Project aims to tackle transit woes
TORONTO — A complex new project aimed at tackling transit woes along a bustling street in Canada’s most populous city got its first real test with commuters Monday, drawing mixed reactions from motorists and transit users.
The King Street pilot project in Toronto has banned cars from travelling straight through a busy stretch of the downtown road cutting through the city’s financial and entertainment districts, with only a few exceptions.
The project — which launched Sunday and will run for a year — aims to give priority to streetcars along what is the busiest surface transit route in the city. The thoroughfare, where streetcars travel in the centre lanes, has been plagued by slow travel speeds and overcrowding.
During Monday’s morning rush hour, transit users and drivers expressed varying opinions on the new rules in effect.
For one regular commuter, the project seemed an initial success.
“I think it’s great, I really do,” said Eve Lyons, who either walks a two-kilometre stretch along King Street or takes the streetcar to work every weekday. “This will take me about eight minutes now, rather than 20, 25 minutes.”
Lauren Irwin, another commuter who takes the streetcar to and from work, was also optimistic about the project.
“I think it might make it a little bit faster, if today is an example,” she said. “Less car traffic the better. More people should take public transit.”
For some drivers, however, the changes appeared unexpected and caused confusion.
Jake Frachette sat dejected in his car after being pulled over by a police officer on the street after he drove through a busy intersection.
“Honestly, I had no idea about this,” he said. “I guess it’s good for commuters, I don’t know, but it’s also kind of annoying.”
It will take time for drivers to grow accustomed to the new rules, police acknowledged.