TTC urges city to stop TIFF closure of King St.

In a dispute that’s pitting transit against Tinseltown, the TTC is pushing back against the city’s annual shutdown of King St. for the Toronto International Film Festival. The yearly closure forces a messy diversion of the 504 King streetcar, which carries 65,000 passengers on an average weekday and is the TTC’s busiest surface route. At a meeting of the TTC board Thursday, TTC CEO Andy Byford said the transit agency fights every year to prevent the shutdown or at least lessen its impact, but the final decision is up to the city. “We have been absolutely consistent, as far as I can remember, in opposing this absolute imposition on hundreds and thousands of riders per day,” said Byford. “We have consistently tried to get the best deal for our customers, but we have been overruled.”Article Continued BelowCouncillor and TTC board member Mary Fragedakis argued it was ironic that the city is embarking on a major pilot project later this year to prioritize streetcar operations on King, yet still plans to close the street to streetcars for four days. The pilot is scheduled to be implemented after TIFF.TTC staff said that the closure will likely go ahead in 2017 but there could be an opportunity to change plans for 2018. Board members suggested a number of potential solutions, including moving TIFF festivities to John St. or barring motor vehicles from King while allowing streetcars to proceed. In previous years, city officials have responded to the TTC’s concerns by pointing out that TIFF is an important cultural and economic event for Toronto. A 2013 study determined the festival and the TIFF Bell Lightbox generate $189 million a year for the city and province.