Earlier this year, Council voted to approve a dedicated transit-only lane on King Street from Mary Street to just before Dundurn Street. It was supposed to be in place in time for school to start, but it is now the Wednesday after Labour day and there is no sign of the lane.
Kelly Anderson, communications prime for the Public Works Department, replied to RTH via email to explain that staff "were not able to meet that timeline. They expect the installation to take place this fall." Anderson added that she will be able to share more details about the installation timeline in the next several weeks.
Council approved the transit-only lane earlier this year after the Public Works Committee had rejected it over concerns about business loading areas and the ability of taxis to drop riders off on the north side of King Street.
The money to fund the one-year pilot project is coming from the Metrolinx Quick Wins reserve. However, the money must be spent this year.
A 2010 HSR Operational Review found that the east-west King, Delaware, B-Line and University buses carry over 13,000 riders a day, more than a third of total ridership on the city's transit system. The review also noted that the east-west routes run significantly over-capacity, documenting frequent "drive-bys" as overstuffed buses pass would-be riders waiting at bus stops.
Earlier this summer, a group of frustrated business owners submitted a petition opposing the bus lane, citing concerns about people "loitering" at bus stops and noise and dust raised by buses.
The transit lane will run one lane out from the north curb between Mary and Bay Street, leaving the curb lane for parallel parking. West of Bay, it will run in the north curb lane.
Update: Christine Lee-Morrison, the manager of mobility programs and special projects at Public Works, has provided more details on the King Street transit-only lane delay. She confirmed that the City has undertaken traffic volume counts and baseline HSR travel times so it will be possible to evaluate the impacts of the transit lane.
An essential component of the Transit Only Lane pilot project will be an evaluation of the impacts, acceptance and effectiveness. The City conducted additional auto volume counts this year in addition to counts that have been collected along the corridor in the past few years. We also collected travel time data, so we have base data of travel times for traffic along King St.
In addition, the HSR collects data to track their operations. Following the one-year pilot period, the City will prepare a follow-up report summarizing the pilot success and potential for expansion and/or permanent installation. This will include a comparison of existing data to operations after the Transit Only Lane has been in operation.
RTH also asked if the issue is that there are not enough staff dedicated to the project to get it completed in time. Lee-Morrison replied:
Please be assured available staff are moving diligently forward with this project and continue to treat it as a priority. It should be noted that this is the first dedicated transit lane that the City has undertaken and there have been a number of technical issues to resolve during the design process.
While we are somewhat behind the target dates as stated in the May staff report to Public Works Committee, design drawings were finalized this week and we are proceeding with a communications strategy, modifications to City By-laws, fabrication of new signage and installation. The pilot is scheduled for installation this fall.
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