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Metrolinx chair Rob Prichard steps down to give Doug Ford a chance to name replacement

Rob Prichard stepped down Thursday after seven years as head of the Metrolinx board, saying that the change of provincial government made it the right time for a new chair at the regional transit agency.

The resignation was effective immediately and the role will be filled in the interim by vice-chair Bryan Davies. Choosing the new chair will be a decision for the government of Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

Rob Prichard (File Photo).

Peter Power

“Much has been accomplished, but a great deal of work lies ahead,” Mr. Prichard said in a statement issued by the transit agency. “The next chair will need to lead the board in its partnership with the management team and work closely with the government on its priorities.”

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Reached Thursday afternoon, Mr. Prichard declined to comment, saying that the statement spoke for itself.

Although Metrolinx is officially an arm’s-length agency, it follows the wishes of the provincial government on major transit decisions. With that dynamic at play, Mr. Prichard’s departure was not unexpected. The outgoing chair was close to the former Liberal government and was understood to be prepared to step down four years ago if it had lost that election, with board members to the left and right of the ideological spectrum ready to fill in depending on which party won.

Mr. Prichard served as an adviser about a decade ago when Metrolinx merged with GO Transit. He then became CEO and, finally, chair of the board. He leaves an organization whose scope has expanded dramatically over that time. Metrolinx has added substantial new service, helping spark a growth in ridership, and boosted staff levels considerably.

The agency is currently presiding over construction of the $5.3-billion Eglinton Crosstown light-rail line and is in the early stages of a massive increase in GO train service. The former project is the subject of legal skirmishing between the builders and Metrolinx, and is at least three years from completion, but is widely expected to continue in spite of the change of government. The future of the GO expansion is less certain, though the Premier has spoken repeatedly about his desire to oversee a good transit network that spans the region.

“With the election of a new government for Ontario, now is the right time for a change of leadership for the board of directors,” Mr. Prichard said in his statement.

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