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SmartTrack tracks smartly ahead,
as City agrees to study the plan

Update — Wednesday, January 20, 6:08 p.m.: The City of Toronto has released a report recommending light rail transit for the west-end of the line along Eglinton Avenue West. It also released ridership forecasts.


Image: John Tory campaign

The SmartTrack commuter-rail plan successfully jumped from being the key plank of a (successful) mayoral candidate to an official part of the City of Toronto’s official transit plans this week. Toronto City Council approved allocating funds to study to formally study the feasibility of the plan at its meeting this week.

Mayor John Tory’s SmartTrack plan builds on the Government of Ontario’s $15 billion commitment to expand transit in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton. The province intends to deliver a “Regional Express Rail” or RER service to increase GO Transit rail service across all corridors. The RER will provide two-way, allday, GO service as frequent as every 15 minutes and “electrify all provincially owned GO rail corridors. Metrolinx will deliver the RER program over the next ten years.

The designers of the SmartTrack plan propose a 53-kilometre (33-mile), also with “all-day two-way” frequent train service, along GO’s Kitchener and Stouffville rail corridors and a new heavy-rail corridor along Eglinton Avenue West to the Airport Corporate Centre in Mississauga. The trains would serve 22 stations, including 13 new ones, and the goal is to operate trains along the line within seven years.

On December 11, 2014, City Council directed the City Manager to work with the TTC, the province and Metrolinx to develop an accelerated work plan for reviewing the SmartTrack and RER plans. Together, the three partners will review what they require to build and operate the line, including infrastructure requirements, planning, social, economic development considerations and costs.

In December, Council also approved spending $750,000 to study the feasibility of the plan. During its three-day meeting, starting Tuesday, February 10, it agreed to a further expenditure of $900,000 to study options for linking the future Mount Dennis Station — the western terminal of the first phase of the Eglinton - Crosstown light rail transit line — with the Airport Corporate Centre.

City Council also asked the Province of Ontario and Metrolinx to include several SmartTrack elements when designing and approving plans for Regional Express Rail (RER) service along the Stouffville and Lakeshore East GO corridor between Unionville GO Station and Union Station, and on the Kitchener GO corridor between Mount Dennis and Union.

Council also gave the go-ahead to several amendments to the original plan. (These amendments originated when the City’s Executive Committee reviewed the plan in January, including:

  • operating trains as frequently as every 15 minutes or even more frequently;
  • providing all-stop service in both directions;
  • electrifying the entire SmartTrack line more quickly than originally proposed;
  • integrating the line with other transit services, including the TTC and GO Transit;
  • integrating the line’s fares with the TTC and GO Transit, with free transfers between services;
  • building seven more stations on the Stouffville GO/Lakeshore East GO corridors (totaling 14, including Union Station); and
  • building four more stations, including one south of Bloor Street between Queen Street and Dundas Street West and a new GO station at Mount Dennis on the Kitchener line, which Metrolinx and GO are already planning.

Council also directed the City Manager, in partnership with Metrolinx and the TTC to undertake a feasibility study of SmartTrack options on the Eglinton Avenue West corridor, from Mount Dennis station to the Mississauga Airport Corporate Centre, including:

  • including at least three stations;
  • integrating the line with the Regional Express Services along GO’s Kitchener line;
  • consulting with members of the public during the study; and
  • preparing the feasibility study as background for the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP).

It also wants the feasibility study to assess whether SmartTrack should, instead, continue north from the Mount Dennis station to the airport area, including stops at Weston GO station, and two more stations at Islington Avenue and Woodbine Racetrack and then connect to the Airport Corporate Centre by way of a new heavy-rail link. It’s also asking the TTC to report on ways that it can provide express bus services to help passengers efficiently connect to SmartTrack at various stations.

You can view the City staff report to Executive Committee about SmartTrack, here.

You can view a joint presentation from the City, the TTC and Metrolinx about SmartTrack here.

You can read the details of Council’s decision here.

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