The City of Toronto is deep in the throes of motordom even when the King Street Streetcar demonstration project is appearing to be a success. This one year pilot is restricting vehicular traffic on King Street between Bathurst and Jarvis Streets to give priority for streetcar movement. As reported in Price Tags Vancouver a simple investment of 1.5 million dollars on a demonstration project to move streetcars more efficiently has resulted in faster trips into and out of the downtown core. Vehicular traffic has been routed off the main street, and streetcar pickup and drop off locations have been made safer and easier to use.
Motordom advocates railed against the temporary changes which made street car traffic more efficient on King Street, and which relegated vehicular traffic to adjacent streets. But this has been a success for the merchants on King Street too. As Toronto Star’s Ben Spurr reports, “Figures released Friday indicate that spending in the project area rose by 21 per cent between October and December 2017, a trend in line with seasonal spending patterns in previous years.”
The City of Toronto’s data shows streetcar ridership up 16 per cent, transit moving more efficiently, and that fact that there has been minimal negative impact on car traffic. “The spending numbers, which were compiled using point-of-sale data from credit and debit processor Moneris Solutions, don’t support claims made by local business owners who have blamed the pilot for what they describe as deep financial losses.”
Streetcar service is also more consistent with a four-minute interval 80 per cent of the time between streetcars. And in response to local business owners fearing the trial would impact them, the city of Toronto has provided city owned free parking spaces int the surrounding neighbourhood. Mayor John Tory stated “There are many, many positive indications about moving transit passengers faster, increased transit ridership, and traffic that is moving at a pace that is very similar to what it was before the King St. pilot.”
Removing congestion by putting more transit passengers on street cars does that.