This is the second article reviewing the effects of the pilot King Street transit priority scheme. Part 1 looked at the behaviour of the 504 King streetcar route, and Part 2 concerns the operation of 501 Queen and 6 Bay during the same period.
Among the effects anticipated from the pilot was an increase in traffic on parallel streets with the effect reaching as far north as Queen Street. Queen suffers badly during the shutdown of King for TIFF in September, and by extension some problems were expected to show up with the pilot’s changes changes on King.
Another effect that was expected was congestion on the north-south streets crossing King. Only one transit route in mixed traffic, 6 Bay, operates on such a street.
The City of Toronto is monitoring traffic behaviour on many streets in the study area and will publish their own preliminary findings in mid-December.
The charts presented here are in the same two formats as those in Part 1:
- One pair of charts shows the travel times between Bathurst and Jarvis on Queen, and between Dundas and Front on Bay, both ways. Each day’s data are plotted individually to show the difference between individual trips, the evolution of travel times over the day, and the degree of dispersion in travel time values (i.e. the predictability, or not, of travel time for any journey).
- One pair of charts shows average times, by hour, for each day to illustrate daily fluctuations and any before/after changes concurrent with the King Street Pilot.
For both routes, there is almost no change in the average travel times after the pilot began. Values on Queen bounce around a lot, but they do so both before and after the pilot began.
There is a quite striking weekly pattern with much higher than usual averages during the PM peak eastbound on Queen and southbound on Bay with low values usually on Mondays, and much higher values later in the week. This shows the importance of studying route behaviour over several days, while remaining aware that external events can create patterns in the data, or can create one-time disruptions for special events such as parades or sporting events.
It’s promising that it seems that the King pilot and the restricted car traffic there has not had a “spillover” effect on traffic on Queen. Could it be that rather than redirecting the bulk of the traffic, the pilot has had the effect of dissuading people from travelling to the area by car altogether? Too early to tell I know, but would be good if it’s true.
Before we can attempt to try a Queen Street Transit Mall, we’ll need to build the DRL. Not just between Osgoode and Pape, but from Dundas West Station and Don Mills & Sheppard. Then not only put in the transit malls, but congestion fees as well. See this Streetsblog article about congestion pricing in London.
Steve: By the time we see a DRL of that extent, all of us will have passed the torch to at least one, if not more generations. A crucial fact Toronto simply does not want to accept is that the ideal world in which we somehow fix all transit problems with a network of new rapid transit lines is a distant hope, at best. Meanwhile, we need to address the city as it is.
Be careful what you wish for when citing London.
While I agree with congestion charges (and the new T-charge, toxicity or pollution charge), it is part of a larger package of charges, such as a higher fare on the Underground during peak hours when in zone 1. I can’t argue with that, but in my experience the “we should have a congestion charge” people in the GTA tend to be opposed to increased transit fares on congested parts of the transit network.
Steve: One does not necessarily demand the other. Indeed the absence of a peak period transit surcharge would be an incentive to use transit when auto costs are particularly high.
Green P was originally developed to provide an inexpensive source of parking. Unfortunately, these days they encourage the use of motor vehicles with “inexpensive” parking. We have people driving around the downtown blocks looking for “free” parking on the side streets, to avoid the NO PARKING signs on King or Queen Streets.
Of course, nothing is cheaper than the “free parking” provided by the suburban shopping malls. To encourage the use of public transit everywhere, we have to start charging for the “privilege” of parking at all destinations.
Jane Jacobs advocated for taking the Gardiner Expressway down, claiming traffic would disperse. Typically, when road capacity increases, vehicles fill it. Curiously, it seems harder to accept the opposite. When an earthquake damaged the Embarcadero expressway in San Francisco, it was not rebuilt despite predictions of traffic chaos. Which never happened. Similarly, when bike lanes were proposed on Dundas East, Tom Jacobek among others, predicted increased road congestion. Again, no chaos ensued. I’m delighted the King Pilot is showing similar results.
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