The King Street Transit Priority “Pilot” has been in place since fall 2017, and is now a permanent fixture. Long time readers will know that I have tracked the changes in travel times through the affected area between Bathurst and Jarvis Streets for many years.
For some time, there has been little “news” because conditions on King were stable and the travel times were not changing even as the number of scofflaws grew. Basically, the street did not reach the “tipping point” where there was enough traffic, whether it should be there or not, to push conditions “over the edge” into the pre-pilot congestion. One notable exception was the effect of major sports events and traffic jams that plugged (mainly) University Avenue causing north-south traffic to back through the intersection preventing east-west movement.
With the steep decline in traffic downtown through the combined effect of work-from-home and the shuttering of much of the Entertainment District, I took another look at King to see what was happening.
Note: For one week in April 2020, track repairs at Church Street prevented King cars from running through, and no data appear for those days in the charts.
The charts below show the 50th percentile (mean) and 85th percentile of travel times between Jarvis and Bathurst each way for the peak hour 8 to 9 AM. The pilot began in fall 2017 and this is marked by the vertical green band.
Note that the horizontal axis is at ten minutes, not zero.
AM peak times on King did not change much with the pilot because the area was not congested before the pilot started, although the number of high peaks did drop off post-pilot.
Mid-March marks the point of the pandemic shutdown and a marked change in travel times. This had more effect on eastbound than westbound service probably because that is the peak direction and would have longer stop service times.
In the afternoon peak hour, 5 to 6 PM, there is a drop in travel times for both directions, although slightly more so for the peak direction westbound.
Late evening was typically a period when King Street was quite busy and streetcars would encounter traffic even in the “priority” area, although mainly west of University Avenue.
There is a drop in travel times even in the 10 to 11 PM hour both ways on King, although a gradual rise is visible corresponding to the limited resumption of street activity in the Entertainment District.
The files linked below include 16 charts each with a pair for each of 8 one-hour periods through the day.
The first set of eight is in the format of charts above, while the second shows only 2019 and 2020 data to stretch out the details in recent months for those who are interested. Here is an example.
The data are the same as in the eastbound PM peak chart above, but beginning in January 2019.
I noticed today they are finally tweaking the University Avenue stops. They have been pushed away from University Avenue such that there is space for two Flexity cars to load/unload at the intersection. Essentially, the westbound stop is now at Simcoe and the eastbound stop is now at York.