Toronto city council votes to make King Street pilot project permanent

A TTC 504 streetcar is seen near Roncesvalles Avenue and The Queensway. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

It’s no longer a temporary measure: Toronto City Council has voted to make the King Street pilot project permanent.

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.

Tuesday’s vote was 22-3 in favour of making the project permanent.

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.

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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.

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

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

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

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.

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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.

–With files from David Shum


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