A new survey suggests the impact of the King Street pilot project on businesses in the area remains divided among Toronto transit users and motorists.
The study, completed by market research firm POTLOC and online retail industry publication Retail Insider, found 37 per cent of respondents say the pilot project had a positive impact on their frequency of visits to shops on King Street compared to 24 per cent who say it had a negative impact.
The online survey also found 81 per cent of drivers visited local shops and services less often since the pilot project was launched last year. Respondents blamed confusing road circulation, congested routes and difficulty finding parking as the main reasons for staying away.
However, 53 per cent of transit users said they visit shops more often since the pilot was put in place.
“The area is less stressful, they spend less time in commute and can take more time to shop in the area,” the study said.
The study, completed by 2,062 respondents from Aug. 17 to Sept. 10, saw positive results from pedestrians and cyclists. Although pedestrians are the most frequent visitors of King Street shops, 47 per cent said the pilot project had no impact on their visits to retailers in the area.
Meanwhile, 47 per cent of cyclists surveyed said they have been visiting the street more often since the pilot began.
The King Street pilot project, which restricts vehicular traffic for improved streetcar access between Bathurst and Jarvis streets, began on Nov. 12, 2017.
“I don’t think you can argue with success. The people who ride on it indicate that their ride along King Street every day is much faster,” Mayor John Tory said during a news conference in the Port Lands Wednesday morning.
“The reliability of the King Street streetcar has improved, by I think, 50 per cent. The ridership has hugely increased to a point now where we’re having to address capacity issues. So I think for a modest investment this thing has been, by any measure, a success.”
The survey said 48 per cent of respondents want the project to be expanded, 24 per cent want it to stay as is and 25 per cent want it to be cancelled.
“We have some work to do to continue to support the businesses in the area as they adjust to a different kind of transit corridor, but one that is very necessary,” Tory said.
A decision on whether to make the pilot project permanent will be made by year’s end.