06/05/2012 05:24 EDT | Updated 08/05/2012 05:12 EDT

TransLink spends $500K on faulty TVs, says CTF

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation says documents obtained in a Freedom of Information request show TransLink spent $532,444 on unreliable televisions at five SkyTrain stations in 2009.

The 13 station entrance emergency information panels were supposed to replace sandwich boards used to communicate information to riders when SkyTrain station gates were closed during emergencies.

"They range in size from 40 inches to 47 inches depending on location," said Jordan Bateman, the B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF).

"What really bothered us further than the expenditure was that last week I did a site visit to see these 13 screens and only four of them are in use."

During a tour of SkyTrain stations in late May, only four of the 13 TransLink TVs were operating — all at Stadium Station, according to the CTF.

TVs at Lougheed Town Centre were visible but not working during the CTF's visit, while screens at the Scott Road, Edmonds and Commercial-Broadway stations had disappeared.

"This is typical TransLink — they had a quick, simple system to use during those very rare occasions when SkyTrain station gates had to be closed but decided instead to blow half a million bucks on a fancy TV system that barely works anymore," Bateman said.

"It's another entry on a long list of TransLink waste."

The CTF says TransLink received a Transit-Secure grant from the federal government for $392,032 toward the project.

"What a waste of tax dollars," said Bateman.

"No one is one bit safer because there are TV screens at Stadium Station. This federal money should have gone to real security and safety upgrades on the system or, better yet, considering the massive deficit, not spent at all."

TransLink released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying the monitors were available for use during the 2010 Winter Olympics, and adding the cost included all infrastructure in addition to the video screens.