02/24/2015 11:20 EST | Updated 04/26/2015 05:59 EDT

CEO Doug Allen says TransLink needs to improve relationship with riders, media

In the lead-up to a regional referendum on transit funding in the Lower Mainland, the new interim CEO of TransLink is trying to change public perception of the transit authority.

"There's a disconnect between actual performance and what people are saying about us," Doug Allen told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

Allen — who is in his 10th day on the job — said he plans to turn around public opinion with better stakeholder engagement and a more open and media-friendly way of running things.

"We've got to give the media access, and that includes my office," he said.

Allen said he's reviewed the company's reliability, its quality of service and safety — and said TransLink is doing "pretty good."

Allen said when it comes to improving TransLink's performance, he is doing four things right now.

1. The Compass Card system needs to be completed "relatively soon"

Allen said he would be meeting with officials from Cubic Transportation Systems — the company responsible for the delayed Compass Card system.

"I'm not happy with progress to date. My job is to conclude this successfully. I'm looking forward."

2. Improve efficiency of buses

Allen said on Thursday, TransLink's head of buses would meet with the head of BC Transit in Victoria.

"We serve the Lower Mainland, they serve the rest of the province, and we've got to find together some efficiencies, because together we're bigger and we're stronger."

3. Implement recommendations from the independent review of the SkyTrain system

Allen said TransLink is working to implement all 20 recommendations made by an independent review last fall following two system-wide shutdowns.

4. Ensuring Transit Police can meet growing need

Allen said the Transit Police Service has told him it will cover the new Evergreen Line with no increase in staff.

"They're going to do six new stations and 11 kilometres additional to the system with no change in staff."

Allen said it's his job to make sure police can continue to cover the system as it continues to grow.

Referendum vote a few weeks away

People living in Metro Vancouver will start casting their votes in the transit referendum in a few weeks, when ballots are sent out on March 16.

"I'm voting yes, because my personal well being and the economic growth of this region depends on it."

To hear the full interview with Doug Allen, click the audio labelled: TransLink CEO Doug Allen.