City staff is recommending that council approve the extension of the King Street pilot project until the end of July.

In a staff report dated Dec. 6, the city manager suggest that the project be extended until July 31, 2019 to allow council to consider findings from a “comprehensive report” that will be presented to the Executive Committee and the TTC board in the first quarter of 2019.

This timeline, staff says, will give council adequate time to decide whether to make the pilot permanent.

The report will include data collected on the pilot through to December 31 and will provide information about transit reliability, speed and capacity, economic point-of-sale data, parking utilization, and network traffic impacts.

The pilot, which was launched in November 2017, restricts traffic in both directions along King Street between Jarvis and Bathurst streets. One of the major goals of the pilot was to improve streetcar service along the busy transit corridor, an aim which the city says has been achieved.

Speaking to CP24 last month, TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said the surface route now sees more than 80,000 riders per day, up from about 65,000 before the launch of the pilot.

“From a transit perspective, the objective of the pilot was to move more people more reliably and that’s what we’ve been able to do,” Ross said.

But a group of business owners along King have spoken out against the pilot, claiming that the project has resulted in a decline in transactions.

The city has implemented a number of initiatives to help drive customers to King Street businesses, including the ‘Food is King’ promotion, which for one month offered a $15 credit to anyone using the ‘Ritual’ app to order from one of 40 participating businesses in the pilot area. The city also offered discounted parking in the surrounding area.

If the extension is approved, city staff also recommended that they continue to permit the temporary closure of some curb lanes for outdoor cafes and public installations.

The cost to continue to the pilot is estimated to be about $210,000 for expenses including signage, pavement markings, traffic signal maintenance, and maintenance of public spaces.

If council decides not to continue on with the pilot, the cost to remove signage and reconfigure the roadway would be an estimated $500,000.