The City of Toronto is undertaking a King Street Transit Pilot to explore bold, transformative ideas on how to redesign King Street, testing a range of options to improve streetcar transit reliability, capacity and efficiency.

The following public realm elements will enhance the pedestrian experience for the duration of the Pilot.  Many more exciting public realm elements will be rolled out over the year.

To relieve sidewalk congestion, passengers will be encouraged to use waiting areas located on the curb lane at far side TTC stops.  These areas will be protected by a jersey barrier.

The City of Toronto sought submissions from digital, visual and graphic artists to create designs to help animate and beautify the area.  Designs were digitally reproduced on two-dimensional vinyl wraps and installed on the barriers.  The successful proposals were selected based on:

  • Artistic merit of the proposed design;
  • The proposed design’s appropriateness to the King Street Pilot Study, specifically the relationship to the context of the geographic area the design relates to;
  • The ability of the design to foster a sense of neighbourhood and community pride; and
  • Quality of the applicant’s past work and qualifications.

Applications were initially reviewed by an internal staff Selection Committee. A shortlist of successful designs was provided to a committee of local Business Improvement Area members who selected the design that is installed on concrete barriers located within their geographic area.

These are the three design areas:

Area 1: Bathurst Street to Simcoe Street

Area 2: Simcoe Street to Yonge Street

Area 3: Yonge Street to Jarvis Street

View the three selected area designs here.

The designs were created by Christopher Rouleau.  He is a graphic designer, letterer, and visual artist living in Toronto. He is a co-founder of Ligatures and C Studio. He is also a lettering instructor, published author, public speaker, and a regular contributor to Uppercase Magazine.

The design description is as follows:

King Street is one of the most historic corridors of Toronto, dating back to 1793 in the original ground plans of the Town of York. It has had many transformations in its 224 years, but has always served as a vital artery, moving masses East and West across the Canada’s capital.

As Toronto continues to grow and change, it is important to remember this rich history. Inspired by colourized vintage postcards, the design for the King Street Transit Pilot brings the past into the present by incorporating historic photographs from the Toronto Archives*. With the use of directional shape and colour, these photos are brought to life for a contemporary setting. The barriers become colourful windows into the past.

*Item 3012 – Site of Star Building, 80 King St. West – [ca. 1926] Forms part of: Fonds 1244; William James family fonds*Item 239 – Yonge Street north from King 1:30PM (street cars) – October 18, 1911 Forms part of: Subseries 100; General photographs

AODA compliant ramps enable access to the protected passenger waiting areas for far side stops.

Yellow tactile truncated dome mats are placed on the road at TTC stops alerting people with low vision or no vision of potential hazards, such as moving cars, cyclists and streetcars.

Planters enhance the street, demarcate the ends of the TTC passenger waiting areas and delineate the public spaces.  The rectangular planters are scheduled to arrive by early December 2017.  Until that time, circular planters will be used at the TTC stops.  New public spaces will be created upon reception of the remaining rectangular planters.

A special thank you to the Toronto Entertainment District Business Improvement Business Area (BIA), Toronto Financial District BIA and the St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood BIA for providing the planting material and maintaining the planters.

The NXT City 2016 winners (Wysp) will be implementing two streetcar safety murals located at the two near side TTC stops.  These will be installed in the spring 2018 and tested for the duration of the Pilot.  The murals are meant to bring awareness to the safety zone where passengers enter and exit the streetcar.

The King Street Transit Pilot will transform sections of the curb lane into 21 new vibrant, animated public spaces.  These spaces will be located on the roadbed or on raised platforms adjacent to the sidewalk and will vary in length between 17 and 170 metres. View the locations for the new public space.

Planters will be installed by early December to demarcate the new public spaces.  At that time, some pop-ups may be implemented, including concerts by local musicians, design and fashion events.  The local BIAs will be adding their own distinct flavours to the spaces.

The new public spaces will serve a variety of uses as part of the King Street Transit Pilot:

  • They will act as a ‘relief valve’ for pedestrians who are crowded on existing sidewalks – especially during peak periods.
  • Existing restaurants and cafes will be able to use the abutting public spaces – also freeing up sidewalk room and helping their bottom-line.
  • As King Street grows as a destination, bicycle parking may be added to help with demand – also ensuring less clutter on sidewalks.
  • Some of the spaces will feature temporary or fixed seating and creative installations.

Over the winter, the City will also be launching the ‘Everyone is King’ campaign to encourage individuals, arts and community groups, not-for-profit organizations and institutions to bring forward their design and animation ideas for some of the public spaces.

This approach will allow us to observe where pedestrian overflow will need to be protected, as well as providing flexibility for any operational needs of the Pilot as it rolls out.  Based on this assessment, more fulsome activation of the public spaces will commence spring 2018.