• Sean M. O'Connell

Bus Rapid Transit

Updated: Aug 26, 2018

The need for BRT and the future of London.



As a Londoner, I understand how our city has changed or rather not changed in the past thirty years. The status quo for London is no longer viable. The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system is the starting point for us as a city to build for the future. However, over the past two years there has been many instances of misinformation about BRT. This ranges from complaints about cost to accusations that people won't use the system, that this is a war on the car, or one will not be able to drive around the city. None of these complaints or accusations are credible. These complaints are borne out of the fear of change. It becomes easy to dismiss things one doesn't like, which is why building is much harder. The ability to reach consensus in order to build something meaningful is challenging but worth it. I want to build our city, not tear it apart.

“The BRT is not fully costed - Paul Paolatto.”

This statement by Mr. Paolatto is patently false and illustrates my point about fear. To claim that BRT is not fully costed is to give the impression that costs will spiral out of control. The BRT is a fully costed plan, that is very thorough and detailed. I can attest to that, as I read the draft proposal and attended the recent presentation of that draft proposal for BRT.


I personally have been a part of the public consultations, open houses and at city hall to hear every word spoken about BRT. I have even spoken to one of the architects to provide ideas and feedback. Ever since I read the London Plan in 2014, I have supported it. It is a document to transform our city for the future just like Bus Rapid Transit Plan. I don't just offer my assurances of the plan, I have real world experiences to draw upon, having lived and travelled extensively in Europe. I lived in a city with a world class transportation system which has dedicated bus lanes, green public spaces and transit hubs. These ideas do work in practice even if Londoners are unfamiliar with them. Even when there were transit problems, people didn't panic, they carried on. When I saw what we as a city are trying to achieve I knew that I wanted to be the person to see it through to fruition. This is part of the reason why I am running for Mayor.


Mobility, Safety and Economics


Residents need a reliable system of mobility. In truth, as residents of London grow older they will need an adequate transportation system to use as much as our youth do today. However the benefits of BRT extend beyond the practical. According to city officials, BRT will generate $270 million in direct and indirect wage benefits, inspire city building and reduce gas emissions. For example dedicated bus lanes will reduce the cost of overall road maintenance. Not to mention that we can have emergency vehicles use the lane as well. The system is purposefully designed to make London safe for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. The reality is that most Londoners do not feel comfortable travelling around the city. This system will change that.


I want people to understand why the system is important for London. For many years our city has not invested in or had the courage to dream big. I ride the bus everyday to get around the city. It has not been easy in the past 20 years. Buses are constantly late, overcrowded or simply don't show up. I attended a presentation back in 2014 of London Transit Commission and basically it was an ask for more money. No vision, no courage, no improvements. Our system is inadequate while ridership has increased year after year. The pundits who wish to say it has not, don't ride the bus everyday. Our system is so unreliable that employers will directly state in an application process that if you have to ride the bus to work, don't bother to apply. This needs to change. We as Londoners deserve better. Only in the past two years has our city managed to get a grip on the situation with a solution to solve the problem. It is a plan that is realistic and sound. However without the right kind of leadership our golden opportunity will escape us. I won't let that happen.


“Our golden opportunity will escape us.”

An Update


As of Monday, May 7th, 2018 the draft environmental proposal for BRT was voted through and the application process with the province and federal government began. That was a good first step but more needs to be done to direct this change with a new city council. Part of their challenge will be in negotiating with Western Campus on route designations and the overall implementation of the BRT system. These changes will occur over a ten year period. The East end will be constructed first starting in 2019/2020, with the North end in 2022 followed by the South and West end until 2028. I recommend anyone interested in learning more about BRT to check out the draft proposal at:

ShiftLondon.ca


In sum, I want to lead the city in making this system a reality. The city administration has put a lot of work into this plan and it is happening, we just need to see it through and build London for the future.