TTC streetcars and buses operating along King Streets East and West between River and Dufferin Streets serve the busiest surface transit corridor in Toronto. They carry as many as 65,000 passengers every Monday to Friday.
King Street is also an important east-west traffic artery in downtown Toronto, connecting many neighbourhoods with the largest concentration of jobs in the city, region, and country. The King Street corridor will continue to grow significantly in population and employment in the coming decades, leading to further demand on these already heavily congested transit routes.
The City of Toronto’s chief planner, Jennifer Keesmaat recently attended the Toronto Transit Commission meeting to introduce the City / TTC “King Street Visioning Study”. The study is about re-imagining the street “with bold, transformative ideas on how to re-allocate space” in the King right-of-way and create “an iconic street in the heart of downtown”. This future street would, hopefully, allow the TTC to move people more efficiently, improve public spaces on the street and support economic prosperity.
Over the past few years, the TTC has made several operational changes to improve streetcar service, including: allowing all-door loading (to become more effective with the new low-floor streetcars); adding extra buses; extending turning and on-street parking restrictions; improving transit stop locations and route running times; adding route supervisors; and improving night service. It also added even more service along the street between Dufferin and Sumach Streets by introducing the new 514 Cherry route.
But, City and TTC staff both acknowledge that operational changes can only achieve so much — King Street needs “something bigger” to truly unlock the potential of the corridor.
Among the ideas that the study will consider is altering the street to improve the transit service, possibly restricting private vehicles and creating a ‘transit-only’ mall along parts of King.
The King Street Visioning Study is just one component of the city’s work to develop “TOCore”, a new secondary plan for downtown Toronto.
Roncesvalles Avenue is a successful local example of how improving the street can also improve streetcar service.
You’ll find another successful example in Melbourne.
You can view the complete presentation here. (.pdf)