Can the King Street pilot project come to your neighbourhood…?

One year ago, the city closed King Street to through traffic, except for TTC vehicles and emergency services, between Jarvis and Bathurst streets. This pilot project has been celebrated in some circles and denounced in others, drawing divisions among many who spend their days in the area. Some people who live and work in this area have said that the streetcars are still backed up and they are still packed, especially in rush hour.

On the other hand, some residents feel that King Street under this study has improved very much. Especially for pedestrians, thanks to a renewed streetscape that features art installations and seating. Many people feel that it’s nicer to come down to King Street and enjoy some of the changes to the landscape. 

This pilot project was started because the City and the TTC want to get more people using transit and getting them faster to their destinations. Ridership data before the pilot indicated 72,000 riders a day on the King Streetcar, which is the TTC busiest surface route in the entire network. The latest figures indicate that’s grown to 84,000 boarding, a 12 per cent boost in all-day ridership, according to the TTC. The transit commission feels that these changes have seen a reliability improvement of about 82 per cent according to recent polling conducted by the TTC. Unfortunately, the traffic that was on King Street is now congested on the back street into many of the downtown neighbourhoods.

The bad news is that it was announced last week that 17 business had to shut down due to the King Street pilot project. Many businesses felt the impact immediately and some have never recovered from the changes. Even though the city ran promotions, including free parking, free lunches and a competition to build street art installations, these 17 businesses were never able to catch up. A year of change has revealed serious differences in views on data integrity and who is on the right side of this issue. The city keeps floating out research and statistics that show that this pilot project was the right thing to do and that they keep extending the date for this pilot.

I ride the transit occasionally and l am not impressed by the service and its quality of ride, especially with all the breakdowns that it has been having. I took the King Streetcar this week from Bathurst to Jarvis and the ride did not seem any faster.

Mayor John Tory has been quoted as saying that “King Street wasn’t working for anyone.”

This Mayor and his downtown stranglehold by the left has put him in a position that he has no choice but to side with less cars in the city core, regardless of its financial impact on the local business and its means to survive. Mayor Tory seems to be moving to the far left with his policies, especially when it comes to transit and how it can benefit the long-term aspects of the city. I am not opposed to pilot projects or cyclist, but there has to be a balance approach and a final solution that works for riders and local business owners.

Just before the municipal election in 2018, a proposal was floated out about new bike lanes and the restriction of cars on Yonge Street north of Sheppard Avenue, this possible pilot project received a lot of resistance and was conveniently shelved due to the election. There are rumblings that this pilot project may be returned in the near future. The City of Toronto is also looking at proposing other pilot projects in different sectors of the city.

Will Dundas Street west or St. Clair Avenue be on this short list of possible transit pilot projects that restrict vehicle from entering these sections. Restriction of car traffic and parking restrictions is one of the most controversial aspects of the urban transport policy. Such initiatives frequently meet with the opposition of local groups of users. These changes affect not only the users of private cars, but also shopkeepers and restaurant owners, who are afraid to lose income. On the other hand, these solutions, typically introduced in the city centre, improve the flow of the public transport vehicles, enhancing its competitiveness, and increase the public space attractiveness.

I have to say that on this issue, l am torn between no cars or keeping our streets in tact especially in areas of high volume of congestion. Some day’s l wish there were no cars on the road and then there are times that getting around in a car makes things much more convenient.

Its enviable, the City of Toronto is growing at leaps and bounds, and change is for sure and may come to your neighbourhood.

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