smarttrack toronto

People in Toronto scoff at Tory's SmartTrack promise as original opening date approaches

It's been nearly seven years since John Tory centred his mayoral election campaign around SmartTrack — his proposed commuter rail line that was supposed to eliminate congestion without increasing taxes for residents — which is roughly the same amount of time in which he promised it would be built. 

Tory first introduced the idea for SmartTrack during his campaign in May of 2014 and gave it a seven-year timeline, making its intended opening date roughly five months away. 

But an official plan for the rail line and its stations has yet to be finalized and shovels are nowhere near close to hitting the ground, leading some residents to believe the proposal was never really realistic in the first place.

Back in 2014, Tory promised in a promotional video that SmartTrack would provide "city-wide transit relief" and "solve congestion" by moving the most people in the shortest amount of time in just seven years without new taxes. 

Some questioned whether or not it could be done, but Tory remained firmly optimistic and dimissed anyone that was skeptical. 

Initially, SmartTrack was proposed to run for 53 km along Eglinton Avenue from Matheson/Airport Corporate Centre in Mississauga to Mount Denis before turning downtown to Union Station and then running northeast through Scarborough to Unionville in Markham.

It was set to boast 22 stations and interchanges with the UP Express, Line 1 Yonge-University, Line 2 Bloor-Danforth, Line 5 Eglington and GO Transit.

The proposal went through numerous stages of updates and revisions, eventually resulting in a smaller and cheaper plan involving just six new SmartTrack stations located at St. Clair West, Liberty Village, East Don Lands (Unilever site), Gerrard and Pape, Lawrence East, and Finch East.

But a number of outstanding issues remain, including problematic overlap with other proposed transit infrastructure, and there's no word on when or how they'll be resolved.

Not to mention the project depends on the completion of the GO Regional Express Rail expansion, which has also yet to be built. 

As a result, Tory's seven-year timeline is looking less realistic with every passing day. 

But as the original opening date approaches, many are taking to Twitter this week to express their skepticism about whether SmartTrack will ever be built. 

Some people are asking Tory for an update, and others are saying it's unfortunate that transit proposals are often used by politicians as a way to get elected instead of concrete plans that actually materialize. 

And some residents are merely remarking that, politics aside, what really matters is that downtown Toronto still doesn't have the relief line it so desperately needs. 

Lead photo by

Stephen Gardiner

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