Editorial — Transit police are overpaid fare takers

Having 58 police officers pull in more than $100,000 annually to bust those who don't pay SkyTrain fares is a waste of tax dollars.

Jordan Bateman, B.C. director of Canadian Taxpayers Federation and former Langley Township councillor, for months has been highlighting the excessive pay and light workload of TransLink police officers.

His latest missive was released Thursday. Information on TransLink salaries shows that 141 TransLink employees made more than $100,000 last year. Included in that figure is 58 of the 166 TransLink police officers.

Bateman has noted before that these officers rarely stray far from the SkyTrain line. Bateman says about half of them are working on only one file, other than fare evasion, per month.

Many of the TransLink police are retired from other police forces, and  collecting pensions in addition to their pay from TransLink. They get extra pay for working on Sundays, according to their collective agreement.

It’s obvious the TransLink police model does not provide good value for taxpayers, and Bateman is right to keep harping on this topic. TransLink is broke. It has no additional sources of revenue on the horizon, and cannot afford to expand services.

Its top executives are drawing hefty salaries, between $300,000 and $400,000 per year. While these salaries are high, the top executives do have many responsibilities.

On the other hand, TransLink police officers have few responsibilities. Despite months of publicity about their lack of meaningful work, and the serious problems on certain bus routes, particularly in Vancouver, TransLink Police still stay off the buses. There they might actually have some real police work to do.

Nor are they visible at bus loops, such as the one in Langley City, where at times, there have been some serious criminal activities. How many Times readers have seen a TransLink policeman in Langley?

It is high time the TransLink board and senior executives took a good hard look at just what TransLink Police does, and how much it costs. If the force does not start doing more significant police work, it should either be disbanded or reduced by at least two-thirds.

There should be no premiums for working on Sundays. Transit operates on a seven-day week.

In addition, there needs to be changes made to pension plans, so that TransLink police officers who draw pensions have some of their pension income clawed back, and used to keep that particular pension plan healthy. There is no justification for double dipping.

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