Changes to King Street are coming in the next month.
Earlier this summer, Toronto City Council approved the King Street Pilot Project to go ahead this fall, giving priority to people and transit first, by improving transit reliability, speed, and capacity.
And the one-year pilot, which will run between Bathurst and Jarvis along King, is expected to start in November. Prioritizing streetcars means discouraging the use of private vehicles on the popular downtown road. According to the City of Toronto, the pilot “is changing how King Street works, by not allowing through movement at most intersections for private vehicles and providing priority to streetcars. Local access for vehicles will be maintained on a block by block basis.”
So what does this model look like?
At Bathurst Street, cars along King Street will not be allowed to drive through the Bathurst Street intersection. At the intersection eastbound vehicles must turn left or right. Westbound vehicles must turn right.
The pilot was approved with an exemption for taxis. Between 10 pm and 5 am, licensed taxis will be allowed through the pilot area to help transport people safely out of the nightlife along the popular street.
Bicycles will also be allowed to drive through the area.
Left turns from King Street at intersections will not be allowed while driving or biking within the pilot area. But cyclists can use the bike boxes at Peter Street and Simcoe Street to turn left in two stages. Bike boxes are designated spaces in the pilot to help cyclists make left turns from King Street.
There is definitely no on-street parking within the pilot area.
The City says that there will be new public spaces created in the curb lane within the pilot area. These spaces may include seating, sidewalk cafés, or bicycle parking.
And just like the intersection at Bathurst, cars on King Street are not allowed to drive through the Jarvis Street intersection. At the intersection westbound vehicles must turn left or right. Eastbound vehicles must turn right.
For those trying to access destinations on King, the pilot recommends entering King Street via the closest north-south street which gets you on the same side of the street as the address you are looking for, and to use parallel streets to access different points on King Street (Richmond Street, Adelaide Street, Wellington Street, Front Street, Lake Shore Boulevard or the Gardiner Expressway).
A TTC report released last week stated that the success of the new project “will be defined by improvements to transit performance informed primarily by three metrics: reliability, ridership and travel times.” The transit agency will be monitoring the progress, and will update the public through monthly dashboards that will be created so people can follow along and stay informed with how the pilot is going.
The TTC will not only monitor King Street but also the parallel routes of Queen Street, Richmond Street, Adelaide Street, Wellington Street and Front Street, as well as intersecting north-south streets.
The King Street Pilot is part of a larger City study for the downtown area called TOcore. TOcore is about creating a downtown that supports outdoor spaces like parks and the public realm, transportation, and community service.