What is SmartTrack and how will it improve GO service?
SmartTrack will change the way Toronto uses transit. New stations will be built along GO tracks.
Dec 6, 2021
The addition of five new SmartTrack stations will give Toronto residents a new way to travel.
As public open houses are held to go over details, the plan is simple. GO train tracks are already laid across the city. So why not add some new stations that would give more Torontonians the opportunity to ride on GO trains and move through the city faster?
“When you see trains passing by, through your neighbourhood in Toronto, maybe you wish a station was there so you could have a new way to get downtown, or out of town,“ said Adriana Trujillo, senior manager of stations capital delivery at Metrolinx. “Torontonians will be able to more easily access a better-connected transit network via GO stations built in their neighbourhoods.”
That’s exactly what SmartTrack will do by adding five new transit stations on GO train lines inside Toronto.
“The SmartTrack program is allowing the city to utilize the GO corridors to expand transit in the areas that are closer to the residents in Toronto,” explained Derrick Toigo, executive director of City of Toronto’s Transit Expansion Office.
SmartTrack stations are projected to bring 110,000 new daily riders to the GO rail network by 2031, becoming an example of how making transit easier to use creates a network effect that will result in better and faster service, encouraging more people to use it.
This program is a collaboration among the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto and Metrolinx, funded in principle by the City of Toronto, with a contribution from the federal government. The Ontario-Toronto Agreement in Principle has brought the five stations closer to construction.
The locations will provide connections to existing lines like the Bloor-Danforth subway and UP Express, as well as future routes including the Finch West Light Rail Transit (LRT), Eglinton Crosstown LRT and the Ontario Line. Connections will make them important hubs, giving people shortcuts across the city, reducing the need to go all the way to Union Station for connections.
“Each station is unique in its location, serving different populations, using different lines and offering different connections for people to transfer in,” Toigo said. “Each will make transit more accessible by giving people a new option to get where they need to go.”
Here’s a bit of the map ahead:
King-Liberty Station will deliver a new transit option in one of the most densely populated sections of Toronto. Instead of boarding the crowded King streetcar, Liberty Village residents will be one quick stop away from Union Station on GO’s Kitchener Line. Airport-bound riders will be able to go north and connect to UP Express at Bloor-Lansdowne or Mount Dennis.
West end residents will benefit from the Bloor-Lansdowne Station which will give them a shortcut to downtown on the Barrie Line. Located between the Lansdowne and Dundas West stations – just west of St. Helen’s Avenue – it will provide easy transfers to the Bloor-Danforth subway line and UP Express. Pedestrians will enjoy scenic walks on the way in, from the Davenport Diamond greenway and the West Toronto Railpath.
In the Stockyards District, St. Clair-Old Weston Station, on the Kitchener Line, will bring a new, faster transit choice to a part of the city that currently has no rapid transit. The station is being designed as a bus hub with easy transfers for people coming in from surrounding neighbourhoods.
Finch-Kennedy Station will improve Stouffville Line service from Scarborough. On Finch Avenue East between Milliken Boulevard and Midland Avenue, it will offer passengers seamless access to frequent TTC bus connections on Finch. Bike parking and accessible drop-off areas will make it easy to get to the station.
The station at East Harbour – just east of the Don River between Eastern Ave and Lake Shore Boulevard – is part of a plan to bring growth to an underused part of the city. Unlike the other four SmartTrack stations, it will be integrated into a new Transit Oriented Community, with funding coming from the developer, Cadillac Fairview.
“The station is going to contribute to the development of an area that has a lot of potential and is expected to have a dense population in the near future,” said Adriana Alvarez, manager for stations capital delivery at Metrolinx. “This will be a major hub with stops on both the Lakeshore East and Stouffville GO lines, seamless connectivity to the Ontario Line subway and the extension of TTC streetcar service further south along Broadview Avenue.”
Transfers at East Harbour will enable people to bypass Union Station, reducing crowding there.
The five stations are expected to be completed by the end of 2026.
A series of virtual open houses is underway to give residents an opportunity to learn more about stations coming to their neighbourhoods and to share their views. Participants can engage with members of the project team, City representatives and elected officials.
“People have been asking questions about which GO lines they will have access to, airport connections and the future electrification of the trains,” said Patricia Pytel, manager of capital communications for GO rail expansion.
The timing is right for public input.
“This is an opportunity to incorporate community suggestions into the final project design,” Pytel said.
A total of 455 people attended the first three live events and 1,115 visited the webpage. Recordings of the previous virtual open houses can be found at MetrolinxEngage.com.
People interested in participating in a meeting about the Bloor-Lansdowne Station on Dec. 9, at 6:30 p.m., can register and find more details here.
by Mike Winterburn Metrolinx News senior writer