When it comes to transit, will council do less, or risk losing everything?
Published Friday, January 25, 2019 6:51PM EST
Years of engineering work and public consultation on a Bus Rapid Transit plan may soon turn into a political salvage mission.
A day after his State of the City address, Mayor Ed Holder is shedding new light on developing a half-a- billion dollar transportation plan for London in just 60 days.
He will encourage council to pick projects from the less controversial parts of the current Shift BRT plan after being told that the funding must be approved before the federal election this fall.
Dedicated lanes are both the backbone of the Shift BRT plan and what Holder calls the elephant in the room.
“There's a lot we can do without the dedicated bus lanes, and that's a separate discussion we can have, but right now I am not prepared to lose the commitment I have from Queen’s Park and the federal government for $500 million. I'm not going to lose that.”
The half-billion dollars committed to transportation in London is divided three ways.
Of that, city hall has offered $130 million primarily from development charges, the province has committed $170 million dollars to a plan.
The head of community group ‘Build this City,’ Marcus Plowright, tells CTV News the Shift BRT plan involved more than eight years of work and public input.
“I hope that the current council can find a way to include as much of the current plan as possible.”
Holder had a meeting Friday with senior staff at city hall to discuss his plan and the 60-day timeline to submit a project to the upper levels of government for funding consideration.
The ‘to do’ list is long:
- Who decides where bus bays, new bus routes to industrial parks, and road widenings are located?
- Should work on the current Shift BRT plan stop or change direction?
- Can a revised business case and updated cost benefit analysis be prepared in time?
Holder is confident his transportation plan will have net benefits for Londoners and improve how transit riders, cyclists, pedestrians and drivers get around.
“When we can widen roads and get people to work and back on time, that's a cost benefit. When we can have synchronized lights downtown and across the city that's a cost benefit.”
Holder believes the public will have opportunity to weigh in on council’s decision, but did not provide details.