Toronto

8 months into King Street pilot, police are still having trouble enforcing rules

Police say they've had trouble enforcing traffic laws for the King Street pilot project and have given out more than 6,000 tickets since November 2017.

More than 6,000 tickets have been issued since the start of the pilot project, police say

Toronto police Const. Clinton Stibbe says police 'will never stop everybody' from flouting traffic rules on the King Street pilot project unless they put up physical barriers. (Chris Glover)

It's been eight months since the start of Toronto's King Street pilot project, but police say they're still having trouble enforcing the project's unique traffic rules.

Between last November and July, police say they handed out 6,642 tickets — a number they estimate would be even higher if they had additional officers stationed at each intersection. 

"The reality is we will never stop everybody," said Toronto Police Const. Clinton Stibbe. 

The project, which targets the stretch of King Street between Bathurst and Jarvis streets, was launched last November  to shorten streetcar commute times along Toronto's busiest surface transit route. According to preliminary data, the pilot has achieved that goal, decreasing the rush-hour commute for streetcars by five minutes and increasing overall ridership by 13 per cent.

But even though ridership has gone up, driving infractions haven't gone down.

Police say they have issued more than 6,000 tickets since the start of the King Street pilot project. (Chris Glover/CBC)
 

Police say the traffic laws are very challenging to enforce, particularly the rule that vehicles can drive no more than one block along King Street between Jarvis and Bathurst before turning right.  Drivers continue to break that rule despite the considerable amount of tickets officers are handing out. 

Stibbe says it would take even tougher measures to keep drivers in line.

"It is impossible, unless we put up physical barriers such as jersey walls or jersey barriers where you physically stop cars."

Even with physical barriers, Stibbe thinks cars would likely hit the barriers and continue breaking traffic rules.

City considers red light camera surveillance 

Stibbe said these traffic violations aren't likely to stop anytime soon. 

"These types of things are going to continue to happen, even if we had officers enforcing here 24/7," Stibbe said.

 

CBC Toronto reporter Chris Glover stood on the corner of King and Portland Streets for 10 minutes Tuesday afternoon, and watched 17 separate vehicles drive straight through the intersection.

Stibbe said the city has expressed an interest in red light camera-style surveillance to enforce the pilot project rules.  

The city of Toronto has since told CBC Toronto that they're looking into alternative measures to help hold drivers accountable, including illuminated signage at key intersections.

'I absolutely love it' 

Despite vehicle infractions, TTC riders seem thrilled with improvements to their commute. 

"I absolutely love it, because it just makes everything flow easier and it takes me less time for me to get where I need to go," said Diana Zicarelli.

Diana Zicarelli says she rides the King Street streetcar every day, and says it now takes her considerably less time to get where she needs to go. (Chris Glover)
 

Zicarelli rides the King Street streetcar every day, and says the newly implemented pilot program has helped cut her daily commutes in half, although she understands why the new rules may be difficult for vehicles. 

"I can see from the perspective of people that drive, or cabs, or even the businesses around, why they would probably feel differently about it."

With files from Chris Glover

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