Why did TransLink decide it needed a new leader?
The organization didn’t explicitly say why Ian Jarvis, who had been CEO since late 2009, was being replaced just one month before a critical transit referendum.
But in a statement announcing the decision, Board of Directors Chair Marcella Szel was clear that a negative perception of TransLink played a role.
“TransLink must restore public confidence, and new leadership is the first step,” she wrote.
Here are five reasons often cited for a decline in confidence with TransLink, which has an annual budget of $1.4 billion.
1. No Compass Card
To combat fare evasion and modernize payments, TransLink began work on an electronic Compass Card system in 2010. Gates were installed in 2012 and the system was supposed to be ready in 2013.
Two years later, there’s no word on when the Compass Card will be implemented for the general public, and the project is millions of dollars over budget. And when the Compass Card comes, riders may not be able to ‘tap out’ at the end of a ride, meaning fares wouldn’t be calculated by distance – one of the original selling points of the card.
2. Fares up, passengers down
In addition to increasing fares in 2013, TransLink also got rid of the popular FareSaver tickets. At the time, the company said that new discounts would be coming with the “stored value option” on Compass Cards, which still haven’t been implemented.
TransLink also got rid of the Employer Pass Program, which provided companies a 15 per cent discount on passes if they were bought in bulk for employers.
In 2014, TransLink announced that there had been 10.1 million fewer passengers than expected in the first three quarters of the year.
3. SkyTrain shutdowns
Last summer, the normally reliable SkyTrain system suffered two system-wide shutdowns in as many weeks, both of which lasted for much of the day.
Both times, TransLink was slow to communicate with people stuck at stations, and in some cases continued to have buses drive people to clogged SkyTrain systems.
In response, TransLink commissioned an independent review, which said the organization needed to spend $71 million to upgrade technology and communication systems.
4. HandyDART changes
Just this weekend, passenger were unable to make new bookings for HandyDART, the latest public relations setback for the part of TransLink that directly serves the handicapped and elderly.
In 2014, it was announced that 42,000 people had been denied service in the previous year, an eight-fold increase in just four years.
5. Executive pay and perks
TransLink executives continued to receive pay raises and large bonuses in recent years. In 2013, Jarvis made $422,000 and thousands more in bonuses.
In addition, TransLink executives have been given a monthly vehicle allowance and free parking passes, which cost the organization a total of $94,000 in 2013.
However, today’s announcement of Jarvis’ demotion may not be enough to satisfy those upset about executive compensation – rather than receive severance, Jarvis will stay as an advisor and make his regular salary until his contract runs out next year.
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