Sunday, February 22, 2015

Poking through transit costs - UPDATED

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  1. Thanks Norm, for gathering that info into one neat little package. Most people I talk to are unaware of all this nonsense. Looking at the Security Management numbers alone is enough to make any sane person faint. Of course we must remember, those salaries include double time for regularly scheduled Sunday shifts, because they are “taken away from their families” (David Black President COPE 378).

    Among a number of articles at:

    Is one from Feb. 2013:
    “In 2009, transit police overtime expenditures amounted to $6,900 per authorized sworn officer. In comparison, VPD overtime expenditures amounted to $3,700 per sworn officer.”

    Your table only listed constables. I wonder what the corporals, staff sergeants and chief earn. Comparing those fare checker salaries with the constable pay rate in the VPD, as per the VPD website:
    Annual Salaries
    Effective 2013:
    Probationary Constable – $64,513
    4th Class Constable (after 1 year) – $69,125
    3rd Class Constable (after 2 years) – $73,738
    2nd Class Constable (after 3 years) –$82,942
    1st Class Constable (after 4 years) – $92,167
    Salary Levels for 1st Class Constable
    after 10 years – $94,421
    after 15 years – $98,909
    after 20 years – $103,396

    “Not including severance.” Hmmm, how many severance packages were paid out last year and why? Do these fare checkers get a severance when they retire AGAIN to collect ANOTHER pension?

    Another hmmm…
    Constable 38; Expenses $21,272.
    Senior: CPP & OAP $18,312.

  2. My God! I knew things were bad, but not that bad.

    The problem now is that both the NDP and the Liberals are responsible for this debacle and have proven incompetent in handling both TransLink and regional transit.

    We must remember that TransLink only came unto being when the NDP were desperate to get then GVRD Chair, George Puil, and GVRD approval for the SkyTrain Millennium Line and formed TransLink, with George Puil Chair and added the sweetener that the province would pay 2/3rds of SkyTrain only construction West of Commercial Drive. Thus the SkyTrain subway to Arbutus was born from this now questionable deal.

    Question: How many of the Transit Police's constables are receiving pensions? Double dipping?

    Today TransLink is a sinkhole of expensive and incestuous relationships, both internal and external and those who have been rewarded are fighting hard to keep the trough flowing.

    Also embarrassed by this state of affairs is the mainstream media which has glad handed SkyTrain and light-metro construction for the past 35 years and still repeats the long ago myths that SkyTrain is cheap to operate, even though there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The MSM never publishes SkyTrain's annual subsidy or the real costs of TransLink and merely publish TransLink's news releases as they were fact.

    That only seven such systems have been sold since the late 70's and only three of those are seriously used for regional transit, with one of the aforementioned will be torn down as "life-expired" in a few years.

    Added to this, TransLink's cost per revenue passenger is a third higher than Calgary, Edmonton, and Toronto's.

    To say Transit and TransLink is in a fiscal mess is an understatement, yet is throwing more money at this ossified bureaucracy going to cure transit or bring better transit? I doubt it, but the YES side is being promised the moon and the stars, to vote to mke sure the money taps are left on full.

  3. An incentive plan was eliminated because paying bonuses to the managers of a badly run system was unseemly. But, eliminating the bonus plan required a payment of $143,000?

    We've heard that song before. At BC Ferries.

    To end the bonus program for senior management that was allegedly dependent only on performance, BC Ferries had to make large payments to senior managers. Almost as if the bonus payments were a certainty all along, regardless of how the people did their jobs.

  4. Really though, when you pare it all down, the “Fare Checkers” are no different than the “Fare Evaders” whom they ticket. They are both ripping off the taxpayers because they can and the system allows it.

  5. Where do I go for courses in Fare-Checking?

  6. The Mayor's Council is asking us to vote on a funding method for their transportation and transit plan. That plan was developed by Translink. The Board that the Mayor's Council appoints hired the head of Translink, and approved the vision presented to the public by the Mayor's Council.

    Now, if the Mayor's Council has lost confidence in the head of Translink to the extent that he must be immediately fired and shunned from even providing any further advice despite being kept around at $400,000 plus per year, why are we being asked to fund a vision that he must have had a key role in developing?

    The interim head says he’s going to make changes. He’d better, or why else is he there? The new head to be hired in six months will undoubtedly make even bigger changes. Again, he’d better.

    Shouldn’t we be asked to vote when they’ve got their act together? Why are we voting to fund a plan that was developed by someone the Mayor’s Council must view as incompetent and which plan will likely be changed in the near future?

  7. The TransLink and now the Mayors Plan was meant to placate regional politicians and has little to do for providing good transit.

    Vancouver is to get a $2 to $3 billion SkyTrain subway; Surrey was going to get LRT planned as a poorman's SkyTrain; and there were several BRT lines being planned as a poorman's LRT, just to keep everybody happy.

    Not one of these plans have been peered reviewed, as what happens in the USA, nor has there been any meaningful public consultation.

    What I find astounding is how TransLink was going to sell this plan, when the public remain largely ignorant about it.

    That the TransLink board was OK with this, tells me that they are incompetent.

    It is easy to see why the YES side has so much "elites" support is that the plan will let taxpayer's dollars flow to:

    1) Increase developer's profits;
    2) Increase union members.
    3) Increase many local engineering businesses profit margins
    4) Increase the cement manufacturers profits.

    The No side is a mish mash of people, lead by the CTF, with little budget, is (at this point in time) clobbering the YES side.

    The problem for TransLink is communication and for too long they have "flipped the bird" at the public and now are paying the price for their arrogance. The whole lot should be removed for sheer incompetence.

  8. This may be a cynical view on this plebiscite but I have to wonder if this whole exercise is nothing more than a distraction designed to deflect our attention from the goings on in Victoria during this spring session. The timeline imposed by Christy & Co. couldn't have been chosen by accident. The media seems to spend so much of its time and resources on the transit file that coverage of other issues is lacking more than normal.

    Just a thought from the cheap seats.

    1. You raise a very good point and it's exactly what I was thinking. I believe it's very important for the public to see Norm's work but while everyone is focusing on wages it provides Christy & her team plenty of ammunition when it comes to wages for public servants, nurses etc. It also allows Christy to fly all over the Province making announcements & handing out cash for current projects like a bike path or reassurance of a transmission line to Kelowna in 6 or 7 years from now. What's it costing taxpayers to have Christy in a constant campaign mode which includes international travel. Mount Polley & the ethnic scandal are taking a back seat to TransLink wages, which again are very important. The government is on cruise control and Liberal MLA's are in campaign mode as taxpayers await the holy grail of LNG.

      Guy in Victoria

    2. You cannot be too cynical about politics in BC with the present bunch of crony capitalists.

      Media pays attention to transit but does almost no independent research or reporting; they just rewrite press releases from people who expect to gain from more spending by Translink. That includes the unions CUPE and CAW who'll gain membership but also the real estate developers who exercise undue influence on mayors and municipal governments. It also includes transit users who hope for better service but prefer that others pay for it.

  9. My local school board paid over $72,000 to purchase carbon offsets in 2013, purchases the former Auditor General said were not credible. That's so the BC Government can say it is "carbon neutral", while it continues to allow coal mining and export, and wants to frack tons of natural gas out of northern BC.

  10. Norm;
    I’ve been keenly following your reporting on Translink.
    I often wonder, in the grand scheme of things, how often the “Translink” model is repeated throughout the province, as Translink is but one segment of the greater maze.

    We in “Metro” tend to look only at Translink and forget there are a multitude of other systems, all with Presidents, Executive Directors and who knows how many other duplicated management structures, all funder at least partially, by taxpayers.
    How many other cousins fly under the radar?

    When you look at the family tree, here are but a few empires that come to mind without too much digging:

    Translink, Coast Mountain, West Coast Express, Sea Bus, Sky Train, Canada Line, Fraser Valley Transit, Greater Victoria Transit, South Coast Transit and the obscure little branch called the Bowen Express (part of BC Ferries).

    Within BC Transit alone;*/choose-transit-system
    we find “regional” systems such as Kelowna, Kamloops, Whistler, Central Fraser Valley, Prince George, RDN(?), Southern Interior, Okanagon, South Coast, Vancouver Island, North Central, Kootenays and Victoria; the latter of which I have no idea whether it is part of or separate from Greater Victoria Transit.

    These “Regional” systems are further divided into community systems, such as 100 Mile House, Williams Lake, Ft. St, John, Merritt, Nanaimo, Smithers, Bella Coola, Sunshine Coast, Powell River, Saltspring Island, Courtenay and Clearwater to name just a few.

    Again I ask, how many bureaucracies and empires are we funding and what oversight is there, if any?



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