Posted on July 22, 2014
Translink riders need to hear from the top about system shutdowns, what will be done about them
After two massive transit system shutdowns in less than a week — one of which saw hundreds of passengers risk injury or death by fleeing cars along elevated guideways — it’s time to hear from Translink CEO Ian Jarvis what happened, why and what will be done.
If Translink doesn’t quickly organize an inquiry, someone else should — perhaps the Translink Mayor’s Council, which now has slightly expanded powers to direct Translink’s affairs.
So far, only public relations officers have been thrown out to the media pack, which is demanding answers on behalf of hundreds of thousands of stranded riders. The message box: it’s a “glitch” or a “short circuit” and “we’re 95 percent reliable.” Oh, and “we apologize,” and there won’t be any refunds. It’s neither fair nor appropriate to make these staffers the human shield. (Skytrain president Fred Cumming was quoted in some news reports last week.)
Both internal and arms-length investigations are warranted into these extraordinary events, which caused massive disruption and exposed many to risk of injury or death.
Contrast what happened in December in New York, when the derailment of a Long Island commuter train left four death and scores injured. More serious, certainly, but who knows what factors helped avert casualties here?
Within hours, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo visited the scene, MTA chairman Tom Prendergast had announced an internal investigation and the National Transportation Safety Board began its own review. Investigators quickly concluded the train driver had fallen asleep.
Prendergast was appearing before legislators in various states for months, rolling out a new safety plan four months after the crash. (Prendergast, of course, was the previous CEO of our own Translink.)
But that’s New York.
Translink is just months away from a referendum on new funding. It needs to go above and beyond to demonstrate its ability to respond to this crisis with substantive explanations and solutions. Did someone fall asleep here? Are they now awake?