On June 24, the TTC approved a proposal to study the options for improving the service on King Street – a pressing issue involving everyone on the road. Some had suggested restricting left-turns while others wanted to ban cars completely or introduce transit-only lanes. With the introduction of the new fleet of streetcars and the PanAm Games right around the corner, it’s due time that this issue was tackled.
Last week NOW Magazine tackled the King Street dilema in a piece written by former TTC chair Adam Giambrone. In short, the 504 carries more than 57,000 people daily up and down King. Streetcars come every 2-3 minutes during rush hour, similar to how many times the subway frequents Yonge Station, but the problem is the overcrowding. Too few streetcars and too many passengers. That’s just one part. Add in the rush-hour traffic and parked cars and the congestion is almost unbearable for both TTC passengers and everyone else on the road.
All the gritty details of the 504’s history can be found on the Transit Toronto website, but here’s a quick rundown of how we got to where we are today.
When the Town of York became Toronto, King Street ran through the heart of the city. When streetcars arrived to Toronto in the late 1800s, King Street was naturally on of the first to receive service. Since then, Toronto has turned into a major metropolitan city that grows every year. The current system is simply not sufficient for the number of people who travel on one of Toronto’s busiest streets every day.
In 1993, the old City of Toronto proposed streetcar lanes during peak periods on King between Dufferin and Parliament, but these were never enforced. In 2001, a proposal was issued asking that cars be eliminated from King Street between Spadina and Jarvis during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Then in 2007, a second proposal was brought forth by Giambrone suggesting a two months trial period of vehicle-free traffic zones. Both proposals were dismissed because there was little support from the communities and local businesses.
There are several possible solutions to the streetcar issue on King and the TTC will be looking at many of them. Is it viable to completely ban cars on King Street? Or should they just be banned during peak periods? A commenter on this National Post article about the issue is suggesting getting rid of streetcars and introducing a new subway line. Some argue that it’s too extreme to ban cars completely because they too belong on the road. It might be more realistic to ban parking on the streets and no left-turns.
We love many of the neighbourhoods along King for living, work and play, but the traffic situation needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. Which of the proposals do you think will work best for everybody? Tell us your thoughts below.