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The King Street Transit Pilot has started

Back in January 2016, I wrote about Toronto’s ambition to transform King into a “transit first” street across the downtown core. 

The King streetcar is the busiest surface transit route in the entire city (65,000 riders / day on average) and it was – and continues to be – my opinion that the route was broken. Something had to be done.

Well, that something is now happening. The “King Street Transit Pilot” officially started on Sunday, November 12, 2017 at 7am. Here are some of the key changes, many of which are also depicted in the above image:

– No more on-street parking in the pilot area.

– Cars can no longer turn left or drive through the intersections of the pilot area (except for taxis picking up drunk people from 10pm to 5am).

– Cars must now follow a right-in/right-out approach. They can turn right onto King, but then they have to turn right off of King at the next intersection.

– Most of the streetcar stops have been moved to the “far side” of each intersection. That is, after the lights. Passenger waiting areas are now in the curbside lane and protected by jersey barriers.

– Cyclists can go through the intersections of the pilot area. “Bike boxes” have been added to intersections where there are north-south bike lanes to help with turning left.

As to be expected, some people are upset about the above changes. There are also concerns that drivers aren’t going to obey the rules and continue to drive through the intersections in the streetcar lane. But this is a pilot project. It’s about learning and adjusting.

It’s also important to keep in mind that King has at least 3x more transit riders than cars. This pilot is about figuring out how to best optimize the street so that it moves the greatest number of people as efficiently as possible.

I’ll report back here on the blog once the pilot has settled in and there is a better understanding of its impact.

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