Metrolinx’s Guiding Principles

Metrolinx was established in 2006. Within two years, it had produced a Draft Investment Strategy and “The Big Move,” essentially a master plan for development of rapid transit across the GTHA.

In its Draft Investment Strategy,[1] Metrolinx set out five “Guiding Principles” (the descriptions below are condensed from the originals):

Principle 1 – Regional or “Metropolitan” focus …We need a Regional Transportation Plan and Investment Strategy that reflect the way most of us live our lives and perform business – where we routinely cross local community and municipal boundaries to support a dynamic regional economy, labour market, and institutional and social networks across the GTHA...

Principle 2 – Invest where it Matters Most – all Metrolinx investments should be aligned with the RTP and subject to a fair, easy-to-understand and rigorous “Benefits Case” screening process where economic, environmental and social needs and impacts are taken into direct account…

Principle 3 – Prudent Financial Management – We believe that the investments should be affordable and that a financial plan should be in place to show how the investments will be funded…

Principle 4 – A System that Works and is Accountable – Metrolinx is a regional authority, and we will be directly accountable to all people in the GTHA. Our pledge is to post regular reports on exactly how we are progressing towards achieving our plans...

Principle 5 – Risk Management and Project Implementation Discipline – …We will not make a single investment until we are satisfied that risks will be managed, projects will be delivered on time and on budget, and there will be no “surprises.”

Metrolinx’s “guiding principles” make sense. And the prize seems to be well worthwhile, if it can be achieved for the promised price.

In “The Big Move,”[2] Metrolinx set out specific quantified targets, essentially what it hopes to achieve by 2033 (see Figure 1). The Big Move also included a map showing a network of transit lines criss-crossing the GTHA (see Figure 2).

In its effort to produce results quickly, it appears that Metrolinx developed the Big Move by combining all the schemes that were currently being proposed by GO Transit, the TTC, and each local municipality. Metrolinx put them together in a map and a program, with little or no modification. The following year, in its 2009 Regional Transport Plan, Metrolinx seemed to have recognized that not all of the Big Move schemes were compatible with its “guiding principles”:

To ensure that all transit investments provide the maximum value in return for the investment, Metrolinx will lead an objective and comprehensive Benefits Case Analysis for each transit project. The Benefits Case Analysis will inventory the benefits and costs associated with some projects and will determine the most appropriate routes and technology. The Benefits Case Analysis will also help to identify performance measures that can be applied to transit projects, so that travellers and citizens receive the maximum benefit from transit investments.[3]

Figure 1: Targets set out in The Big Move[4]

Figure 2: The Big Move Map[5]

Notes
[1] Metrolinx: Draft Investment Strategy. September 2008.
[2] Metrolinx: The Big Move, November 2008.
[3] Metrolinx: Regional Transport Plan 2009
[4] Source: Big Move website: A Solution to the problem