If you take transit in Toronto, chances are you’ve seen Metrolinx’s logo somewhere during your trip. You may have wondered what they do and where they fit in among the TTC and GO Transit.
Metrolinx is an agency of the Government of Ontario created in 2006 under the Metrolinx Act. On their website it states that their responsibility is to connect existing transit systems (e.g. GO Transit and TTC) and create a regional transit system that will positively affect the region, commuters, and respect the environment[i]. They are a regional transit authority for the Greater-Toronto-Hamilton-Area (GTHA), not a specific agency for one city like the TTC.
Metrolinx is responsible for the development of projects in different municipalities. In Toronto this includes Eglinton Crosstown Light-Rail-Transit (LRT), Sheppard East LRT, Finch-West LRT, Union-Pearson Express, Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension and Union Station Revitalization. In the GTHA projects include expansions of the Hurontario LRT, Hamilton LRT, Mississauga Transitway, York-Viva Bus Rapid Transit, and Presto fair integration.
Presto, GO Transit, Union-Pearson Express and Presto are all divisions of Metrolinx. GO Transit runs and controls regional transit systems that are payed for and planned by Metrolinx[i].
Metrolinx has an initiative called “The Big Move” which is the plan and vision for transit in the GTHA region. The Big Move is expected to cost around $2 billion dollars a year to complete and be done by 2023-33[ii]. Funding comes from the Provincial and Federal Governments.
Metrolinx also has an investment strategy which outlines how it will create revenue for its projects. From obtaining additional funding, to planning where railways will go, each option carries its own pros, cons, and political consequences.
Even though Metrolinx's mandate is to reduce gridlock and promote sustainable transportation, it does not come without its critics. Metrolinx has been criticised for its lack of public input and accountability. For instance the plan to build a bridge to increase the amount of trains for its Barrie service in the Toronto neighbourhood of Davencourt [iii] has been widely criticized.
It is essential to understand the values attributed to the organization, who is in charge of it, and that there can be positive and negative consequences of each decision made by it that directly impacts local communities.
Metrolinx is developing transit along the Ontario Greenbelt, which is meant to contain urban sprawl and intensify development in the defined borders[v]. Sustainable transportation works to reduce congestion and pollution that arise from higher population densities and offer a reliable and alternative to a car. How we get around, and its impact on the environment are important for youth to understand today because it directly impacts quality of life, now and in the future.
Vanessa Opassinis is a born and raised Torontonian, living in the city and it's suburbs her whole life. She is currently a third year student at the University of Toronto studying Urban Studies and International Relations. She is passionate about civic engagement, homelessness, housing and heritage preservation. In her spare time you can find her walking around Toronto, reading a book or working out. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org, https://www.instagram.com/vanesssaopa/,
[i] “Transit Expansion projects”, Metrolinx. 2016. Retrieved on January 20th 2016 from http://www.metrolinx.com/en/projectsandprograms/transitexpansionprojects/transit_expansion.aspx.
[ii] Fleisher, David, “Understanding Metrolinx”, Torontoist, Retreived on January 21st 2016 from http://torontoist.com/2014/10/understanding-metrolinx/.
[iii] “Metrolinx's Davenport train bridge plan moves ahead despite opposition”, CBC News, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2016. Retreived on January 22nd 2016 from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/metrolinx-davenport-bridge-1.3409875.
[iv] Lorinc, John, “How to Keep Metrolinx Honest”, Spacing Magazine, 2013. Retrieved on January 22nd 2016 from http://spacing.ca/toronto/2013/06/27/lorinc-how-to-keep-metrolinx-honest/.
[v] “Background”, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Government of Ontario, 2015. Retrieved on January 23rd 2015 from http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page1381.aspx.