Year in review: 2019 was a year of ups and downs for TransLink

via Vancouver Sun

Being prepared is key in public transit because, as TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond knows from experience, even the best laid plans can be derailed.

Whether it’s cancelling and reimagining a major project in a 10-year regional transportation vision or juggling changes in daily bus service for weeks during a transit strike, 2019 was full of the unexpected for Metro Vancouver’s regional transit authority.

“Part of my job is to be agile,” Desmond said. “You set out a work plan for a year, you set out a work plan for a day, and sometimes it’s set off and you need to be able to move quickly when circumstances require it.”

At its inaugural meeting after the municipal election last fall, the new Mayors’ Council voted in favour of suspending work on a planned light rail line in Surrey and proceeding with planning for a SkyTrain line to Langley — a major pivot from what was in the 10-year plan. After that, there were some heated debates on the subject at the council table.

“The reality and threat of weighted votes from Surrey and Vancouver was, I think, very unsettling for all of these mayors, and to immediately be thrust into an extremely difficult and high stakes policy battle was obviously an enormous challenge,” Desmond said.

“If it had gone wrong, it would have set such a bad tone for how that group of people would work together in the future.”