Clear tar­gets sought for King Street

Street­carpri­or­i­tiz­ing pi­lot project closer to re­al­ity

Metro Canada (Toronto) - - TORONTO -

Toronto’s deputy mayor is push­ing for the city to set clear tar­gets for the pi­lot project that would pri­or­i­tize street­cars over car traf­fic on King Street, in or­der to pre­vent its sup­port­ers from “declar­ing vic­tory” with­out any clear ev­i­dence.

As ex­pected, the TTC board voted Thurs­day to move ahead with the pi­lot, which would re­strict pri­vate car move­ment on King.

With daily rid­er­ship of 65,000 peo­ple, the 504 King street­car is the TTC’s busiest sur­face tran­sit route, but its move­ment through the down­town core is se­verely im­peded by the 20,000 driv­ers who use the street ev­ery day.

The pi­lot, which would be in­stalled be­tween Bathurst and Jarvis streets, will now go to Mayor John Tory’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee next Mon­day, where it’s ex­pected to be ap­proved and sent to coun­cil next month for a final vote.

While en­dors­ing the pi­lot, com­mis­sion­ers also ap­proved a mo­tion moved by board mem­ber Deputy Mayor Denzil Min­nanWong that asked staff to de­velop “bench­marks for suc­cess” for the project and re­port to the board by the end of 2017.

Min­nan-Wong voted in favour of the pi­lot. But he ar­gued that, with­out clear mea­sure­ments in place at its start, its sup­port­ers on coun­cil and in the city bu­reau­cracy could sim­ply deem it a suc­cess no mat­ter what data comes back.

“You de­cide what a win looks like be­fore you start. You don’t de­fine the win based on the data that you get,” he said.

“The pi­lot project is sup­posed to achieve cer­tain things .... Let’s set what those lev­els are go­ing to be now, and then let’s do the pi­lot project and see if those things are achieved.”

The mo­tion didn’t spec­ify which bench­marks should be used or how spe­cific the tar­gets should be. Min­nan-Wong said he would leave that up to city staff.

TTC chair Josh Colle said staff have al­ready de­vised sev­eral met­rics by which to gauge the project. They in­clude its ef­fect on eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity, traf­fic, and the re­li­a­bil­ity of street­car ser­vice.

But Colle said he didn’t ob­ject to more clearly lay­ing out the cri­te­ria. He stated that he was con­fi­dent the pi­lot will be a suc­cess, and that the primary mea­sure should be whether tran­sit ser­vice im­proves.

“We have to look at busi­ness con­ti­nu­ity and safety and all those other things, but, to me, the whole point of all of this is to move those 65,000 peo­ple more quickly,” he said.

If ap­proved by coun­cil, the $1.5-mil­lion pi­lot on King would be in­stalled in late fall and run for at least one year.

Torstar news ser­vice

The 504 King street­car is the TTC’s busiest sur­face tran­sit route.

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