A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘smarttrack

[URBAN NOTE] “4 new GO stations and all 6 SmartTrack stops announced”

Via blogTO, I learned of this news. CBC had good coverage.

Four new GO train stations have been proposed for Toronto, the province announced today.

Two of those stations would also be used by Toronto’s SmartTrack rail line. An additional four stops on SmartTrack were also revealed on Tuesday.

​The new stops represent a significant addition to the GO Transit network — and an even more significant push forward for SmartTrack, the proposed subway-like rail transit plan that will run on GO train tracks.

The four GO stops would be at Bloor Street West and Lansdowne Avenue, Spadina Avenue and Front Street West, in Liberty Village, and at St. Clair West and Keele Street — all along the Barrie and Kitchener GO Transit lines. All are planned to be opened within a 10-year time horizon.

The SmartTrack would share stops in Liberty Village and St. Clair and Keele, as well as four east-end stations:

the Don Yard/Unilever area, between Cherry Street and Eastern Avenue
Gerrard Street East near Carlaw Avenue
Lawrence Avenue East between Kennedy Road and Midland Avenue
Finch Avenue between Kennedy and Midland.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 22, 2016 at 10:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] On the route of SmartTrack in Toronto

Via blogTO, I learned about the route of John Tory’s SmartTrack.

John Tory’s SmartTrack is finally winging its way into existence. As the Toronto Star reports today, city planners will likely recommend building seven new stations when they release a massive transit report in two weeks time.

The SmartTrack would run along a GO corridor and would utilize stations there. The new ones include St. Clair West, Liberty Village, Unilever, Gerrard and Pape, Lawrence East, Ellesmere, and Finch East. This plan features 15 stops in total between Mount Dennis and Milliken.

The Toronto Star goes into more detail.

City planners are poised to recommend that John Tory’s signature transit line be built with seven new stations, six fewer than he promised during the mayoral campaign.

In March, city council directed staff to consider two options for SmartTrack, Tory’s plan to add transit service using existing GO Transit corridors: one that would include seven to eight new stops, and another that would include four to five.

With staff due to make their recommendation in a major transit report in two weeks, acting director of transit and sustainable transportation James Perttula said staff believe an alignment with seven stops is the best option.

The seven-stop plan would have slightly lower ridership than the four- or five-station alignment, because the additional stations would increase travel times and make service less attractive to some riders. But Perttula said ridership is only one factor that staff considered.

“By having more stations we provide improved access for more people, and more access to employment opportunities, which is a key part of this, connecting people and jobs,” he said.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 3, 2016 at 7:45 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “The life and death of SmartTrack: how to spur transit innovation”

In NOW Toronto, Salvator Cusimano reflects on the failure of SmartTrack and argues that new transit plans need to be actually innovative, sustainably as well.

As a seven year-old train enthusiast, I would beg my dad to take me on the non-stop GO train from Oriole Station to Union for fun. I studiously followed transit developments in the city, including the Sheppard Line’s seemingly interminable and ultimately disappointing construction.

Then SmartTrack came along during the last municipal election promising relief without the quagmire of construction – more trains, fewer Sheppard Lines. I was entering Dundas West station one morning when a woman handed me a navy pamphlet with green and white lettering. It proclaimed that if I voted for John Tory, I would soon be able to reach Union Station in less than 10 minutes, instead of the minimum 30 I knew I was about to spend balancing in a crammed subway car and staring at a system map bearing a black void where the much-discussed Downtown Relief Line was supposed to be.

Fast-forward and a much scaled-down version of SmartTrack has now been approved.

If SmartTrack was as flawed as some observers claimed, how did Tory win?

Students and practitioners of innovative design suggests that Tory won because voters wanted innovation, and Smart Track seemed to offer it.

Innovation doesn’t simply mean “new technology.” Designers define it as a process that starts with defining a challenge and identifying possible solutions and then putting these ideas to the test by creating low-fidelity prototypes that they try out, discard, and rework over and over again. With each iteration, they learn what works, what doesn’t, and how they might get it right, failing many times, cheaply, to eventually get it right is better than getting it wrong after spending big.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 20, 2016 at 7:35 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “SmartTrack is a little old plan that we can’t get untethered”

NOW Toronto‘s Jonathan Goldsbie is scathing about John Tory’s SmartTrack plan, noting that even basic details are monstrously unclear.

“I feel like I’m swimming through mud here,” Steve Munro says over the phone as we near the one-hour mark of plowing through transit reports in search of answers to what should be basic questions.

Even semi-coherent transit plans are necessarily contingent on a dizzying number of variables, and Munro – the city’s pre-eminent citizen expert on the subject – is superhuman in his ability to recall and tie together such details.

But late in the evening before March 9, when city council’s executive committee would meet to consider several interrelated plans (including Mayor John Tory’s signature SmartTrack) even Munro seems more than a little stumped.

About the only thing that’s certain, as one report casually mentions, is that “all train services occur in space and time.”

So how often would SmartTrack trains come?

SmartTrack has always been a nebulous concept at best, something built on top of GO Transit’s Regional Express Rail (RER) plan that the province, through Metrolinx, was executing anyway. GO is already in the process of converting much of its network from a commuter rail service into an all-day, two-way transit system; SmartTrack would piggyback on this by adding new stations in Toronto.

But for a long time it remained stunningly unclear whether SmartTrack would actually be its own service with its own set of trains running on the same tracks as the RER.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 21, 2016 at 4:46 pm