Following months of heated debate, City Council is expected to approve Tuesday the biggest infrastructure project in London’s history.
The group will likely uphold last week’s decision at the committee level to pursue funding for full bus rapid transit, rather than a hybrid model that includes light rail.
The Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee voted 10-5 in favour of asking upper levels of government to cover most of the $500 million cost of the full BRT system.
Councillors Jesse Helmer, Mo Salih, Virginia Ridley, Steven Turner, and Jared Zaifman were opposed.
The hybrid model is estimated to cost $880 million, and City Hall only wants to pay $129 million.
Mayor Matt Brown tells AM980 being more cost-effective isn’t the only reason why he supports BRT.
“What we need to keep in mind is that we have issues with our transit system today, we can introduce a BRT system much sooner than we could an LRT system and we could also introduce it incrementally because as we get lane areas for buses to travel down taken care of, we can introduce it incrementally,” said Brown.
He’s looking forward to taking the updated business case to the province and feds.
“The decision point is today,” said Brown. “The sooner we make a decision, the sooner we get shovels into the ground. That’s important to recognize. It just makes sense to me to make a decision based in logic, supported by a business case, and then to get shovels into the ground as quickly as we can.”
City staff initially promoted the hybrid model with light rail, but released an updated business case last month that endorsed BRT, citing London’s ridership numbers among the reasons for their change of heart.
That irked light rail supporters, who packed last week’s final public input session but failed to sway enough city politicians to their side.
Light rail proponents questioned why Council wouldn’t try to seek as much funding as possible from upper levels of government.
But city politicians in Hamilton, where the province committed last year to spending $1 billion to build LRT, are re-thinking their decision over several concerns including the impact the lengthy construction would have on businesses.
Tuesday’s London City Council meeting starts at 4p.m.