A new survey suggests Torontonians are visiting businesses on King St. more often since the city implemented a transit pilot project there one year ago.
The report, conducted by Retail Insider and market research company Potloc, surveyed transit users, pedestrians, motorists and cyclists.
It found that 53 per cent of transit users reported visiting shops along King St. W. more often since the pilot was put in place, and that a majority of them visited the shops more than once a week.
Due to increased streetcar reliability, transit users say the area is less stressful and they spend less time commuting and more time in the area to shop, according to the survey.
At 41 per cent, pedestrians are the largest group to report visiting King West more than once a week, although 47 per cent said the pilot project had no impact on their visits. This is primarily because they were already frequent shoppers in the area before the transit initiative was implemented.
Because of traffic congestion on parallel streets, a lack of parking spots and confusion about when cars can use King St., 81 per cent of motorists said they visit the area less since the project started. The report described this as a “massive” flight of vehicles.
Cyclists said they feel safer using the King St. stretch since last year and as a result, 47 per cent of riders have been visiting more often.
The report’s authors deemed the pilot project a “success” for transit users and pedestrians, with nearly 70 per cent of streetcar-goers saying their travel times have improved since last November. For pedestrians, 68 per cent reported King St. as being more pedestrian-friendly and thus, 41 per cent said they walk the street more as a result.
Drivers face the worst commute, according to the survey, with more than half of respondents saying the pilot has increased their average travel time.
More than half of cyclists said they rode their bikes more often on King St. because they felt safer.
Results also showed that cyclists and streetcar users wanted the project to continue, while motorists wanted it cancelled. On average, 48 per cent of respondents want the project to “go further,” 24 per cent want it to keep going the same, and a quarter want it cancelled.
When the survey asked respondents if they’d like to see a similar project on Queen St., a majority (51 per cent) said yes, 39 per cent said no and 10 per cent were undecided.
Mike Garard, head of Potloc’s Toronto office, said the survey shows “the majority of people haven’t been avoiding King St.”
When the initiative launched in late 2017, business-owners criticized the move, which they blamed for decreased sales and foot traffic.
Earlier this year, some business owners demonstrated their frustration by displaying a middle-finger ice sculpture in front of their shops, facing the passing streetcars.
Latest figures provided by the city show a 35 per cent ridership increase during the morning commute and a 27 per cent increase during the evening commute.
Potluc and Retail Insider said the online survey was completed by 2,062 city of Toronto residents aged 18 and over between Aug. 17 and Sept. 10. Its margin of error is estimated at 2.16 per cent, at a confidence interval of 95 per cent.
Bianca Bharti is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @biancabharti