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Mayor Tory supports making King Street pilot project permanent

Click to play video: 'John Tory announces King St. streetcar pilot project will become permanent' John Tory announces King St. streetcar pilot project will become permanent
WATCH: Toronto Mayor John Tory announced on Tuesday that the King Street pilot project will become permanent and listed a number of positives the project has brought about – Apr 2, 2019

Mayor John Tory says he supports the King Street pilot project to be a permanent fixture for the downtown Toronto thoroughfare.

“By proceeding with this giant step forward and investing in King Street’s future, we are doing exactly the right thing for our residents, especially those who use transit along the street,” Tory said during a news conference at the corner of Charlotte and King streets on Tuesday morning.

The pilot project, which began on Nov. 12, 2017, aimed 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 extended until end of July 2019

“I believe this bold action is the right thing to do for our modern and growing city. It was the right thing to do — we looked at it very carefully, we studied the data very carefully — and it continues to be the right thing to do if we’re going to be moving people in a modern city,” Tory said.

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The King Street pilot project restricts vehicular traffic for improved streetcar access between Bathurst and Jarvis streets.

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.

READ MORE: King Street pilot project — Latest data shows increase in ridership, streetcar reliability

A city staff report released ahead of the city’s executive committee meeting next week, which recommends the pilot project to be extended until April 14, 2020, said the 504 King streetcar now moves more than 84,000 riders on an average weekday, a jump of 16 per cent from 72,000.

The report also said transit travel times have decreased with about 30,000 minutes saved by streetcar customers daily.

VIDEO (April 4, 2018): Continuing concern about drivers ignoring King Street pilot project rules

Click to play video: 'Continuing concern about drivers ignoring King Street pilot project rules' Continuing concern about drivers ignoring King Street pilot project rules
Continuing concern about drivers ignoring King Street pilot project rules – Apr 4, 2018

The total of people moving east to west along the downtown core has increased three per cent during the morning and afternoon commutes.

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The report said the volume of vehicles has been reduced, however car travel times in the area remain generally the same, even as drivers are dispersed to adjacent streets.

READ MORE: King Street pilot project — Ridership still strong 1 year later

“The King Street Transit Pilot has demonstrated, relatively quickly and cost-effectively, its ability to move people more efficiently on transit without compromising the broader transportation road network,” the report said.

One of the major complaints of the pilot project was the impact on businesses in the area. City staff said customer spending “marginally decreased” (0.8 per cent) after the road restrictions were put in place, mainly in the restaurant sector.

“Things were very challenging in the early days of the pilot with the cold weather, dark theatres and changed circumstances,” Tory said.

“But the same data indicates some rebound and stabilization, and we will continue to watch that sector very closely. We will continue to waive patio fees for restaurants along King Street and to keep working with [Business Improvement Areas] and others to promote King Street as a destination.”
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If approved at the executive committee, the matter will be presented before city council for a final vote.

VIDEO (Nov. 28, 2018): Toronto Mayor John Tory lauded the success of the King Street pilot project

Click to play video: '‘I don’t think you can argue with success’: Tory on Toronto’s King Street pilot project' ‘I don’t think you can argue with success’: Tory on Toronto’s King Street pilot project
‘I don’t think you can argue with success’: Tory on Toronto’s King Street pilot project – Nov 28, 2018

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