Letter sent to City of London expresses BRT concerns in downtown core

A rendering of the bus rapid transit system on Richmond Street at Grosvenor Street. The rendering may not be final.
A rendering of the bus rapid transit system on Richmond Street at Grosvenor Street. The rendering may not be final. The City of London

Downtown London isn’t wavering from its commitment to a better transit system, but has expressed concerns with how the plan could affect local businesses.

In a letter sent to the city of London, the organization states it is worried the planned dedicated lanes could interfere with loading and delivery areas, particularly on Richmond Street, King Street and Queens Avenue.

“We have to recognize that we have a downtown to take care of, one that contributes a lot to the city,” said Downtown London CEO Janette Macdonald.

“We want to make sure we can minimize the negative impacts so that they don’t outweigh the positives,” she said.

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According to the letter, dedicated lanes could create issues for motorists to turn left and right, as well as hinder garbage collection. It goes on to say that Downtown London would prefer mixed traffic lanes downtown, which is currently in place throughout the city.

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“But I take great issue with the notion that mixed lanes are better for the service,” said Coun. Jesse Helmer.

“We’ve heard a great deal from a numerous amount of experts who’ve worked on similar rapid transit systems in other cities that dedicated lanes are absolutely vital to maintain the quality of the service,” he said.

In addition, the letter brings up concerns regarding parking availability downtown and the possibility of linking the eastbound York Street route to high-speed rail instead of putting the rail on King Street.

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“In terms of parking, well, there is tons of parking downtown. Ultimately, people will find ways to adapt when they can’t find parking that’s close to their destination, which currently happens now,” said Coun. Helmer.

“But in terms of high-speed rail, we are always looking for opportunity to improve one transit system in a way that could help the other,” he said.

To end the letter, Downtown London asks for the possibility of more public feedback prior to any approval of a plan.

Coun. Helmer adds once Strategic Priorities and Policy committee members vote on the bus rapid transit environmental assessment plan on May 7, city staff and councillors will hold multiple public consultation meetings over the course of 120 days.

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