Between the Lines podcast –Small’s Creek, Hurontario LRT name, and more

Metrolinx chief spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins takes people’s questions on her Between the Lines’ weekly #AMAwithAMA podcast segment. This week, Aikins talks about the GO Expansion work in Small’s Creek, Crosstown LRT questions, and the recent Hurontario LRT naming news. Listen to the full episode below.

It’s a wide-ranging bag of transit topics this week on Ask me Anything with Anne Marie Aikins.

Every Tuesday, Metrolinx’s Chief Spokesperson answers your questions about Metrolinx, GO Transit, UP Express, PRESTO, and anything else you want to know about when it comes to transit.

This week, Aikins talks about the ongoing work to expand GO train service through Toronto, some burning Eglinton Crosstown LRT questions, and Peel Region’s newest rapid transit line getting a name.

Stay tuned – and thank you! Between The Lines: A Metrolinx Podcast

Thank you to all of our thousands of listeners who have joined us so far. The Between The Lines team will be taking a short break over the summer, but we will be back. We want to hear from you! What topics should we focus on? What Metrolinx projects do you want to learn more about? What are you liking about the podcast? What would you improve? Send us your thoughts: Have a great summer. Stay tuned… Host: Matt Llewellyn (@mattrolinx) Producer/Social: James Wattie (@jameswattie) Learn more at Credits: Gregory David / Shifting Out / courtesy of — Send in a voice message:
  1. Stay tuned – and thank you!
  2. Episode 21 – Top 5 reasons customers get in touch with GO Transit customer service
  3. Episode 20 – #AMAwithAMA – Terrifying near miss video, what are sun kinks and Pride Month begins
  4. Episode 19 – Walking The Entire Eglinton Crosstown Line
  5. Episode 18 – #AMAwithAMA – GO & UP service changes, rail safety and your transit questions answered

You can send your own questions to or tweet them to @MetrolinxSpox using the hashtag #AMAwithAMA.

Want to follow along while you listen? Here’s a full transcript for this episode of Between the Lines:

Between the Lines – Episode #8 transcript

Matt Llewellyn

You got questions. She’s got answers. I’m Matt Llewellyn and it’s time for Ask Me Anything with Metrolinx chief spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins. Anne Marie, let’s start with Small’s Creek this week.

Lots of response to last week’s podcast. What have you heard?

Anne Marie Aikins

Well, a couple of things. One is our podcast, which is a new tool for us, seems to be an effective way to communicate in a different way to people.

I think hearing from our experts, especially, really is important. It doesn’t mean you’re going to agree with everything that we do, but I think it’s it’s important.

We got to lots of follow up questions.

One is the big oaks.

The big oaks that have to come down.

What about replanting them someplace?

So that was a question asked much earlier by many of the residents.

Why not save these oaks by trying to replant them? And so we got external – that was important – external people to tell us about that.

Whether or not that would be possible. What what would be the cost? How do you do that?

And we looked at that. So we had five different experts come in and look at it. These are the things they found out.

They found out that the cost is pretty significant, but it was the logistics of it… because this beautiful ravine is up kind of on a hill and on a slope.

And to get the big machinery that you would need into replant and unearth a tree carefully and the right way, you’d have to get these big machines in there in that area.

And in doing so, the experts told us, would likely cause many other trees to have to be removed and damage to to the vegetation there.

So they said the success rate of one tree replanting successfully – so the tree lives – is a delicate operation, not always successful.

And in this case, you would have to replant it twice. So it reduced your success rate even further.

So we found that.

We had to unfortunately reject that.

But the one of the things that we always do is any useful wood that comes from trees that we have to take down, w e donate as firewood. And many people have appreciated that all over the region.

And in this case, because it’s they are really meaningful… it’s meaningful wood. This oak is going to be donated to Humber College Woodworking Program,

and they’ll turn it into something beautiful to commemorate what those trees meant to the community.

So that’s what we’re going to do with this particular wood and any wood going forward.

Matt Llewellyn

And it’s important to point out these outside experts. I mean, these are leading scientists. These are ecologists in their field who have come in and taken a look at this.

Anne Marie Aikins

They are and you know, we have those internally. You heard from Gretel Green last week who I find really inspiring.

She is a lifelong environmentalist, so passionate and I learned a lot from her.

But we, you know, to convince the community we felt it was important to have independent people assess it as well.

So that’s an important thing that we’ve done all along with our projects. TRCA is a great partner, and they assess ours from an independent experts to look at the plans that we have and then sign off on them.

Matt Llewellyn

Let’s go to another transit project that we’ve had a number of questions emailed and tweeted to us recently.

In particular, you’ve received a number about the opening of the Crosstown and whether it could be open in segments.

What’s that all about?

Anne Marie Aikins

Well, it’s that people are getting super excited about Crosstown opening because now they see it.

You know, I was up and young at Yonge and Eglinton over the weekend to go to the restaurants, and even I was surprised just how things are shaping up and looking now.

And it’s just looking really positive and the restaurants are busy and lots of people in them.

So that was I saw for myself.

But when people see, especially the surface lines areas, they look complete and they see the trains going up and down testing and they think, well, why not open this part, at least especially out in the east, in the West, where people really need transit.

So it does seem to be, you know? Well, that seems to make sense. So why don’t we do that? But there’s a lot of different things you have to think about when you’re opening a transit system.

One is we can never, ever shortchange the testing, and the testing from end to end is very important because they are testing the signals, the switches. They’re testing, how their trains interact with the other parts of the other transportation system.

It’s really important not to shortchange that. That’s one.

And then when we’re finished the construction, it will be turned over to TTC to operate.

So the city of Toronto and TTC are going to operate it once it’s ready to open, and what they have to do is then they have to operationalize it with training their staff, so that’s important, too, that can’t be shortchanged, so it’s a lot of work has to be done to open any of it, let alone to open it pieces at a time.

So lots to happen. But it’s getting exciting because it’s this year. It’s happening.

Matt Llewellyn

Speaking of openings, let’s go to the opening of the Hurontario LRT. Some changes there and a chance for you to catch up with Hazel.

Anne Marie Aikins

I have known the former mayor, Hazel McCallion, since my days as a reporter.

So that goes back a long, long time. And we used to tussle sometimes over things I would write.

And she was always, always passionate, though, and the Hurontario LRT, it’s again, progressing really well.

It’s really becoming a close reality for many people in that area.

And the province owns Hurontario LRT infrastructure, and they made a decision and announced it today that they would be renamed as the Hazel McCallion Line.

And today happens to be her 101st birthday.

And so there was an event today that was pretty cool to catch up with her.

And it was just it was really a fun event. And what it did was… it led to questions about, are you going to name rename the other projects?

How does that work? Well, when we start building a line and start first up, planning and building a line, there’s always a placeholder name.

The Eglinton Crosstown was always a placeholder name. There’s always a process for who renames it and how it’s renamed and so forth.

And because TTC is operating Finch and Crosstown LRT projects, they named it in their same strategy they name their other subway lines.

Crosstown is Line 5, and that’s where people are starting to get used to calling it Line 5 now.

So it’ll be that way in their maps and so forth. So there’s always a process to it. And in this case, it was named after the former mayor.

Matt Llewellyn

I have a conversation coming up later this week with Hazel as well, so it was really great to catch up with her.

I have to say, if I get to be so lucky as to live to 101, I hope I’m as as sprightly and spry as she is, that’s for sure.

Anne Marie Aikins

Yeah, that’s I remarked that today and we were going to have an event outside but the rest of us were too cold today, but Hazel was going, We can go outside. It’s a gorgeous day.

Let’s go outside. It’s way too cold.

Matt Llewellyn

I love that. I did see an interesting tweet that you received on Friday night about a new locomotive. I have to say I took pause and kind of, you know, was really looking into this.

Tell us what that’s all about.

Anne Marie Aikins

Well, it was I thought it was too

The branding was spot on and it looked like we had a different type of locomotive.

But it sure got our rail fans and there’s a lot of them all excited, that we got a different locomotive.

They knew what kind of locomotive it was. And I had no idea.

So I reached out to our rail experts and at first they were puzzled. And then they said, well, this isn’t our a locomotive. It’s actually Metrolink in California.

Matt Llewellyn

Which is a better place to work at this time of year, I would argue. Much warmer.

Anne Marie Aikins

It’s called Metrolink with a K. They are constantly sending us tweets saying, you’ve mistaken us.

They bought this type of locomotive. And it’s turned out it was just a parody rail account that’s set up on Twitter.

And they say Photoshop things. So I don’t know if it’s just making fun of rail companies or if it’s making fun of rail fans or who is making fun of, but it’s a good parody account. You got to give them credit.

Matt Llewellyn

I would also say it’s kind of funny because Metrolink is one of the only other operators in North America that use the same bi levels as we do, so…

Anne Marie Aikins

It’s true. And it’s funny. And so we’re often mistaken in spite of the snow we have for this California company.

Matt Llewellyn

Like I said, warmer for sure at this time of year. Thanks, Anne Marie.

Anne Marie Aikins

We’ll have to visit them one of these days.

Matt Llewellyn

We’ll have to. Thank you.

Anne Marie Aikins

You’re welcome. Good to talk to you, as always.

Matt Llewellyn

Anne Marie will back next Tuesday for another AMA with AMA. Do you have a question? Email us and remember to tune in on Thursday for another episode of Between the Lines. I’m Matt Llewellyn.