Doug Ford criticizes King Street Pilot, admits it’s been “a little while” since he’s taken a streetcar

4:50 p.m., Nov. 20, 2017. Doug Ford, with a “Tory Ticket” in hand at King and Bay, tells reporters, “I’ll make sure [the mayor] pays the fine October 2018,” while Jared Kolb, executive director of Cycle Toronto, looks on. The mayoral hopeful spoke with media about the King Street pilot project, calling it a “disaster.”

Nov. 20, 2017

By Arianne Robinson

Mayoral hopeful Doug Ford was on a media blitz on Monday, criticizing the new King Street Pilot project in the CP24 news studio and on the streets, and showing off a prop of an enlarged parking ticket.

“[The new rules on King are] creating a problem for people coming into the city. It creates confusion, and the only thing that John Tory understands is the Tory ticket,” Ford said, presenting a yellow flyer meant to look like an enlarged version of a Toronto traffic ticket. “So anyone who [violates the bylaws] by accident… he gets the Tory ticket.

“We have Tory taxes, we have Tory tickets, and you can’t run a city when you just focus on driving anyone who has a car, driving them, literally, out of this city.”

Ford was profiled, along with NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, on Monday night’s episode of TVO’s Political Blind Date, where he was shown riding a bike inside protected bike lanes. When asked if he had ridden a streetcar lately, Ford said, “I haven’t, but by the looks of it there’s lots of room for me on the streetcars because all the ones I’ve seen are empty.” When pressed further about when he last took the streetcar on King, he said, “Oh heaven, you know, it’s been a little while, but I’ll make a point of doing that, not that it’s going to prove my theory any different.”

It’s been one week since the start of the King Street pilot project, which forces drivers to turn right at major intersections and not go straight through or turn left. After days of warnings to drivers who violated the rules, police started to ticket them on Monday.

That morning, Mayor Tory spoke with reporters at the city’s Traffic Management Centre, revealing the details of the City of Toronto’s partnership with Waze, a phone app that uses other drivers’ data to suggest the fastest routes.

“Addressing traffic and congestion has been a key priority of my administration since I took office in 2014,” Tory said in his remarks to reporters. “Under my leadership, the city has taken a significant number of steps to improve the daily commute for Toronto residents… over the last three years we have finally focused on fighting traffic in Toronto and improving commute times.

“You know what pitting car drivers against cyclists or transit riders against drivers get, which is nothing, and that nothing, that kind of political gridlock, has ended …

“People should be rest assured that I’m just as concerned, and sometimes just as frustrated, as they can be with traffic. What I’m focused on is finding solutions, trying them, implementing them, taking the steps like we’re taking today with Waze to make sure that we can make a real difference in the lives of people who are getting around this area.”

In The Globe and Mail’s editorial this past weekend, “A little transit miracle grows on King Street,” the newspaper said the marketing strategy was left wanting. “Without big brand ambition, politicians won’t be able to love the little miracle on King Street. So, first item of business? Stop calling it TTC route No. 504. Heck, stop calling it a streetcar. Rename it the Cross-Town Rapid Transit Way. The Super Fast Surface Service. The Toronto Hyperloop. The King Street Subway. Whatever. Make no little marketing plans.”

On Monday, Siri Agrell, director of strategic initiatives in the Office of the Mayor, responded to the editorial with a thread of tweets on Twitter explaining why a new name misses the point. “While #KingStreetPilot appears simple, it’s not: it required intentional thinking, collaboration, excecution and communications…” Agrell tweeted. “All of this required great collaboration, weekly meetings, strong divisional leadership, hard work on the ground and careful listening. … It was not a miracle, but it was a new model of how things can be achieved with positive results for all, with consideration to all POV … The King Street Pilot seems to be having a lot of positive impact so far [fingers crossed emoji] but its legacy should be a different way of working together…”