Police start ticketing drivers who break new rules on King Street
Joshua Freeman, CP24.com
Published Monday, November 20, 2017 1:08PM EST
Last Updated Monday, November 20, 2017 3:15PM EST
Starting today, drivers who run afoul of new rules on King Street will be issued a ticket rather than a warning.
Thousands of warnings were issued to drivers this past week after the new pilot project came into effect on King Street, between Bathurst and Jarvis streets.
The pilot project is meant to help the city’s busiest streetcar route move thousands of people daily without getting stuck in gridlock.
In order to do that, traffic has been restricted so that cars and most other vehicles are only allowed to travel a short distance on King Street. Vehicles are not allowed to continue straight through intersections, but must turn right.
Those who violate the rules face a $110 fine and two demerit points.
Emergency and city vehicles may continue to use the street without restrictions. Taxis are also allowed to use the road without restrictions between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Ridesharing vehicles for services such as Uber are subject to the same rules as regular vehicles.
On-street parking has been removed for the duration of the year-long pilot.
While some people feared traffic chaos on surrounding streets, police have said that so far, the pilot project appears to be going smoothly.
“We interacted with about over 2,000 people we stopped and talked to about the King Street pilot,” Sgt. Brett Moore told CP24 when asked about the pilot’s first week. “Overall things have worked out really well. Traffic has improved and even on the side roads I’ve noticed they haven’t really backed up the way people had anticipated.”
Former councilor Doug Ford, who has stated that he is planning to run against Mayor John Tory in next year’s municipal election, railed against the pilot project Monday, posting a Twitter video from his car calling the project “a disaster.”
“We’re on Richmond, avoiding King Street and you can see what’s happening to all the cars – bumper to bumper on Adelaide and Queen Street, Wellington and Front Street,” Ford said in the video. “This is a disaster, this is a war on the car.”
Speaking with CP24 later, he also claimed that the pilot would cost “thousands of jobs” from lost business on the street.
Speaking at an announcement about a city partnership with route planning app Waze Monday, Mayor Tory responded to the criticism.
“When people are critical of these things, I hope first and foremost that they would suggest what the alternatives are,” Tory said.
He cited traffic reports from this morning that suggested traffic was not busier than usual on surrounding streets because of the pilot project.
“I think that is encouraging. I think the initial reports coming from transit users are universally positive and encouraging in that the transit vehicles moving 65,000 people per day are moving faster. We will have data on that in due course.”
Tory also noted that this is the first time that anyone has tried something different on King Street and said it’s important for the city to keep trying new things in order to ease congestion.
King Street is the city’s busiest surface transit route, moving more than 65,000 people per day, according to city figures. The city also lists King Street as Toronto’s third busiest transit corridor, behind the subway system’s Line 1 and Line 2.
According to numbers collected before the pilot project, 20,000 vehicles were using King Street each day, mostly for local trips.