It seems TransLink’s most recent and newly hired CEO Tom Prendergast has bailed and no wonder, regional mayors offered a royal raspberry for his request for massive funding. Prendergast is no fool, he knows that by building metros such as the Evergreen Line on routes that do not have the ridership to sustain them will lead, has lead, TransLink into financial peril.
Now, Translink’s trusted tax and spend bureaucrat, Ian Jarvis is at the helm, no doubt looking for an even larger financial iceberg to crash the good ship TransLink into!
When all is done, there will be no financial lifeboat for the taxpayer.
From the Georgia Straight
TransLink president Tom Prendergast heads to New York City
By Travis Lupick
This morning (November 5), news broke that TransLink president Tom Prendergast will resign from his position as head of the regional transportation body and take a job in the United States, as president of New York City’s public-transit system.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is the largest public transportation system in North America, so the move is a big step up for Prendergast, and likely a highly lucrative one.
But Prendergast—who joined TransLink in July 2008—does not have a spotless record working in British Columbia.
TransLink is currently in need of an additional $260 million a year just to maintain current service levels.
In recent years, TransLink has also come under scrutiny for allegedly placing land developers’ concerns over those of public transit users.
And while construction of the Canada Line was approved long before Prendergast took the reins of TransLink, under his tenure, costs continued to balloon, Cambie Street merchants closed their doors one after another, and there remained serious questions about whether or not the Canada Line’s projected ridership numbers will ever be able to financially sustain the rapid transit line.
In addition, as any frequent user of Metro Vancouver’s buses will tell you, pass-ups are a greater problem than ever before.
With these issues in mind, I was curious about why the MTA—which is essentially at the top of the public transit game in North America—decided to bring Prendergast onboard to run MTA New York City Transit.
I put in an interview request for MTA chair and chief executive officer Jay H. Walder, hoping to hear him explain the decision. The request was denied, and the media release below was supplied to the Straight in lieu of any real information.
Note that not a single accomplishment related to Prendergast’s time at TransLink is mentioned. Here’s the release.
MTA Names Thomas F. Prendergast
As President of MTA New York City Transit
Former Head of Subways and LIRR Returns to NY
After Leading Vancouver’s Transit System
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman and CEO Jay H. Walder today announced the appointment of Thomas F. Prendergast as President of MTA New York City Transit (NYCT). Prendergast joins NYCT from Vancouver, where he is the CEO of the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority, known as TransLink. A world-renowned transit expert, Prendergast is no stranger to the MTA, previously serving as President of MTA Long Island Rail Road and Senior Vice President of Subways at NYCT. Prendergast will assume his new role on December 1. He replaces Howard H. Roberts, who resigned yesterday.
“Tom is a leader who brings an extraordinary variety of experiences from around the world to a system that he already knows extremely well,” said Walder. “Tom’s work running one of the most technologically sophisticated systems in Vancouver will be invaluable as we take the MTA to the next level in performance and customer service.”
Prendergast, 57, brings more than 30 years of transportation experience to NYCT. He began his career at the Chicago Transit Authority and worked at the Federal Transit Administration before joining NYCT in 1982. He rose through the ranks, eventually running the subway system from 1990 to 1994. He then served as President of MTA Long Island Rail Road from 1994 to 2000. He joined TransLink in July 2008 after working in the private sector for eight years. During his time in the private sector, Prendergast worked in the engineering and construction management consultation sector and was directly involved in the delivery of transportation infrastructure and construction projects.
“It is a tremendous honor to return home to lead the outstanding men and women who run one of the world’s great transit systems,” said Prendergast. “I look forward to working with Jay Walder to implement the customer service improvements that New Yorkers deserve. Running New York City Transit is one of the great challenges and honors in the profession, and I will bring all of my energy and passion to the job.”
Prendergast holds a B.S. in Socio-Technological Systems Engineering from the University of Illinois and is a graduate of the Harvard Program for State and Local Government Executives.
# # #
Deputy Press Secretary
Metropolitan Transportation Authority
From the Vancouver Province
TransLink’s Prendergast couldn’t say no to New York job offer
By Frank Luba – November 5, 2009 12:02 PM
CEO Tom Prendergast is leaving TransLink because he got an offer he couldn’t refuse.
The Lower Mainland transportation authority made a surprise announcement Thursday that the New Jersey native is leaving the job he took in July of last year to become president of the New York City Transit Authority, which runs North America’s largest subway and bus system.
“Leaving TransLink is difficult because this is a great organization with great people and potential,” said Prendergast in a statement released before he met with the media Thursday afternoon.
“I came here because Vancouver’s transportation system is already the envy of many global transportation experts and there is so much potential to build out the system to foster livability and the economic and environmental sustainability of the region,” he said.
“But at the end of the day, for me, being asked to run New York’s transit authority is like being asked to play in Yankee Stadium: You just don’t say no.”
Prendergast came to TransLink from New York firm Parsons Brinckerhoff, where he was part of a leadership team responsible for $1 billion in projects in North and South America. He had previously led a bid team for a contract with the London Underground but, more importantly, had also been with the New York Transit Authority as president of the Long Island Railroad and senior vice-president for subways.
He was attempting to steer TransLink through a troubled time where there was not enough money to do all the projects the public wanted.
In fact, a looming deficit of $150 million annually beginning in 2012 was only recently addressed when the region’s mayors voted to maintain current service levels by raising $130 million more in revenue every year.
But that status quo will be expensive for Lower Mainland residents as they will pay higher fares and more gas taxes.
Yet to be released, however, is the comptroller-general’s review of TransLink and B.C. Ferries operations. That report undoubtedly examined TransLink’s management and Prendergast, whose salary was announced as $325,000 when he was hired.
Research for the report was completed in September but the report didn’t make its way to the Finance and Transportation ministries until last week.
Transportation Minister Shirley Bond said Wednesday in the legislature that the release of the report is “imminent” and, when pressed, acknowledged that meant it would be made public before Nov. 26 when the current legislative session ends.
Replacing Prendergast on an interim basis will be Ian Jarvis, TransLink’s chief financial officer.
Jarvis participated in the creation of TransLink a decade ago and previously served as chief financial officer of the Greater Vancouver Regional District.
Dale Parker, chairman of the professional board that runs TransLink, praised the outgoing CEO.
“The fact that Tom is being recruited to serve as president of the New York City Transit Authority is a testament to the great skills and experience he brought to TransLink during his tenure,” said Parker. “We are sad to see him go, but wish him well as he returns to his roots in New York.”