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Four new GO stations push SmartTrack plans forward

Last Updated Jun 22, 2016 at 5:53 am EST

Mayor John Tory’s SmartTrack plan is taking a step forward thanks to the construction of four new GO Train stations in Toronto’s west end.

The four new GO stations are being constructed are St. Clair West and Liberty Village on the Kitchener line and Bloor Street and Lansdowne Avenue, and Spadina Avenue and Front Street on the Barrie line.

Along with Ontario transportation minister Steven Del Duca and Ward 19 city councillor Mike Layton, Tory announced that the Liberty Village and St. Clair West GO stations will also run SmartTrack once the transit plan is implemented.

“With all-day, two-way service, stations here at Liberty Village and St. Clair West and Mount Dennis and Bloor (SmartTrack) will provide local service to the people of Toronto’s west end neighbourhoods,” the mayor said.

Calling it a ‘transit renaissance,’ Del Duca said the city is making tremendous transit progress right across the region.

“We are bearing witness to the largest infrastructure build in Ontario’s history,” he explained. “In every corner of this region, in every corner of this province, shovels are in the ground, building Ontario up and helping to secure a stronger future for generations to come.”

According to Tory, a study conducted by the University of Toronto’s transportation research institute earlier this year, found that SmartTrack has the potential to carry more than 300,000 people every day.

“Already with the UP Express, we’ve seen that Toronto residents will take this kind of a train when it is affordable and the people of Toronto want that choice and they want that convenience.”

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Coun. Michael Layton, who represents Liberty Village, said the transit expansion is great news for the roughly 20,000 people who go in and out of the area every day.

“This will connect Liberty Village like never before and all for this neighbourhood and around it to flourish,” Layton said.

Layton said that since inception, Liberty Village has not been well served for transit riders as well as drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

Currently two large GO corridors cut through the neighbourhood with one station providing limited service to the area but Layton said the cost is “prohibitive.”

“It’s only an eight minute ride from here to Union Station on the GO compared to 45 minutes on the streetcar,” said Layton. “But it’s just not worth that $5 premium.”

“I’m optimistic that with Presto and with an adjusted fare structure, like what is being proposed, we will help realize this truly integrated transit network in the west end of the city,” he continued.

The four new GO stations will be brought to the Metrolinx board of directors for approval at its next meeting on June 28.

Three fare options for SmartTrack will also be presented to Metrolinx at the meeting.

The first option would be to modify the existing model which would see passengers transferring from the TTC and the 905 at a reduced or no cost. As well, those transferring between TTC and GO Transit would do so at a reduced cost.

The second option would see the implementation of a zone-based system where commuters pay a fee based on how many zones they travel. A similar system is used in cities such as London and San Francisco.

The third option would be a hybrid system, combining both distance and flat-fare systems. This option would create a new regional system where customers on buses and streetcars pay a flat fee but those on subways, LRTs and GO Transit pay based on the distance travelled.

Tory is expected to make another announcement about SmartTrack in the city’s east end on Wednesday.