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SmartTrack being reworked into smaller, less expensive service: report

Last Updated Jan 15, 2016 at 8:51 am EST

Commuter railway station operated by GO Transit. Photo courtesy: Secondarywaltz

The centrepiece of Mayor John Tory’s election platform is reportedly being tweaked.

The Globe and Mail reports the SmartTrack transit plan is being reworked behind the scenes, and the result will be a smaller and cheaper plan but with more frequent service.

According to the report, city staff are huddled with Metrolinx to figure out how to best integrate SmartTrack into existing plans to expand GO Transit rail service.

One of the big changes would see an LRT serve the western portion of Tory’s plan instead of heavy rail to Pearson International Airport. The move would reduce the cost from from $3-5 billion down to $1.3-billion.

Metrolinx staff are expected to recommend adding only four or five new stations along the Kitchener and Stouffville corridors, and an LRT instead of heavy rail along Eglinton Avenue west to Pearson.

The plan originally called for three stations along that stretch, but with an LRT, staff are looking at between six and 17 stations.

The proposed integration of SmartTrack would add $2-billion to $3.5-billion to the existing GO plans.

Early ridership studies show that the promise of trains every 15 minutes wouldn’t attract much ridership.

The Globe said officials are looking at running trains at least every 10 minutes.

The mayor’s office said no decisions have been made, studies are still underway and no staff recommendations have been made yet.