Last week Oliver Moore of the Globe and Mail announced that Toronto mayor John Tory’s SmartTrack transit plan is evolving to feel less like SmartTrack and more like what Metrolinx had been planning all along.
Here’s the map from the Globe and Mail:
The 3 big changes are as follows (and numbered accordingly on the above map):
The western end of the line will be replaced by an extension of the Eglinton-Crosstown LRT (currently under construction) running from Mount Dennis to Pearson Airport. This is what was originally proposed.
The “U” running from Mount Dennis in the west, down through downtown, and up to Kennedy in the east is what remains of the original SmartTrack line and will operate as some sort of “heavy rail” service on existing GO Transit lines. The original election campaign plan was to run trains every 15 minutes, but that was deemed too infrequent to attract riders, so now Metrolinx and everyone is trying to figure out how to get it down to every 5-10 minutes and feel more like subway.
The extension north of Eglinton Avenue to suburban Markham (in the northeast) is being pushed out and will be dealt with sometime in the future. Keeping the first phase of SmartTrack south of Eglinton on both ends is beneficial in avoiding the issue of SmartTrack and the Scarborough subway extension cannibalizing each other. (In my opinion, this issue is a perfect example of what happens when transit planning becomes too political.)
The net result is a plan that is looking less and less like the original SmartTrack. I’m not complaining though because I have never been a big supporter of SmartTrack. I have always thought we should be focusing on the downtown relief subway line and on allowing Metrolinx to just execute on its regional express rail (RER) strategy.
For more on this topic, check out Steve Munro’s post, SmartTrack: Now You See It, Now You Don’t! He’s far more of an expert than I am on these sorts of issues.