King Street Pilot

Jan 29 2018

My comments on King Transit Pilot submitted to City/TTC.


Congratulations on getting this thing up and running so quickly. Such speed is what we, the taxpayer, expect and rarely get.


King Street is wonderful to walk on, quieter, safer, less diesel particulates, easy to cross the street. So this pedestian is delighted.


I have used 504 and 514 both before and after the Nov 2017 start: a big improvement, no traffic jams, and reliability is improved. I have used it instead of the subway, to connect with the Spadina car. In the beginning it moved along quite well, but lately is slower, not by traffic but by instruction to drivers parhaps.


Police enforcement, originally frequent and visible, has also tailed off, with consequent contravention and blocking of intersections. If you cannot fix the police problem this plan will likely fail, and predictably so. That a single occupant of a single vehicle can block 100 souls on a streetcar is perverse and needs correction.


Since Bus Stops are now ‘far side’, street cars are ‘double stopping’, once for the light and once for the stop. By my count about 80% double stop, and for an average of about 20 seconds. Stopping at traffic lights could be substantially reduced or eliminated simply by sensors at the previous stop delaying, extending or truncating a north-south traffic light. It’s obvious, it’s possible, and needs to be done to further improve timing.


Bus stop snow clearing took days if it was done at all. We have pristeen new vehicles designed to impress, but the welcoming mat is a slush cocktail.  Clearing only patches of the stop, as appears to be the case with last night’s snowfall, is cheap, and targets riders alighting by other than front door. Clean the whole stop – pristine!


Thanks to messrs Harris and Lastman, Toronto lacks an east west subway through downtown, and will not get one for 15-20 years. So 504 is, defacto, our E-W subway, albeit on the surface. This is your chance to make it work. You have the road virutally to your selves, so lets see it in action.


Dwell time is too long, (and longer than the subway), especially at critical stops such as Yonge where I timed dwells up to 90 seconds. How about rush hour ‘platform’ staff, equipped with hand held microphones that broadcast on the streetcar’s exterior PA, to ‘hurry on, doors are closing’, easily saving  30 seconds and a dreaded gap. Also, the new streetcar’s door open and close timings are far too long – 5 seconds to open from time of coming to rest, and even longer to close. Re-jig the program to save 5 seconds at least – thats 50 seconds Jarvis to Bathurst, and 4+ minutes for 504 route. Seconds count, and we users count them!


It is not the least bit unreasonable to expend funds for standby vehicles to support the service at times of breakdown, such as a streetcar failing or being blocked by an accident. Provision of spare vehicles, large buses preferred, stationed with driver at critical points, ready to quickly enter service and rescue failed or blocked streetcars by picking up, with no more than a 5-10 minute wait, otherwise stranded riders, and then maintaining service, giving the dispatcher time to arrange continuing support. Two buses positioned on Victoria could serve all downtown streetcars from York to Parliament. A waste of money – not at all, it’s money well spent, and if buses don’t move all day, bravo, it means no service interruptions!


A good start, yes, but you cannot stop now – pilot other ideas too, to speed things up further, it’s all do-able, but you have to do it.

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