He’s been on the job for six weeks now, and TransLink’s new CEO Kevin Desmond says he’s been riding the trains.
Desmond, who came to Metro Vancouver from King County Metro Transit in Seattle in March, joined the Lynda Steele show today, to talk about the future of the region’s system.
In the wake of a few high profile SkyTrain breakdowns, Desmond says he knows improving communication with customers is one of his biggest jobs.
He also says he hopes to solve the system’s funding impasse, something he successfully managed to do south of the border – winning several key ballot initiatives on putting money into transit expansion.
Though he wouldn’t say whether we might see another transit referendum here in the near future.
Desmond says he’s promising to “look into” cases of elevators being down at SkyTrain stations.
We’ve been reporting cases where some have been down for months, leaving disabled passengers with longer commute times at best, or stranded with no way to get onto public transport in more serious cases.
But Desmond told CKNW’s Lynda Steele Show he doesn’t know the details of those cases.
“I will look into that, those are the key areas of accessibility for folks — elevators for people with disabilities, escalators for the rest of us.”
“The extent to which those are down for maintenance, those have to be done for maintenance, if they’re down unexpectedly they need to be back into service.”
Desmond says he’s optimistic an agreement will be reached with bus drivers and maintenance workers before they take strike action.
Nearly 5,000 employees voted in favour of a strike last Thursday after bargaining talks collapsed April 6.
But he says he’s optimistic things won’t come to thousands of Metro Vancouver commuters being put out.
“We’re going back to the bargaining table with the unions starting next week, I’m pretty confident that both sides are going to dig in and we’re going to find a mutually successful outcome.”
Those negotiations set to resume May 9th.
Extended SkyTrain hours?
Will SkyTrain become a 24 hour service? Not likely according to the new CEO.
Desmond says the aging system needs maintenance, and the four hour period the trains are shut down at night is the only window crews have do the work.
“That’s when the rail folks have to get in and do that kind of maintenance which they have to have the right of way, if we did not have those maintenance windows the maintenance has to happen — we have to care of the switches, the electrical components and so forth, we would then have to work around during regular hours.”
However, Desmond says TransLink is considering extending hours on the weekends to help late night revelers get home.
“It’s something we’re looking into.”