BRT wheels in motion with $8M federal funding announcement

MPs Peter Fragiskatos and Kate Young, Deputy Premier Deb Matthews, Mayor Matt Brown, and city councillors pose for a photo aboard an LTC bus. Liny Lamberink/AM980

The federal government is investing $37 million into 54 infrastructure projects across London, including $8 million for the city’s bus rapid transit plan, SHIFT.

A breakdown of all the projects shows that nearly $6 million of the BRT funding will be allocated for transit engineering, and $1.5 million will be used for the plan’s environmental assessment.

READ MORE: London Downtown Business Association commits to surveying members on rapid transit

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“The support is very preliminary,” said London North Centre MP Peter Fragiskatos. “It is for the support of design, and it is for the support of studies undertaken to look at BRT and how it might best function in the city — how it can best provide a more efficient, effective service for transit users.”

READ MORE: Rapid transit plans draw the ire of downtown London businesses

“I have to say, I can’t stop smiling,” Mayor Matt Brown told politicians and transit officials on hand for the announcement this morning at the London Transit Commission headquarters on Highbury Avenue.

“This funding from the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund will help us take a major step forward for the largest project that London has ever undertaken. We can now begin detail design work on our SHIFT rapid transit plans. This project is going to have over a billion dollars in economic, environmental and transportation benefits when it comes to fruition.”

A list of projects details another $8 million allocated for the Dundas Place project, while some of the money has already been given for accessible transit pads and sidewalks, pedestrian crossovers, retrofitting 110 buses with perimeter seating, replacing all 380 bus shelters and creating downtown bike lanes.

The funding comes as part of a larger $50.5-million boost into 114 projects in municipalities across Ontario, including Chatham-Kent, St. Thomas, Sarnia and Windsor.

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“In Ontario, we are absolutely committed to making badly-needed investments into infrastructure, and transportation infrastructure is a very important part of that,” said Deputy Premier Deb Matthews, who also credited all levels of government for working together on the project.

The funding comes amid pressure on the city to halt the plan from business owners in the core, who are worried about how bus rapid transit lanes will impact their businesses and how they’ll sustain themselves during construction.

“I think a thorough consultation on a project this massive is the right way to go,” Matthews said.

“But at a high level do we support bus rapid transit? Absolutely.”

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