Compass card costs climbing up

Further evidence that change orders, scope creep and errors have driven up the cost of TransLink’s overdue Compass card and faregate system

Photo: Dominic Schaefer

Heavily censored Cubic Transportation Systems monthly project reports obtained through Freedom of Information show that completion of work at the Main Street station was delayed in March 2014 because of “damaged communications cables and the use of single mode fibre optic cables instead of multimode as used in the rest of the fare gate system.”

Cubic’s September 2014 report said TransLink wanted to “relocate” some fare gates and ticket machines at Broadway station and “remove some gates so an escalator can be replaced” at New Westminster station.

The system, which continues to be tested, was originally intended for 2013 operations, but has been delayed and TransLink has not released a new target date. The project budget has nearly doubled from its original announced value of $100 million to $194 million.

As of December 2014, TransLink had paid San Diego-based Cubic $60.4 million of its $90.87 million contract to design and build the system, but other documents indicate Cubic did not receive payment for five consecutive months in 2014. Also, IBM Canada was removed as Cubic’s principal subcontractor and tasks reassigned between Cubic and TransLink, but the date, reasons and costs aren’t visible. TransLink financial reports show it paid IBM Canada $6.7 million from 2011 to 2013.

A January 15, 2013 letter by Cubic senior contracts manager Michael Andranovich to TransLink vice-president David Beckley said July 15, 2014 was the “common desired objective” for a public launch of service. That date was based on adding to the contract new features “to lower overall program risk,” such as a method to process patrons’ cash faster. Beckley and Andranovich did not respond to BIV interview requests.

TransLink’s senior executive committee overseeing the project kept no minutes of meetings last fall. The only line showing from Beckley’s update in the Dec. 3 management steering committee minutes says: “The plan is to continue working towards getting the system into service.”

Cubic hired lobbyist Lecia Stewart, the former Millennium Line project head, last November to update the Office of the Premier and Transportation Ministry on Compass and to “improve public perception of Cubic.” Stewart’s registration ends May 31, two days after the mail-in voting deadline for the non-binding plebiscite on a 0.5% sales tax increase to fund TransLink expansion.