After one year, there has been an improvement in reliability, ridership and travel time
As the City of Toronto celebrated the one year anniversary of the King Street pilot project, the TTC, businesses within the area and George Brown College (GBC) students have all agreed that this initiative has been a success.
According to Brad Ross, the executive director of corporate & customer communications at the TTC, the project had three focuses.
These are to improve ridership, travel time, and reliability, all of which he says has “seen significant improvement.”
Ross noted that reliability has increased by 82 per cent, ridership by 11 to 12 per cent, and travel time has gone down by a couple of minutes on average.
The King Street pilot project, located between Bathurst Street and Jarvis Street, was implemented on Nov. 12, 2017 as part of the city’s efforts to reduce travel times along this popular route.
City of Toronto records show that King Street is the busiest surface transit route in the city with over 65,000 riders per day.
To improve the flow of traffic, private vehicles are only allowed for one block on King Street, between Bathurst and Jarvis, and must turn right at the next intersection. Transit vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians are allowed through.
Prior to the project, over 20,000 cars drove on the route per day, causing slow travel speeds and overcrowding on streetcars.
Another focus of the project was to create public spaces in sections of the curb lane.
People could use these artist-designed spaces to relax and socialize.
While there’s been some controversy around the project regarding decreased spending for businesses along the corridor, Ross says, “it’s (the data) not showing that there’s any decrease as I understand it.”
In fact, he indicated that there has been a “slight increase to business transactions”, but “couldn’t say” what the overall impact is just yet, as these statistics belong to the city.
The route is extremely popular with both commuters and students, many of whom use this route to get to GBC’s St. James campus.
James Carnell, who commutes from Forest City, says the pilot has made his commute both “faster” and “safer”, as a result of the barricades placed around many of the streetcar stops downtown.
He also said he would like to see the pilot remain, but that there should be passenger shelters located closer to the stops.
Whether or not to keep the pilot in place is up to the city, with Ross stating “we’ll report back to council, and if there are questions or directions from council to look at other areas of the city and where similar programs might work we’ll certainly do that, but for now our focus remains on King Street.”
Anna Lermer, project coordinator at TTCriders, said she would like to see similar projects along other busy corridors, mentioning Keele and Dufferin as potential routes.
However, she said that new changes may not be the same as the King St. pilot project, and may incorporate other elements like right of ways or bus jump lanes.
“City councillors will be debating on the issue (the project) and voting on it next year, at some point.”, Lermer said. “We hope that (John Tory) continues to support it because we’ve seen it as a big success.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that private vehicles were banned on King Street between Jarvis and Bathurst. In fact, private vehicles are allowed on King Street, but only for one block and must turn right at the next intersection. The Dialog regrets the error.