Stephen Rees's blog

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

Free Coffee at Translink

with 9 comments

For reasons that seems fairly silly to me, there has been a lot of attention paid in the last few days to the “news” that Translink staff get free coffee at the office. As it happens, I know why that is, as I was personally acquainted with the person who made that decision. And it was based on purely financial concerns. There was previously the usual arrangement of staff collecting money from their colleagues and buying the necessary supplies. There was a significant amount of time spent, during working hours, administering this system and collecting the money in cash. The calculation was quite simple. If the employer took over the administration of the coffee supply, then the time saved more than compensated for the cost of the coffee. By having a contractor deliver the supplies, and having one for all the offices, there was also real saving in the cost of those supplies compared to retail prices: but it was the staff time saved that clinched the argument.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 24, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Posted in Economics

Tagged with ,

9 Responses

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  1. It’s kind of frustrating that TL gets all this attention on such a petty issue. But of course it’s natural in a democratic public state. The coffee’s just pocket change in a organization of Translink’s size.

    I think what’s more important here is how many office staff are actually working in the TL head offices. According to the CTV story: The offices at Metrotown employ 1,700 office staff and management.

    Unless I’m interpreting it wrong, this does not include offices at CMBC in surrey, or BTRTC; just the Metrotower offices. Maybe stephen can help me with why 1700 people work as management compared to only 1200 drivers who go through VTC each day.


    April 24, 2013 at 4:54 pm

  2. My office has free coffee too, likely for the same reason.


    April 24, 2013 at 4:56 pm

  3. No I cannot help you there, but you could ask TransLink. Have you looked at their website?

    Stephen Rees

    April 24, 2013 at 5:07 pm

  4. Though their website is great for daily issues, it’s hard to find such exact information there. Looking through the document library would take hours. Maybe an FOI request would be better. I think I’ll put leave issue as a future discussion topic, and keep this post about coffee.


    April 24, 2013 at 5:27 pm

  5. Since they are about to relocate to Sapperton I would have thought the information about the numbers moving would be fairly easy to find.

    Stephen Rees

    April 24, 2013 at 5:30 pm

  6. I’ve never worked at a company that doesn’t provide free coffee. That just seems like a standard office perk. I fail to see how this is news, and I don’t even drink coffee.


    April 24, 2013 at 10:01 pm

  7. Hi there. Robert Willis from TransLink communications here. I thought I’d provide a headcount of our employees as of today. Here they are:

    TransLink (of which most people work at Metrotown) 448
    CMBC 5300
    BCRTC 650
    Transit Police 242

    Total 6640


    April 25, 2013 at 10:47 am

  8. Omg. What’s wrong with a company, public or otherwise, providing free coffee to employees? Heaven forbid we even pay people the market rate salary for their jobs then. Why the double standard between a workplace like TransLink versus some other company like KPMG that may provide free coffee to their employees too? The media seems to be grasping at straws and trying to shoot any kind of hole through TransLink’s already tattered image.

    Stephen: thanks for giving us the inside scoop on why companies may provide free coffee to employees.


    April 25, 2013 at 11:23 pm

  9. […] running – with everything from a provincially-funded park & ride expansion to the provision of coffee for employees to public art being put through questions and a high-level of […]

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