Despite pilot project, commuters say King streetcar still too crowded
'It's packed, it's short-turning ... it's ridiculous,' says commuter who watched 7 streetcars go by
The road may be less congested, but commuters on the 504 King line say the new pilot project has done nothing to relieve crowding on the streetcar.
The city's King Street pilot project, aimed at prioritizing streetcar service on the TTC's busiest surface route, imposes restrictions on vehicle traffic.
- King Street pilot project data shows faster streetcars, minimal traffic slowdowns
- King Street pilot project changes how everyone uses the street
Though early data suggests faster transit commutes and minimal traffic slowdowns, people taking the streetcar say it's still too crowded and they can't board as a result.
"I have literally waited here as three have gone by," Safia Lakhani told CBC Toronto at the corner of John and King. "I thought the pilot project was moving things along a little faster than it is, I guess."
She wasn't the only one to watch streetcars go by.
Sanae Kerr says she watched seven streetcars pass by due to cars being too full or short-turning at Spadina Avenue.
"It's packed, it's short-turning... it's ridiculous," she told CBC Toronto. "I'm extremely frustrated."
Kerr says she only takes the streetcar about three times a year, noting: "I've had absolutely nothing but bad experiences."
TTC executive director of corporate communications Brad Ross points to more people taking the route as a reason for overcrowding at peak hours.
"We're seeing a lot of people on that route, whether they're coming from other routes [or] people are saying, 'Hey, I'm hearing about this King Street pilot, I'm going to take the streetcar now,'" he told CBC Toronto.
"Clearly I was one of those people, I had that thought," said Lakhani. "So I think the subway's going to be the way to go for me now."
Ross says the TTC is trying to reduce crowding by putting more streetcars on King, such as the 514 Cherry Street, as well as adding new Bombardier Flexity streetcars that can fit two to three times more people; taking out buses on King; and working with the city on transit signal priority, which would give streetcars green lights at intersections in order to service stops.
"We're doing as much as we can to deal with those crowds and capacity issues that we're seeing," Ross said.
James Ashton, who also saw three full streetcars skip his stop, blames cars not following rules for congestion and subsequent crowding.
"I think the new project's working reasonably well. I still think there's still an issue with the traffic as far as Toronto drivers not obeying the traffic signals and blocking the streetcars and things like that," he said.
Ashton, an Australian, says he's noticed more people taking the King streetcar, and has also noticed how it's affecting the usual courtesy he sees from Toronto commuters.
"I've also seen ... people getting frustrated and barging on instead of really waiting their turn," he said.
"They're losing that wonderful Canadian politeness."