As someone who has been charged with guiding the city’s future I am worried for our future and the issues we know are coming.
In the next two decades:
- City of London population will grow by ~84,000 people.
- City of London can expect at least ~20% more trips on our roadways
- City of London will need to spend hundreds of millions on road rehabilitation and replacement
While I know people have concerns with BRT, I have yet to hear one concrete idea that addresses these issues like BRT can.
- Moving or combining rail lines will cost somewhere in the billions, doesn’t include cost of rehabilitating our roadways, there is no funding or buy in from railways or other levels of government, and we need to find a municipality that wants new rail and rail yard in their community.
- Autonomous vehicles are currently under a 10 year test phase in Ontario with no vehicles being allowed on roadways until 2026. We have no legal framework on their operation, costs are currently incredibly high, and there is no expectation people will stop wanting their own personal vehicles.
- Ring road was possible 40 years ago but no longer.
- Bus Bays have not been recommended because they don’t substantially help the issues we have, especially on busy routes.
Critiquing a large scale project is good because it makes for better ultimate outcomes. What it does not do, is put forward a substantial alternative to prepare London for the problems ahead.
I am not a diehard BRT supporter. If another better option to address so many problems in our city is presented I would be more than happy to review it and go ahead with it. And if suggestions for improvement to the existing plan are made we need to genuinely consider them. As it stands though, BRT provides the best opportunity to get the most amount of money from other levels of government to address transit and core infrastructure issues.
Concerns have been raised that ridership expectations might not be met. That may be, or may not be. But rather than scrap this project lets at least get the full amount of money we hope we can get from other levels of government, and if ridership doesn’t pan out we can convert dedicated lanes into HOV lanes, autonomous vehicles lanes, or simply back to mixed traffic.
No doubt there is risk in the BRT plan as in any major infrastructure project, but I would argue there is significantly greater risk by doing less or nothing.