Removing LTC from Dundas
London Community News
By Sean Meyer/London Community News/Twitter: Newswriter22
The recent resurfacing of Dundas Street gave residents a glimpse into what the downtown would be like without bus traffic.
With that image in mind, council voted 10-1 to ask the London Transit Commission (LTC) to investigate what it will take to make that vision a daily reality.
During the council meeting on Tuesday (May 22), members discussed the city’s plans for renovations to Dundas Street, along the downtown corridor. During those discussions, Mayor Joe Fontana took the opportunity to suggest now was the time for LTC to look into rerouting the bus traffic.
“I think there has been a general consensus building within our downtown community . . . some opportunities to look at taking the buses off Dundas Street,” Fontana said. “I think the time has come for the LTC to consider it. Something very, very positive could come from transitioning buses to Kings and Queens.”
The members would overwhelmingly support exploring the idea, while considering issues around safety, accessibility and cost. In the past an estimate of $500,000 has been suggested as the cost of removing buses from the downtown.
Ward 7 Councillor Matt Brown questioned that estimate, particularly because of the way bus traffic was rerouted during the Dundas Street resurfacing.
“After hearing it would cost $500,000 to move the buses off the street, I was very surprised to see it happen recently for free,” Brown said. “Although I will be listening carefully to issues related to safety and accessibility, I will have some tough questions around cost. For the past few weeks, the buses were rerouted, with what appeared to me, without an issue and without a significant cost.”
Ward 8 Councillor Paul Hubert was another member who supported the idea of rerouting the buses, adding it would further combat the perception of the downtown as a dangerous place to visit.
“Downtown is safe. There are issues. We are not a little town, we are a big city with big city issues,” Hubert said. “But really, it is a safe place to be, a welcoming place to be.”
Ward 12 Councillor Harold Usher spoke out against whether the mayor’s motion was appropriate, although he was assured by the city clerk that it was. Usher continued his opposition by suggesting the council should be looking at why buses should be removed instead of cars.
“I think we are going about this the wrong way. How do we know it is the buses that are causing problems? There are people who have said why not remove the cars, we want to keep the buses,” Usher said. “People say that. I think we need to know where we want to go before we decide to take the buses off. What is the end result? What are we moving towards?”
While council supported asking LTC to explore removing Dundas Street buses, it also voted to support spending $100,000 for a study to "scope" the timing and extent of further works along Dundas Street.
Also approved was given for a pilot project to locate sidewalk cafes in parking spots in the core. City staff informed councillors 10 downtown restaurants have expressed interest in setting up sidewalk cafes in an effort to see if they would be a success.
Ward 11 Councillor Denise Brown spoke out against the idea by saying it would further reduce the available parking in the downtown.
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