TTC to keep tabs on streetcar speed, ridership during King Street pilot

The King Street pilot project is set to dramatically change how the busy downtown roadway works, and the city will be keeping a close eye on the affects.

Major plan that changes the face of King Street begins in November

The city will closely monitor how the changes to King Street are affecting speed, reliability and ridership on its streetcar routes in Toronto's core. It will also examine the effect on other vehicles, like taxis. (John Rieti/CBC)

The TTC will release monthly updates on commute times, streetcar reliability and ridership once the King Street pilot project launches next month.

The transit agency will produce a dashboard-like chart tracking travel times and streetcar speeds each week.

The streetcars running along King will get a dedicated lane between Bathurst Street and Jarvis Street, while motorists will only be allowed to access the street one block at a time before being forced to turn right — a discouragement, rather than an outright ban.

"This is the biggest change to King Street in a generation," TTC CEO Andy Byford told reporters, adding the street isn't working in its current configuration.

"Doing nothing is not an option."

Byford says he's confident the changes will improve the TTC's busiest surface route, and may actually increase the number of people taking transit on the line.

King is the TTC's busiest surface transit route. (John Rieti/CBC)

The city's transportation department, meanwhile, will analyze the effects the pilot is having on motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. It will also be monitoring nearby streets to see how they're changing as a result of transit being prioritized on King.

The city's Jacquelyn Hayward Gulati told the TTC board that data from Moneris, a major operator of point-of-sale machines, will be used to evaluate the effect on business, as the city did during the Bloor bike lane pilot project. That information is set to be released quarterly.

Streetcars will load passengers on the far end of intersections as part of the plan. (John Rieti/CBC)

Transit advocate Steve Munro frequently rides the route, and says while routinely providing updated data will help identify problems, the city might wind up dealing with streetcar slowdowns caused by what's happening outside the pilot project zone. 

"Some of the worst congestion and delays come because of 'unusual events,'" he told CBC Toronto, giving the example of a delivery truck blocking a lane of rush hour traffic and causing disruptions down the line. 

"This is the kind of stuff you have to prevent as much as possible," he said.

About the Author

John Rieti

John Rieti covers city hall and city issues for CBC Toronto. Born and raised in Newfoundland, John has worked in CBC newsrooms across the country in search of great stories. Outside of work, catch him running or cycling around, often armed with a camera, always in search of excellent coffee.

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