There has been an announcement of significant funding for Toronto transit, that is presumably going to the Smart Track plan.
I would ask 1st – do we really know what this is, and is it the best use of the money. 2nd, is the federal money real? If it is, how flexible will it be really?
The fact that at this juncture Smart Tracks is much closer to an outline than a plan, I think Toronto, and Queens Park should be trying to make sure that they get the maximum amount of flexibility out of any commitment. I would strongly support the general notion of twin tracking and electrification, where it is required for increased service. However, in terms of being smart about how money is spent, I would think that it would make the most sense to twin track Stouffville, and get a 4th track in Lakeshore east as a 1st priority. The next priority being the new switches in Lakeshore east and west, along with the Union Station Rail corridor, followed by electrification of the Lakeshore services.
With multiple tracks, and the transfer of equipment from Lakeshore, Stouffville could enjoy a massive improvement of service to at least 6 trains per hour. The requirement to train will be present regardless, but the limits to service should be clearly identified.
Increasing the number of stations on this line will be less important than a radical improvement to service to the stations. That is both on the rails and the connecting local transit network. A Sheppard East and Finch West LRT could both be anchored by a limited stop, frequent train running to Union, with service every 10 minutes achievable with a much smaller investment.
RER with electrification on Lakeshore East and West would make Guildwood a viable place to direct riders who are core bound, as it would be quite feasible to have as many as 8 or even 10 trains per hour stop there. The trip to the core would be faster from there, than from Kennedy via the subway.
I do believe however, that this money should be spent where it will deliver the maximum benefit, and this means radical improvements to the local – connecting network as well. LRT on Sheppard Ave and Kingston Road would provide a powerful local connection, and the GO – with integrated fares – not the current very high ones – would provide a quick trip to the core. The extension of subway is not the way to support best service to the core.