The City has once again announced a shuffling of the deck on high speed transit proposing amendments to several projects previously approved by Council. While residents have grown weary of constant change, in this case there is reason for optimism and hope that the City is not only moving forward, but inching closer to getting it “right.”
The Mayor’s SmartTrack proposal leveraging the Province’s electrification of the GO lines was approved for study by Council in 2015. It adds stations to these lines in the eastern and western ends of the city, creating an alternate transit route downtown taking pressure off of the overcrowded Yonge line. A recent study out of U of T shows that SmartTrack could reduce crowding on Yonge by up to 17%. Technical challenges in the west end have led the City to look at replacing the western branch of SmartTrack with a western extension of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. This would bring the Crosstown line right to Pearson Airport and cost considerably less than previously proposed. Updated projections would range between $3.5 and $5.0-billion, rather than the $8-billion first discussed.
The Scarborough subway extension, approved in 2013, was one that John was never comfortable with. With some additional thought and analysis however, the City is proposing that the subway extension be reduced to a single stop taking the Danforth line to Scarborough Town Centre. With the money saved, the City would be able to extend the Eglinton Crosstown LRT east all the way to U of T Scarborough campus within the existing funding envelope. Proposed stops on the SmartTrack line are less than 2 km from the proposed subway route.
These changes will go to City Council this spring. The City and Metrolinx have launched a series of Open Houses to make it easier for residents to learn more about a number of projects enabling transit expansion, including a review of the regional transportation plan and the plan to integrate transit fares. Though none are scheduled for our community at this time, a list of available events is here.