A new subway to relieve pressure from the congested Yonge Line (Line 1) has been proposed in some form since the 1980’s. The most current Relief Line proposal suggests a U-shape line through downtown with phase one connecting at the Danforth Line (Line 2) as far east as Pape Station, and with a possible future connection to the west and north.
SmartTrack has been a proposal of Mayor Tory that would similarly expand transit access from the downtown in a broader U-shape using existing rail corridors. SmartTrack will ideally connect the three largest employment centres in the GTA – Downtown Toronto, Markham, and Airport Corporate Centre.
The Toronto Financial District has supported both lines and is involved in stakeholder advisory groups and workshops. We are members of the Friends and Allies of SmartTrack. Our objective is to ensure that as many people as possible across Toronto are connected to the Financial District, Canada’s highest density employment hub. Other important considerations are the capacity of Union Station to handle additional traffic and the access points at which pedestrians are let out into the streets and the PATH pedestrian network.
The City of Toronto is currently refining details of its Transit Network Plan that includes both the SmartTrack and Eglinton LRT proposals along with the Relief Line. Our organization is supportive of this approach in terms of its focus on what can realistically be built and also its inclusion of the Relief Line in long-term planning.
POSITION ON RELIEF LINE AND SMARTTRACK: Configurations for the Relief Line and SmartTrack must be planned within a system-wide, integrated framework that creates new transit routes benefiting the highest number of people across Toronto and the region. If SmartTrack is approved, the Toronto Financial District’s preferred corridor for the Relief Line is Queen Street. If SmartTrack is not approved, the preferred corridor is King-Wellington.
PRINCIPLES FOR TRANSIT CONGESTION ASSESSMENT
The objectives of transit proposals must support the following principles:
1) Proposals must increase access to existing and already planned concentrations of high-density employment.
2) Transit should be built where it can better serve proven existing demand, including the relief on the critical Yonge Line.
3) The placement of additional transit hubs and the creation of new stations must be evaluated in order to relieve pedestrian congestion in the downtown core.
4) A high-level business case must be developed, including proof of need, agreement on its relative priority and identification of a secured source of funding.
5) Evaluated options must leverage existing transit infrastructure to promote affordability.
6) Alternative options to improve access to high-density employment areas must be evaluated.
Collaborative Planning and Investment
7) Any solution must be complementary towards a system-wide transit network enhancing the existing local and regional transit infrastructure (GO Transit, TTC system, roads and highways).
8) Intermodal connectivity and linkages to Union Station must be evaluated.
9) Construction work needs to be well-coordinated with other major capital projects, and planned to minimize economic disruption.
10) Any chosen option must have an infrastructure resiliency component presented that ensures extreme weather possibilities are accounted for in planning.
Updated November 2, 2016