BlogTO | People in Toronto are loving this 'Metrostinx' merch that Metrrolinx tried to shutdown

BlogTO | People in Toronto are loving this 'Metrostinx' merch that Metrrolinx tried to shutdown

By: Becky Robertson
Posted: January 4, 2024

If, like many people in Toronto, you're disgruntled with how Metrolinx has handled the long-overdue Eglinton Crosstown LRT or the controversial Ontario Line, there's now a way you can display your disapproval publicly with some very clever merchandise.

And, it has become even more popular now that the transit agency tried to put a stop to it.

The line of spoof products was created by local artist Christopher Lambe, who took Metrolinx's recognizable logo and reworked the text to read "Metrostinx," which is very much in line with the true sentiments people have about the Crown agency lately.

"No matter how you get downtown from the east end, it makes you want to pull out your hair. The work on the Ontario Line has caused such a back-up it has made me late for work more times than I can count, but the most frustrating part of this has been the lack of care and consultation with the communities this is affecting," Lambe tells blogTO.

After one particularly infuriating moment he had when trying to take a piece of furniture home from Yonge and Eglinton this spring — during which his taxi got trapped for ages in traffic caused by never-ending work on the Crosstown LRT — the Beaches resident decided he'd had enough with being silent on an issue that has plagued residents for years.

"I had to drag this ridiculously awkward piece of furniture three blocks just to find a place where a cab could actually reach me, it ended up being a literal nightmare because of all the construction," he says.

"I had heard and seen 'Metrostinx' used before, and I went home that night determined to design the visual parody so I could wear it on a t-shirt. As soon as I got it printed, it became my favourite shirt and I wore it everywhere!"

Of course, after the very difficult year transit riders in the city have had thanks to Metrolinx missing deadlines and causing construction chaos for multiple projects at once, virtually anyone who spotted the shirt seemed to want one of their own.

"Eventually, I made more, gave them to friends and family who wanted them and put some more up for sale on Etsy," says Lambe, who also shared the shirts on community Facebook groups like Weird Toronto, where they received rave reviews and gave rise to some laughs.

But then, this past November, Metrolinx took notice of the satirical drop and said that the use of the logo, even though altered, was a violation of the agency's trademark. (Staff added that they loved Lambe's enthusiasm for public transit, though).

"Canada actually has some of the strictest trademark protections in the world. Our trademark laws do not allow for parody or satire, they only allow it on copyright, which is why the Metrostinx phrase and wordmark seem to be fine."

While he removed the particular part of the logo in question, the artist says he never responded to Metrolinx's message and still plans to continue selling the shirts and other items with a slightly different (and more legally acceptable) design.

His drive to carry on is in large part due to the feedback he's received from the public in recent weeks.

"Once Metrolinx let me know I had to take the original designs down, I went to the internet to let folks know. I wasn't sure if I wanted to modify the design and continue selling them or just let it be, but so many people flocked to the Etsy store and messaged me privately to pick one up that I ultimately decided this was important work."

And so, the Metrostinx t-shirts, hoodies, mugs and tote bags live on as what Lambe calls "an easily accessible way people can visibly share their frustration at how Metrolinx is managing public transit."

So far, hundreds of the items have sold, prompting the artist to add to his oeuvre with designs targeting the Eglinton LRT in particular, as well as Doug FordLoblaws, and grocery oligarch Galen Weston Jr.

"Everyone has been super supportive of the work. I will continue to make new designs inspired by Metrolinx's (and other corporations') incompetence until they finally learn how to manage a project responsibly and with respect for the communities they are affecting," he says.

"Cutting down the historic trees in one of the more peaceful spaces downtown (Osgoode Hall) months if not years before it was needed, removing trees in ecologically significant ravines like small creek without any restoration plans — Metrolinx has used up all its goodwill with Toronto."

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