Nearly six months after city politicians chose their preferred option, staff will release the finer details of their plan to roll out rapid transit in London.
The document, being released to the public on Friday, is set to include a more defined route design, as well as plans for construction and funding.
What we know at this point is that city politicians meeting as the Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee voted unanimously last November to endorse a hybrid rapid transit system for the city.
Under the hybrid plan, the north-east line would utilize light rail, connecting Masonville Place, Western University, Western Research Park, LHSC, St. Joseph’s Hospital, downtown London, Old East Village, the London Psychiatric Hospital redevelopment lands, Fanshawe College and, in the future, London International Airport.
The south-west line, utilizing buses, would connect White Oaks Mall, LHSC, downtown London, and the Oxford-Wonderland residential and commercial hub.
The estimated cost of that plan is between $850-million and $900-million, spread out over 10 years. London’s portion would be $125-million maximum, with the rest of the funding — Council hopes — coming from the provincial and federal governments.
The upper levels of government have thus far made no firm commitments of support.
However, with city officials describing the report as an ‘updated business case,’ it could help them make a decision.
Some residents and business owners are worried about the cost and construction needed for light rail, and have voiced support for the least expensive rapid transit option: full bus rapid transit. It’s estimated to be around half the price of the hybrid option at around $450 million, and offers more flexibility to change routes if needed.
Light rail routes can be moved once they’re built, but it’s extremely expensive.
City staff estimates once a plan is chosen and funding is solidified, projects could begin as early as 2017-2018. The north-east route featuring light rail wouldn’t begin construction until 2023, and wouldn’t finish until 2026 while other related improvements wouldn’t finish until 2027.
The report will be posted on the city’s website at 12p.m. on Friday, and will be discussed by Council during a meeting next week.