Inbox: TransLink getting a bad rap

Re: “Soapbox: Saying ‘No’ to TransLink is the new Canadian way,” Feb. 4.

TransLink getting a bad rap

Re: “Soapbox: Saying ‘No’ to TransLink is the new Canadian way,” Feb. 4.

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The anti-transit zealots are scraping the bottom when they say TransLink’s financial management “seems on a level with Zimbabwe.”  I ask readers whether they honestly believe Vote No crusaders who are prone to such statements. Meanwhile, here are some facts:

1) TransLink delivers very good service at reasonable public cost. Considering its complex operations, and (yes) impressive service, TransLink ranks high on both ridership and customer satisfaction. Its spending is reasonable, according to a 2012 audit by the B.C. government. That audit also called TransLink’s compensation structure “in the mid range and reasonable,” suggesting that the topic of executive compensation has been blown out of proportion. TransLink’s CEO has a wide range of responsibilities compared with transit heads in most cities, and earns less than CEOs at the Vancouver Airport Authority, B.C. Hydro, B.C. Ferries and Port Metro Vancouver. Auditors did suggest potential efficiencies, which are being pursued. Meanwhile, Vancouver’s SkyTrain is one of the lowest-operating-cost light-rail networks in the world, and the Canada Line project came in on budget and on time.

2) TransLink has been highly successful at getting people out of their cars and onto transit. Compared with other medium-sized cities in North America, Vancouver has — by far — the highest transit ridership per capita. On this important measure of “how good is the public transit,” the next best city is Portland — which has only one-third the number of people, per capita, riding transit that Vancouver does. Around the continent, only the much-larger New York and Toronto have higher per-capita ridership.
Voters may have reasonable criticisms of TransLink, but the upcoming referendum can’t address those. What it can do is get more and better transit to make our region ever-more workable and liveable.

Eleanor Boyle, Vancouver

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