London’s bus rapid transit (BRT) project could take a major step forward this week as city politicians will be conducting a key vote on the project’s future.
The city’s strategic priorities and policy committee will hear a report from Shift London at their Monday afternoon meeting, that outlines some of the project’s impacts.
The report says commutes for drivers along Richmond Street will be 90 seconds longer between Oxford Street and the Western University gates once BRT-only lanes are built.
Ward 6 Coun. Phil Squire tells 980 CFPL that the delay could be frustrating for motorists.
“Let’s put that in perspective. That’s going to be about 50 per cent slower. So, if it currently takes two minutes and 24 seconds, which I think is pretty generous, well it’s now going to be 90 seconds longer which is a 50 per cent increase.”
Shift Rapid Transit operation manager Jennie Ramsey says the current setup of Richmond Street is prone to backups.
“Right now if people want to make a left turn, they are stopping on the inside lane which blocks up the traffic behind them. We’ll be providing left turn lanes at signalized intersections so people can pull out of the way and make a safe left turn.”
Ramsey says people can also make U-turns at these intersections, so there’s no concern with accessing mid-block locations. She says they will be providing more details on the dedicated routes during Monday’s meetings.
“We’ll be presenting the full picture for hat people can expect, whether the dedicated lanes will be running in the centre of the road or on the curbside. We will really be laying out what people can expect each part of the 24 kilometres to look like.”
Dan McDonald has voiced his concerns against the plan in the past. The spokesperson for Down Shift says there are still a number of issues he’d like to see addressed.
“What about emergency vehicles? What about garbage trucks? It just doesn’t make sense,” said McDonald, who is worried vehicles will clog up side streets to avoid Richmond Street.
“They don’t talk about traffic cutting through Waterloo, Colborne, Maitland, or into the heart of Old North, people are going to be looking for ways to scoot around this.”
Ward 4 Coun. Jesse Helmer says there are long-term benefits, including reshaping how Londoners get around the city.
He is confident people will take advantage of BRT once a reliable system is established.
“If transit is a good option for people, if it gets people around reliably and in a resonable amount of time, people will take it,” said Helmer.
“It’s way more affordable for people than having a car, and insuring a car, putting gas in a car and paying for parking.”
The report will be presented to the city’s strategic priorities and policy committee Monday before going to full council Tuesday.
If approved, the project would move on to a six-month provincially legislated technical review phase which lasts 185 days.
That would take the assessment period past the Oct. 22 municipal election.