Frank Jing, Business Development & Brand at GoParkr
The recent King Street Project that launched on Sunday, November 12th, 2017 ash changed the way drivers can access a large portion of King Street in downtown Toronto. The King Street Transit Pilot Project is between Bathurst Street and Jarvis Street. The city has decided to give the final green light to the project in hopes to improve transit reliability, speed, and capacity by providing higher priority to public transit vehicles such as the iconic Toronto red street cars instead of private cars. City of Toronto is planning to divert the current King Street private car traffic to parallel streets such as Adelaide, Richmond, Queen, and Wellington Street. King Street has historically been the business street in regard to surface transit route in the city. An average day, the city’s commuter service move more than 65,000 riders on a single weekday. While approximately 20,000 private cars use the King Street every day, most of the traffic car sole local trips. As the project is still in its pilot phase, local access for private cars and private driveways will still be maintained, but only on a block to block basis.
The source of this pilot project is due to the newcomers that have recently moved to Toronto often settled in the King St. corridor in areas such as Canary District, Corktown, Financial and Theatre Districts, Liberty Village causing immense pressure on the street car traffic along King Street. There were several attempts to improve the street car traffic on King Street in the early 1900s, 2001 and in 2007, most were much more conservative while still shot down even in the proposal stage within the city.
Often times, due to politics, infrastructure lags behind population density. By examining older pictures of Manhattan before the Second Avenue Subway (Arup) or Yonge Street before the TTC subway was built, it is clear this is a reoccurring symptoms within metropolitans such as Toronto or New York. Another rationale behind the project is that even if the city gave the entire street to cars, there would simply be too many of them and would not lead to much relieve for the current traffic situation. Some critics argue that since Toronto as most large North American cities started its rapid growth after the Second World War, its infrastructure and planning was based on the assumption that people driver everywhere and parking is abundant. A good example of this that is still prominent today is when cities set out building regulations that specifies condominiums and office buildings the minimum number of parking spots with parking minimum. The current situation has changed, hence King Street Pilot Project should allow public transit to move more quickly. Nevertheless, this does not take into account that over 1 million private cars are being bought each year, with the majority of the sales within the Greater Toronto Area. This means although the King Street Pilot Project is a big step forward, cars will still have a high place and is here to stay for a long time to come.
The King Street Pilot Project is nothing new when we look around the globe. In London’s Oxford Street, cars are banned and the street is only open to buses and taxis since the 1980s, and with the completion of the Crosslink underground subway, the city has arranged to give the entire street to pedestrians only. In Europe, cities such as Amsterdam or Berlin also has transit only street with limited right turn only private car access. In Beijing, China, the busiest shopping street is also pedestrian only. In Canada, Granville Street in Vancouver is reserved for trolley buses and & 7th Avenue in Calgary’s traffic has been regulated in similar fashion. Toronto as the 3rd runner up in Canada now has placed Toronto on the spot light with the other two major cities in Canada.
1. No Through Traffic: Drivers are not allowed to drive through the King and Bathurst Street Intersection
2. Right Turns: Vehicles turning right onto King Street must turn into the streetcar lane.
3. No Left Turned: All left turns are prohibited on King Street. Only left turns onto King Street will be allowed.
4. TTC Street Car Stops: stops moved to the far side of intersection with boxed waiting areas
5. Accessible Loading: Dedicated area
6. Passenger/Deliveries Pick up & Drop off: Dedicated areas with standing/parking prohibited
7. Bike Box:
8. Paid Public and Commercial Parking: Completely removed.
In the meantime, the newly implemented project will give drivers a new headache when driving downtown both with its various road closures, special restrictions, and lack of parking spots.
Weeks after the new King Street Pilot project where the city hope will change the way people use the King Street, especially during rush hours. Commuters are split on whether the project has actually made any notifiable improvements.
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Author: Frank Jing, Business Development & Brand at GoParkr