Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

BC Ferries, TransLink not bound by recommendations in government review

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There’s more reaction to the Province’s announcement of a review – this time from the agencies themselves.

Both point out that as so called “independent” bodies they are not bound by the findings of the review. The government cannot tell them what to do. Both BC Ferries and TransLink were set up to operate independently, with no government interference agrees Minister Shirley Bond, who is further quoted

“Having said that, I find that an interesting response,” she said …

“So I would assume, and I think most taxpayers would expect, that if this review actually demonstrates ways to use dollars more efficiently or in fact we could find savings, that of course BC Ferries and TransLink would want to adopt those recommendations,” she said.

So Comptroller General Cheryl Wenezenki-Yolland in the space of three months, looking at two agencies operating in a complex environment and facing difficult challenges for many years is going to find savings that those agencies have missed? And anyway she has already been given clear direction that her target is to be executive compensation – even though in terms of the overall spending that cannot achieve very much and anyway is determined by outside consultants with detailed data on executive compensation. Something the CG will not haver access to unless she is prepared to pay for access to the same data sources to get the same answers.

Of course there are always ways to cut costs – but that may not be a very sensible thing to do. For instance, it is clear that in Washington DC as a way of keeping costs down, the metro operator allowed its signalling system to deteriorate and continued to operate old equipment that needed either upgrade or replacement. Yes it made the books balance for a while but it looks like that decision cost lives – or rather will probably look like that once the final reports of safety authorities are in. You can also point to all kinds of things in the collective agreement of CMBC which would result in operational savings – but do you really want to go battle with the CAW again?

This review is not really about “finding savings” – it is a diversionary tactic and an implied threat to the agencies to fall in line with the wishes of the Province. Or rather Translink – BC Ferries was just added to make it look more objective. But as Prendergast has demonstrated he can get a job somewhere else – and maybe get an even better deal. Why would he want to hold on to a job where he was expected to take a hit just for PR effect for the government’s short term gain? And what would that do to Translink’s ability to replace him? Of course the professional board will want to demonstrate that it really is independent – and also to continue to hold up the argument that they are doing a really good job running the place. Wenezenki-Yolland has not got an enviable task – and do not be surprised if her report is predictable and just filed away like so many other “reviews”.

UPDATE July 30 2:53pm

You can also read what Jim Sinclair has to say on his Vancouver sun blog – predictable but true. And the headline writer seems to have a better way of sparking attention

Written by Stephen Rees

July 30, 2009 at 9:58 am

One Response

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  1. […] [The Vancouver Sun] TransLink aims to put more tolls on roads and bridges [The Vancouver Sun] BC Ferries, TransLink not bound by recommendations in government review [Stephen Rees's Blog] TransLink, BC Ferries more independent than Liberals think [The Vancouver […]

    re:place Magazine

    July 31, 2009 at 8:56 am

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