Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Merger planned for GO Transit, Metrolinx

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Ontario provincial leaders have introduced legislation to merge GO Transit, the transit system serving metropolitan Toronto, with Metrolinx, the regional planning agency charged with growing public transit in the Greater Toronto Area.

Robert Pritchard, former CEO of Toronto–based newspaper and book publisher Torstar Corp., will oversee the merger process. Metrolinx Chairman Rob MacIsaac and GO Transit Chairman Peter Smith also will serve on the transitional board of directors, which will consist of 15 members.

No sitting politicians would be appointed to the new board, which is to be made up of planning and transportation experts. That move cuts off Toronto Mayor David Miller, Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCAllion, and other area municipal leaders from continued participation on the Metrolinx board. Miller, in particular, has criticized Metrolinx’s C$11.5 billion regional transit planning severely, among other reasons for not strongly supporting efforts to expand Toronto’s own C$10 billion “Transit City” light rail transit expansion plan.

The provincial government says the proposed merger would help get shovels in the ground faster on new transit projects, promoting and expediting more construction jobs in the future.

"Metrolinx has done an excellent job building the agency and preparing a regional transportation plan," Transportation Minister Jim Bradley said in a statement. "By bringing Metrolinx together with experienced transit-builder GO, we will be able to take transportation plans off the drawing board and into service more quickly."