Shift London and what it means for London’s future

London, ON, Canada / 106.9 The X

Over the years, the London Transit Commission (LTC) has seen a major increase in demand because of how much the public wants to use the service. As the demand grew, LTC has gone through little upgrades to meet the needs of the city.

The overcrowded buses is frustrating to a lot of the riders. With one bus rider, Amanda Stratton, believes many people are thinking this:

“We talk about how it’s efficient in dollars, but not very efficient other wise and not really effective.”

Now, London and the Transit Commission are rolling out Shift London. This is a stepping stone in order to bring Rapid Transit to the city. With this stage, the city will have the opportunity to talk residents and businesses and to understand what kind of system would work best.

Rapid transit would allow either light rail or buses to have dedicated lanes instead of being in the middle of the traffic.

Director of Roads and Transportation for the City of London, Edward Soldo, says this kind of transit could help move the city forward.

An LTC bus waiting outside Fanshawe College for the afternoon rush.

“It’s about moving people. It’s about city building and the way we move around for the city to grow.”

Shift London has many people talking as well. Amanda Stratton is also the founder of LTC Bus People. This Twitter account looks to engage with residents of London in order to start a conversation about transit and its importance to the city. Stratton says Shift London looks at the bigger picture.

“Shift is kind of taking a step back and looking at transportation as a whole and the different forms of rapid transit.”

Do you feel Rapid Transit is the way to go?
Poll closed: Mar. 16, 2015 @ 12:00 AM

Former Mayor of Mississauga, Hazel McCallion talks about this kind of system and its potential for London. She also talks about some of the stages she went through with these kinds of projects.

Two LTC buses finish picking up passengers downtown.

The General Manager of London Transit, Kelly Paleczny, believes this is the way transit should go.

“A quality and reliable transit system is something that draws people to a community, especially the younger generations. We know that the some of the generations that aren’t interested in getting their driver’s license. They want public transportation and that’s something they will look for.”

Other cities are starting to see rapid transit roll into their city. The Region of Waterloo, similar size to London, is on their first phase of rapid transit. Stratton believes the city is behind when it comes to a good transit system.

“Hopefully it’s something we get in the future, but unfortunately it something we’re behind on now.”

One of the main reasons the Region of Waterloo is ahead of London on their Rapid Transit Projects is because of funding they received from the other levels of government.

Soldo says they hope to split the funding with the federal and provincial government into 1/3 and adds the city is already in a good position with their funding.

“We’ve actually started looking after the part the city would have to pay for through the development charges study and incorporated 90% of the cost into that and now the city’s portion is pretty well funded.”

As for the cost, Soldo says this stage of Shift London will help the city determine what exactly will be put into the city and then allow them to determine a more solid number.

In a study done by the LTC a few years ago, they estimated that Bus Rapid Transit would cost between $300 and $400-million.

As for what next for the LTC, Paleczny says they’re looking at many options.

“Grow it so when the rapid transit rolls along we’ll have the routes ready to feed those corridors properly. We’re certainly not in a holding pattern.”

If you feel concerned this project might get left behind, Soldo has something to say about that.

“We don’t have a choice. The city can’t build itself out of congestion anymore. Widening roadways to 6 lane facilities or building highways through the city is not an option.”

Amanda Stratton has a lot of faith in this plan.

“I think this is the thing that gets it done and moves transportation forward. It’s smart people looking on the planning and all of its options.”

For now, Shift London is looking for your input either through social media or their website. You can also attend some of events they are holding in the future or will be a part of.  With that being said, it will still be a few years before you will see Rapid Transit rolling onto our streets.

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