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TTC's anti-gridlock plan: Stiffer fines, freer lanes

Drivers would face tougher restrictions on busy `Red Routes’

Joseph Hall

In a move to free its vehicles from rush-hour gridlock, the TTC is proposing a series of physically separated bus and streetcar lanes along three major city streets and vastly increased fines for traffic infractions along the system’s busiest routes.

Fines of up to $200 could be handed out to car drivers for left-turn or even stopping infractions along new TTC “Red Routes” spread throughout the city if the proposals, to be released today, meet with city approval.

As well, sections of King St., St. Clair Ave. and Yonge St. would be physically divided into automobile and transit lanes, providing free movement for the streetcars and buses that ply those routes.

“These are things that can be done fairly soon and fairly cheaply if they can meet with the city’s approval,” said Mitch Stambler, head of TTC service planning.

The proposals also call for a legal extension of morning and evening rush hours and a new series of express bus routes throughout the city.

But it’s the physically separated transitways along some of the city’s busiest arteries that would likely generate the most controversy, Stambler said, adding that no definitive plans have yet been drawn up.

Generally, however, the TTC is looking at building transitways along King St. between Dufferin and Parliament Sts., on St. Clair Ave. between Keele and Yonge Sts. and along Yonge St. between Finch and Steeles Aves. It would also work with York Region to extend the Yonge St. transitway into Richmond Hill.

The TTC has already released plans for its King St. proposal, which would siphon cars off the road through an alternating series of widened sidewalks that would prevent cars from travelling more than a block in any one direction. Under the proposal, King’s two centre lanes would be reserved almost exclusively for streetcars.

Stambler said the proposed St. Clair Ave. transitway would likely take advantage of that broader roadway to create a streetcar route much like those now running along Queen’s Quay and Spadina Ave., where the centre lanes have been cordoned off from automobile traffic.

Along Yonge St., which is used by hundreds of TTC, York and Peel region buses to access the Finch subway station from the north, the curb lanes would likely be reserved for a transitway, Stambler said.

The report also contains proposals for so-called Red Routes, which would cover all streetcar lines not physically separated from traffic and a host of busy bus routes. They would introduce a number of harsh traffic restrictions in the coverage zones, including:

  • The prohibition of all left turns, parking and stopping in peak periods.
  • The extension of those peak periods, likely by two hours in both the morning and evening.
  • Beefed-up police enforcement along the routes and a hefty increase in parking and left-turn fines.

Stambler said current fines of between $40 and $110 have not worked. “If we’re serious about keeping traffic and transit moving effectively … then stopping and standing fines of $200 wouldn’t be unreasonable,” he said.