Translink #faregatefollies continue with revelations of $100,000 lease payments in Surrey.. and no one to take them over.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? Come, take my hand…

August 15th 2013, CTV News story by Jonathan Woodward:

“TransLink considered a second, much cheaper solution to avoid charging some  users twice but decided to let the problem stand, CTV News has learned.

The transit authority previously acknowledged just one fix for $25 million,  which would prevent riders from paying twice when they buy bus fares with cash  then transfer to a SkyTrain, Canada Line or SeaBus.

COO Doug Kelsey confirmed Thursday there’s an alternative solution available  for just $9 million, but said TransLink determined the price tag was still too  steep to avoid inconveniencing the 6,000 people it estimates could be impacted  daily.

“Even when you look at $9 million over 6,000 transactions, when you in fact  have a solution – I’m a taxpayer too. That’s not in the taxpayers’ interest,” he  said. “

Fast forward to todays news brought to you by the good people over at News1130:

 TransLink is spending more than $100,000 a month on office space locked into a six-year lease in Surrey while it looks for a subtenant.

It comes after it decided to consolidate all of its offices into one building in New Westminster.

Jiana Ling with TransLink says they’re having trouble finding subtenants for a building near Gateway in Surrey. “It is the market right now. We are actively looking for a subtenant but the market in Surrey is a high vacancy rate.”

Here’s a question for Translink COO Doug Kelsey, who I really think should be stepping down right about now :

If it wasn’t in the taxpayers interest to pay $9 million dollars to fix a problem that actually would allow riders a seamless system….. is it in the taxpayers interest to move Translink offices – while locked into a costly, long term lease that costs $1oo,000 a month – and leave taxpayers holding the bag?

( I can’t wait to hear from Derek Zabel on this one…)

13 thoughts on “Translink #faregatefollies continue with revelations of $100,000 lease payments in Surrey.. and no one to take them over.

    1. That building is right on the edge of a really dodgey area known as ground zero to many in Whalley, at Gateway station.Riding the train into that station from Surrey Central as you know, gives you the sky view of all the addicts and prostitutes in the grassy area between the Lions training facility and Gateway station.Not an easy sell on this one.


      1. Nobody in their right mind would put their office there (ahem, including Translink). Maybe they can get a contingent of pimps and dealers to pool their resources and take over the lease? The criminals in our government got legitimized in the last election so this might not be too much of a stretch.


  1. IMO there are still some savings still and collaborative advantages with the move to new west, that offset the cost of the gateway lease.

    IIRC, Fraser Health also leases out a lot of space in the gateway/ SFU surrey area.
    “When first announced, TransLink said the new office would house 250 Transit Police staff and 230 TransLink employees. It was expected there would be an annual savings of $430,000 from leases on its Metrotown headquarters in Burnaby and operations at Gateway Station in Surrey, as well as the police offices on Columbia Street in New Westminster.

    Since then, Coast Mountain Bus Company was added to the mix, as was a consolidation of more TransLink offices than originally planned. The end result will be 900 to 1,000 employees being based at the Brewery District office and an annual savings of more than $2.5 million, said Zabel.

    “We opted to sign a 20-year lease and that give us an open floor plan that gives us a better collaborative environment,” said Zabel of all the different operations being in one spot.

    The organizations—Transit Police, TransLink and Coast Mountain—occupy the third to seventh floors at 287 Nelson’s Court.”


    1. Fraser Health has offices at Central City Mall….you wouldn’t want to be walking from Central City to Gateway station.

      The questions remain: How much is left on that Surrey Lease? They said this was going to be a savings in the link you’ve provided…. but that was based on finding someone to sublet that space I bet.

      Did they have to break a lease on the Metrotown location? If so, how much did that cost..or is costing?

      The Cost Savings mantra is a smokescreen often used by corporations and government alike to justify things like this,most often with little substantiated evidence provided to the public.

      Case in point… the monthly costs associated with this Gateway lease.


      1. I’m not sure about the other questions, but the old metrotown lease was expiring anyway.
        “TransLink’s head office is currently stretched over five floors at one of Metrotown’s office towers near the SkyTrain station. The lease for the site ended and TransLink had to move because of a competitive solicitation. TransLink went through the proper RFP process and the location in Sapperton was deemed the best solution. ”


  2. TransLink? Look these guys haven’t a clue about transit, let alone how a transit system should operate as the senior management of TransLink are nothing more than well paid career bureaucrats and most are accountants, not transit experts.

    Here lies the problem with TransLink, transit is run like an assembly line, not a customer oriented business. In fact, TransLink’s credo is “to hell with the transit customer, do as we say or get stuffed.”

    I would wager, that the decision to rent expensive digs in surrey, came about after some airy fairy calculations, that only an accountant would understand and the deed was done. Like most accountants, TransLink’s CEO’s lack the customer comes first attitude that makes or breaks a company.

    Watch our for more financially stupid decisions to come into the public’s realm, as the rusty hulk of TransLink is springing more leaks than the Titanic!


  3. $1.2 million a year would soon pay for the “fix” for the fare gate problem.
    While some bus routes are being cut to divert service to other areas and while some HandyDART drivers got laid off and service hours were cut by TransLink, I don’t know how they can justify this waste. They certainly cannot justify their large increases in salary.


  4. When you are talking about PUBLIC transit, surely no amout is too much to spend in allowing all person access fairly. I am shocked and dismayed that this issues is not going to be addressed by Translink!


    1. If you look at the comments on my other column Leigh, you will see that I did ask why this wasn’t done – it has been incorporated into other systems. You can follow the comments there as well:

      You will note that while Derek Zabel mentioned the $25million it would have cost to retrofit the buses, he steps right by the $9 million solution that could have wouldn’t have delayed the project at all – IF it had been part of the plan from day 1.

      It seems like the more you dig at this story,the more holes and questions there are. And another couple of big tips just came in.


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