Light Rail on Toronto’s King St. Increases Ridership 27%

Welcome news.

When a heritage streetcar route is upgraded to light rail standards, simply by giving it priority over autos, reliability increases dramatically as does ridership.

The lesson to be learned is indeed very simple.

One need not segregate transit in a subway or on a viaduct, to increase ridership, one only needs to operate portions of the route with priority over autos, either by reserved rights-of-ways and/or priority signalling.

This simple lesson is well understood in Europe, but not so in Canada, where expensive infrastructure is the norm, with the belief that massive investments in infrastructure alone will guarantee new ridership.

A simple HOV Lane with rails can offer a service on par with a $600 million/km subway. A lesson TransLink and the City of Vancouver ignore.

The Globe and Mail newspaper on its website reports that the latest data shows that the King Street pilot project to speed streetcar travel has increased ridership and imporved service reliability: Image result for King Street streetcar pilot project Toronto
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King Street pilot project: Latest data shows increase in ridership, streetcar reliability
 By Nick WestollDigital Broadcast Journalist  Global News
August 15, 2018

The City of Toronto says the King Street pilot project, which gives streetcars priority on a portion of the busy downtown corridor, has resulted in increased ridership and improved reliability.
The pilot project area, which runs along King Street between Bathurst and Jarvis streets, launched in November. According to data from May and June that was released by officials Wednesday evening, there has been an 11 per cent increase in all-day weekday ridership. During the morning weekday commute, there has been an increase of 35 per cent, while the evening commute has seen a ridership increase of 27 per cent.
READ MORE: Toronto police face ‘unique challenge’ when it comes to issuing tickets on King Street.
Officials also said there has been a sharp increase in transit reliability with vehicles arriving within four minutes 85 per cent of the time during the morning weekday commute. Of the slowest streetcar time during the afternoon commute, city staff said there has been a four- to five-minute improvement in travel times.
However, during May and June, officials said there was a small increase of plus or minus one minute in westbound vehicle travel times compared to data collected before the pilot project began. City staff said the increase counters data collected since the launch of the project, adding it may coincide with emergency sewer and utility work in May on Richmond Street and in June on Queen Street.
The King Street pilot project prioritizes transit by making a designated section of the street local traffic access only. Vehicles are restricted from turning left and only right-turn “loops” are allowed. East-west through traffic isn’t allowed at key intersections.


The City of Toronto says the King Street pilot project, which gives streetcars priority on a portion of the busy downtown corridor, has resulted in increased ridership and improved reliability.
The pilot project area, which runs along King Street between Bathurst and Jarvis streets, launched in November. According to data from May and June that was released by officials Wednesday evening, there has been an 11 per cent increase in all-day weekday ridership. During the morning weekday commute, there has been an increase of 35 per cent, while the evening commute has seen a ridership increase of 27 per cent.
READ MORE: Toronto police face ‘unique challenge’ when it comes to issuing tickets on King Street
Officials also said there has been a sharp increase in transit reliability with vehicles arriving within four minutes 85 per cent of the time during the morning weekday commute. Of the slowest streetcar time during the afternoon commute, city staff said there has been a four- to five-minute improvement in travel times.
However, during May and June, officials said there was a small increase of plus or minus one minute in westbound vehicle travel times compared to data collected before the pilot project began. City staff said the increase counters data collected since the launch of the project, adding it may coincide with emergency sewer and utility work in May on Richmond Street and in June on Queen Street.
The King Street pilot project prioritizes transit by making a designated section of the street local traffic access only. Vehicles are restricted from turning left and only right-turn “loops” are allowed. East-west through traffic isn’t allowed at key intersections.


READ MORE: Toronto’s King St. pilot project data shows improvement of afternoon streetcar travel times
The data comes amid complaints from part of the business community along the pilot project route about a decline in customer spending due to vehicle restrictions. According to the report, there was a 0.3 per cent increase in spending in May and June compared to the same months in 2017.
Mayor John Tory praised the pilot project on Twitter Wednesday night, saying it shows that the City of Toronto “can move a larger number of people on the City’s busiest surface route, quickly and reliably.” He said city staff will continue to monitor ridership and traffic impacts as the project continues.

Comments

2 Responses to “Light Rail on Toronto’s King St. Increases Ridership 27%”
  1. Haveacow says:

    I think it is very interesting that the portion of King Street which the pilot project is included in has 2 routes the 504 King Route and the 514 Dufferin-Cherry Street route, and these lines are now moving a combined 80,000+ passengers a day. Considering right now, the many bus routes on Broadway move 75,000 a day, it’s very interesting that no one at the TTC is calling for a King Street Subway from Bathurst to Jarvis Streets!

  2. Falsecreek says:

    This was a good idea to upgrade Toronto’s aging streetcar to LRT.

    The previous NPA government was planning to build an LRT in downtown vancouver and south false creek that would only cost $100 million. This was cancelled when Gregor Robertson and his visionless party got elected. Now Vancouver has more bike lanes instead of LRT. A downtown LRT would make it easier to get around.

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