Need Another Reason to Vote No on Transit Referendum?

If you needed one last reason to vote ‘no’ and slow the pace that Translink turns hard earned money into a fart in the wind, read this shocking article sent to me by my friend today.  Although the article is filled with other horrendous displays of the youthful, carefree spending of a crack addict, I just wanted to focus on the example of the one building since commercial real estate is interesting to me.

I’m not a mathlete, but something in the following numbers show me that someone doesn’t value the good years of my life that I spent slaving to fund their lavish spending:

  1. 17,200,000 | 2004 purchase of Bombardier’s building for something skytrain related
  2. 8,200,000 | 2004 (same year??) sale of building to flipper who pocketed 5 million a couple of months later
  3. $1,782,676 | unnecessary rent spent on a building they could have owned @ $63,667/month between August 2012 and Dec 2014 (it was an empty building!)
  4. $13,900,000 | 2014, December: Buys back SAME building for $13.9 million

To further dumb it down, these are the numbers I get:

$17,200,000 + $1,782,676 + $13,900,000 = $32,882,676 (total money spent)

$32,882,676 – $8,200,000 = $24,682,676 (amount spent minus sale)

-$24,682,676

All I can say is that I hope Translink calls me to be their commercial real estate agent next time they think they want to go property shopping!

Just for fun, at $3.75/ticket (maybe average like that?) that would be 6,582,046 free tickets they could have given away for goodwill marketing!  Or, an entire round trip day of tickets for 3,291,023 people.  Or, for 12,658 people, they could have ridden for FREE for an entire business year.  But since we’re putting into perspective that would be an entire LIFETIME of free transit passes for 421 people.  Translink could have gotten 421 cars off the road for their ENTIRE WORKING LIFE for the money that was flushed down the toilet.

Vote no?

Maybe?

 

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4 thoughts on “Need Another Reason to Vote No on Transit Referendum?”

  1. The rent payments may have been unnecessary, but Translink did not buy back the building – because they never owned it in the first place. BC Transit is a separate provincial government agency, not controlled by Translink. Why BC Transit bought and sold it at a loss I have no idea. So Translink spent $15.7 million on the building, not $24.7 million. They still have a building, presumably worth at least $13.9 million, leaving a loss of at most $1.8 million. They say it will be used; I don’t see why to disbelieve them.

    Yeah, there may be waste (or they may have delayed buying for some reason – though it looks more like wasted money to me), but people are claiming an order of magnitude more than the reality. This is consistent for stories about Translink: they exaggerate the (real) flaws with what appears to be a typical organization: one which on the large scale is more efficient than average for transit agencies (see this and this).

    A small quibble: fare prices cover 57% of the operating cost of transit. The remainer is subsidized (just as roads are). To get those cars off the road, both portions would have to be paid. Had your $24.7 million figure been correct, the actual number of cars they could get off the road would be only somewhat over half what you estimated.

  2. What’s a few million between friends? So we agree Translink wasted at least $3.0 million dollars and paid for a building to sit vacant for more than two years (note: it is still vacant). That is just one instance of absurd waste…

    Let’s not forget about the window dressing replacement of the CEO. Translink rolled out the big announcement for the media that the CEO was being replaced due to incompetence. Hurray!!! Oh wait, he is still being paid full salary as a special adviser for the balance of his term. Great, now we have an interim CEO getting full salary and a special adviser who has been deemed incompetent. I sure hope he is not sharing his superior advice because he has been deemed unfit for the job. If he wasn’t able to run the organization then why is he being retained as a special adviser??? Another huge fail by Translink that demonstrates their inability to manage.

    Then there is the Compass Card. This project has been in the works since 2007 with an estimated cost of $80 million dollars. The people shout “Hurray!!!” But wait, it is 2015, the project is 3 years behind schedule, Translink is on the hook for at least $170 million (112.5% over budget estimate) and the system still doesn’t work. Way the go Translink!

    Oh, did I mention the more than $7.0 million dollars in tax payer money that is being spent (read wasted) to bias the vote? No support has been given to the opposing side which is normal in a vote of this fashion and the government and Translink feel that this is a justified expense (read waste). This is a public policy issue and our tax dollars should not be frivolously spent telling us Translink needs more money!

    I’m glad we both agree there “may be waste” but the problems go much deeper. Bring real change to the organization and people will support additional funding for transit initiatives. Until then I will be happy to volunteer (yes no taxpayer money) for the “no” side to get this tax defeated.

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