London getting $170M from province for rapid transit

The province has committed up to $170 million for London's bus rapid transit system.

Transportation minister Steven Del Duca announced cash for Bus Rapid Transit in London Monday

(Google Maps)

The province has committed up to $170 million for London's bus rapid transit (BRT) system. 

Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca made the provincial transit funding announcement in London. 

The contentious BRT system will cost $500 million with city hall pitching in no more than $130 million. 

Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca (centre) said London is Canada's largest city without a rapid transit system. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC News)

"We want to ensure that neighbourhoods in London can thrive and prosper through better and more efficient transit infrastructure that will help people get to where they need to go faster and easier," Del Duca said in a statement. 

Del Duca added that London is the largest city in Canada without a rapid transit system.

Mayor Matt Brown said this was "a huge day for London." 

"This is going to provide Londoners with better transit everywhere. This $170-million represents the single largest investment our provincial partners have ever made in our community," Brown said.

Brown added that the jobs generated by the construction of the BRT will translates into $270 million in wages for Londoners. 

Bus rapid transit, dubbed, Shift, will run almost 24 km through London.

A north-east route will connect Masonville Place with the airport, and a south-west route will connect White Oaks Mall with Wonderland Road and Oxford Street West. 

Both routes will run through downtown.

Federal funding still an unknown

London West MP Kate Young said could take time to find out how much money the federal government will allocate to BRT in London. (Kate Dubinski/CBC)

Although the federal government still needs to pony up $200 million to make up the total cost of the project, the amount of funding available from Ottawa won't be clear for some time.

First, Infrastructure Canada needs to wrap up negotiations on a bi-lateral agreement that will allocate $8 billion toward public transit funding in Ontario over the next 12 years. 

The aim is to have this agreement completed by the end of March, said spokesperson Brooks Simpson.

After that, the province will be able to submit funding applications for projects such as BRT.

It's unknown how long that application process will take, he said. 

"[In federal politics], things do take longer than you wish they would," said London West Liberal MP Kate Young.

"But we want to get this right, and so it will take time and we need people to be patient."

Young added that she's confident London will get 'its fair share' of dollars, eventually.

How high-speed rail fits in

High-speed rail was another point of discussion during the funding announcement.

"These two programs go hand in glove," said Brown. 

While BRT will help Londoners get around the city more quickly and easily, high-speed rail will help them do the same between Ontario cities, he said.

High-speed rail would give a boost to the London economy as decreased travel time between the city and Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto would allow employees to commute easily, and attract more 'high-caliber talent' to London.

"For our community to see the kind of boom in housing that we would see is also a massive benefit from a high-speed rail system," said Brown.

Del Duca said the Ministry of Transportation issued bids 'just a few weeks ago' for an environmental assessment of the London to Kitchener-Waterloo portion of the project.

"When it comes to high speed rail, it's no longer a question of if, but how, and we're going to get it built," he said.

Corrections

  • A previous version said Infrastructure Canada is negotiating a bi-lateral agreement that would allocate $8 million toward public transit funding in Ontario over the next 12 years. It is $8 billion.
    Jan 18, 2018 2:47 PM ET