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TransLink’s CEO leaves to take the top transit job in New York City

Our CEO Tom Prendergast, speaking at the opening of the Central Valley Greenway in June 2009.

Our CEO Tom Prendergast, speaking at the opening of the Central Valley Greenway in June 2009.

Wow — a big announcement today. Tom Prendergast, our president and CEO, will be leaving TransLink to take the top position at the New York City Transit Authority.

We’ve got a press release that talks more about the move, and in it Tom expresses how hard it was to make this decision.

“Leaving TransLink is difficult because this is a great organization with great people and potential,” said Prendergast. “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. 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.”

And Dale Parker, the chair of TransLink’s board talked a bit about how this really shows how well Tom is respected. It was great to have Tom here!

“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.”

Well, New York has North America’s largest bus and subway system, and it is basically the chance of a lifetime. So congrats and best of luck to Tom in his new position!

As for us, our chief financial officer Ian Jarvis will be our interim CEO, while we search anew for our next leader.

Edit: Also, Jeff Nagel already has an article on this up over at BCLocalNews.com. Oh, and here’s a New York Daily News article from the other side of this.


8 Comments

  • By D, November 5, 2009 @ 12:24 pm

    Very understandable. TransLink CEO is a thankless job if ever there was one. The province constantly undermining you (politically-oriented projects from faregates to freeway-building), mayors always second-guessing you (after being shoved out of the governance seat), and the press incessantly slagging you (using SkyTrain stations as landmarks for every assault, no matter how tenuous the link). On top of all that, add in regional/local land use planning that (for the most part) counter-acts any intentions to develop around transit (especially for employment) and a pretty underdeveloped system to boot.

    I’d go back to New York, too, where the city (and region) are by-and-large developed around transit, the system’s huge and complex (though perhaps also underfunded…), and the institutional momentum (at least locally, if not in Albany) is enviable.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, November 5, 2009 @ 12:27 pm

    D: Well, I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but as far as I understand it, Tom’s not leaving because he is disappointed with us or the progress we’re making. The job in New York was just too good an opportunity to pass up, and this was a difficult decision to make.

    Edit: By the way, I was just thinking that almost every transit agency in North America currently finds itself in essentially the description you have provided. Have you seen the maps & research over at Transportation for America?

  • By David, November 5, 2009 @ 1:08 pm

    I don’t usually get political, but I hope this is a wake-up call to the BC Government that it had better get its act together with regard to Translink. While Tom hasn’t said, I’m reading between the lines.

  • By David, November 5, 2009 @ 2:55 pm

    Jhennifer: I know your role is to speak on behalf of TransLink, but progress is not a word many observers would use to describe your organization or its so-called accomplishments. The integrated fare system was in place ages ago and it’s the only thing that’s envied by the transit authorities in cities like New York.

    TransLink exists mainly to act as the scapegoat for Provincial Government decisions and to extract extra funding for Provincial Government projects through local property taxes. Unless and until that changes you’ll never be able to retain talented and visionary leadership.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, November 6, 2009 @ 9:49 am

    Well, David, I’ll have to respectfully disagree with you on those points.

  • By gordon, November 6, 2009 @ 9:55 am

    this is a big loss for Translink, his replacement will need to find a way to get the new revenue sources that the organization neds to do it’s job from a Provincial who seems at – best disinterested in funding Translink properly.

  • By D, November 6, 2009 @ 11:53 am

    Hang in there Jhennifer – take heart that these aren’t criticisms of TransLink, which is doing the best it can, but rather critiques of the context that’s been created for it by higher powers (and what Gordon Price would call the culture of motordom) and which, as you note, is hardly unique to the Lower Mainland.

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