At the end of May, the city revealed its plan for King Street. The plan is meant to prioritize transit (streetcars) over all other forms of traffic. Given the King streetcar transports some 65,000 people every day, compared to 20,000 by cars, prioritizing transit seems to make sense.
At this point, most people know the details of the plan: no street parking in the pilot area (between Bathurst and Jarvis), all non-TTC vehicles will be forced to turn right at most corners – no through traffic, and only specific drop-off, pickup and loading areas on each block.
The proposal is supported by most people, even 67 per cent of poll respondents who identify as drivers support the pilot.
Looks like an easy approval for the city, but waaiiiiitt! Enter the taxi lobby. Representatives from Beck Taxi, the Toronto Fleet Operators Association and the iTaxi Workers Association have been lobbying the city to ensure that taxis are exempt from the turn-right rules on King.
Now, taxi companies pay a lot of money to the city for special privileges – think taxi stands all over the place, allowing cabs in carpool/green lanes even if they are empty, for some reason reserving an entire lane on Bay Street for cabs, letting taxi drivers break the law whenever they feel like it, the list goes on. My point is, if taxi companies and associations throw additional money at the city, does anyone really have faith that the city will stand up to the lobby? I personally do not, at all.
According to an article on Inside Toronto, taxis account for a whopping 25 per cent of all traffic on King Street. I imagine this is poor wording, and the article actually means 25 per cent of vehicular traffic. At any rate, imagine how much traffic would be improved by simply banning taxis on King! 25 per cent less vehicles to get in the way of streetcars and bikers! Hmm how nice.
I’m not actually suggesting that the city ban cabs on King, because let’s be real, taxi drivers wouldn’t obey that law and police wouldn’t enforce it. What I am saying is that given the sheer amount of taxis on King, the associations and companies should be pleased that they were even considered in the pilot. Remember, taxis will get to share the loading/unloading spaces on each block of King with delivery trucks. The city has already given them an advantage over other ride hailing services.
The blue areas in the King pilot images will give taxis a nice place mid block to load and unload. Special privilege much?
Please city of Toronto, do NOT cave to the taxi lobby. Improving transit travel times on King is far more important than the money from an outdated and polluting industry. More people need to know that the taxi lobby is doing this, and we need to prevent it from happening!