Few people outside government circles knew Bruce McCuaig’s name before the deputy transportation minister was named the new chief operating officer for Metrolinx on Wednesday.

But steering an unprecedented transit expansion means McCuaig will have an impact on every community in a region expected to grow by 2.6-million people by 2031.

With a 26-year resumé in transportation and land-use planning, and experience heading up Ontario’s Provincial Highways Management Division, McCuaig’s backers say he’s the right man for the job.

But will he be able to calm the controversy that has already beset some key transit projects, including the Georgetown GO expansion and Toronto’s Transit City light-rail projects?

The Toronto Star asked McCuaig about the challenges ahead for himself, for Metrolinx and for the region.

Why were you interested in heading up Metrolinx?

With my background in transportation and land-use planning, this seems to be a real opportunity to play a role in the life of the future of the city region.

In terms of some of the transportation challenges in the area, I really think about making sure we’re going to deliver the Sheppard LRT on time, on budget, the works in Georgetown, Eglinton, Scarborough RT, Finch, York Viva, delivery on GO expansion and service improvement.

How do we set the stage on, not just how to deliver on those projects, but to have a sustainable expansion and delivery of the transportation over the long term?

You’re not a politician. But you know this (transit expansion) is politically loaded. There have been disagreements between the TTC and Metrolinx; there’s competition among the municipalities for scarce resources. How do you see your role playing into some of that tension, potential conflict and competition?

I’ve got 26 years of experience in building networks with municipalities, with the federal government, in the provincial government, with stakeholders.

If we’re going to achieve our transportation objectives in the region we have to collaborate, we have to partner. The one thing that we have now that we’ve never had in the past in this region is a shared regional transportation plan ... so we do have a common vision of what we’re moving towards.

Have you had much experience dealing directly with the public?

(I’ve been involved in) environmental assessments.

When you’re doing environmental assessments there are public meetings involved, and sometimes there are three members of the public there and sometimes there are hundreds.

I’ve had a range of different experiences in dealing with stakeholders, whether they’re public-based stakeholders or more private interests.