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TransLink selects Kevin Desmond as new CEO

TransLink’s new CEO talks about the future
WATCH: TransLink’s new CEO talks about the future.

TransLink has found a new Chief Executive Officer south of the border.

Kevin Desmond, who is currently the general manager of King County Metro Transit that services the Seattle area, will start his new role on March 21 and have an annual salary of $365,000. He will also receive a $1,500 a month housing allowance during the first year of the job.

Desmond started his career in the public sector in New York City before moving to King County in 2004.

In a press conference on Wednesday morning Desmond said Vancouver and the Lower Mainland area is one “that we in the Seattle region look up to and admire.” In particular Vancouver’s best practices in land use policies and livability is what Desmond says attracted him to the job.

And although he admitted that Seattle needs to “catch-up” to Vancouver when it comes to some infrastructure, Desmond also said the two cities have a lot in common; which will enable him to “hit the ground running” as of March 21.

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WATCH: Entire speech of TransLink’s new CEO.
TransLink’s new CEO admits lots of work ahead
TransLink’s new CEO admits lots of work ahead

Taking over the helm as new CEO, Desmond says he knows there is a great task to be done and that TransLink “has suffered a bruise to its brand and that the last couple of years have been challenging.” But in saying that, he also believes he can leverage what works well at TransLink by identifying where they need to “pick it up and improve the services we provide, improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the different products that TransLink is responsible for.”

After being at King County for 12 years Desmond said he was looking for a new challenge and this new role will have no shortage of challenges to face.

The controversial Compass Card system generated complaints in January as many riders experienced problems loading money onto their cards. All this after the card system came in nearly two-and-a-half years behind schedule and over budget.

TransLink has also experienced a string of SkyTrain shutdowns. In some cases, riders forced their way off trains and walked the rails.

TransLink removed CEO Ian Jarvis following last year’s failed transit plebiscite, but then paid him to stay on as an advisor.

~ with files from Jon Azpiri and Canadian Press