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City staff hit the brakes on more BRT plans...at least for now
LONDON, ONT. -- City councillors narrowly avoided opening up old wounds Tuesday as staff put the brakes on a plan that would have revisited the controversial debate over bus rapid transit.
“They initially did things that were quite different than what they were asked to do,” said Coun. Phil Squire, who chairs the London Transit Commission. “I’m concerned about that, but I think we landed in the right place today.”
There was push back from Squire and other councillors last week when it seemed as though city staff were about to rehash recommendations for BRT in north and west corridors of the city.
But that didn’t come to pass. Instead, staff rolled out a number of long term options. But Squire warned that it doesn’t mean BRT is off the table completely.
“This council in this term did say no to the west and north routes. I would say that the appropriate course is to let a future council, the next term, take the issue of BRT on if they choose to do so, and make that decision. The challenge I have is putting the community and council through two BRT discussions in one term while we’ve had the covid impact on transit and ridership.”
Right now there is still more than $105-million available in funding from senior governments for city transit projects.
“Transit projects don’t get any cheaper the longer you take to do them,” said Deputy Mayor Jesse Helmer.
“The price of property goes up, buildings encroach, it gets more and more difficult, more and more disruptive to do those projects, so there is a cost to delay.”
The city has until 2025 to apply for funding, and 2027 to complete construction.
Mayor Ed Holder said he doesn’t want to put that money in jeopardy “because we are going to be spending cents on the dollar for much needed improvements including the underground infrastructure as well.”