HandyDart users packed today’s TransLink board meeting to complain about poor service.
Driver Marty Copeland says last year there were 30,000 refusals or denials for a ride.
“Society is judged by how it treats it’s seniors and those with disabilities, this government and this board get a failing grade today.”
Copeland and others are calling for TransLink to stop contracting-out the service to a Texas-based company and instead run it themselves.
Copeland says he found through a ‘freedom of information’ request, there were 30,000 trip refusals or denials last year.
“They seem to think it’s okay and that it’s working, well it’s not. I have the FOI information right out of TransLink’s files. If they were smart enough they would look at this first before they let us get this far.”
Copeland says TransLink should be running the service, not a U-S company.
TransLink to look in-house for HandyDart service
New TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond says the HandyDart contract ends in December.
“This organization has pledged to take a very hard look at whether in house makes sense or we continue to contract out. Contracting out is not uncommon for these types of services here in North America.
Desmond says TransLink will pay close to attention to all the feedback from today’s board meeting.
Lack of transparency at meeting
There were also complaints about lack of transparency at the Board meeting. Dozens of people turned out but they were surprised there was no agenda at the door and no written report of the audited financial statements, only an oral report.
“Year of listening”
TransLink says ridership is up, but not as much as expected. The TransLink Board of Directors has heard there was a 1.8% growth in ridership but it was projected to be over 2 per cent. TransLink CFO Cathy McLay calls 2015 “our year of listening,” and says there was a 1.7% drop in customer complaints. However, Coast Mountain Bus Company President Haydn Acheson says he receives at least 1,000 complaints each year on bus pass ups. Haydn Acheson says there are over 1,100 bus pass-ups every week across Metro Vancouver.
“There are major issues at TransLink.”
That’s what TransLink’s new CEO is saying about the organization, only six days on the job. Kevin Desmond attended his first TransLink Board meeting today that ran almost four hours. After, he was asked his impressions with just under a week on the job.
“There are major issues whether it’s new investment and growing the system or whether it’s quality of service like for our HandyDart customers, it runs the gamut I need to get deeply involved in understanding all those issues, I need to meet with my employees.” “I need to meet with a lot of people outside the organization our stakeholders and listen to them and hear what’s important, what’s on their mind, what we should be working on before I can fully frame the directions that I think we should take this organization with the board.”
Desmond came to TransLink from the Seattle transit system.
Private developers building SkyTrain stations.
TransLink’s CFO says developers building SkyTrain stations could be win/win for both sides.
Cathy McLay telling reporters following today’s TransLink board meeting, a private developer has already built a station along the Canada Line…
“So it is a strategy we’re working on anytime we can reduce the burden on a taxpayer it’s a good news story.”
McLay says this is a precedent setting move and makes sense when real estate’s at a premium.