Toronto Mayor John Tory said his signature transit promise, SmartTrack, will be ready sometime in “the early 2020s,” as he announced the first site-specific public consultations on the project will begin tonight.

Three public meetings are scheduled this week to ask Toronto residents what they think the stations in SmartTrack should look like.

“We want to hear exactly where the stations should be, how they should look, what’s best for the neighborhoods including those compatibility issues that arise on issues like safety, and other considerations,” Tory told reporters Tuesday morning.

Starting tonight in Scarborough, the public will be asked to comment on the suitability of each station in relation to the neighbourhood, with draft design renderings of stations on display for the first time.

A total of six stations on the proposed SmartTrack route will be within Toronto’s boundaries, along with two new GO Transit rail stations proposed under existing provincial plans to expand that service throughout the GTA.

The Scarborough meeting will be held at the Scarborough Civic Centre council chambers tonight at 6:30 p.m. On Wednesday, a meeting will be held at Riverdale Collegiate on Gerrard Street East, beginning at the same time.

A third meeting will be held Thursday night in Bloordale Village at the New Horizons Tower, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Tory said that with provincial support, work to prepare rail corridors for the new service is already underway, with sections of rail track being twinned, new sound barriers going up and planning for when the rail lines will be electrified.

“What we’re talking about now is yes maybe a little bit later than what we talked about in the seven years but the bottom line is that we together with the province together with Metrolinx are proceeding with absolute dispatch to get this work done.”

He said much of the new rail network relies on the province electrifying passenger rail lines throughout the GTA, something that will cost the Ontario government billions as passenger trains in Canada so far have run only using diesel locomotives.

“They’re saying in the early 2020’s is when the tracks will all be ready and the trains and the electrification work will all be done, so it seems far away but as we know from these projects something like the Downtown Relief Line is even further away than that.”