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Meet Greg Percy!

Greg Percy
Chief Operating Officer
Metrolinx (GO Transit, Union Pearson Express)
Member, APTA Executive Committee; vice chair, Commuter Rail CEOs, and member, Rail Transit committees

Please describe your agency’s scope.
GO Transit is a Toronto-headquartered, regional rapid transit system that is operated by Metrolinx, the provincial agency responsible for improving the coordination and integration of all modes of transportation in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).

GO Transit accommodates almost 70 million passenger trips per year—about 75 percent by rail and 25 percent by bus. The Union Pearson [UP] Express, Metrolinx’s express rail service between Pearson Airport and downtown Toronto, accommodates another five million passenger trips per year.

Our rail network is comprised of seven rail corridors spanning roughly 460 route kilometers (280 miles), 80 percent of which are owned by Metrolinx and 20 ­percent owned by Canadian National Railway Co. and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd., C­anada’s two major railways.

This is complemented by a bus network that spans nearly 2,800 route kilometers. Together, our trains and buses serve a population of more than seven million across more than 11,000 square kilometers, connecting with 17 ­municipal transit systems along the way.

Our GO Transit fleet consists of conventional heavy commuter rail and a mix of highway single-level and double-deck buses. Our UP Express fleet consists of diesel multiple units.

What attracted your interest in the industry?

I have been in the transportation industry for 35 years, of which 15 have been in the transit industry. I am a hybrid transportation business professional, having had 20 years in the private sector—18 with CP Rail, two as a transportation engineering consultant—and 15 years of public sector experience with GO Transit, which then became Metrolinx in 2009.

I started my career in marketing and sales, believing I could fully commit to a career focused on improving the quality of service for freight customers and later, commuter passengers. At the time, selling products that got clothes whiter or made food taste better didn’t resonate with my inherent desire to make a real difference.

Please describe your involvement with APTA and note what’s rewarding about it.

I’ve been involved with APTA in some form since 2000. In addition to the committees I’m on [noted above], I am also on the Executive Committee of the Canadian Urban Transit Association and the board of the Railway Association of Canada. The synergies of belonging to these three industry leadership groups expands my knowledge, increases my network and affords me the opportunity to be a stronger advocate for positive change in the railway industries in Canada and the U.S.

APTA offers a unique forum for information and experience sharing that ultimately benefits all members. APTA enables everyone to learn from the experience of others, as good and bad experiences really don’t have geographic borders.

What do you like most about your industry involvement?

The transit industry continues to undergo rapid change in almost everything we do. We all experience budget challenges, changing corporate priorities, vacillating risk appetites, regulatory intervention and leapfrogging technologies, and it’s great to be able to share opportunities and challenges with peers who get it and have lived it.

Our industry doesn’t allow anyone to get too comfortable. It’s fast-paced and sometimes chaotic, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. I still have fun every day and don’t see that ever changing.

What would readers be surprised to learn about your agency?

In addition to operating transit, Metrolinx also plans and builds it. *  We are delivering hundreds of transit projects and services across the GTHA.

* We are expanding GO Transit train service to provide more trips on all lines.

* We are building 74 kilometers of new light rail transit and 68 kilometers of new BRT lines throughout the region.

* Connecting it all together, we are expanding and revitalizing Union Station, our country’s busiest transportation hub.

* All of this work is guided by our 25-year Regional Transportation Plan, which provides an overarching vision and specific recommendations for improving our transportation system.

What would you like to see change in the industry?

The big two are the fast-tracked evolution of tomorrow’s industry leaders, embedding diversity and inclusion as industry DNA, not issues to be managed; and the industry embracing the core principles of sustainability, including social responsibility, environmental preservation and climate adaptation. I’ll sneak in a third—a re-energized industry leadership focus on “doing, not talking about doing.”
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