Drivers are beginning to adjust to new rules governing traffic on King Street as part of a pilot project and TTC passengers are enjoying their seemingly faster commutes, Toronto transit and police officials say.
"We're into day nine of a 12-month project, so we don't want to get ahead of ourselves too much, but so far, yeah, people are loving it," TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said Tuesday.
Ross, interviewed on Metro Morning along with Sgt. Brett Moore of the Toronto police traffic services, said the King Street pilot project is changing the way people use the street.
As of Monday, police began issuing tickets for infractions. A team of police officers is stationed on King Street until Sunday, when the blitz is slated to end. The team includes 10 police officers and 10 parking enforcement officers throughout the day.
Under the new rules, drivers are not allowed to travel straight across King Street. Between Bathurst and Jarvis Streets, drivers now have to turn right off of King Street at most intersections.
Moore said if the number of drivers disobeying new rules were to increase after the enforcement blitz ends, the officers will be back next week. Officers were there last week to educate drivers, but the emphasis this week has turned to enforcement.
"If you got to be down on King Street, you got to plan your route ahead," Moore said. "King is not the way it used to be."
Officers on King Street have told him: "Folks are getting the message. Fewer folks are sort of blindly unaware of what's going on."
Waze, the popular navigational app, has been updated to reflect the new rules, but other GPS navigational devices may not be. He encouraged drivers to go online before heading downtown.
According to Ross, however, those apps are all being updated.
Ross said the TTC is hearing "very positive things" from passengers who take the King car every day. The TTC is still monitoring the project's impact, it will have some data in a month, but travel times are "exceeding" expectations.
"Anecdotally, our riders, the 65,000 people who ride the streetcar every day on King Street alone, our riders are loving it," he said.
Between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. on weekdays, the "peak of the peak," Ross said the King car is still crowded because the TTC is "fleet-constrained." He said the TTC doesn't have enough new streetcars yet.
Bombardier is expected to deliver 15 more streetcars by the end of this year and those transit vehicles will be deployed to the 504 King and 514 Cherry routes, both of which operate on King Street, he said.
King needs time to 'get its groove'
"King Street is no longer a through street," Ross said. "We need some more time before we make any declarations. It will take time for King Street to get its groove, but we're confident that it will."
The TTC says more than 65,000 people take King Street streetcars every weekday, making it the busiest surface route in Toronto's entire transit system.
The pilot project is planned to run for one year to evaluate the impact of prioritizing streetcars on commuters, motorists and area businesses.
If drivers are charged with a provincial offence for violating the rules on King Street, the fine is $110 and two demerit points.