This article continues the analysis of King Street transit operations during September 2019 with a focus on the effects of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
TIFF opened on Thursday afternoon, September 5, but the diversions were in place from the start of service at 5 am. For the period when diversions were operating, there were three services on route 504:
- Dundas West to Church diverting eastbound via Spadina to Queen and then returning south to King via Church; then westbound via King to York, York to Queen and south to King via Spadina.
- Distillery to York Street looping via York, Queen and Church back to King Street.
- Broadview Station to York Street looping via York, Queen and Church back to King Street.
The effects of this arrangement were quite severe with extended travel times and wider headways across the route, not just downtown.
The fundamental policy issue here is the takeover of a major street for an event like TIFF for an extended period. There were four days of complete diversions (September 5 to 8), and three further days of ad hoc street closures (September 9 to 11). The TTC attempted to operate service on 504 King with the usual complement of scheduled cars, but on routings that required considerably more travel time, maintaining normal headways was impossible.
The effects are not confined to the immediate TIFF district, but extend to service over the entire route, as well as to travel times and service reliability on 501 Queen. This is not simply a matter of residents of the condos near TIFF putting up with an annual upheaval in their neighbourhood, but of an effect across two major corridors on transit and road traffic.
If this type of “service” is planned in the future, then either the event itself should pony up the cost of supplementary service, or the city should make an explicit contribution through the TTC’s budget for extra service. Preferably, King Street would be kept open on weekdays, and adequate service would be operated on weekends to offset the TIFF effect which is not as severe then.