October 22, 2020

The Legacy of Kevin Desmond

He came at a time when TransLink was maligned and demoralized, thanks to Christy Clark’s pointless and destructive referendum.  He led the organization to its greatest success, to become the best transit agency in North America.  And to improvements which continue to roll out. (If not for the pandemic, we’d still be seeing significant increases in ridership.)

I suspect he received calls from headhunters every week.  And with opportunities that became irresistible.  I will not be surprised if he becomes the next Secretary of Transportation in a Biden administration.

Here’s the interview PriceTalks did with Kevin Desmond last year – still revealing for the backstory of a public servant who will be much missed but with whom we received much benefit.

Happy hiking, Kevin.

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  1. A couple of factors I know were instrumental in his decision:

    Kevin’s wife stayed in Seattle, so he was stretched by the constant commuting to be with her.

    The recent near-strike at TransLink was extremely stressful. Although it was averted at the last minute, the organization had to come up with unprecedented plans and contingencies to struggle to stay alive through a strike. And that was, of course, before COVID collapsed all TransLink’s successes into a struggle for bare survival that continues today.

    All that said, Kevin Desmond did an amazing job here. We were lucky he stayed as long as he did.

  2. Kevin Desmond demonstrated real leadership— clear vision, informed decision-making and effective communications. He set new benchmarks for Translink, inheriting almost a postwar-like atmosphere following the referendum, navigating through more than choppy waters on the labour front, magnificently, and remaining focused when crazy politics continued to destabilize. Moreover, he brilliantly led the adaptation to the sudden realities that the pandemic brought. He deserves a medal. The saddest part is that he is departing.

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