King Street pilot project changes how everyone uses the street
City, TTC aiming to prioritize streetcar service that moves 65,000 people daily
If you're commuting via King Street on Sunday, your trip will likely be far different.
The city's King Street pilot project, aimed at prioritizing streetcar service on the TTC's busiest surface route, has launched and will face its first tests this week.
- Metro Morning | What to expect from the King Street pilot project
- TTC to keep tabs on streetcar speed, ridership during pilot
Here's a guide on how to get around, no matter how you use the street.
The streetcar is King
Well, at least between Bathurst and Jarvis streets.
The TTC says upwards of 65,000 people take King streetcars every weekday, but until now, their trips have been slowed down by congestion.
"You can be sitting in traffic for almost an hour," said Coun. Mike Layton, whose ward includes thousands of Liberty Village residents who rely on the route.
"We have to do something about that."
To accomplish this, the streetcar will be given priority in the city's core, while motorists will be limited to using King one block at a time.
If you take transit, everything will stay the same except for where you get on and off the streetcar. The stops have moved to the far side of the intersection, and eventually you'll get a protected waiting area.
Drivers have the most changes to get used to, although the key takeaway is that you'll no longer be able to drive straight across King Street. Here are the other key restrictions:
- Heading east at Bathurst, or west at Jarvis, you'll have to turn right or left.
- Left turns will be banned within the pilot zones.
- To get on to King you'll turn right, and you'll have to turn right again one block later to get off.
The city has more information on its site including details about delivery services, and officials are vowing to monitor how this change affects nearby streets like Richmond and Adelaide, Wellington and Front.
"Part of the reason this is a pilot is to not just see what the impact on King will be, but what will be the impact on adjacent streets," said TTC Chair Josh Colle, adding he hopes improving streetcar reliability will actually get more people out of their cars.
Taxis and Uber
The taxi industry may not like the changes, but the pilot does give cabbies an advantage over their Uber-driving rivals.
There will be designated cab stands as part of the street design, and cabs will also be exempt from the no-through traffic rule from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., in part to service King's bustling nightlife.
Uber drivers will have to follow the same rules as every other motorist, and the city is encouraging those who use ride-sharing platforms to arrange pick-ups on other streets.
Pedestrians and cyclists
The city has plans to gussy up King Street's sidewalks eventually, but for now the main thing pedestrians need to be aware of is new right-turn signals at intersections.
Cyclists won't get a dedicated lane as part of the plans, however there will be painted "bike boxes" at King's intersection with Peter and Simcoe streets, so you can connect with the lanes running north and south.
Of course, the city's busiest bike lanes, Richmond and Adelaide, are just to the north of King.