Editorial Archive

Time to rethink transit priority on TTC’s busiest route – King Street

6/28/13 6:00 AM

The TTC recently published details around its next-generation, wheelchair accessible fleet of streetcars and how they will be deployed, starting with the Spadina and Bathurst routes next year.

These new streetcars will have much greater capacity than existing streetcars. And all-door boarding will enable faster servicing of stops.

But there is little benefit of introducing state-of-the-art (also air-conditioned!) vehicles to only then see them snarled in heavy traffic.

To that end, we have proposed a study to identify ways to make our busiest streetcar routes move more smoothly through the downtown area during rush hour.

My view is that nobody is satisfied with the status quo on city streets. Transit riders become frustrated when streetcars bunch up or are held up by other vehicles making left turns or parking illegally. In turn, car drivers get frustrated by having to wait while packed streetcars take excess time to service stops.

On King Street (the TTC’s busiest of all surface routes with 56,700 riders a day), the situation will reach an even higher boiling point when new residential developments to the east and west come on stream.

What is being proposed, then, is for the TTC to work with the City to look at a range of options, including:
> Improved enforcement of already-dedicated streetcar lanes.
> Consideration of increased left-turn restrictions.
> The potential for a transit-only zone on central King Street for a two-hour period during the morning rush.

The study would fully evaluate the impact on traffic and businesses. Clearly cars and trucks have to go somewhere – where they go and the impact on businesses is what a serious study would consider.

No, the proposal is not universally popular. But it is my job to advocate for transit riders and to deliver continuous improvement of our service. To me, it makes absolute sense to look at how our busiest routes can run more smoothly to properly move the TTC’s 1.7 million daily riders.

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