The plan for SmartTrack tackles the need for a fast track solution to congestion in Toronto. The goal is to provide a quick solution for the hundreds of thousands of people trying to get across the city on a daily basis.
The key to SmartTrack is that is uses existing Regional Express Rail (RER) lines to provide service within Toronto, from Stouffville to the Airport Corporate Centre. Currently, the plan includes 22 new stations and is projected to be ready within seven years. The line will take over two existing GO routes and 90 per cent of its track will be on existing GO transit lines primarily the Kitchener and Stouffville Go lines.
SmartTrack is actively being pursued by the City of Toronto to help with congestion on the Yonge line by providing alternative options. Jennifer Keesmaat, chief planner and executive director for the City of Toronto, says in video for the relief line campaign: “In order for the network to be effective, we need to increase choice.” The Toronto Transit Commission currently has 535 million customers annually and this number is steadily growing. The hope is that by re-purposing exiting GO express lines SmartTrack will provide relief for the over-capacity issue on the Yonge line and relocate 35 per cent of streetcar customers, clearing the way for a smoother commute.
But SmartTrack is still in the planning stages. Access to the airport corporate centre is essential for Torontonians who utilize transit, yet the cost of accessibility to this area could run extremely high. There is limited space for a transit station at the airport centre and steps are being taken to ensure the best plan is developed for this specific location. Metrolinx has approved a plan to extend the Eglinton Crosstown LRT from Mount Dennis to the centre. The City of Toronto has yet to approve this plan.
The city is conducting a feasibility review of the Eglinton Avenue West Corridor and waiting for the results of ridership modelling to further aide the analysis. The modelling is being conducted by the University of Toronto. The city has also met with Metrolinx over the last week to discuss the new stations across the RER network.
SmartTrack provides Torontonians with choice. Is it the right choice? Mayor Tory , the city of Toronto and Metrolinx are waiting for the results of these studies. With all wanting to deliver the right transit, not only for Toronto but for the entire region.