Metrolinx is a Crown agency that manages and integrates road and public transport in the Golden Horseshoe region, which includes the cities of Toronto and Hamilton, of Ontario, Canada. The organization was created by the Government of Ontario as the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority on April 24, 2006. It adopted the public name, Metrolinx, in 2007.
The agency is responsible for the implementation and management of the Presto card, an electronic fare system that is being used in all public transport systems in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, as well as on the OC Transpo in Ottawa. In 2009, Metrolinx was transferred ownership of GO Transit, which operates regional commuter rail and coach services in the region. The agency also operates the Union Pearson Express, the airport rail link connecting Toronto Pearson International Airport to Downtown Toronto. Some of its current transit expansion projects include Line 5 Eglinton in Toronto, the Mississauga Transitway, and the BLAST network in Hamilton.
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The Greater Toronto Transportation Authority (GTTA) was created by legislation to introduced in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario on April 24, 2006. The bill was passed and received royal assent on June 22, 2006. In April 2007, a transition team seconded from the Ontario Public Service began work at the GTTA's headquarters at 20 Bay Street in Toronto.
In July 2007, the GTTA identified the following first round of ‘quick win’ projects as candidates for early implementation:
- GO Transit rail fleet expansion
- $60.0 million for 20 new bi-level passenger coaches
- $20.0 million for track capacity expansion
- GO Transit bus fleet expansion
- $9.0 million for 10 new double-decker coaches
- Hamilton/Upper James Rapid Transit Corridor
- Triplinx, integrated web-based trip planning tool for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area
- Carbon Footprint Calculator
- Bicycle promotion initiatives
- $2.1 million-$3.2 million for safe/secure bike storage
- $1.0 million-$1.8 million to expand bike/bus rack program
On December 4, 2007, the GTTA adopted the name ‘Metrolinx’ for public use. At the same time, it launched a new web site, and released the first of its series of green papers on transportation issues, part of the process of creating the Regional Transportation Plan.
In June 2008, Metrolinx began using a new logo in printed and electronic communications.
On December 17, 2008, Metrolinx announced that, together with twelve municipalities, it had made a collective bus purchase for 160 buses.
On March 30, 2009, the Ontario government introduced legislation to merge GO Transit and Metrolinx into a single entity, with "Metrolinx" as its legal name. The legislation received royal assent on May 14, 2009, taking immediate effect. This resulted in the replacement of the previous board structure with a new one in which 15 private-sector appointees are made by the province. The legislation makes other changes to Metrolinx's powers and abilities.
GO's trackage used to be owned entirely by Canada's two major commercial railways: the large majority by the Canadian National Railway (CNR) and the remainder by Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). Before Metrolinx's creation, GO Transit had only acquired partial ownership of the Lakeshore East, Barrie, Stouffville and Milton lines. However, ever since its inception Metrolinx has been expanding its ownership of the rail corridors on which GO Transit operates by acquiring nonessential rail lines from both CN and CP.
On March 31, 2010, Metrolinx announced that it had acquired a key piece of track from CN for $168 million. This purchase was for a portion of the Oakville subdivsion from Union station to 30th Street in Etobicoke just west of GO's Willowbrook yard.
On March 30, 2011, Metrolinx announced that it had acquired the portion of the Kingston line on which that GO trains operate from CN for $299 million, giving them full ownership of the Lakeshore East line.
On June 16, 2011, Metrolinx announced that, together with 12 municipalities, it purchased 287 new transit buses.
On March 27, 2012, Metrolinx announced that it had acquired key portions of multiple subdivisions from CN for $310.5 million. This purchase included the southern portions of the Bala subdivision up to CN's main east-west freight line the York subdivision, part of the Richmond Hill line and a large portion of the Oakville subdivision from 30th Street in Etobicoke to a point just west of Fourth line in Oakville.
On May 10, 2012, GO Transit announced summer weekend and GO train service between Toronto and Barrie.
On November 15, 2012, GO Transit launched the GO Train Service Guarantee, a fare credit policy for train delays.
On November 29, 2012, Metrolinx announced the Next Wave of Big Move projects.
On January 5, 2012, GO Transit began serving the new Acton GO Station.
On March 22, 2013, Metrolinx completed an additional purchase of the Oakville subdivision from CN for $52.5 million. This purchase was for the portion from Fourth Line in Oakville to a point just east of where CN's freight main line joins the Oakville Subdivision in Burlington.
On May 27, 2013, Metrolinx announced its Investment Strategy, a series of recommendations for sustaining transit growth in the region.
As of June 2013, Metrolinx had ownership of 68% of the corridors on which it operates, up from 6% in 1998. It has complete ownership of the Barrie, Stouffville and Lakeshore East lines and majority ownership of the Lakeshore West line (to a point just West of Burlington GO station) and Richmond Hill line (to Doncaster Junction, a point in between Old Cummer and Langstaff GO stations). Metrolinx owns comparatively small portions of the Kitchener and Milton lines, a situation that is unlikely to change as the lines are heavily used by freight traffic.
On June 28, 2013, GO Transit introduced its biggest expansion in 46 years with 30-minute service on the Lakeshore lines.
On November 29, 2013, Metrolinx opened the Strachan Avenue underpass, allowing GO trains to operate below Strachan Ave. without disrupting road traffic.
On February 28, 2014, Metrolinx revealed plans to increase train service to Hamilton and build the new West Harbour GO Station.
On March 31, 2014, Metrolinx division Presto announced that one million transit riders were using the electronic fare card across the GTHA and Ottawa.
On September 24, 2014, Metrolinx announced the purchase of the segment of the Kitchener line between Kitchener and Georgetown.
On September 30, 2014, Metrolinx announced a partnership with Ivanhoe Cambridge to redevelop a new GO Bus Terminal that serves as a major transit, commercial and community hub.
On February 2, 2015, 36 GO stations and terminals began offering free WiFi to customers, providing coverage to approximately 80 per cent of customers.
On February 12, 2015, Metrolinx announced a major expansion of Stouffville GO Line, adding additional tracks and improving the corridor to increase train.
On March 10, 2015, Metrolinx announced a major expansion of Barrie GO line, adding additional tracks and improving the corridor to increase train capacity.
On April 24, 2015, the new York GO Concourse was opened, a major part of the ongoing revitalization of Union Station, adding 50 per cent more capacity than the Bay Concourse.
On June 6, 2015, the new Union-Pearson Express was launched, linking Toronto’s Pearson International Airport with Union Station via a 25-minute two-stop express train.
On July 9, 2015, the new West Harbour GO Station was opened in Hamilton, in time for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games.
The Metrolinx Act of 2006, formerly known as the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority Act of 2006, describes two of Metrolinx's primary responsibilities as being:
- to provide leadership in the co-ordination, planning, financing and development of an integrated, multi-modal transportation network that conforms with transportation polices of growth plans prepared and approved under the Places to Grow Act, 2005 applicable in the regional transportation area and complies with other provincial transportation policies and plans applicable in the regional transportation area, and
- to act as the central procurement agency for the procurement of local transit system vehicles, equipment, technologies and facilities and related supplies and services on behalf of Ontario municipalities.
The Big Move: The Regional Transportation Plan
The Big Move: Transforming Transportation in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area was one of Metrolinx's first deliverables. It is a Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) including a rolling five-year capital plan and Investment Strategy for the GTHA. The plan builds on 52 GO train, subway, light rail and bus rapid transit projects proposed by the Government of Ontario in its MoveOntario 2020 plan announced on June 15, 2007, and includes new projects to support them.
A draft version of the Big Move was provided to Metrolinx on September 26, 2008, and a final version was approved on November 27, 2008.
Planning and construction is underway for some projects supporting the Regional Transportation Plan.
The three levels of government have provided $16 billion toward the First Wave of projects, which are already underway. The Next Wave of projects were still in the planning phase at the time of the Big Move's release, and still subject to funding. Some of these projects have since attained approved funding, while others have not.
First Wave of projects - funded and underway
- Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension
- Eglinton Crosstown LRT
- Finch West LRT
- Sheppard East LRT
- Mississauga Transitway
- York Region VIVANext Rapidways
- Union Pearson Express
- Union Station renovation and expansion
Next Wave of projects (may not be all finalized)
- Two-way electrified GO service on all seven corridors, including 15-minute peak service in core areas
- Downtown Relief Line
- Yonge North Subway Extension
- Brampton Queen St Rapid Transit
- Dundas St Bus Rapid Transit
- Durham-Scarborough Bus Rapid Transit
- Hamilton LRT
- Hurontario-Main LRT
- Steeles West LRT
Funding: The Investment Strategy
The Metrolinx Investment Strategy, released in May 2013, proposes a series of 24 recommendations as part of a four-part plan to integrate transportation, growth and land use planning in the GTHA, maximize the value of public infrastructure investment, optimize system and network efficiencies, and dedicate new revenue sources for transit and transportation.
Within the Investment Strategy, Metrolinx made twenty-four recommendations, including investment tools and policy recommendations.
- One per cent on the HST
- Twenty-five cents/day on commercial parking spaces depending on assessed property value
- Five cents/litre fuel tax
- Fifteen per cent increase on development charges
- Thirty cents/kilometre high-occupancy toll lanes
- Two - four dollar/day for parking at GO stations
- Land-value capture along transit lines
Metrolinx also advised that funds raised by all the new taxes would be put in a dedicated transportation trust fund, one that would be administered by a board separate from Metrolinx.
The Investment Strategy was given to the government for consideration in 2013.
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GO Transit is the inter-regional public transit system serving the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area and the Greater Golden Horseshoe. GO carries over 65 million passengers a year using an extensive network of train and bus services; rail service is provided by diesel locomotives pulling trains of unpowered double-deck passenger cars, while most bus service is provided by inter-city coaches.
Canada's first such public system, GO Transit began regular passenger service on May 23, 1967, under the auspices of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. Over time it has been constituted in a variety of public-sector configurations, but it became an operating division of Metrolinx in 2009.
New and improved GO service is a top transit priority listed in the regional transportation plan. Since 2009, GO Transit has introduced seasonal train service to Barrie and Niagara Falls, extended service to Kitchener and Lake Simcoe, opened four new stations at Acton, Guelph Central, Allandale Waterfront, and Hamilton West Harbour. Since June 2013, GO Trains along the Lakeshore rail lines run every 30 minutes, making the biggest expansion in GO Transit history.
Union Pearson Express
The Union Pearson Express (UP Express) airport rail link service began operation on June 6, 2015, linking Union Station in downtown Toronto with Pearson International Airport in the City of Mississauga, roughly 23.3 km (14.5 mi) away. The trains run every fifteen minutes, seven days a week, and are predicted to eliminate 1.5 million car trips annually.The duration of this trip is approximately 25 minutes.
The line uses a Metrolinx-owned railway rail corridor now used by GO Transit, as part of the Georgetown South Project to allow for additional train traffic. The UP Express shares the same path as trains on the Kitchener line, before splitting off onto a separate spur just north of the Etobicoke North Station. It stops at the existing Bloor and Weston GO Stations.
The Presto card, originally known as the GTA Farecard, is a smartcard-based fare payment system for public transit systems in Ontario, including those in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area and Ottawa. The Presto system is designed to support the use of one common farecard for fare payment on various public transit systems, through electronic readers that calculate the correct fare and deduct it from a preloaded balance.
Presto will also centralize its operational logistics, such as farecard procurement, reporting services, and a customer call centre. The system was trialled from June 25, 2007 to September 30, 2008. Full implementation began in November 2009. It will be rolled out across the province in stages. Presto now serves over a million customers in the GTHA and Ottawa.
By June 2015, Presto had been fully implemented on the following 11 transit systems:
- Brampton Transit
- Burlington Transit
- Durham Region Transit
- GO Transit
- Hamilton Street Railway
- Oakville Transit
- OC Transpo
- UP Express
- York Region Transit
As of July 2015, Presto is available at 26 TTC subway stations and is expected to complete system-wide implementation (all stations, streetcars, and buses) by 2016.
Smart Commute is a program that, with the support of local municipalities, endeavors to fight climate change by reducing traffic congestion and increasing transit efficiency. Employers and employees in the GTHA can explore and have assistance with different commuting options, such as carpooling, transit, cycling, walking, telework and flexible work hours. The program is delivered through local transportation management associations.
Originally conducted under the Ontario Ministry of Transportation in 2006, the Transit Procurement Initiative involves Metrolinx assisting municipal transit operators with the procurement of vehicles, equipment, technologies, facilities and related supplies. The goal of the program is to reduce per unit cost, increase unit quality, and provide an open and transparent procurement process for municipal transit operators. To date, the program has supported 21 municipalities and transit agencies, has purchased over 400 buses, and has saved an estimated $5 million.
Metrolinx also seeks partnerships with individuals and the community, and offers financial support for proposed projects that support transit.
Smart Commute includes various programs for commuters, including carpool ride-matching, walking and cycling, and teleworking programs.
In July 2015, a $4.9 million plan was announced to double the size of Bike Share Toronto by 2016. The bicycles and docking stations will be owned by Metrolinx, while the system will continue to be operated by the Toronto Parking Authority.
Metrolinx has been criticized for not having enough executive power in planning transit outside of municipal politics, despite being established to take political delay out of transportation planning. After Rob Ford was elected Mayor of Toronto in December 2010, he declared Transit City, the provincially funded transit expansion plan of light rail lines, dead. These lines were a large component of Metrolinx’s 2008 Big Move. Metrolinx was again criticized when, in January 2012, its CEO declared that it would bend to what Toronto City Council wanted regarding how the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown LRT line should be built. The issue centred on whether the more suburban stretches of the line, from Laird Dr. to Kennedy Station, should be built at street level to save costs of building it underground.
In Ottawa, where Metrolinx is only involved in fare collection, Mayor Jim Watson has criticized Metrolinx for wanting to increase the fee it collects from 2% to 10%, and characterized it as a monopoly.
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Metrolinx used to be governed by a board consisting of various appointees from the Ontario government and the regions within the GTHA. After the passage of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area Transit Implementation Act, 2009 merging Metrolinx and GO Transit, the Metrolinx board structure was changed, with politicians specifically prohibited from serving.
Metrolinx is spearheaded by an executive group (June 2015):
- Bruce McCuaig - President and CEO
- Greg Percy - President, GO Transit
- Kathy Haley - President, Union Pearson Express
- Robert Hollis - Executive Vice President Presto
- Mary Martin - Executive Vice-President, General counsel & Corporate Secretary
- Robert Siddall - Chief Financial Officer
- Helen Ferreira-Walker, Chief Human Resources Officer
- Judy Pfeifer, Vice-President, Strategic Communications
- Leslie Woo, Chief Planning Officer, Planning and Policy
- Jack Collins – Chief Capital Officer, Capital Projects Group
The Board of Directors is composed of the President/CEO and various stakeholders (June 2015):
- J. Robert S. Prichard - Chair - Chairman of Torys law firm, Officer of the Order of Canada
- Stephen Smith – Vice-Chair - Co-Founder, Chairman and President of First National Financial LP
- Rahul Bhardwaj - President and CEO, Toronto Community Foundation
- Janet Ecker - President and CEO of the Toronto Financial Services Alliance
- Marianne McKenna - Partner, Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects
- Rose M. Patten - Senior Executive Vice-President, Head of Human Resources and Senior Leadership Advisor, BMO Financial Group
- Bonnie Patterson - President and CEO of the Council of Ontario Universities
- Howard Shearer - Chairman of the Board of Hitachi Power Systems Canada Ltd.
- Iain Dobson – Co-Founder of Strategic Regional Research Association
- Anne Golden – Distinguished Visitng Scholar and Special Advisor, Ryerson University
- Bruce McCuaig – President and CEO of Metrolinx
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- Torontoist. "Can the Metrolinx Investment Strategy Succeed?". torontoist.com.
- Niagara Falls
- Lake Simcoe
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