The King Street Pilot Project numbers look good.
A year ago we wrote that Toronto transit users love the new pilot project that puts people before cars, describing the King Street Pilot Project, which made it more difficult for cars to drive on the street and gave priority to streetcars. The King car carries more people than many subway lines, and there have been huge amounts of real estate development at either end. Something had to be done.
The Pilot just completed its first year, and the early results are looking good. Michael Lewis of the Star notes that cycling volumes were up by a massive 440 percent (it was impossible before). Daily ridership is up by 20,000 from 65,000 before. Travel time is down, and reliability is up. Residents at the development at the west end love it, telling the Star:
“We believe the King St. pilot has been nothing short of transformational for the residents of Liberty Village,” added Todd Hofley, president of the Liberty Village Residents’ Association, representing about 10,000 condo dwellers. The group is among more than 15 organizations that launched a “We Love King” campaign to show support for the pilot project.
Of course, the drivists all love Al Carbone, the restauranteur who claims the loss of parking has killed business on Restaurant Row. The Sun describes how a sushi business was closed due to lack of traffic, even though the owner put up a notice saying it was due to a rent increase.
Business has never been better! A lot of customers who live and work in the area and are more likely to be pedestrians using transit making it easier to get around. The myth that most of our customers drive and the #KingStreetPilot will kill the business-it’s just not true.— La Fenice (@lafenicetoronto) November 5, 2018
I started going to this restaurant every time I was downtown because it did not support Al Carbone (and it serves good food and is beautifully designed) and would have thought that if any restaurant was going to be affected it would be this; it serves an older, wealthier crowd. But they say no, business is good.
Besides, drivers complain about everything in the war on the car. As one supporter told the CBC:
Yeah, I'm in favour of it. I always hear that argument about how it's affected businesses poorly, but you hear that whenever you put in like bike lanes or you do whatever restricts car access and parking.
Cities looking for quick wins on delivering transit faster, quicker and cheaper need only look at our King Street Pilot. Now this same approach needs to be expanded in Toronto. Old model: move cars. New model: focus on moving people. https://t.co/MFPqS95QzK— Jennifer Keesmaat (@jen_keesmaat) November 12, 2018
Jennifer is right. Lives have been improved for a lot of people who live in downtown Toronto. Putting people before cars works.
Of course, all transit decisions are political, and after Doug Ford's cutting city council in half, nobody is quite sure what will happen, whether it will be made permanent. Or who knows, Doug Ford may just ban streetcars – he and his late brother always hated them – and this is Toronto, which never misses an opportunity to mess up. But right now, the data indicate that the King Street Pilot is a success.
King Street became more fun; there were things to do and places to sit. The restaurants got outside seating, which is a huge financial win. A few drivers were inconvenienced, but you never know who's going to win in the war on the car.