Metrolinx has confirmed that it is studying whether to undertake a significant expansion of paid parking at GO train stations.

Citing “internal documents,” the Globe and Mail reported Tuesday that tens of thousands of free spots could become paid parking at GO Transit’s commuter lots if Metrolinx, the provincial agency which operates GO Transit, moves forward with a “parking modernization” program.

“We are exploring a variety of solutions as we know many GO customers have a challenge finding parking in our lots and building more and more parking is not good for the taxpayer or the environment. We also want to keep transit costs affordable for our customers. That is a priority,” Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said in a written statement sent to CP24 on Tuesday.

“Our study continues along with piloting solutions and working with municipalities to support customers to get to stations other ways such as local transit, biking, walking, ride-sharing and car-pooling.”

Aikins noted that not all parking would be converted to paid spots and plenty of free parking would still be available if Metrolinx moves ahead with plans to expand the program.

According to the Globe, the internal documents show that Metrolinx could convert up to half of its parking spaces to paid spots by September 2022.

Currently, a reserved parking space costs $98 per month and may be rented for a minimum of six months at a time.

Metrolinx says there is a “large waiting list” for reserved parking at several GO stations, including King City, Maple, Port Credit, Long Branch, Mimico, and Weston.

A spokesperson for Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney said the government will ensure that some free parking will be maintained at existing lots.

“Our government will ensure free parking is always maintained in existing lots,” the statement read.  “Parking is a challenge at many GO stations and we expect Metrolinx to manage these challenges. In an effort to do this, Metrolinx is exploring new ways to maximize the availability of parking at GO stations.

“At this time, no proposal from Metrolinx has been approved or finalized by Minister Mulroney. We look forward to reviewing future proposals from Metrolinx so that we can find solutions to ensure the needs of GO customers are being met.”