As blogged by Steve Munroe yesterday and reported by The Star today, Metrolinx and GO Transit will merge. Metrolinx was created in 2006. The take over of GO Transit has been anticipated since the province set up Metrolinx and there has been pressure for the entity to perhaps move to run the TTC. Not necessarily the best course of action there.
Metrolinx has been often critiqued for limiting public dissent, oversight and disclosure. Infighting over control has tarnished efforts to broaden GTA transit initiatives and cross-border fare integration. As potential king makers, members of Metrolinx, like chair Rob MaacIsaac have made controversial decisions about the scope of transit expansion. GO Transit’s Lakeshore West line full service was recently extended to Aldershot, rather than Hamilton. Aldershot happens to be MaacIsaac’s home GO station. Other “turf wars” have hampered the progress over other initiatives.
The changes to Metrolinx and GO include changes to the board. The efforts behind the change appear are an effort to change make up of the organization from public officials to more from private industry. Toronto Mayor David Miller, TTC chair Adam Giambrone, Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion and other regional spokespeople are being replaced. New Metrolinx legislation explicitly forbids a politician or an employee of a local municipality from sitting on the Board. The transition board has a wealth of experience but few with any transit or city planning experience.
Localized interests aside, Metrolinx “inaction” up to now also comes down to funding, budgets, and lack of authority. Infrastructure funding from Ottawa has been slow to go to Queen’s Park. Queen’s Park, without Federal funding, have been reluctant to act any recommendations from Metrolinx. Changes to Metrolinx are meant to limit “turf wars” but public disclosure is still lacking. Requirements to discuss investment strategy, capital planning and projects, or the Metrolinx budget in public have been removed. Not exactly a change for the better.
Infrastructure spending is important for shaping the future of this city. We can only hope important work to better integrate GTA transit becomes a reality with some transparency. After all, Metrolinx, GO Transit and the Ontario government are supposed to be acting on our behalf.