Concerns raised over proposed Lawrence SmartTrack station

News Oct 11, 2017 by Rahul Gupta Scarborough Mirror

Residents are crying foul over accessibility options at the planned replacement for the current Lawrence Scarborough RT (Line 3) stop.

The new stop is part of the SmartTrack plan to add more GO Transit rail stations in Toronto and better integrate the provincially operated transit service with the TTC. Six new GO stations are planned as part of the SmartTrack concept, including two for Scarborough:  Finch-Kennedy and Lawrence-Kennedy. Both will service the Stouffville GO rail corridor.

At a public meeting Tuesday evening at the Scarborough Civic Centre, attendees had a chance to see firsthand planning designs for the new stations, which are at the preliminary stage. But a transit activist who only wants to go by his first name - Raymond - was alarmed to see the Lawrence plan currently has a design situating the station platforms below Lawrence Avenue East, requiring riders to make use of stairs or elevators. That’s in contrast to Finch-Kennedy, where planners envision a “high quality” station entrance right on Finch Avenue directly connecting with local buses.

“If it’s good enough for Finch, it should be good enough for Lawrence,” said Raymond, who warned riders could be in danger, particularly during winter time, of slipping and falling if they have to rely on stairs or escalators to descend to the station.

Transit activist Brenda Thompson also expressed concerns about the Lawrence design, as well as concerns that the proposed GO SmartTrack, with far fewer stops, wouldn’t be as convenient to local riders as the existing service. She is also worried fares will not be affordable since GO charges a fare-by-distance scheme compared to the current flat rate assessed by the TTC.

“I really don’t have a lot of confidence SmartTrack will replace what we have now,” said Thompson.

City planner Mike Logan said the Lawrence design needs to take into account the ability to serve local TTC bus service on Lawrence. That’s best achieved by designing the station to straddle the Lawrence Bridge and placing the train platforms below the street, he said.

“(The design) is also the best for people taking the Lawrence East bus who are not choosing to transfer to SmartTrack. And so, rather than have the buses as they do today loop around to stop at the SRT station…the buses will stop (on Lawrence) and then continue on its way,” said Logan.

Other concerns raised during the meeting - the first of three this week organized by the city, Metrolinx and the TTC to discuss updates to the SmartTrack station planning - included compensation for local business during construction, safety and reduced commuter parking options.

Toronto transit planning representative James Perttula said feedback from the three meetings will go into a project update due in late November ahead of a crucial executive committee debate set for December on the latest phase of SmartTrack planning. A second plan update is due in the spring of 2018.

The new stations are expected to cost around $1.1 billion and are included in the province’s regionwide plan to expand and electrify GO’s rail operations. The Regional Express Rail (RER) expansion would see current rush hour service doubled and trains running on most GO lines outside of the commuting period.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The surname of the source in this story has been removed. The reporter inadvertently included his last name after originally agreeing to keep it confidential - a condition of being quoted in the story to begin with. Oct. 22, 2017

Concerns raised over proposed Lawrence SmartTrack station

Residents want same even-grade service being designed for Finch

News Oct 11, 2017 by Rahul Gupta Scarborough Mirror

Residents are crying foul over accessibility options at the planned replacement for the current Lawrence Scarborough RT (Line 3) stop.

The new stop is part of the SmartTrack plan to add more GO Transit rail stations in Toronto and better integrate the provincially operated transit service with the TTC. Six new GO stations are planned as part of the SmartTrack concept, including two for Scarborough:  Finch-Kennedy and Lawrence-Kennedy. Both will service the Stouffville GO rail corridor.

At a public meeting Tuesday evening at the Scarborough Civic Centre, attendees had a chance to see firsthand planning designs for the new stations, which are at the preliminary stage. But a transit activist who only wants to go by his first name - Raymond - was alarmed to see the Lawrence plan currently has a design situating the station platforms below Lawrence Avenue East, requiring riders to make use of stairs or elevators. That’s in contrast to Finch-Kennedy, where planners envision a “high quality” station entrance right on Finch Avenue directly connecting with local buses.

“If it’s good enough for Finch, it should be good enough for Lawrence,” said Raymond, who warned riders could be in danger, particularly during winter time, of slipping and falling if they have to rely on stairs or escalators to descend to the station.

Transit activist Brenda Thompson also expressed concerns about the Lawrence design, as well as concerns that the proposed GO SmartTrack, with far fewer stops, wouldn’t be as convenient to local riders as the existing service. She is also worried fares will not be affordable since GO charges a fare-by-distance scheme compared to the current flat rate assessed by the TTC.

“I really don’t have a lot of confidence SmartTrack will replace what we have now,” said Thompson.

City planner Mike Logan said the Lawrence design needs to take into account the ability to serve local TTC bus service on Lawrence. That’s best achieved by designing the station to straddle the Lawrence Bridge and placing the train platforms below the street, he said.

“(The design) is also the best for people taking the Lawrence East bus who are not choosing to transfer to SmartTrack. And so, rather than have the buses as they do today loop around to stop at the SRT station…the buses will stop (on Lawrence) and then continue on its way,” said Logan.

Other concerns raised during the meeting - the first of three this week organized by the city, Metrolinx and the TTC to discuss updates to the SmartTrack station planning - included compensation for local business during construction, safety and reduced commuter parking options.

Toronto transit planning representative James Perttula said feedback from the three meetings will go into a project update due in late November ahead of a crucial executive committee debate set for December on the latest phase of SmartTrack planning. A second plan update is due in the spring of 2018.

The new stations are expected to cost around $1.1 billion and are included in the province’s regionwide plan to expand and electrify GO’s rail operations. The Regional Express Rail (RER) expansion would see current rush hour service doubled and trains running on most GO lines outside of the commuting period.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The surname of the source in this story has been removed. The reporter inadvertently included his last name after originally agreeing to keep it confidential - a condition of being quoted in the story to begin with. Oct. 22, 2017

Concerns raised over proposed Lawrence SmartTrack station

Residents want same even-grade service being designed for Finch

News Oct 11, 2017 by Rahul Gupta Scarborough Mirror

Residents are crying foul over accessibility options at the planned replacement for the current Lawrence Scarborough RT (Line 3) stop.

The new stop is part of the SmartTrack plan to add more GO Transit rail stations in Toronto and better integrate the provincially operated transit service with the TTC. Six new GO stations are planned as part of the SmartTrack concept, including two for Scarborough:  Finch-Kennedy and Lawrence-Kennedy. Both will service the Stouffville GO rail corridor.

At a public meeting Tuesday evening at the Scarborough Civic Centre, attendees had a chance to see firsthand planning designs for the new stations, which are at the preliminary stage. But a transit activist who only wants to go by his first name - Raymond - was alarmed to see the Lawrence plan currently has a design situating the station platforms below Lawrence Avenue East, requiring riders to make use of stairs or elevators. That’s in contrast to Finch-Kennedy, where planners envision a “high quality” station entrance right on Finch Avenue directly connecting with local buses.

“If it’s good enough for Finch, it should be good enough for Lawrence,” said Raymond, who warned riders could be in danger, particularly during winter time, of slipping and falling if they have to rely on stairs or escalators to descend to the station.

Transit activist Brenda Thompson also expressed concerns about the Lawrence design, as well as concerns that the proposed GO SmartTrack, with far fewer stops, wouldn’t be as convenient to local riders as the existing service. She is also worried fares will not be affordable since GO charges a fare-by-distance scheme compared to the current flat rate assessed by the TTC.

“I really don’t have a lot of confidence SmartTrack will replace what we have now,” said Thompson.

City planner Mike Logan said the Lawrence design needs to take into account the ability to serve local TTC bus service on Lawrence. That’s best achieved by designing the station to straddle the Lawrence Bridge and placing the train platforms below the street, he said.

“(The design) is also the best for people taking the Lawrence East bus who are not choosing to transfer to SmartTrack. And so, rather than have the buses as they do today loop around to stop at the SRT station…the buses will stop (on Lawrence) and then continue on its way,” said Logan.

Other concerns raised during the meeting - the first of three this week organized by the city, Metrolinx and the TTC to discuss updates to the SmartTrack station planning - included compensation for local business during construction, safety and reduced commuter parking options.

Toronto transit planning representative James Perttula said feedback from the three meetings will go into a project update due in late November ahead of a crucial executive committee debate set for December on the latest phase of SmartTrack planning. A second plan update is due in the spring of 2018.

The new stations are expected to cost around $1.1 billion and are included in the province’s regionwide plan to expand and electrify GO’s rail operations. The Regional Express Rail (RER) expansion would see current rush hour service doubled and trains running on most GO lines outside of the commuting period.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The surname of the source in this story has been removed. The reporter inadvertently included his last name after originally agreeing to keep it confidential - a condition of being quoted in the story to begin with. Oct. 22, 2017