The CEO of TransLink was paid a higher salary than Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last year, according to compensation numbers released days after the transit provider's latest fare hike. 

The figures show Kevin Desmond earned a whopping $459,125 in compensation in 2017, including taxable benefits, a $43,690 pension and a base salary of $407,311.

Trudeau made $345,400 between his prime minister's salary and House of Commons sessional indemnity.

“I think for a lot of common sense people, it’s outrageous to see a person who runs a regional transit board for one area of one province making more than the prime minister of a G7 country,” said Kris Sims, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “That doesn’t make any sense.”

Desmond also earned more than his counterpart at the Toronto Transit Commission, Andy Byford, who earned a $346,791 salary before resigning late last year.

But TransLink spokesperson Jill Drews defended Desmond's pay on Tuesday as well-earned and comparable to the salaries executives make at B.C.'s Crown corporations.

"TransLink's responsible for transporting half a million people every day. The success of our organization is vital to the economy. Mr. Desmond's compensation reflects that," Drews told CTV News.

BC Hydro CEO Jessica McDonald earned $528,343 in 2017, including benefits, bonus, pension and additional compensation, though her utility company services most of the province, not just Metro Vancouver.

But Desmond's pay is also less than many CEOs in the private sector earn, Drews noted.

While he was the highest paid TransLink executive last year, the transit provider’s financial figures show a few others were also very well compensated.

Vivienne King, who recently stepped down as president of the B.C. Rapid Transit Company, made $356,300 with pension and benefits included.

TransLink CFO Cathy McLay made $341,496 all-in, and Haydn Acheson, president of Coast Mountain Bus Company, earned $288,877. Doug LePard, Chief Officer of Transit Police, made $234,747 including benefits, pension and other compensation.

Desmond's pay in particular might irk some transit riders in Metro Vancouver, who just started paying slightly higher fares on July 1. Individual fares increased 10 cents, while monthly passes went up by $2.

But Drews said the CEO is making $30,000 less than the previous TransLink CEO was in 2014, and is overseeing a massive, multi-stage expansion project across the region.

"We are rolling out billions of dollars' worth of improvements and service expansion, major capital projects and the addition of service hours. It's a huge undertaking," she said. "Mr. Desmond's doing a great job."

With files from CTV Vancouver's Scott Hurst