LTC’s first express bus route to be running next year
London Community News
By Mallory Clarkson/London Community News/Twitter: @MalloryClarkson
The Forest City may see its first express bus route up and running next year.
During a London Transit Commission (LTC) meeting Wednesday (Sept. 26), Kelly Paleczny, the organization’s director of finance and administration, said a number of short-term actions are involved in 2013-16 phase of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Strategy.
“In terms of the short-term strategies that are involved in that plan, 2013-16 consists largely of establishing limited semi-express services on the identified BRT corridors,” she said. “That also includes implementation of traffic signal priority along those corridors.”
Paleczny added the No. 18 route (Masonville) would be the first semi-express service to be implemented.
The BRT system — which falls under the city’s Transportation Master Plan 2030 — will run on Richmond Street north of the river, Oxford Street west of Richmond, most of Wellington Road south of Horton Street and parts of Dundas Street, Highbury Avenue and Oxford Street East. Full implementation of the project will cost approximately $378 million. It’s expected up to one third of the total cost would be covered by both provincial and federal governments.
There’s a $9.8 million price tag associated with the 2013-16 segment, which includes costs related with fleet acquisition and an environmental assessment. The commission has already set aside $2.3 million for initial work associated with this project and another nearly $988,000 has been allocated through the LTC’s 2013 budget, which leaves a $6.5 million shortfall.
During the meeting on Wednesday, Ward 12 Councillor Harold Usher, who’s also LTC chair, questioned whether the shortfall could be found through the federal and provincial governments or if it would fall to the municipality.
Receiving more money from upper levels of government through changes to the province’s Development Charge Act is being looked at. The Act provides the basis for municipalities to recover growth-related costs through development charges.
Paleczny explained one of the components of the Act is transit growth currently considers increases seen over the 10 years history, not expected future expansions.
“We view that as a key piece to the initiative and moving the BRT program forward,” she said. “Without those changes, the taxpayer will continue to be relied upon to support transit growth funding because the development charge funding won’t be available.”
Frank Berry, a commissioner with the LTC, said he’s concerned that the BRT implementation process would be held back while the organization waits for changes to the provincial legislation.
“I believe that’s going to be a very long, drawn out process,” he said. “What is this going to do to our timing, our scheduling, our implementing this process?”
Larry Ducharme, LTC general manager, stressed he doesn’t think that will significantly impact it.
“If the municipality commits to the program, the source of finding will become secondary,” he said. “We’re hoping the city won’t wait to see whether the province is on side and whether the feds are on side to source that $6.5 million.”
Ducharme said the development charges at the provincial and federal levels won’t be taken into account until after 2016 and the LTC does have enough money to keep the plan moving until that point in time.
“We’ve just got to have some very lively discussions with the city on that $6.5 million.”
The LTC will be meeting with the city for further consultation next week.