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New TransLink CEO gives top marks to transit

TransLink's new CEO believes Vancouver already provides one of the world's best public transportation systems.

Making his first public speech since being hired by TransLink in July, Tom Prendergast told the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association that the region's transit services are world-class.

"I'd put Vancouver in the top five for sure," the Chicago-native said, "along with cities like Toronto, Chicago and London. Vancouver is up there."

But Prendergast, who has a long history managing transit in Chicago, New York and London, warned that his assessment could change if TransLink can't secure new funding for long-term projects and operating costs.

The authority is currently operating on an annual shortfall of about $150 million.

The company's surplus is being redirected to make up the gap, but that money is expected to run dry in three years.

A lack of new funding could see the region's transportation system revert back to the same level it was during the '70s.

Prendergast said his first task is to look at possible revenue streams to make sure TransLink has "at least" the $150 million it needs to maintain the status quo.

And he already knows where to start: Ottawa.

"Everywhere I have worked, there's a strong federal role that needs to be played," he said.

Matt Kieltyka writes for 24 hours

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