toronto ttc king

Is it time to make King and Queen streets car free?

It's been floated before - several times in fact - but TTC CEO Andy Byford says it's time to make King and maybe Queen Street transit-only during rush-hour if new streetcars are ever going to realize their potential.

Here's the idea: by cutting cars, trucks, and other vehicles out of important stretches of the downtown core during busy transit hours, streetcars could get through without bunching up behind turning motorists and other obstructions. Taxis could be exempted, perhaps, and Byford thinks the plan could work in one direction only.

As it stands, private automobiles are technically banned from driving in the streetcar lane during rush-hour but enforcement is sporadic at best. The TTC is also discussing traffic cameras to nab rule-breakers.

Speaking to the Toronto Star, Byford said the routes are plagued by chronic bunching caused by other vehicles blocking the tracks and poorly-timed signals. "Is it not time to revisit - just as a study - the political and public appetite for a 7 a.m. until 9 a.m. transit-only-in-one-direction road, and displace the traffic elsewhere," he asked.

To that end, TTC Karen Stintz will motion the TTC board to investigate the feasibility of such a plan at the next meeting on Monday evening.

melbourne trams

There's some precedence for this. Melbourne, the city with the largest tram network in the world, runs its vehicles in parts of the downtown in dedicated lanes. Outside, there are marked tram lanes that become transit-only during rush-hour periods. There, the problem of turning traffic blocking intersections has given rise to the unusual hook turn.

In Toronto, a hook turn would require left-turning cars to be in the far right lane. When the light goes green, those cars would pull forward level with the lane they're turning in to and wait. The cars complete the turn when the light goes green for cars in the other direction.

It's all talk right now, of course, but what do you think of the idea. Could it work in Toronto?

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Images: BruceK/blogTO Flickr pool, Charles Van den Broek/Creative Commons


Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in City

IKEA has been giving away hundreds of free Christmas trees in Toronto

The history of Speakers Corner in Toronto

People in Toronto raise money to give man living on sailboat a place to dock for winter

This is how people in Toronto used to get their news in the 1800s and 1900s

The longest and shortest TTC subway stops

This secluded forest in Toronto is perfect for a nature stroll

One of Toronto's most colourful bridges is being demolished

Someone just noticed an amazing hidden detail in Toronto's dog fountain