If you build it they will come, and if you reach capacity you need to add more capacity. That mantra comes in handy with the overwhelming success of the King Street pilot project in Toronto which does a “vehicular road diet” on cars on the street to facilitate faster streetcar times. As reported in the Toronto Star , researchers from the University of Toronto found that “during the evening rush hour period of 4 to 7 p.m., the mean travel time for westbound streetcars in the pilot area has been cut by 24 per cent, to 17.3 minutes, from 22.8 minutes before the pilot began. The mean travel time for eastbound streetcars has been reduced by 20 per cent, to 16.4 minutes from 20.6 minutes.”
For an investment of just 1.5 million dollars a reliable and more efficient street car service is now available and has been wildly popular, serving tens of thousands of transit users. Cars are forced to exit right at major intersections if they enter King Street, and police officers enforced this behaviour by aggressive ticketing cars that did not leave the street. On street parking was removed from the pilot area, and streetcar stops relocated to the far side of intersections for passenger safety, convenience and efficiency. The streetcar carried 65,000 passengers a day before the pilot project, with 10,000 cars a day hampering streetcar movement.
It’s no surprise that the streetcar’s efficiency is maximized at rush hour when there is little other vehicular traffic on King Street. Toronto’ Transit Commission is evaluating the pilot and will be releasing data on transit service and the car traffic in mid December.