Yesterday, we were treated to the news that Metrolinx has released its own internal report recommending against approval of the Kirby and Lawrence East GO stations. Of course, anyone who has not been living under a rock lately knows these two additions to the regional train network have been mired in controversy, as Kirby is located in provincial Transportation Minister Del Duca’s riding and Lawrence East is meant as a replacement for the well-used SRT station of the same name, which will be closed as part of the Scarborough Subway Extension. The fact that these stations were approved in 2016, in spite of this report, showing that the two stations might actually REDUCE ridership on the GO system, being in Metrolinx board members hands is evidence enough that parochial interests rule in discussions of transit construction in the Toronto area.
We at STA know we can do better as a city. The release of this report and a promise by Metrolinx to release the minutes of board meetings are welcome steps but we would like to see the agency commit itself to evidence-based decision-making. Furthermore, we need greater representation for the views of transit riders at Metrolinx, perhaps along the lines of the Metropolitan Transit Authority of New York rider councils. These commitments would ensure that we do not have a repeat of such shady station approvals that are made in the face of conflicting evidence and that riders do not want.