Executives and employees at TransLink will continue to reap free rides next year after the transit authority scraps a handful of fare discounts for riders.

On Tuesday, TransLink announced it’s eliminating its Employer Pass Program, FareSaver tickets, and West Coast Express passes for seven and 28 days, effective Jan. 1, 2014.

But spokesman Bob Paddon told CTV News that TransLink has no plans to stop handing out free passes to its employees, executives and board members, as well as members of the Metro Vancouver Mayors’ Council.

“This is our product. It’s out on the streets, it’s the busses, it’s the SkyTrain. We want our employees on that system, we want them to see what our customers are going through,” Paddon said.

“It’s also standard practice for every transit transportation agency we know of in North America, Europe and Asia.”

TransLink defended the cuts to rider discounts as a move toward fairness, pointing out that only about 25,000 people take advantage of the Employer Pass Program, which gives transit users a 15 per cent discount for buying a full years’ worth of passes.

But Jordan Bateman of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said there’s nothing fair about cutting discounts for the public while maintaining them for employees.

“I think it shows the disconnect between TransLink executives and the rest of the world,” Bateman said. “They’re keeping their perks but even minor discounts for people who use the system a lot are being lost.”

Matthew Brown of Credential Financial said a lot of the company’s employees take advantage of the passes, and the 15 per cent discount is a good incentive to use transit.

“It sounds like a small amount but if you’re using transit on a monthly pass basis, even through the West Coast Express, that’s real dollars in your pocket,” Brown said.

FareSaver tickets offer up to a 23 per cent discount off regular fares for riders who don’t want to buy a monthly pass, but TransLink said it’s phasing out the program when it debuts its reloadable Compass Cards.

Paddon said the cards will have a similar feature to FareSavers called “stored value,” but it will only offer roughly 14 per cent off the standard fares.

In addition to the program cuts, TransLink is discontinuing a perk that lets monthly pass-holders bring family members on transit for free on Sundays and holidays.

The transit authority said it will be announcing details about fare options for low-income residents at a later date.

With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Jina You