The City of Toronto is considering eliminating car traffic from one of its busiest downtown streets as a way to improve transit service and give pedestrians a car-free right-of-way through the urban core.
The city’s website says King Street is the busiest surface transit route in Toronto, moving more than 65,000 streetcar riders east and west on a typical weekday, and that the combination of cars and transit is making it difficult for anyone on King to get where they’re going.
Cutting cars out of the picture is just one of a number of options the city is considering for smoothing the flow of traffic, but according to a CBC report, Toronto’s planning department won’t reveal the rest of the possibilities until February 13.
That’s the date set for a public meeting where Toronto chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat and her team will present “a series of options… and get the public’s response.”
Unsurprisingly, not everyone is on board with the idea of banning cars from King. The CBC talked to Ryerson University urban economics and planning professor Murtaza Haider, who called the plan “daydreaming” and not friendly to young families who use cars for “trips for diapers… (and) hockey practice.”
Following the February 13 meeting, Toronto will use public input to plan a pilot project to “test a range of options… to further improve transit reliability, capacity and efficiency.”
Toronto has hired a local urban design company and a consultancy to work on the pilot project, along with a New York City-based traffic engineering firm; and a Danish architecture and design company. The city is also conducting a traffic modelling study to look at how changes to King Street would affect vehicle traffic on surrounding streets.
The King Street Pilot Study is one component of TOcore, a larger planning study being designed to manage the growth of Toronto’s downtown between now and 2041, when the core’s population is expected to hit 475,000 people; today, the City of Toronto estimates about a quarter of a million people live downtown.
The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) operates a subway system in addition to the network of streetcars and buses, but the main east-west line is well north of King Street.