Interview with interim TransLink CEO Doug Allen

Interview with interim TransLink CEO Doug Allen

TransLink interim CEO, Doug Allen
TransLink interim CEO, Doug Allen

Unless you’ve been completely unplugged for the past few weeks, you’ll know that we had a leadership change here at TransLink. Doug Allen has joined TransLink for six months as our interim CEO. Mr. Allen comes to TransLink with years of experience in leadership roles and he isn’t new to the transit scene, either. From 2011 to 2014, he served as President and CEO of InTransit BC, which built and operates the Canada Line, linking YVR and Richmond to downtown Vancouver.

So, in order to get to know him better, we sat down with him to ask him a few questions about himself and what he foresees in the coming months.

The Board of Directors says that they made this move to restore public confidence. So how will you go about restoring public confidence in your new role?

The CEO has to come in with a very strong plan of action to have a good fresh look at everything and decide what is right and decide what needs improvement. So once you’ve decided where you can make improvements, you make them. And you try to ensure that our service is extremely good, reliable, and of high quality –  that’s clean and safe. It’s not one person that will do that, it has to be the whole team at TransLink. The CEO sets the tone.

Where do you think you will be making changes?

I have to take to look at everything that’s important. Every major issue. I have to understand it; I have to have a sense of if it’s being managed properly or not. I have to ensure that the right people are accountable for their actions around those major initiatives. Then if we need to make some changes, we make them and move forward.

What are the key things you will focus on as interim CEO?

One of the key things is service delivery. My tenets are: reliability, quality and safety. If you can deliver well on these on a consistent basis, then the customers will be happy, and our other partners can have a strong supportive response as well.

How do you think your experience, specifically when it comes to the Canada Line, will help you in this role?

The Canada Line is viewed by many as the best public-private partnership operating in the country and that’s a pretty large statement. Going back to my three tenets, Canada Line was – and is – delivered in a highly reliable fashion, it is high quality, and it’s clean and safe. They’ve done a really great job of delivering. That’s what I aim to bring to TransLink.

Two major issues in the public’s mind right now are executive pay and the SkyTrain shutdowns last summer. What do you think you can do to address these issues?

When a new CEO comes in, he has to look at everything, including compensation. In terms of the SkyTrain shutdowns last summer, there was an independent review that made 20 recommendations that TransLink is now working to implement. I’m going to have a good look again at the review and how we’re doing at implementing the recommendations.

There is some speculation that CEO change at this time has to do with the referendum and getting a YES vote. What do you think?

My responsibility is to lead a sound and solid organization, and set the platform for the new permanent CEO. That’s my focus.

What is your favourite way to travel around Metro Vancouver on transit?

I take the #84 to VCC Clark and then take the SkyTrain to the TransLink offices at Sapperton. I use all modes of transit – and I think we have a great system here in the Lower Mainland.

Author: Adrienne Coling