King Street data

New data shows dramatic effects of King St. Pilot

The King Street Transit Pilot has emerged in recent weeks as one of the top catalysts for drama in downtown Toronto, but – believe it or not – the project has done more than inspire saucy ice sculptures.

When the year-long pilot commenced in November, city officials were thrilled to announce Toronto's first transit priority corridor – a major street with new traffic restrictions meant to get an estimated 65,000 commuters across the city more quickly and reliably every day.

Many have proclaimed the initiative a smashing success in recent months based on city data, passenger reactions and the simple experience of riding a streetcar along King without getting stuck.

Some local business owners may not like it, but the news just keeps on getting better for TTC riders.

Local author and transit advocate Steve Munro is shining some much-appreciated light on the pilot project this week in terms of how travel times, line capacity and headway reliability have been affected along King Street.

Using vehicle tracking data from the Toronto Transit Commission, Munro has compiled a series of travel time sets for 504 streetcars heading westbound from Jarvis to Bathurst.

Charts published on his website this week show data for five representative hours of operation – 8:00 am, 1:00 pm, 5:00 pm, 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm. – between September of 2017 and January of 2018.

The difference following the introduction of the pilot is obvious. Travel times are lower overall, but as Cameron MacLeod points out, what's remarkable here is a visible increase in predictability.

"Data for January 2018 show that the travel times through the pilot area between Jarvis and Bathurst Streets continue to be both below the pre-pilot values," writes Munro, "and generally without the day-to-day 'spikiness' in the range of typical travel times."

Munro also looked at capacity in his most recent post, taking care to point out how much the capacity for streetcar riders on King Street has increased – though this has more to do with the streetcars themselves than with the traffic rules.

As more new, larger, Flexity streetcars are added into the fleet, the volume of people moving across the city increases.

It's that simple;  bigger cars = more capacity. When Bombardier finally delivers the rest of Toronto's order, King Street will be in even better shape for commuters downtown. 

Lead photo by

David Lussier


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