How would Metrolinx and TTC integrate SmartTrack and regional express rails?


Metrolinx and the TTC are working to integrate their Regional Express Rail (RER) and SmartTrack transit systems. METROXLINX.

Metrolinx, a provincial agency, is in the midst of expanding its electric rail system, at the same time the City of Toronto is working to implement Mayor John Tory’s SmartTrack transit plan. Ahead of a Metrolinx board meeting on Wednesday, the agency released an enormous PDF about the state of their plans to integrate the two transit networks.

It’s the latest in a long string of studies and analysis about the future of Toronto’s transit.

“It’s very easy to teach transport planning here, because nothing changes,” Murtaza Haider, an associate professor at the Ted Rogers School of Management, said Tuesday.

Joking aside, Haida said that if SmartTrack has changed since Tory’s election campaign, “that’s good news.”

“Had it stayed the way it was envisioned, without any real [expert] input, that would have been a dangerous thing for us, from a funding and ridership perspective.”

The goal of the integration is to help commuters taking both long and short trips on electric rails, as well as reduce congestion across Toronto, Metrolinx said. It could mean regional express rail (RER) service trains, which typically travel long distances without stopping (compared to subway or light-trail transit), would make more frequent stops. It could also mean a split between express and local service, using the same corridors.

go rer regional express metrolinx
Metrolinx and the TTC are working to integrate their Regional Express Rail (RER) and SmartTrack transit systems. METROXLINX.

Metrolinx and the City of Toronto are considering four options:

A: Increased frequencies, five new stations

B. Express and local service, eight new stations

C. Committed RER frequencies, seven-eight new stations

D. Committed RER frequencies, four-five new stations

All options include an LRT on the Eglinton West corridor, with the number of stations to be determined; and all options include the 11 existing stations in the City of Toronto and Markham on the Kitchener and Stouffville corridor.

One key issue is fare integration, Haider said. In its report ahead of the board meeting, Metrolinx said it will soon begin consultations about fare integration.

“How do we price it so that A, it generates enough ridership, and B, at the same time, it doesn’t create a multi-tiered system,” he said.