Translink CEO’s breakthrough pledge: keep those escalators moving

IMG_1135 Joyce SkytrainIn all the good news that Translink CEO Kevin Desmond rolled out at yesterday’s Board of Trade lunch — more bus service soon, Compass working well, Evergreen ready to go — the pledge that leaped out at me was his commitment to keep Translink escalators moving.

It’s all part of the “customer first” priority that Desmond is seeking to instill in Translink, symbolized by his discovery that the system’s escalators are often broken down, sometimes for months on end.

“We need to do a better job of listening to customers, stakeholders and partners,” Desmond said, recalling that he got an earful about escalators from open-line show callers during his first weeks on the job.

“We have a lot of escalators out of service at any given time. We have aging infrastructure.”

Desmond pointed out that many of the escalators on the Expo line are 30 years old, at the end of their useful life. Maintenance keeps rising.

(I’ve also been told that on the Millennium Line, where escalators are about 20 years old, many are operating under shelter, but otherwise unprotected from weather even through they were intended for indoor use. They can’t take the weather.)

The service expansion coming as soon as January is great news. Even more encouraging, in my view, is leadership to make the “customer first” philosophy a reality.