Kevin Desmond to leave his role as TransLink CEO in early 2021

Oct 20 2020, 1:31 pm

Kevin Desmond will be leaving his role as the CEO of TransLink in February 2021, after nearly five years in the role.

The public transit authority announced his decision today, which will allow him to return to the United States to pursue new opportunities.

“It’s been an honour to serve this great region. When I arrived in 2016, I knew we already had a world-class transit system and I’m proud to have helped expand the breadth and depth of our services with a relentless commitment to our customers and public accountability,” said Desmond in a statement.

“These achievements are thanks to a diverse team of nearly 8,000 employees across the enterprise committed to safety, reliability, a positive customer experience and improved public engagement. We have accomplished so much together.”

TransLink’s leadership will begin the process of recruiting a new CEO by retaining a global executive search firm. It is unclear whether an interim CEO will be required.

“We want to thank Kevin for his outstanding leadership of TransLink since 2016,” said Tony Gugliotta, chair of the board of directors for TransLink, in a statement.

“During his tenure, TransLink has earned the trust and confidence of our customers, the communities we serve, and all levels of government. Without a doubt, we are sorry to see him step away from the CEO role, but Kevin is leaving behind an organization that is stronger and more responsive to our customers and our communities, and better prepared than ever for the future.”

Prior to joining TransLink, Desmond was the general manager of King County Metro Transit since 2004. Between 1991 and 1996, he was the Chief Of Operations Planning for the New York City Transit Authority.

Under his leadership, TransLink saw record-breaking ridership growth for three consecutive years to an extent that it had the highest growth rate in North America. As well, in 2019, TransLink was named by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) as North America’s best transit system.

Desmond also guided the development and implementation of the Mayors’ Council expansion plan, which led to significant improvements in bus, SkyTrain, and SeaBus services. This includes “tap to pay” fare gates, a touchless fare gate system for people with disabilities, new RapidBus and double-decker bus routes, and several planning initiatives such as Transport 2050. He sharpened TransLink’s customer service approach and focus on passenger amenities, including new digital signs at SkyTrain stations, and the eventual rollout of free Wi-Fi and public washrooms.

He also pushed for the Broadway Extension to Arbutus Street, which will begin construction this fall, and the planned Surrey-Langley SkyTrain extension.

Desmond helped stabilize TransLink in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the rollout of its health safety operating procedures, and the emergency operating funding received from the federal and provincial governments to account for the revenue shortfall from depressed ridership volumes.

“Kevin’s leadership has been instrumental in advancing the Mayors’ 10-Year Vision which has expanded transit and improved service throughout the Metro Vancouver region,” said Jonathan X. Coté, the chair of the Mayors’ Council and the mayor of New Westminster.

“We have seen how much we can accomplish when the Mayors and TransLink are working together and I have very much appreciated Kevin’s leadership in bringing us all together to serve the common cause of making our Metro Vancouver region a better place to live and work.”

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