SmartTrack plan announced

The SmartTrack plan has been radically revamped, much to Mount Dennis’ gain (and Weston’s loss).

As expected, the new SmartTrack likely will not head north, up the Kitchener tracks that go through Weston. Nor will the subway-style portion likely head west along Eglinton. Instead, the subway train will connect to the Eglinton LRT, which will be extended westward.

This new plan will save whopping amounts of money—billions and billions. It is also, for the first time, actually feasible.

The original ‘plan’ had called for a very long, very expensive, and not practical ‘heavy rail’ corridor from Union Station out to the Mississauga Airport Commercial Centre (the middle of nowhere, as far as I can tell). Clearly, neither Tory nor his team had ever been to Mount Dennis—the swoops are quite obviously problematic, as are the newly-built homes on Eglinton that would have had to be expropriated.

Two less problematic plans were launched in the wake of the election: one would have built a subway out Eglinton through Mount Dennis, but it would have required considerable engineering accomplishments, the destruction of many houses in the neighborhood, and damage to Eglinton Flats. The second plan would have run the subway up the corridor which runs through Weston. This too had problems, notably that there is no spare rail capacity on this line. John Tory entertained the prospect of taking the white-elephant UP Express off Metrolinx’ hands as a solution.

According to Steve Munro,

In excruciating detail, this week’s study establishes that although it is physically possible to build SmartTrack, the technical challenges will be considerable and the associated cost will be high

The administration has now moved on and adopted a sensible one: build on the existing Eglinton LRT plans put forward by Metrolinx.

The competing plans were summarized. The now-current LRT plan is in the left-most column. Rough approximations of Tory’s half-baked plan are “Corridor 1”. The through-Weston alternatives are given in “Corridor 2”.

Many problems remain. There is no spare capacity on the Georgetown/Kitchener line, as long as the UP Express and go trains running at their current frequency. The obvious solution—end the money-sucking UPX—is not mentioned in this report.

The impacts on Weston are also unknown. The report asks ominously “Will the [Mount Dennis station] be served by the UPX instead of or in addition to the GO Weston Station?”

It seems hard to believe that the UPX would not connect with the LRT and SmartTrack. It also seems absurd to have two UPX stations so close together. Your correspondent worrsies the Weston station of the UPX could be closed—and, worse, take the GO Train with it. After all, nobody has yet taken transit seriously in Weston.

Mount Dennis Station



Author: Adam Norman

I am raising my two children in Weston.

2 thoughts on “SmartTrack plan announced”

  1. Hi Adam, I think your fear of Weston’s loss is overblown, given the capital spent to design and build the UP Station at Lawrence and Eglinton. As for another UP stop at Eglinton, isn’t it to Weston’s benefit to be able to transfer to the Crosstown once it is built? By that time UP and SmartTrack will likely have be delivering a combined local/express service with another local stop in Rexdale and a couple below Bloor. Hopefully it gets run by TTC, and if not by them, at least provides transit for the general public at affordable TTC level public transit fares.

    1. Hi Rick. Thank you for your comment. The theory of “sunk costs” says that it doesn’t matter who stabbed you; it only matters that you stop the bleeding. If the Weston Station isn’t profitable (and it’s not) the money Metrolinx spent is irrelevant; an economist would tell them to close the station. Anything else is emotion.

      As to your second point: no, I don’t think it will be a significant benefit to Weston if we can transfer to the Eglinton line, as long as we have to pay, say, $12 to get on the UPX. Nobody is interested in a $12+$3 ride. Metrolinx may have to, at some point, concede defeat and charge less or hand service over to the TTC. But we’re talking Metrolinx here–they’ve known for years that the UPX would be a disaster; SNC and the Auditor General told them so.

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