TransLink clearly needs oversight

Surrey’s mayor wants the provincial government to grant the Mayors’ Council more governance powers after SkyTrain’s epic failure this week. After all, somebody needs to keep an eye on this thing. Surely not TransLink’s board of directors.

TransLink says it was an electrician who tripped a control centre breaker, accidentally shutting down the Expo and Millennium lines for a long five hours on Monday.

It’s almost uncomprehendable that a complex metropolitan transit system can be shut down by what amounts to, figuratively speaking, a big red on-off button.

It reminds one of that goofy Johnny in the movie Airplane, yanking an electrical plug out of the wall and – tee hee – shutting down an entire airport in the process. What happened Monday was like a cartoon, and could even be construed as morosely amusing if this monumental public transit goof-up didn’t mess up so many commuters’ plans.

It wasn’t the first system-wide SkyTrain shutdown, either, that stranded thousands of commuters. There was also one last Thursday.

Indeed, the situation needs oversight.

But does the Mayors’ Council have the right stuff for the job, particularly in an election year?

Do they need yet another theatre in which to beat their chests and grandstand over what great things will happen if they’re re-elected, and what terrible things will happen if their opponents succeed come election night in November?

If that does not give one sufficient cause for concern, consider that it was only last month that the Mayors’ Council bandied about an idea to charge motorists a mobility tax to help fund a huge and likely unaffordable 30-year transit plan for these parts. Somebody needs to guard SkyTrain’s big red button. But who?

Perhaps the Mayors’ Council might be right for the job, lacking other options, because those running for re-election should necessarily be giving it their best, lest they be held accountable by the electorate.

Somebody needs to be held accountable here, and psst, it’s not an electrician.

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