Maple Ridge mayor supports transit police

But it's good to take a close look at the numbers, to see if there's a better way

Ernie Daykin likes the idea of taking a close look at costs and efficiency of Transit Police, following the Mayors’ Council decision to ask for an efficiency review Wednesday.

“It doesn’t hurt to look at operations and see how things are done,” said Daykin, who couldn’t get to the meeting because of a lingering cold.

He assumed TransLink’s police, which ride the SkyTrain lines and buses, check tickets and maintain safety, were reviewed as part of the recent TransLink audit.

But he supports a review focused just on the police.

“We shouldn’t have a problem with looking at the way we do business.”

Daykin said Transit Police are criticized for paying top wages for police officers in the area, but says their benefits such as pensions or health coverage aren’t even close to other forces in the region, which may actually be cheaper for the taxpayer in the long run.

But Daykin wonders what would happen without Transit Police, who he says have been as far as Haney Place Mall when there were security concerns there.

But there has to be police of some kind, he added.

“I think we need somebody there. They were formed out of addressing some concerns, real or perceived, in the system.”

Without the police responding to incidents on buses and trains, does that mean the Vancouver Police Department or RCMP respond? he asked.

How many municipal police would Delta contribute to TransLink policing, he added.

Daykin wants the review to look at the number of incidents that take place on the buses and trains and whether it’s more cost effective to respond to such incidents with Transit Police or whether municipal police can respond as effectively.

Or would simply a fare supervisor be able to provide that service? he asked.

Discussion could also morph into one about regional policing, which could become an issue during the May provincial election.

But Daykin added both political parties, Liberal and NDP, have had a role in creating TransLink’s current conundrum, where it’s perennially underfunded with the provincial and local governments in a never-ending argument about who pays what.

“It was something all the mayors agreed that we should look at. We’re looking at ways to find funding for transit, so let’s take a look at that.

It’s a young program, she said but it’s still worth looking at. “It’s always good to look at where the money’s being spent.”

District of North Vancouver Mayor Richard Walton said Wednesday’s motion was to ask TransLink’s incoming commissioner to consider a review of the efficiency of TransLink.

He frequently sees Transit Police on SeaBus and SkyTrain adding the police are focused on the high-ridership areas.

But he didn’t know how often they ride the buses in the suburban areas of the North Shore or in Maple Ridge.

“There is no question that there are safety concerns especially at night, at certain times within the system. “Obviously, there’s a lot of people using the transit system who can be aggressive at times … and there’s a definite need to provide protection for the drivers and the people who are working in the transit system.”

Should each municipal police force provide that function or should police forces in each city try to respond? When the force was founded several years ago, one of the difficulties was police trying to respond to incidents at various stations.

“The question likely is not so much should there be a police force on TransLink, I think people need to be feel safe.” But is it the most efficient spending on police forces and if the costs are higher, “What are the reasons they’re higher and how do we fix it?”

Pitt Meadows Coun. Doug Bing likes the idea of a cost review.

“It sounds like we’re paying more than we really should for that kind of service. The kind of service they provide is really quite limited.”

And once fare gates are installed, the need to check tickets decreases. “Certainly at that time they would need less officers checking and being present for that kind of thing.”

Bing has almost been acclaimed Liberal candidate for Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, after the withdrawal of Terry Becker for the nomination. But a meeting declaring Bing the candidate to run against NDP Elizabeth Rosenau hasn’t been announced.

Bing questions the fairness of tolling the Port Mann Bridge when motorists can ride for free on the new highways and overpasses on either side without paying anything.

A lot of money has to be generated from the tolls. “It seems to me that the whole region should be contributing to the whole thing, if it benefits the whole region.

“It’s really a regional thing. I think everybody should be contributing their fair share.”