Artist rendering of BRT lanes on Wellington Rd. at Commissioners Rd.(Rendering may not represent final design) Rendering courtesy of the City of London.

List of BRT alternatives released

London’s contentious bus rapid transit (BRT) system has been broken down into 19 pieces council can pick and choose from to develop a new plan to improve the way people move through the city.

City staff released on Wednesday the menu-style list of transit project options council can select from when applying for up to $375 million in funding from the provincial and federal governments. The new pick-and-choose approach dismantles the old 24-kilometre take-it-or-leave-it system in favour of flexibility, according to Jennie Ramsay, the city’s director of rapid transit.

“We always intended to construct the system in stages and so by separating them out into the downtown and each of the four legs we are able to look at them independently and talk about some of the benefits for the transportation network independently,” said Ramsay. “Now that we aren’t talking about the system as a whole we can look at them individually and try to explain them to the public in a way that hopefully will resonate with them.”

The projects, all of which were pulled from the city’s transportation master plan, were broken down into two categories based on how much of the criteria laid out by senior levels of government that they meet. Eligible projects have to meet at least one of three outcomes — improved capacity of public transit infrastructure, improved quality and safety, and improved access to a public transit system.

The first nine potential projects listed are considered “transit” because they meet all or two of the outlined criteria, while the remaining ten projects dubbed “transit supportive” hit one of the three criteria.

Here is the full list of potential projects, and their estimated cost, council can choose from to submit for funding from upper levels of government:

1.) Downtown Loop $28.5M
2.) Wellington Road Gateway $131.5M
3.) East London Link $120.2M
4.) North Connection $147.3M
5.) West Connection $72.2M
6.) Intelligent Traffic Signals (TIMMS) $28.0M
7.) Expansion Buses $25.2M
8.) On-Board Information Screens $5.0M
9.) Bus Stop Amenities $1.1M
10.) Pedestrian Street Connectivity Improvements to the Transit Network $21.8M
11.) New Sidewalks $11.1M
12.) Adelaide Street Underpass Active Transportation Connections $18.9M
13.) Active Transportation Improvements across Transit Route Bridges $31.4M
14.) Dundas Place Thames Valley Parkway Active Transportation Connection $4.M
15.) Dundas Street Old East Village Streetscape Improvements $8.2M
16.) Oxford Street/Wharncliffe Road Intersection Improvements $17.8M
17.) Cycling Routes Connecting to Downtown Transit $7.7M
18.) Cycling Routes Connecting to Transit throughout the City $38.7M
19.) Enhanced Bike Parking $4.0M

“At this point, there is approximately $370-million combined from the provincial and federal governments that is available and that needs to be matched with $130-million municipal share. So what we are trying to do is find as many projects as we can to take advantage of that funding now,” said Ramsay. “If we were to submit $500-million worth of projects and they were successful we would be able to take full advantage of that $370-million… right now we want to move forward with as many projects as we can to try to optimize our investment in London by the senior levels of government.”

Mayor Ed Holder had previously set a deadline of March 31 for council to approve a list of transit projects to be submitted to the provincial and federal governments for funding.

While Holder would not specify which parts of the BRT alternative projects he would support, he is confident council will be able to find common ground that will lead to transit improvements in the long run.

“Breaking the overall project of BRT into component parts makes it easier for some aspects of the project to be supported by some members of council,” said Holder. “I think what we are looking to do by having broken down this project the way that we have, we are trying to find ways where a majority of councillors can come together and say ‘this is something that we think is in the best interest of Londoners.'”

Ahead of a public participation meeting surrounding the list of potential transit projects on March 20, Holder is calling on Londoners to keep an open mind.

“We need to find common ground if we hope to get shovels in the ground,” said Holder. “A rush to judgment could jeopardize that process.”

Council members will debate the list of transit projects on March 25 and 26.