About time someone took on the meme that TransLink is incompetently wasteful. So far, the Board of TransLink, the body that actually made the decisions being criticized, hasn’t felt it should take that on.
Richard Campbell and Brad Cavanagh are doing it for them.
Brad Cavanagh has done a great job of shredding* a key premise of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s slick expensive-looking new website notranslinktax.ca. He did the math and found that all the “waste” that they found totalled $1.9 million or 1.3% of TransLinks annual budget.
To put this into perspective, it would take 3,947 years, almost 40 centuries, to fund the Mayors $7.5 billion transportation plan with this $1.9 million, assuming that a similar matching waste could be found rattling around in provincial and federal budgets.
The Millennium Line extension to UBC would take 1,000 years and LRT in Surrey would take over 500 with federal and provincial matching funds. Even the 2,700 km of bicycle routes would take almost 70 years. …
Excerpts from Brad Cavanagh’s post:
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation released its “No TransLink Tax” platform today, and their second major point is “TranLink is an extremely wasteful organization”. As proof, they offer these six “high waste” examples:
TransLink doesn’t just have one board of directors, it has six – at a cost of $751,589 in annual salary. And after TransLink’s board chair promised executive pay would be frozen “at 2012 levels,” every single TransLink executive got paid more money in 2013.
TransLink spends at least $1.12 million on an empty building. The SkyTrain union head calls the $60,000/month lease payment “outright waste” and a “poor financial decision.”
Despite crying poor, TransLink kicked in more than $30,000 to put a 7-foot statue of a poodle on top of a 25-foot pole. The Main Street Poodle is nowhere near any major transit station, nor is the poodle symbolic of the neighbourhood.
TransLink took months to fix a glitch that saw its ticket vending machines treat new $5 bills like they were $20s. People would buy tickets and get more money back than they put in.
TransLink spent $523,000 on 13 TV screens at various SkyTrain stations. A year later, a CTF inspection showed only 4 of 13 were working. TransLink refuted that claim, saying 6 of the 13 $40,000+ TVs worked – still less than half.
TransLink spent $30,000 studying a gondola up Burnaby Mountain that neither neighbours nor City Hall supported. As Mayor Derek Corrigan said: “[If TransLink is so broke,] why are they going into additional expenses, like the gondola? It’s never been a priority.”
Well, that’s an awful lot of waste! By my calculations that’s a total of $1,872,001 wasted. Don’t forget that a big chunk of that ($720,000) would come with penalties that TransLink would have to pay. But still, nearly $1.9 million dollars of waste! …
But let’s put that into context. TransLink’s expenditures in 2013 were $1.406 billion (which was actually down from $1.430 billion, thanks to identifying cost inefficiencies). $1.872 million out of $1.430 billion is 0.13%. That’s miniscule, and it’s nearly thirteen times smaller than efficiency savings that TransLink already found.
So TransLink is already identifying areas where it can be more efficient. It’s saved $26 million from 2012 to 2013. And the Canadian Taxpayers Foundation is saying TransLink is incredibly wasteful, and their “big waste” items only come to $1.9 million? Really? …
Look at the facts. The facts say that TransLink is already identifying inefficiencies, and there’s not much left to find. Even if all of the identified cruft and waste is trimmed (and that’s not realistic), that only gains you 0.13%, which is miniscule. Put it this way: if you make $25/hr, and you suddenly get a 0.13% raise, do you know how much you make? $25.03. An extra quarter a day.