A one-year pilot project that would limit traffic along King Street in order to speed up the busy 504 streetcar route has been given a green light by city council.

The pilot project, which passed by a 35-4 vote, will force drivers to turn right at all intersections between Bathurst and Jarvis streets in order to significantly reduce the amount of traffic along what has been identified as the slowest stretch of King Street for streetcars.

The project will also remove all 180 on-street parking spaces along that portion of King Street and create new public spaces, including planters, bike share stations and restaurant patios, in the curb lane. A limited number of spots for short term loading, deliveries and taxis will also be added.

About 65,000 people ride the King streetcar on an average weekday, making it the TTC’s busiest surface route. The stretch of King Street affected by the pilot project, meanwhile, is used by about 20,000 vehicles each weekday.

“The fundamental premise of the proposed pilot is that streetcar performance can be improved by reducing vehicular traffic activity on the street,” the staff report reads. “Simply put, more traffic results in worse streetcar performance, less traffic results in better streetcar performance.”

Pilot project will cost $1.5 million

The pilot project is expected to be put into place sometime in the fall and carry an estimated cost of $1.5 million.

Speaking with CP24 at city hall Thursday, TTC Chair Josh Colle said approving the project is a “no-brainer”

“People wonder why the city doesn't function. It's that old thinking that people are stuck in their ways. It's a no brainer that we should do it,” he said. “It's lunacy that people on the streetcar have to sit behind one car. Nowhere else in the world would they stand for it.”

The King Street pilot project was approved by Mayor Tory’s executive committee two weeks ago; however members opted to ask staff for input on whether taxis could be granted an exception.

A report considered by council today pours cold water on that idea, however.

The report says that by allowing taxis to travel through King Street, the city would be undermining the “the transit first-objective” of the project and ultimately make it not worth pursuing.

Colle told CP24 that he believes there may be a “move to allow for more taxi drop-offs” but he said that allowing cabs to travel along King Street unimpeded would “defeat the purpose” of the pilot project.