September 14, 2017 9:50 am

London’s rapid transit consultant bill rises again

A rapid transit bus

AM980 News

The bill for city hall-hired consultants on London’s rapid transit file continues to rise.

On Monday, city politicians will be asked to approve a $2.2-million increase to the engineering contract paid to IBI Group.

If approved, it would be the second increase paid to IBI since they were hired three years ago.

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Council originally hired IBI on a $1.9-million contract in 2014 to put together the rapid transit master plan. In 2016 they were asked to complete the environmental assessment for rapid transit, raising the price tag to $3.6 million.

READ MORE: London’s BRT master plan gets green light from city committee

The latest increase would push their contract to $5.8 million.

In a report going before the strategic priorities and policy committee, staff say the increase is necessary following council’s request for additional input sessions and alternate routes this past spring.

Staff defend the hike, saying it’s only 1.2 per cent of the total project cost and “well within the typical range for proportional EA costs.”

The additional $2.2 million also won’t impact the overall cost of rapid transit, which stands at $500 million.

READ MORE: London BRT plan now estimated to cost $500 million

“It’s not going to have an effect on the global budget nor is it going to have an affect on the amount that London taxpayers are paying. Two-point-two million has been spent in additional money to ensure that we were looking at additional routes and to ensure that we were consulting the public in a more appropriate way,” said Mayor Matt Brown.

While London may be paying more money to consultants for rapid transit, there’s still no word on when the city will receive funding from the province or the federal government for bus rapid transit.

London has committed $130 million towards the $500-million project with the rest coming from the two other levels of government.

The rapid transit implementation group will meet Thursday afternoon where staff will provide an update on the timeline and outline a new communications strategy. The city has been criticized for not communicating well enough during the public consultation period before the rapid transit routes were decided.

READ MORE: City staff to lobby CP and CN to share rail lines in London

The updated timeline suggests by the city could be ready to begin construction on rapid transit in time for next year’s municipal election.

“I think the timeline is very clear. There’s a process that’s underway, we’ve entered into another phase and that means we’re that much closer to rapid transit in our community,” said Brown.

The 24-kilometre BRT network will see the high-frequency buses run along L and 7 shaped corridors inside the city. Buses will run from Oxford and Wonderland Road in the west, to White Oaks Mall in the south and from Masonville Place in the north to Fanshawe College in the east, with both corridors running through the downtown.

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