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King Street pilot project: U of T study suggests travel times have improved

WATCH ABOVE: Data from the first three weeks of the pilot project shows a decline in streetcar travel times, especially during the evening rush hour. But business owners say their bottom lines are hurting. Mark Carcasole reports.

Preliminary data collected by the University of Toronto on the King Street pilot project shows streetcar travel times during the evening rush hour have improved significantly for transit users.

Statistics released on Monday by the university’s Spatial Analysis of Urban Systems department indicate the mean travel time on the westbound streetcar route between Jarvis and Bathurst streets dropped to 17.3 minutes compared to 22.8 minutes before the pilot project began.

Meanwhile, the eastbound route between the same corridor saw the mean travel time drop to 16.4 minutes from 20.6 prior to the start of the pilot project.

READ MORE: ‘It’s a good thing’: TTC riders pleased with new King Street pilot project

The study, which collected data four weeks prior to the launch of the project and 16 days after, also revealed that 19 per cent of trips during the evening peak (4 p.m. to 7 p.m.) taking longer than 25 minutes fell to just 1.3 per cent after the pilot was introduced.

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“It’s early and I’m not proclaiming any victories, but that these particular numbers coming out of the U of T, which is totally objective on this, says that it’s making a big difference in moving the 65,000 people who do use the King streetcar,” Mayor John Tory told reporters during a transit announcement in Toronto on Monday.

LISTEN: Transit expert Steve Munro on the King Street Pilot

The pilot project – which launched two weeks ago and will run for a year – aims to give priority to streetcars along what is the busiest surface transit route in the city and one that has been plagued by slow travel speeds and overcrowding.

READ MORE: King Street pilot project leaves some confused, others see positive impact on transit

Vehicles are no longer allowed to drive straight through between Bathurst and Jarvis streets. Meanwhile, left-hand turns are also banned on the stretch of King Street.

Motorists are largely permitted to drive only one block before having to turn right, and there is no on-street parking in the pilot area.

According to TTC ridership statistics, the 504 King streetcar has an average daily ridership of around 65,000 people compared to 20,000 vehicles that use the street.

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LISTEN: Toronto Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti on the King Street Pilot

Tory said that although he is encouraged by the U of T results, the Toronto Transit Commission will release its own preliminary data on the pilot by the end of the month.

READ MORE: Toronto’s King Street pilot project: what you need to know

He also said the pilot project will be modified to deal with issues that may arise, such as complaints by businesses who say the lack of vehicular traffic and parking spaces are harming their bottom line.

LISTEN: Coun. Joe Cressy on the King Street Pilot

“We are not in a situation where it’s going to stay exactly the same for the whole year,” Tory said. “We’ll make adjustments to address business concerns, to address the concern of riders, to address whatever things we can to make this work and then we’ll see where we go from there.”

VIDEO: Ticketing begins for King Street pilot project

Ticketing begins for King Street pilot project
Ticketing begins for King Street pilot project