With the recent rumour that the next Ontario Provincial budget will include money for high speed rail it is time for London to stop patching a horrible public transit system and start over with a clean slate. Working with neighbouring communities London should create the Thames Valley Transit system to become the feeder for the high speed rail line. This will require investment, zoning bylaw changes and a plan that is well thought out, costed and stuck too.
The current problems with the LTC are not of its own making, it is a victim of a city that doesn’t know how to plan. London’s streets look less well thought out than a refugee camp or shanty town, I suspect a heroin addicted monkey with a crayon planned them. Take a look at London’s bus routes, now compare them to page 29 of the Ministry of Transport’s guidelines on transit planning. Notice that quite a few of London’s bus routes are examples of what not to do. Add the lack of funding, many parts of London having a planned rural population density and short service hours and the city looks hostile to transit users.
Within London the new Thames Valley Transit system would start with a grid of Bus Rapid Transit lines (BRT) that are planned to eventually become Light Rail Transit Lines (LRT). These would be fed by local bus routes that follow provincial guidelines. Here are some potential BRT/LRT routes:
- Fanshawe Park Rd
- Sarnia Rd/Huron St
- Oxford St
- Riverside Dr/Dundas St
- Byron Baseline Rd-Springbank Dr-Hamilton Rd
- Commissioners Rd
- Southdale Rd
- Hyde Park Rd – Boler Rd
- Wonderland Rd
- Western Rd – Warncliffe Rd
- Richmond St-Wellington Rd
- Adelaide St-Pond Mills Rd
- Highbury Ave
- Clarke Rd
- Scholar Line: Western to Fanshawe
- Welcome Line: Airport to Dundas and Richmond
- Some of the above routes should be connected as loops for easier travel through city
To be efficient and worthwhile these lines should run 23-24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Service in the slump periods could be rolled back but to have as many off hours as currently shows London isn’t a serious, open for business city. Is city policy that employers are only allowed to give shifts when buses are running? The feeder bus routes will need to be planned to get people from home to work quickly. The guidelines above have plenty of good ideas that any candidate for local government should be familiar with.
Currently the High Speed 2 Rail project (HS2) in Britain has many critics, some argue HS2 will draw people away from Northern England to London. The same problem could arise with London Ontario losing people to Toronto. Why have an office in London when people can take the bullet train from Toronto? London could choose to answer that question by opposing high speed rail but a better plan would be to show an evolving city with cheaper leases than Toronto and send the people on the bullet train from offices here. This will mean having a city council willing to give up the old fashioned single use zoning and car only transportation system.
The reason I called it the Thames Valley Transit System is it should extend beyond London. Here are some sample regional lines that could draw people to London for the high speed rail or any other purpose:
- London-St Mary’s-Stratford-Kitchener
- London- St Mary’s-Stratford-Listowel-Hanover-Owen Sound
- London-Lucan-Grand Bend
- London-St Thomas-Port Stanley
- London-Tillsonburg-Simcoe-Port Dover
- Connecting lines that bypass London
Granted getting all of these communities on side may require a bullying premiere imposing things from Queen’s Park, let’s hope a charming, innovative council will be enough. Our Thames Valley transit spiderweb should eventually get tangled with the transit spiderwebs developing in the rest of the province. I would also recommend a single, city of London transit app for cars, transit, bicycles and pedestrians to show people stuck waiting for a train in their car are being bypassed by the BRT/LRT on a route with a rail overpass, the bike path is temporarily under the Thames River and the sidewalks downtown are blocked by a patio again.
High speed rail is an opportunity for London and surrounding area to get out of the horse and buggy era and into the 21st Century. Car usage is declining and if London doesn’t adapt to that fact it will decline with it. More links to declining car usage:
- Peak Car
- Car Use Declining in North America
- End of Car Culture
- Recent Trends in Car Usage in Advanced Economies-Slower Growth Ahead?
- The Decline of US Driving in Six Charts
Now let’s get that monkey to rehab. Note: I have scanned the LTC BRT plan and it is another hub and spoke without the wheel design that leaves vast parts of the city disconnected from each other.