Smart Track is a plan that proposes transit enhancements on a 53 kilometre stretch of existing GO train lines from Unionville to Eglinton West.
The goal is moving residents, reducing gridlock and advancing city building opportunities.
The estimated cost for Smart Track is eight billion dollars which would be cost shared between the City, the Province and Federal government.
The studies examining SmartTrack are still underway and there is no certainty to the costs or feasibility until the completion of the studies; however, Mayor John Tory remains vigilant that it will be built.
Smart Track is a plan that proposes transit enhancements on a 53 kilometre stretch of existing GO rail lines from Unionville to Eglinton West. It’s a regional plan that would provide connections between Mississauga Airport Corporate Centre in the west and Markham (Unionville) in the east, through downtown Toronto's Union Station.
The plan proposes 22 stops (9 GO transit stations, and 13 new stations) and all-stop, two-way frequent service. The goal is moving residents, reducing gridlock and advancing city building opportunities.
Smart Track was originally the cornerstone of Mayor John Tory’s election campaign. Now City Council has directed the City of Toronto in partnership with Metrolinx and the TTC to undertake a review of the SmartTrack plan.
How and How Much?
The estimated cost for SmartTrack is eight billion dollars and the idea is that it would be cost shared between the City, the Province and Federal government.
In July 2014, The Ontario government committed $15 billion in funding for transit expansion in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). Their commitment is to deliver Regional Express Rail (RER), which envisions expanding GO Transit rail service across all corridors. The RER program will be delivered over the next ten years by Metrolinx.
The City has now established a joint committee with the Ministry of Transportation, Metrolinx, and the TTC to integrate the SmartTrack plan with RER. In December 2014, City Council directed the City Manager to work with the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and the Provincial Government and its agencies to provide an accelerated work plan for a review of the SmartTrack and RER plans.
In June 2015, the Federal government announced a new Public Transit Fund, which committed to contributing up to one-third of the costs for the SmartTrack public transit system proposal, up to a maximum amount of $2.6 billion (once a formal application is received and approved).
What’s the Big Deal?
The SmartTrack line will bring transit and congestion relief to the whole city. According to Tory’s original plan, it will do this in two main ways:
Smart Track is an extremely expensive and complex project. We’re talking about investing billions of City funds, reorganizing many of our transit routes and consuming all of the money available to the city from other orders of government —in pursuit of this one project. It will also have an impact on the type and location of development in the city.
There is no shortage of critics to SmartTrack. Many people, from planners to journalists to politicians, question the feasibility of Tory’s promise to build 22 surface rail stations in seven years across the Toronto area and the effectiveness of using Go Transit rail lines to do this.
In October 2015 staff released a report that highlights some of the potential feasibility issues - specifically regarding a stretch of the route known as the “western spur.”
But the jury is still out. The studies are still underway and there is no certainty to the costs or feasibility until the completion of the studies. Tory does seem determined through. Despite the critics, Tory insists that "SmartTrack is going to be built and will cut congestion on our transit system and on our roadways”.
In June 2015, eight public meetings were held across the City to consult with and inform residents about network transit planning and the projects. Key concerns about SmartTrack were:
At this point there aren’t any opportunities for providing input directly to the Smart Track plan, as the City is working on the various background studies. The best way to get involved in this issue is to stay informed.
The City of Toronto’s SmartTrack page is updated fairly regularly with recent Council decisions, reports, etc. You can also sign-up to receive SmartTrack updates. You can also read City's Smart Track Work Plan.