SmartTrack targeting wrong employment areas, tunneling may be required: staff report
Toronto Mayor John Tory’s proposed SmartTrack plan may not connect commuters to jobs as promised by the mayor’s office, according to a new city report released Thursday.
The staff report, commissioned after council approved $2.4 million in SmartTrack studies in February, raised many questions about the feasibility of the Mayor’s $8 billion transit plan.
The report said that “the projected employment density in the vicinity” of the 22 proposed SmartTrack stations is low “despite SmartTrack serving large areas of land targeted for employment growth.”
The report noted that the “existing employment density” around the stations in Toronto is currently low, and some high-density areas that will receive SmartTrack service already have rapid transit services.
On the City of Toronto’s website, the mayor’s office states that SmartTrack will be built to ‘connect people to jobs and jobs to people.”
Tory’s spokesperson Amanda Galbraith said the mayor remains committed to using SmartTrack to create or attract jobs.
All tunneling conclusions immature until ridership data is released
The report also raised concerns about potential tunneling along Eglinton Avenue. The work “would have significant impacts on the community around Mount Dennis station and across the Eglinton Flats,” the report said.
The report did add that drawing final conclusions from any analysis to date would be immature without projected ridership data.
Ridership data is not expected to be publicly available until 2016.
While some citizens have concerns with the potential impact of SmartTrack stations in their local communities, public feedback on SmartTrack and fare integration with the TTC has generally been positive.
The report and its recommendations ‘ to further develop and optimize the SmartTrack … to better serve Toronto’s transit network” will be delivered to city council in early 2016.