News Toronto

Public gets chance to weigh in on Tory's SmartTrack

By Antonella Artuso, Toronto Sun

TORONTO - 

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s really a SmartTrack train, Mayor John Tory says.

“This is something that is very real,” Tory said Tuesday morning, hours before the city was to host the first of three public consultations on the project.

SmartTrack was a major election commitment made by Tory during his 2014 campaign — a “London-style surface rail system” that makes use of existing rail lines to allow Toronto residents to move quickly in and around the city.

As an example, a rider could get from mid-Scarborough to Union Station “in minutes,” Tory said.

The mayor acknowledged that the completed project might miss his seven-year goal made during the campaign, but it should be up and running by the early 2020s, which is faster than any subway can be built, he said.

He noted that he could only begin work on it in 2015 when he assumed office.

“This one will be done in relatively short order,” he added.

Tory’s media conference Tuesday was held by tracks near Kennedy Rd. and Midland Ave., along a rail corridor where construction has begun to double track the Stouffville line, to show residents that SmartTrack is really happening.

“I heard from people that were telling me as residents of Scarborough that they felt that this part of town was under-served by transit and they’re right,” Tory said. “And we have an entire network planned involving a subway extension of the Bloor-Danforth line, SmartTrack and the Eglinton East LRT.

“Transit users in Scarborough will have access to SmartTrack service at two completely new stations and four refurbished GO Transit stops — stations at Finch and Kennedy, and Lawrence and Kennedy, in addition to existing stations at Milliken, Agincourt, Kennedy and Scarborough.”

While GO Transit riders have enjoyed express downtown service, that has not generally been available to residents within Toronto, but SmartTrack will change that, he said.

Public consultation on the plan, which will consider issues such as noise and disruption, are scheduled for Tuesday at Scarborough Civic Centre, Wednesday at Riverdale Collegiate and Thursday at New Horizons Tower. Details at http://smarttrack.to/get-involved/public-meetings.

aartuso@postmedia.com