U-Pass website still not available because of recent cyberattack
By Jessica Berget, Assistant Editor
To add insult to injury, on March 15 TransLink was nominated for a joke award known as the Teddy Awards for wasting tax payers’ money by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF).
While many people will be celebrating Canada Day on July 1 (albeit in the comfort of their own homes), TransLink will be celebrating a different occasion: fare increases.
On March 25, TransLink announced that they will be increasing their bus and SkyTrain fares by an average of 2.3 percent (5 to 15 cents depending on zones); this will be their first fare increase in two years. The company says that the small increase is needed to maintain the current levels and is also a condition of the emergency funding of $644 million from provincial and federal governments. In a pandemic free world, the increase would have gone up 4.6 percent in 2020 and 4.1 percent in 2021 to fund projects and upgrades for the public transportation stations.
At the beginning of the pandemic, TransLink peak ridership levels decreased below 20 percent but has since stayed at around 40 percent since August and based on simulated scenarios are estimating ridership to rebound between 60 and 91 percent pre-pandemic levels in the next year.
Along with the lower ridership levels caused by the pandemic, the organization has seen its “fare” share of challenges this year. For starters, the organization is currently looking for a new permanent CEO since the previous Kevin Desmond stepped down in February. They are also still dealing with the backlash of a cyber security attack in December 2020 which forced them to shut down the U-Pass website; students have had to call the compass card support line instead of using the website to renew their bus passes for the past few months now.
To add insult to injury, on March 15 TransLink was nominated for a joke award known as the Teddy Awards for wasting tax payers’ money by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF). Their spending on designer furniture (over $300,000) and use of COVID relief money to reimburse executives for pandemic pay cuts (despite saying they would decrease executive pay cheques by 10 percent) is what gained them the nomination (which they later lost).
Despite the lower ridership and financial losses, the public transportation company has also seen many upgrades and improvements to the commute stations over the past few months. Back in March, TransLink announced the completion of some communication upgrades such as 1400 new speakers for Expo and Millenium line stations, digital screens, and 1200 new CCTV cameras to help with Transit Police investigations. These upgrades cost about $79 million and is part of the $92.4 million Rapid Transit Systems Rehabilitation and Maintenance Project financed by the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund (PTIF). Recently, TransLink has included the expansion of copper on their trains and busses to help curb the spread of COVID as copper is said to have self-disinfecting properties.