Cash-strapped TransLink handing out lifetime passes
Published Thursday, July 18, 2013 7:39PM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 18, 2013 7:46PM PDT
TransLink’s appointed board of directors have given themselves the power to give anyone they choose a free ride on the Lower Mainland’s transit system – for life.
The golden tickets are meant to be a reward for people who have given an exceptional contribution through public service, including members of the board itself, according to TransLink spokeswoman Jiana Ling.
“Anyone who makes a major contribution, this is our way of thanking them,” she said.
The board of the cash-strapped transit agency gave itself this power in February, but has yet to pass a resolution to grant someone free transit for life.
Word of the passes comes not long after TransLink cut its free pass program for police and firefighters.
TransLink confirmed there are also 80 lifetime passes that have been grandfathered in from an old system of rewards when the public transit system was run by BC Transit.
At the current rate of three-zone monthly passes, those golden tickets are worth about $160,000 a year. It’s not clear how the new lifetime passes will look, and TransLink said it doesn’t have a copy of the 80 old ones.
“We don’t know what those passes look like,” said Ling. “They’re so rare that people in TransLink haven’t seen them.”
Transit agencies in Toronto, Seattle, and Edmonton as well as BC Transit don’t offer any lifetime passes. Richard Walton, who is the chair of the TransLink Mayor’s Council, said giving lifetime passes is “not wise.”
“I question if someone gets a lifetime revenue scheme. I think the messaging is wrong,” Walton told CTV News.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s Jordan Bateman said he thinks the program should be cancelled.
“You can’t get one, I can’t get one, none of these people can get one. It’s just a perk,” Bateman said.