Playing Fast and Loose With SmartTrack (Updated)

In a previous article, I wrote at length about the City of Toronto’s reports on the status of SmartTrack to be discussed at the October 20, 2015 meeting of the Executive Committee.

Two related items also deserve comment.

First up is an article in the Star by Tess Kalinowski in which she reveals that Metrolinx CEO, Bruce McCuaig, wrote to City Manager, Peter Wallace on October 6, over a week before the reports were posted on the Executive Committee Agenda. His letter said quite clearly that SmartTrack would only be an incremental upgrade of GO service, not a separate operation running on GO’s trackage.

“Metrolinx and the province believe that the (city report) should reflect the scenario where SmartTrack is an incremental increase in RER (regional express rail) service, rather than an independent and parallel service that co-exists with RER,” he wrote.

“The risk of creating unmet expectations is too great,” said McCuaig.

The letter also suggests the city stop referring to SmartTrack as a “surface subway” since federal rail regulations would prohibit TTC-style subway trains from operating on GO tracks.

The full text of the letter is not yet online, and it is notably absent from the Executive Committee agenda.

Updated October 19, 2015 at 11:45 am:

Metrolinx has issued a statement pledging its continued support for “key elements” of SmartTrack, whatever that means.

MetrolinxStatement_20151019

Second is the appearance of an “advocacy group” called FAST (Friends and Allies of SmartTrack) which appeared to spring out of nowhere earlier this week. This is no ordinary citizens’ group plotting in someone’s kitchen how to get some new transit line built, but a well-financed group with close ties to Mayor Tory. Their website reproduces the Tory campaign colours and links to SmartTrack material from that era.

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