal like that in the real world.

Wasted space: TransLink has been paying $60,000 a month to rent a Burnaby warehouse where it planned to restore aging SkyTrain cars.

But the union representing SkyTrain workers complained in March that much of the building is sitting empty.

ai???The top floor is totally vacant and the warehouse is totally vacant,ai??? Bill Magri, president of CUPE Local 7000, told the Burnaby Now newspaper.

ai???What bothers me is the outright waste and the poor financial decisions made by

Directors multiplying like rabbits: Why have just one board of directors when you can have six?

TransLink has its own a board of directors, of course. But so does the Transit Police. And the B.C. Rapid Transit Company, which operates the Expo and Millennium SkyTrain lines. And the Coast Mountain Bus Company. And the West Coast Express. And then there are the 23 members of the TransLink Mayors Council.

Salaries for all the members of all those boards in 2012: $751,589.

The too-short sound wall: After years of pressure from Pitt Meadows residents, TransLink decided last year to tear down a sound-blocking wall meant to shield residents from the noisy Golden Ears Bridge.

The problem? The first sound-blocking wall was shorter than the trucks rumbling noisily over the bridge, driving neighbours nuts.

The solution? Rip the wall down and build a new one thatai??i??s one-and-a-half metres taller.

ai???Itai??i??s just, ai???Roll the windows down and throw the money out of the window and weai??i??ll build a new one,ai??i??ai??? lamented Pitt Meadows Mayor Deb Walters.

ai???Itai??i??s very frustrating, especially when we talk about finding funding for

The cost of the taller wall: $817,000.

Public art: Which brings us back to those porcelain poodles on pogo sticks. Despite controversy over that Main Street installation, TransLink plans to spend more on public art.

TransLink approved spending $615,000 on public installations at three SkyTrain stations last year, despite complaints the money would be better spent on actual transit improvements.

ai???The TransLink people are always crying for money from local government,ai??? Delta Mayor Lois Jackson told the Burnaby News Leader. ai???But, on the other hand, theyai??i??re spending money as if it comes from a bottomless

Hereai??i??s the biggest problem for TransLink: Public confidence has been eroded by this stuff at the same time that TransLink wants more money from the public.

ai???Why should anyone trust TransLink with $500 million more a year in taxes when they canai??i??t manage the $1.4 billion they already get?ai??? asks Bateman, TransLinkai??i??s fiercest critic.

It brings a fierce response from TransLink.

ai???We do not have the resources to investigate each one of his (Batemanai??i??s) claims, nor is the public purse well served by going down such dirt trails when we have important operations and communications matters to pursue,ai??? said Cheryl Ziola, TransLinkai??i??s manager of media relations.

If we ever get that referendum on TransLink funding, taxpayers may get the last word.


3 Responses to “TransLinkai??i??s seven ai???deadly sinsai??i??”
  1. eric chris says:

    Great article by The Province which is doing what it can to expose the gangsters running crazy TransLink and the unorthodox ST-BRT service here. With ST and BRT, TransLink is losing transit revenue, increasing transit costs and thwarting transit use.

    One person riding ST-BRT over three zones replaces up to nine people riding trolleybuses or trams over one to two zones. To make $170 from someone taking ST-BRT for up to 60 km and tying up a transit seat for up to 60 km, TransLink is potentially giving up about $900 in revenue from nine riders who can’t board the crammed ST-BRT during peak hours and who drive the average distance of seven kilometers per trip, instead.

    To do this, TransLink is spending billions of dollars on ST-BRT routes rather than millions of dollars on trolleybus-tram routes. By the way, both trolleybuses and trams can use the same overhead wires to run economical trolleybuses during off-peak hours and trams during peak hours. No other transit organizations in Canada operates transit like TransLink does. What are the retards at TransLink doing?

    At the same time, by under spending on road improvements to over spend on BRT and ST, TransLink has worsened road congestion tremendously in Metro Vancouver. When is Ian Jarvis, TransLink CEO, going to get the boot?

    Transit by TransLink
    TransLink charges by zone for people to take transit. Monthly fees by zone are as follows (UBC students only pay $30 for their monthly transit pass to travel three zones):

    One zone = $91 (up to about 15 km distance traveled)
    Two zone = $124 (up to about 30 km distance traveled)
    Three zone = $170 (up to about 60 km distance traveled)

    On average in Metro Vancouver, people commute 7 km per trip from one to two zones (if the zone boundary is crossed). Before the proliferation of ST and BRT by TransLink: transit was focused on moving people over short distances in their community, and trolleybuses were widely used in Vancouver. Now TransLink is fixated on BRT and ST to move people over long distances and trolleybuses are used to get people to BRT and ST stops.

    TransLink has pinned its hopes on ST and BRT to reduce road congestion. Economist Gordon Price of SFU advises TransLink and he believes that fast transit over long distances is the way to go. According to Gordon Price, “transit “expert”: ST and BRT are winners.

    I’m not an expert. I don’t see how putting someone on ST and BRT for up to 60 kilometres per trip for $170 monthly beats putting nine people on trolleybuses-trams (60 km divided by the average commuting distance of seven kilometres) for them to each pay about $100 monthly to travel seven kilometres per trip in their community (about $900 in total monthly). As far as the morons at TransLink are concerned: it is better to preclude people (who only travel short distances on trolleybuses-trams) from taking transit and to go after people who hog transit seats and travel long distances on ST-BRT. That way TransLink can lose about $700 in revenue for each long distance user on ST-BRT. This is supposedly smart transit, the TransLink way.

    So, do you see the fundamental problem with transit focused on ST and BRT advocated by Ian Jarvis and Gordon Price? In relation to trolleybus-tram transit, transit by TransLink (ST-BRT) loses transit revenue, increases transit cost and thwarts transit use.

    I believe that I can see the future…because I repeat the same routine… I just do what I am told… I am a retard at TransLink… every day is exactly the same…

  2. eric chris says:

    The good thing is that the ST is running today. The bad thing is that the ST is running today:

  3. Haveacow says:

    There is no doubt in my mind that TransLink could use some financial “Right Sizing” in quite a few areas however, don’t be too zealous. The group you are dealing with here is the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. This very right wing Conservative group that, just 20 years ago was advocating eliminating public transport as a unneeded waste of tax funds or at the least privatization of it. This is the same group that, advocated for a Skytrain type system in Toronto instead of LRT and Subways because it didn’t have to be staffed by high waged union positions. In fact the fewer union positions the better in their books. I am sure somewhere in that group they have a serious and logical person who knows about public transit but I have been following their exploits for years and I yet to really see one. Most of their complaints here are typical, “don’t waste my money stuff” that these types of groups constantly spew. You Zwei, wish Mr. Bateman would “dig deeper”, the real answer is he never will because a logical close look at what can improve Translink or building a better replacement is not what he wants to do. He is here to smash a public operation and advocate for its privatization or out right abandonment to save tax money not yours or mine, corporate tax money. The people who donate to his group are not individuals, they are mainly large corporations and corporate controlled “Think Tanks” who push for a more conservative agenda because they make money off their conservative agenda. They do not give a dam about public transit unless they (they personally) can make money off of it.

    Zwei replies: Noted, and as I mentioned in my comment, Jordan Batemen is not digging to deeply into SkyTrain, lest he upsets his Liberal friends. The real problem with TransLink is “O” oversight and “O” public participation, which has made the behemoth very estranged from its customers.

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