Who selects $1,200 as the magic number?

Now that’s a good gig. Great work, if you can get it.

TransLink is paying Gary McNeil, former CEO of Toronto’s GO Transit, $1,200 a day to solve a mystery it already claims to have solved.

McNeil is expected to provide a final report by the end of October revealing how to best avoid more screw-ups like the recent pair of systemwide SkyTrain failures.

On July 17 and 21, the Expo and Millennium lines were shut down for hours, leaving all kinds of passengers miffed and stranded.

Shortly after the last shutdown, TransLink blamed it on an electrician who they say accidentally tripped a control centre breaker, shutting down the system for five long hours.

We wonder if McNeil will come to that same conclusion following his $1,200-per-day investigation.

That $1,200 figure, incidentally, seems to be popular for consultants who work, live and move in circles the rest of us do not. In Nova Scotia, the provincial government is paying a consultant over $1,200 a day to fix a rudder problem on a ship, the Bluenose II. In 2007, Ottawa’s then mayor hired a consultant, at $1,200 a day, to transform the city’s operations. The consultant made $80,454 over four months. Makes one wonder how they arrive at such a figure; who it is who points down from on high and says “That’s a $1,200 a day job, if ever I saw one.”

Put into perspective, $1,200 a day, five days a week over 52 weeks is $312,000 per year. In some other parts of the world, where people earn $1,200 a year, that works out to an hourly wage of about 60 cents.

Earlier this year, the provincial government offered striking public school teachers a $1,200 signing bonus. A salon owner on lower Fifth Avenue in New York will cut your hair for $1,200. And a study says the average American spends $1,200 a year on junk food, and about the same amount on energy bills, while beer drinkers spend roughly $1,200 on brew in any given year.

It’s all something to ponder while confronting the bottom of an empty pint glass.

The Now