TransLink has introduced its new CEO.
Kevin Desmond currently works as general manager at King County Metro Transit in Seattle.
His annual salary will be $365,000, and for the first year, he’ll receive a housing allowance of $1,500 per month.
In a news conference on Wednesday, he told reporters he has a very good sense in his gut in how to run TransLink.
But he also says the first thing he needs to do is get out in the system.
“Get out among our employees. The employees know a lot about the system and I need to hear from them. The people at the ground level.”
Desmond says he also needs to hear about the system from the customers.
“That’s who’s paying the bill.”
He begins his new job in about a month.
“Long record of leading growing transit systems”
According to TransLink, Desmond has launched light rail and streetcar service, rapid bus lines, and also rolled out a transit card system similar to the Compass Card.
He has also seen successful transit funding votes in Seattle, including one in 2014, which has allowed for expansion of the Metro service.
Challenges he’ll face
TransLink has been without a permanent CEO for a year, and Desmond will have his hands full.
The Compass Card is over-budget and still not completely rolled out with some fare gates at SkyTrain stations not yet fully functioning.
And repeated SkyTrain disruptions have become common enough that they’re no longer a surprise when they happen.
On top of everything is the looming funding challenge for the organization, after voters rejected last year’s transportation plebiscite.
The Tacoma News Tribune reports Desmond earned about $202,000 U.S. in 2014.
TransLink’s senior executives have been called out in the past for earning too much and getting cushy perks.
Last fall, the TransLink board reduced the salary range for the new CEO to between $325,000 to $406,000.
Former CEO Ian Jarvis made $435,000 per year.
With files from Simon Little.