SmartTrack: Now You See It, Now You Don’t!

Oliver Moore in the Globe and Mail reports that there have been major changes to the SmartTrack plan, to wit:

  • The western branch of the service to the Airport district will be provided by the western extension of the Eglinton-Crosstown LRT as originally proposed.
  • “SmartTrack” per se will operate as a heavy rail service overlaid on GO Transit with the initial phase running from Mount Dennis to Kennedy Stations.
  • The northern extension of “SmartTrack” to Markham will be a separate phase of the project.

The map from the Globe & Mail is reproduced below.


According to Moore, the cost of adding SmartTrack to GO under this configuration would be much, much less than the originally quoted figure for the entire line. In turn, this would free up substantial capital spending headroom in City plans for other projects.

SmartTrack service at 15 minutes (the level proposed in Tory’s campaign) is far too infrequent to attract much riding, and especially to make a dent in demand on the existing subway interchange at Bloor-Yonge. We saw this in the June 2015 Metrolinx demand projections that were far more favourable to a Relief Line operating north to Sheppard and Don Mills. However, getting SmartTrack service down to as close a headway as every 5 minutes will be challenging for Metrolinx and for the corridors through which this would operate. There are no details yet on how this would be achieved.

The Eglinton West LRT has always been the superior way of serving this corridor compared to the heavy rail SmartTrack scheme. ST foundered on major problems with constructibility and neighbourhood effects, issues that were dismissed in a stunning display of cavalier “expert” knowledge during the campaign. Planning by Google Maps from an office in the UK has its limitations, but Tory’s campaign relied on this “expertise”. One shameless professor even rated ST with an “A+” in the CBC Metro Morning interview.

Keeping the first phase of ST confined south of Eglinton on both branches limits the operating costs the City must bear if this to be truly a “Toronto” project with “Toronto” fares, and it avoids the complexities of building into the 905.

Indeed, SmartTrack began as a real estate development scheme to make commercial property near the Airport and in Markham more accessible from downtown in a series of studies that actually claimed the market for downtown office space was static and falling. Yet another expert should be eating crow pie from his perch on the Metrolinx board. It was never clear why Toronto should shell out billions to improve property values in the 905, and this task now falls clearly to Metrolinx where it belongs.

The eastern leg of SmartTrack, north from Kennedy, obviously competes with the Scarborough Subway Extension, and there is no need for two routes serving the same demand, especially when GO already plans substantially improved service in the rail corridor. The long-standing issue of SSE demand may be clarified by the absence of SmartTrack as a competing service.

It is no secret that my own position would be to revert to the LRT plan in Scarborough, but that train has probably left the station, especially if the City can “save” a small fortune by scaling back on SmartTrack.

These changes could also foreshadow a revised schedule for the LRT projects at a time when “shovel ready” projects are in demand to soak up new federal spending. Eglinton West’s LRT extension is relatively easy to build, and it could be started soon enough to complete concurrently with the main Crosstown route. There is also the matter of the Sheppard East LRT including its proposed service linking to UofT Scarborough campus.

Coming weeks may bring many sputtering denials, or possibly, much improved clarity and acceptance of an – at last – realistic plan.



55 thoughts on “SmartTrack: Now You See It, Now You Don’t!

  1. Since the mayoral campaigns, I predicted that ST would eventually merge into GO’s existing expansion plans, and that the Eglinton LRT would likely be the airport extension. I kind of hope that Tory did this on purpose, campaigning on a scheme he knew was pie-in-the-sky just to ‘back down’ to the reasonable, measured plan he always knew was the best choice.

    Do I give him too much credit? Probably…

    Steve: Considering the vitriol he and his campaign poured out on doubters like me about our lack of vision, of support for Toronto’s future, no, that was not a clever tactic. It was bull-headed stupidity from the kind of politician who always, always must be “right”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Steve, do you have any more comments on the feasibility of 5 min frequencies?

    Steve: First, by running the “SmartTrack” service only from Mount Dennis to Kennedy, they can keep the service to the “north” side of the corridor. That is to say the east side of the Weston corridor, north side through Union, and then onto the west side of the Uxbridge Sub up to Kennedy. This gets rid of a lot of the pesky cross-corridor movements that would be needed by a train going out Eglinton West or south from the north side of the airport.

    Even so, there needs to be a guarantee that they won’t have to provide for any freight service wandering onto the ST tracks where totally different operating clearances would be needed.

    A related question will be the train size. 12 trains per hour times how many cars of which design? One of the reasons GO runs such large trains is that they need fewer of them to carry a large volume of passengers. Putting it another way, what is the target load the revised ST is looking to handle?

    This is still going to be a challenge.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is an interesting climb down. I didn’t know Tory had it in him.

    Indeed, terminating SmartTrack at Mount Dennis is a very interesting choice. If not for the capacity issues on the Weston sub north of Mount Dennis I’d have run it to a new station at Woodbine, terminated the Finch LRT there, and built a new high density mid rise mobility hub.

    I’m also wondering now…will there be a concession from Metrolinx, say on the Davenport Overpass issue, to balance out against Tory’s concession? Perhaps we’ll learn more in advance of the public meeting on the 18th.

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: I suspect that the update design from Metrolinx already published for Davenport is as far as they will move. There is some basic physics at work here that limits gradient options, and the biggest issue is to build the crossing with the least unwanted side-effects. That bridge isn’t going away, just being made as inconspicuous as possible, if such a term can be used here.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There was very recently an article (and I wish I could recall where) that suggested a cost of at least 5G$ just for this portion alone. (Based, at least in part, on the necessary expropriations to widen the corridor.)

    5G$ is less than 8G$, but not by so much that it makes much difference, especially given (a) the city has no plan to raise its third of the money, (b) AFAIK the province hasn’t made a firm commitment of its third and (c) the inevitability of cost overruns.

    Steve: There is a big problem for the City when you look at the financial arrangements. The original $8b was a back-of-the-envelope number I won’t even dignify as an “estimate”. It was simply a European average construction cost per km adjusted for Toronto conditions and multiplied by the length of the ST line. I can do better than that in projecting costs (maybe I have better envelopes!).

    Queen’s Park has already said that their “third” would be in kind contributions consisting of work they were planning to do anyhow on GO/RER, in other words, no incremental contribution. We will probably never know how much of the notional $8b GO/RER works would have been. As for Ottawa, sure Harper signed on for 1/3 of the project cost, but even if we can believe his promise has any lasting value, if the project gets cheaper, so does a 1/3 commitment. I very much doubt that Toronto gets to “keep” money they don’t actually need.

    This leaves Toronto’s 1/3 of whatever ST winds up being. Ontario has already said that any incremental costs for ST-specific infrastructure (such as the Eglinton branch) is entirely on the City’s head, and I suspect that at most we would get 1/3 of those costs out of Ottawa. The more “non-GO” infrastructure we need, the more money Toronto has to find.

    Of course Tory’s “experts” didn’t think about this at all because they did a very bad job of evaluating the technical requirements of the line, and doubled down on their position when people like me called them out on the issues. I have no sympathy for them. No doubt they will find remunerative work elsewhere.

    Oh yes, there was that little matter of Tax Increment Financing that was sold as the solution to every problem, even though it presumed that a large amount of growth that would happen with or without ST could be “billed” as a ST benefit. That was utter nonsense, but Tory’s campaign was good at that.

    The only silver lining in this is that, unlike the Ford era, the Tory delay to transit progress might be kept to two years.


  5. Since SmartTrack will only go to Kennedy station, this kills Downtown’s argument that any subway extension in Scarborough would duplicate SmartTrack which in it’s latest form would still leave Downtown Relief Line (DRL) obsolete.

    Steve: No. As has already been demonstrated by Metrolinx demand modelling, if the DRL becomes a Don Mills subway north to Sheppard, it has a huge benefit for the Bloor-Yonge interchange. As for the SSE, I still think the full Scarborough LRT network would be better, but at least we are now rid of the ST/SSE duplication as I said in the article.


  6. Hi Steve,

    One thing I noticed during the campaign the point of SmartTrack was to be a cheaper option for a Downtown Relief Line. Would the Kennedy to Mount Dennis service accomplish this goal? I get why you take out the western portion that I agree with. If you take the DRL out of consideration for a second, what other options are there besides SmartTrack? Why not open up a new GO Transit adjacent or on the C.P. Mainline. From what I have read from blogs and Feeling Congested Summary list it does seem promising to divert Bloor Subway Traffic. Even consider this Missing Link project would divert traffic from C.P. Mainline and the C.N. North Toronto Line, proof will be in the pudding, to free up more passenger train service along this line.

    I may add getting C.N. and C.P. to share tracks in a more efficient manner could spur off talks to share tracks for much of Southwestern Ontario towards the Windsor border. Also, to note this year with the upcoming Cap and Trade regime by requiring the Transportation industry to cut carbon dioxide. Thus, forcing smarter usage of the frieght tracks. Depending on how heavy that requirement will be interesting to see. My main point is that if Mississauga and others are willing to unlock the Milton GO Line, the Midtown GO Line could perhaps be just as expensive as SmartTrack.

    I could be wrong obviously what I am saying, but now with a pivot of SmartTrack Toronto needs to explain why this proposal specifically will relieve subway traffic and get cars off the road. Further to that because $2.6B federal dollars is committed to this project, as well as $2B for GO Lines is SmartTrack worth it?

    Steve: First off, I think you are being very hopeful about sharing of rail corridors. SmartTrack uses corridors that GO already owns, not those that are very busy mainline operations owned by the freight railways. The Milton scheme is a long shot and unlikely to see anything built (even if CP and CN agree) for at least a decade. If, and it’s a big “if”, the CP corridor were available through central Scarborough and out to Pickering, yes it would have a benefit, but that’s highly unlikely.

    Meanwhile, the Federal commitment is for 1/3 of the cost, and it is by no means clear that if the cost of ST goes down, then the same dollars would still be on the table available for something else.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Why does John Tory want Toronto taxpayers to pay for a provincial service for SmartTrack? Who in Scarborough will actually use SmartTrack?


  8. They just built us three platforms at Weston. I know the Kitchener line is still supposed to get 15 minute service with RER but 5 minute service would sure be nice.

    Steve do you think they’d extend SmartTrack to Weston, a relocated Etobicoke North (at Islington) and Woodbine, or do think they’d be pretty firm on ending it at Mount Dennis?

    Steve: Not sure. The whole issue of the future of the existing Lawrence/Weston station and a future Eglinton/Mount Dennis station has been dodged by Metrolinx for quite some time. As for Etobicoke North, I very much doubt it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Isn’t 17 stops on Eglinton West overkill? That’s like double the amount of stops on Bloor Danforth in the same length, no? Do you think they’d keep it elevated or bring it back down to street level?

    Steve: Keep it elevated? It was always planned to be at street level. As for the 17 stops, 4 of these are beyond the Renforth Gateway and serve the airport area. That count is from the original EA plan in Transit City, and the stop count might be trimmed.


  10. Naive question of the day for you: why would operating this south of Eglinton with heavy rail vehicles be less costly that using light rail vehicles? Would light rail require significant track upgrades? Thanks.

    Steve: Because the corridor is already used by heavy rail and the trackage cannot be shared with LRT. This will not be a situation where there are tracks just dedicated to SmartTrack because there simply isn’t room for another set.


  11. Michael B said:

    “Who in Scarborough will actually use SmartTrack?”

    Quite a few and not enough. SmartTrack will have a faster travel time downtown simply by having less stops than the BD line and people will use it because of that; especially if the fare is no worse than those on the Downtown Express routes. It’s just that not enough will use it to significantly help any of the existing problems that the TTC is facing.


  12. @Moaz,
    I see doing anything extra with the SmartTrack label as the concession from Metrolinx. It seems like they’ve completely gutted the idea, filled it with their own network expansion plans (infill stations to relieve Union Station pressure, Mount Dennis Station, Eglinton West LRT, all-day two-day service on Stouffville to Unionville).

    The article is unclear if the $2B to $3.5B includes the $1.3B for Eglinton West or not, but I’d assume not. As such, the price tag is between $400M to $700 per station (assuming that no additional track/signal work is needed as was the original ST assumption). This is much more in line with the cost of building the Spadina Station and Don Station (in place of the current yards) plus a few other “cheaper” stations – Mount Dennis and one or two on the Lakeshore East (the only other east side option in my mind is northwest of Queen/Dufferin).

    This is business-as-usual RER in everything, but name.

    It seems weird that Scarborough riders are against the DRL, as they’d be the ones most likely to benefit from either a quicker/more direct ride or more space. If you believe the SSE ridership estimates, getting on a train at Yonge-Bloor will be a real challenge.

    The reason that the Milton line on the CP Galt subdivision doesn’t already have all-day, two-way service is because CP is very reluctant to share their space. The Missing Link project seems like it was prepared by consultants with little direct experience with CPR and CN. At the very least, it requires appropriations to build a new rail corridor, which is about as feasible as the Spadina Expressway.

    If you want to “unlock” the Milton line, you’re looking at probably a $1B price tag just to acquire the property.

    @Michael B,
    SmartTrack would be a TTC service on provincial property, just like the Eglinton LRT.

    @J Cam,
    Etobicoke North at Islington is definitely not going to happen with the proximity to the Weston Golf Course and the Islington/401 interchange.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Any indication when and in which forum we’ll see an official update? Perhaps at the Executive Committee in a fortnight?

    Overall, this looks like a step forward – except perhaps for those pour souls who use the Lawrence East RT station (and Ellesmere I suppose – but there’s only a few of those).

    Shame that neither the Eglinton line or SmartTrack wouldn’t head just another stop to that location, which does have an almost respectable ridership.

    Steve: One issue for ST is that there are coexistence problems for ST and the SRT at stations. If ST goes ahead north of Kennedy before the SSE opens, there is a good chance the SRT would have to be shut down to make room.


  14. And yet, the Federal Government is willing to pour millions into the project…

    Steve: I suspect that Ottawa is just sitting back to watch this scheme unwind in its own time. The Liberals have been quite firm about not interfering in local choices, only making funds available. If Toronto chooses to blow this nest egg on dubious projects, more blame to our pols for their stupid, pandering ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Presumably the GO part of SmartTrack will now just be a few additional GO stations. It does not make sense to have SmartTrack services duplicating the express GO services, so presumably it will still be the Kitchener and Stouffville lines that are already funded under GO RER. I’m guessing that on the west side, local “SmartTrack” trains will go as far as Bramalea and express trains will run express to Bramalea and local beyond that. Is the idea that some trains will short turn at Mount Dennis and Kennedy so that trains go every 5 minutes between those stations?

    Steve: I only know what I read in the papers, as they say. It has already been clear that the western limit of “RER” on the Kitchener corridor will be Bramalea, the end of the GO Transit owned track. The truly “SmartTrack” service would be south from Mount Dennis, but if it’s part of a blended service, it won’t run every 5 minutes. Without that frequent service, it cannot attract many riders. More details are needed, but everyone is keeping mum about all of this. More will dribble out in coming days, I am sure.


  16. What are your guesses for the “4 or 5” new stations between Kennedy and Mt Dennis?

    Steve: Something near Queen/King (although this is a challenge due to track geometry). Don (for the Great Gulf/Unilever project). Gerrard. Maybe something at Scarborough Junction on the Uxbridge sub. After that I run out of locations.


  17. @Dave, Steve-

    I think it is important to note if you put in the fact Ontario has promised to spend billions, various infrastructure projects close to construction. I would say those are the most “shovel ready” and could perhaps meet their strategic requirements. If the feds put money into a project for example GO Trains, Sheppard LRT, Finch LRT, or Eglinton Crosstown it would then free up funds Ontario would have to spend a bit more time looking for new projects. Thus, spreading their $15B to more projects. That is how I see it playing out, but we will see how it does. Not being originally a native of Toronto most people in SW ONT hate paying for things for the region, while their economy bleeds good jobs. It does bother me in a way that that the few monies the Toronto area gets they waste on SmartTrack or SSE.


  18. Is it really true that most of this scheme was originally drawn up in Europe without any real local input beyond “As long as it makes our guy look good!”?

    Steve: Only partly in Europe. The idea of a “Big U” service on GO trackage was originally proposed using the Milton and Stouffville lines, but Milton was unworkable because it’s the CPR main line. Attention then shifted north. However, the entire exercise was skewed by a real estate study that focused on improved access to Markham and the Airport Corporate Centre, in part because development there is constrained by the road capacity to deliver workers. That point is the single area where this scheme has a relationship to “Crossrail” in London which opens up new development capacity in a transit starved area.

    The decision to move to Eglinton was makeshift, and the London-based consultant used an out-of-date set of views on Google to check out the available right of way. Unfortunately for him, some of this had already been sold and developed before Tory announced his grand scheme. Moreover, Google isn’t as good at conveying vertical terrain, and the complexity of getting from the Weston sub onto Eglinton was not factored in to what was originally claimed as a tunnel-free project. Putting ST on Eglinton also clobbered the LRT line there, and avoided giving the Fords something to campaign on in Etobicoke. Of course the idea of GO trains running along Eglinton didn’t sit well either.

    Privately, Metrolinx was never much amused by ST, but given their position as a provincial agency could hardly be seen to be meddling in the municipal election.


  19. Steve said

    One issue for ST is that there are coexistence problems for ST and the SRT at stations. If ST goes ahead north of Kennedy before the SSE opens, there is a good chance the SRT would have to be shut down to make room.

    Moaz: As I recall the pinch point on the corridor is just north of Ellesmere with the SRT tunnel underpass followed by the narrowing of the rail corridor? I don’t suppose there would be an option of extending the proposed Short Track up to Ellesmere to offer a more direct connection to TTC buses and the Scarborough RT?

    Steve: There is a conflict at Kennedy Station shown clearly in drawings of the proposed GO corridor widening, and that’s without separate tracks for a SmartTrack service. Lawrence East has no overlap, but again that’s without more than a double-track GO line.

    Mapleson said:

    I see doing anything extra with the SmartTrack label as the concession from Metrolinx. It seems like they’ve completely gutted the idea, filled it with their own network expansion plans (infill stations to relieve Union Station pressure, Mount Dennis Station, Eglinton West LRT, all-day two-day service on Stouffville to Unionville).

    Moaz: I suppose the other ‘extra’ is the introduction of an Eglinton-Union-Kennedy rail service that might be somewhere between a GO train and subway. If it were at TTC fares then it could conceivably be an interim relief service, but at GO fares it doesn’t offer that much over the current Kitchener and Stouffville trains. If the service frequency is low, then there isn’t even that much of an advantage over just using the subway.

    While the Short Track moves forward, I wonder if Metrolinx might extend the Metropass+GO $60 sticker zone to include Bloor and Kennedy GO stations, maybe even run a connection between the two….

    Cheers, Moaz


  20. @Mapleson,

    I only mention relocation of Etobicoke North because in the short-list map of additional stations that Metrolinx released in October, Islington was on there as a replacement … possibly built alongside the UPX maintenance yard (?).


  21. Turn UPX into Smart Track west. Reduce the fares to GO levels, add stops at Etobicoke north, Mount Dennis, and Queen/Dufferin. Even better, rename it the Airport GO line and integrate the signage with GO.

    Cancel Smart Track East and build the Downtown Relief Line with the money saved.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Steve,

    If there are 4 to 5 extra stations being added which ones do you presume would be selected from the proposed Metrolinx +50 plus list? So in September Metrolinx had a short list of 4 possible stations on South. Of Kennedy on the Stouffville/Lakeshore East line, and 3 Possible stations South of Mount Dennis on the Kitchener line.

    Steve: That 50+ list has every item on every wish list everyone has ever sent to Metrolinx, and many of them are non-starters. For reasons best known to Metrolinx, they don’t seem to want to invite criticism for taking some locations off of the list “early”. The ones in the territory of interest are:

    West: Bathurst-Spadina, Liberty Village, Queen-Dufferin, Dundas W (an existing station), St. Clair.
    East: Parliament-Cherry, Don Yard, DVP East, Queen-Degrassi, Dundas-Logan, Gerrard-Carlaw, Jones, Greenwood, Coxwell (but oddly enough, not Scarborough Junction (Danforth) where Stouffville trains don’t stop. There is also the existing Danforth station at Main which is somewhat distant from the subway.

    Of these, many are very close to each other, notably the clusters around Liberty Village and the Don River (only one is needed to serve the Great Gulf site), and at various locations from there to Danforth. I have already replied to this question in a previous comment.


  23. UPX should be consolidated into the new ST — it would provide better airport service from many more neighbourhoods, and disguise the impending failure of UPX.


  24. What do you think of expanding the MiWay BRT to the Mt Dennis terminal? For many west end commuters, it would mean one less transfer to get downtown.

    Steve: Makes sense if there will be a choice of a southern (ST) and eastern (ECLRT) route from Mount Dennis, but it also begs the question of simply transferring at Renforth to the Eglinton line and to the University/Spadina subway at Eglinton West. It’s the multiplicity of choices that is important in a network, and you can’t have a one-seat ride everywhere.


  25. Good news. LRT on Eglinton West instead of mainline rail is obviously the right choice. The only caveat is that it should have been announced sooner.

    The deferral of the north-eastern section, from Kennedy Stn to Unionville, is a bit surprising. But it probably makes sense; they do not want to start construction in the rail corridor adjacent to SRT before the SRT is finally shut down.

    If they want to operate the Mt Dennis – Union – Kennedy section of SmartTrack with a 5-min frequency, do they have to widen parts of the rail corridor in the Gerrard St area, as well as the southern end of the Uxbridge sub?

    Steve: Yes, and I have my doubts about whether there is actually enough room for this. But the time for flim-flam presentations is over. Now it’s hard engineering facts that will have to prove or disprove the viability of this scheme.


  26. @Matt Devlin: Re-purposing UPX as the western leg of SmartTrack is a good idea in principle, but it may be difficult to rebuild the existing Pearson rail spur to allow longer trains. It might be more practical to extend SmartTrack along the Kitchener corridor, up to Etobicoke North, Woodbine, or even to Bramalea Stn.

    I do not agree with a suggestion to cancel SmartTrack East. Although it will be less effective than the Relief subway in diverting excess riders from the Yonge line, it is cheaper and can be built much faster. That will give TTC some breathing room while the city continues to work on the DRL route and design, and attempts to secure the funding.


  27. How will Union Station handle GO trains and ST trains? The platforms are already too small to handle current ridership, surely an expansion will be required?

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Some observations:

    1) The UP Express cannot become part of ST or RER because of the stupid decision to only build a three car platform at Pearson. I cannot see how it can be lengthened with the constrains of the curved approach at one end and the airport terminal at the other. Do any of the readers out there take the GO train that runs express from Bramalea to Union in the morning? I would like to know how fast it goes through Weston and Bloor stations.
    2) Union Station cannot handle 5 minute headways on RER. This needs a major change with satellite or underground stations. Union Station was fine for a city of 220,000 when used for intercity rail service. It is grossly inadequate as a hub that will try to handle over 300,000 passengers per day in the future.
    3) Metrolinx is rebuilding the southern most platform at Bramalea on track 5. This used to be used for the trains that turned back from Bramalea and will probably be used by the RER service.
    4) There are signs that provisions are being made for an extra track in many spots along the corridor, mainly to the north (east) side of the right of way. I think I saw new bridge or provision for one that would carry a track up the east side of the Bloor Station but am not sure. If anyone who travels it regularly knows could they please comment.
    5) There is major civil engineering work going on at Georgetown. There is a retaining wall being built on the north side of the embankment over Silver Creek west of the station so that a third track from the GO platforms to the Guelph sub can be placed. This will allow the GO trains to get there without going back onto the main freight tracks.
    6) There are signals in for a third track through Georgetown to continue east to Mount Pleasant where triple tracks starts.
    7) The CN foreman told me that the existing two freight tracks will be moved south taking out the newly build VIA platform and that the right of way will be fenced off to keep pedestrians from walking across the tracks and through the yard which happens all the time. Via trains would have to use the GO platforms.
    8) The east end of the yard has had retaining walls put in and earth added. It appears that they are going to move the switches to the yard farther east and lengthen the tracks to be able to store 12 car trains. There are plenty of prefabricated switch sections and straight track pieces sitting there. It looks like Atlas snap track for an HO layout.
    9) One of the locals told me that he was at a meeting put on by Metrolinx where they said they were going to put in a new track north of the main line and south of the yard and put in a new platform between it and the GO yard. This would make sense as a new platform with elevator access needed and it would be an island platform that would allow access to two tracks with only one elevator plus the one near the parking lot or perhaps one at each parking lot.
    10) Etobicoke North stations has all the earmarks of a temporary station.
    11) Trying to put the triple track through downtown Brampton is going to be a major problem. I have seen a couple of ideas and neither of them is cheap or easy.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. “What are your guesses for the “4 or 5” new stations between Kennedy and Mt Dennis?”

    They appear to be seen on a picture someone snapped in City Hall a couple of weeks ago:

    St. Clair West, King (near Atlantic), Spadina, Lever (Broadview extension), and Gerrard.

    Though how you put a station on the curve at Broadview extension is beyond me …


  30. Ben Smith said:

    “What do you think of expanding the MiWay BRT to the Mt Dennis terminal? For many west end commuters, it would mean one less transfer to get downtown.”

    Conversely, with the western section of the LRT back on the radar and elements of the detail design up for reconsideration, is there any chance that extending (a branch) of the line along the MIWay busway will emerge as a legit discussion?


  31. It will be interesting to see what happens with the Eglinton West extension to Pearson which was put on the back-burner by Metrolinx. The line would have to travel on GTAA (Fed agency) property. I had heard that a failure to negotiate access delayed the previous attempt to serve the airport.

    The GTAA also threatened to put a (non-parking) surcharge on UP express which was cancelled after negotiations with the Province. The extremely high fares announced after those meetings serve to lower the number of people using the service, which in turn limits parking revenue losses.

    Given that airport parking is such a major proportion of airport revenue it is likely no coincidence that so many cities have higher fares on rapid transit links to airports.

    Determining the GTAA’s actual position has always been complicated. Officially they are always pro transit. This is likely true for improving transit access to jobs surrounding the airport and for any workers who would never purchase airport parking. From a flights perspective, they are also likely pro-access. This perspective would become more influential the more that auto congestion is perceived to impede/limit access.

    New transit map:

    The ‘honk for subways’ crowd often argued that ‘streetcars’ (LRT) blocked traffic and that only subways would relieve transit congestion. I find it ironic that an LRT which which was completely grade separated appears to have been successfully killed while many on street routes appear to be going ahead. RF did his best to confuse the issue by suggesting the SRT replacement LRT (and SmartTrack) would run along the street.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. The published map shows the Sheppard line extension only to McCowan. That means that it’s going to be a subway most likely.

    Steve: No it does not. Building Sheppard as a subway would be a huge waste of money for the demand level.


  33. So he’s proposing 15-minute service on the inner part of the Stouffville and Kitchener lines.

    Great. But surely it would make more sense to provide 15-minute service on the inner parts of Lakeshore East and Lakeshore West Lines first!

    (Perhaps this could be the polite comment to the decisionmakers.)


  34. Jeremy wrote:

    One thing I noticed during the campaign the point of SmartTrack was to be a cheaper option for a Downtown Relief Line.

    There has been much written, here and elsewhere, about the myth that SmartTrack is an alternative to the DRL. This analogy recently came up in a private conversation:

    Saying that SmartTrack is a replacement to the DRL for our transit woes, is like saying that peanut butter is a protein replacement for beef. For some (vegans and vegetarians) it is an excellent replacement, for some it might work, for some it is impractical (don’t like peanut butter, or really prefer beef), and for some there is no way it would work (peanut allergy).

    The point of the analogy is that there is a vast majority of people that would find SmartTrack totally useless or not much of an improvement over a DRL.

    Steve: To break the analogy, market surveys show that more people like beef than peanut butter. The political problem is that beef costs more, and people consider that peanut butter is an alternative unworthy of their consideration. Meanwhile the purveyors of (yonge) pork keep saying that they will just fatten their critters up more, and we don’t need all that beef.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. @calvin

    I did not suggest SmartTrack was a replacement for the DRL. I was only suggesting if it was SOLD during an election campaign and it has earmarked Federal dollars whether it was even the slightest relieving traffic. So it being smaller in scope, but potentially more frequent (& perhaps not more frequent) I was suggesting if it was living up to the purpose. People in Toronto want to say they need transit dollars to cut gridlock, but ignore more deserving projects while their leaders make up “lines on a map”. Their are tonnes of projects in this Province that could use the level of study with MTO or Metrolinx rather than this. So after 8 years when this is built what will be accomplished?


  36. Smart Track from Kennedy to Mt Dennis is a good beginning. I would like to see a comprehensive study done on the merits of making Woodbine a mobility hub. A Go station at Woodbine, extend the Finch LRT from Humber College and run it all the way to the airport where it would link up with the Eglinton Crosstown. Transit converging on the site from all four direction.

    Brampton to Union on the Go. The north-west corner of the city on the Finch LRT. The Eglinton Crosstown and Mississauga Rapid Bus Way linking at Renforth and then linking again with the Finch LRT at the airport. Perhaps a Woodbine Rocket from the Kipling station.

    This site is also bounded by four major highways. The 401 just to the south, the 407 on the north. The 427 to the west and highway 27 right through it.

    Nearby it has a good mix of residential housing, industrial lands, underused retail, and, I’m guessing, hundreds of acres of commercially zoned lands which are largely parking lots, single story strip malls and two storey motels. And, probably a large entertainment complex to come.

    If we are building transit to help solve current congestion and future population growth throughout the area, why not lay the ground work for another Corporate Centre. This site is as close and accessible to the airport as the existing Airport Corporate Centre.

    I do not know the viability of the original Smart Track financing plans but one of the concerns was the attributing of new development to new transit. I think that for this location there could be a strong case made for attributing much of the new development to new transit.

    Unlike the saying “all roads lead to Rome” for us it is “all transit “converges on Woodbine, but doesn’t quite make it”. Is there someone at Metrolinx or in the city planning department who can speak to this, either for or against?


  37. Years ago we ignored the needs of those in east Scarborough, forcing a transfer on them, and making the ride longer than it had to be. This lead to over 4 years of delays. It also was solely responsible for the creation of the “Scarborough Subway” and an expense of $1.5B+.

    Now we are making a similar mistake in the west. Those in the west also want fast and reliable rapid transit. This can be achieved by affordable grade-separated rapid transit. If this LRT extension is proposed on-street, I can see another length delay as the public expresses their anger and politicians worry about their re-election chances.

    Hopefully they propose the right thing so this can proceed without delay.

    Steve: There was never going to be a subway deep into Scarborough beyond Kennedy, and even Kennedy came into existence to “balance” a western extension to what was planned as an Etobicoke Centre at the Six Points. The mistake we made was to use an expensive, troublesome technology for the SRT that guaranteed it would never be extended. An LRT network in Scarborough could already exist if Ontario hadn’t been fixated on finding a “missing link” technology between buses and subways. As for Eglinton West, yes, a through route is what was always planned in Transit City, and until Rob Ford came along, that’s what we were going to see.

    I know from past comments that you advocate an elevated structure along Eglinton rather than at grade operation. I do not agree with this type of construction, but we have been around this debate before and I don’t want to rehash old arguments.


  38. Jeremy wrote,

    I did not suggest SmartTrack was a replacement for the DRL.

    I never said you did. I quoted your exact words that stated that you noticed that it was being sold as such, which is exactly what was done. Please read more carefully. 😉


  39. I remember reading somewhere that the UPX rolling stock is completely different from anything else used in the GTA, requiring that passenger platforms be built at a different height than they are for GO/RER transit. Is this still the case? Apart from the three-car platform design, what technical challenges exist if they were to merge the two services?

    Steve: That is correct. They are high platform cars in a network that uses low platforms. The three-car limit is a physical one at the airport where a longer platform is not possible, and the curves on the Airport spur are very tight even for the cars they are using. Regular GO equipment? Forget it.


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