The future of one of Toronto’s biggest streets remains unclear as the King Street Pilot Project inches towards a close.
Was the King Street Pilot Project a success? Well, depends on who you ask. In the past year, the King Street TTC has achieved their highest efficiency in years. However, there has been a number of small businesses that have shut their doors due to the Pilot Project. Drivers from outside the city and those unfamiliar with Toronto’s streetscape have come away confused with the new rules. Seemingly from anyone not regularly riding King Street transit, there has been at least a few issues with the pilot.
Never without controversy attached to its name, for better or for worse, the King Street Pilot is about to end. The City of Toronto and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) have yet to say whether there will be an extension granted to the pilot or whether it will be discontinued. This has sent some stakeholders in the King West neighborhood into a tailspin, unsure about what’s ahead.
Since its’ launch on November 12, 2017, it’s be hard to find someone in King West who doesn’t have an opinion on how the pilot project has impacted their lives. Though opposition may have been initially strong, in the last few months, it appears there has been some resolve at least in terms of the negative discussion surrounding it. Now the conversation has turned predominantly towards those not following the rules and how to move forward with the information that has been culled together from the project.
Surprisingly, there is little data available on the pilot project published from City documents. The most well-publicized data is that of a study released in August published by both city government and TTC, highlighting an increased TTC ridership by approximately 35% this past summer. There is thankfully more data on the way though, which will hopefully look at other aspects of the project including its effect on small businesses in the region. There is also currently a report being prepared by the City’s pilot project committee expected to be given at an upcoming Executive Committee meeting. It is expected that this report may also address post-summer numbers relating to transit times and TTC ridership, compared to last year.
It is likely the future of the King Street transit arrangement will come to be decided at a joint Toronto city council and TTC meeting likely tabled in December. For the time being, the King Street Pilot Project will continue at least until the end of the year.
There’s a lot to say about the King Street Pilot Project and one would be challenged to find someone in the King West neighborhood who doesn’t have an opinion on it. For every positive TTC statistic and person in support of better transit across Toronto, there are also social media accounts of Toronto drivers purposefully avoiding the area due to perceived lack of parking and/or anti-car culture. There’s also several businesses – including the Pearl King, Subway, Le Saint Tropez, and Maki My Way – who have shut down, blaming the pilot project as a primary reason.
Assuming the King Street pilot is approved for permanent use, something most may be able to agree on is that a change like this is going to alter the way King West operates, suggesting both positives and negatives ahead.