5 misconceptions about London's rapid transit project

What misconceptions are there about London's rapid transit project, Shift? We asked Shift communications director April Kemick.

Another round of public information sessions beings Wednesday amid opposition to the project

April Kemick is the director of communications for Shift, London's bus rapid transit project. (Kate Dubinski/CBC News)

It will be the largest infrastructure project in London's history. 

But after more than three years of planning, the $500 million bus rapid transit project, dubbed Shift, faces opposition and is plagued by misconceptions. 

We spoke to newly-hired communications director April Kemick about the biggest misconceptions about the plan. 
Public input sessions about London's bus rapid transit project are still ongoing. (Kate Dubinski/CBC News)

1. It's all about buses

You'd be forgiven if thinking that the bus rapid transit project is all about buses, but it's not, Kemick told CBC's London Morning on Wednesday. 

The plan includes upgrades to routes, but also to wifi and charging stations at bus stops and smart technology that will synchronize traffic signals around the system. 

There will be 35 new stops and dedicated lanes for the buses, reducing congestion for other vehicle traffic. A more efficient system will mean more people will take the bus, so there will be less congestion, Kemick said. 

"It's going to mean shorter commutes and better and easier commutes for everybody, whether you're driving, or walking, or taking the bus," she said. 

2. The details are set in stone

The system will centre around two main routes. One, west-south, runs from White Oaks Mall down Wellington and over to Wonderland and Oxford, and a east-north route, from Fanshawe College down Oxford to Masonville Place along Richmond. 

But details such as what those routes will look like — how wide the roads are going to be, whether the rapid transit buses will run in dedicated lanes in the centre or curbside — and how local LTC routes will feed into the rapid system, are not decided yet, and that's part of what consultations are about. 

"The project team is still taking that feedback so people can weigh in," Kemick said. 
The public is still weighing in on London's bus rapid transit project. (Kate Dubinski/CBC News)

3. It's not that 'rapid'

City-wide, the average time that will be saved is four minutes for average travel time.

But there are other time savings -- there will be more stops, and they will be closer to people's homes, reducing the amount of time it takes to get to a stop. Real-time information at the bus stops will mean people will spend less time waiting for a bus at the stop -- they'll know exactly when it's coming. 

Transfers will also happen more efficiently, Kemick said. 

4. We know which trees will be felled 

Yes, trees will die. But that yellow caution tape put up by BRT opponents is misleading because there's no plan about which trees will be impacted.  

"This isn't exclusive to BRT. Any time we're looking at road widening or working on sidewalks or sewer systems, unfortunately trees are impacted. The city's goal is to go in and leave the landscape better than when we went in there. We try to plant trees to a 3:1 ratio," Kemick said. 

5. Trains will take the 'rapid' out of 'rapid transit'

On Richmond Street, there are only a couple times a day when the CP train will impact bus travel. With real-time travel information, bus service will be managed accordingly. People will be able to plan their routes with the real-time information, Kemick said, and the time lost can be made up on the front or back ends. 

"We don't anticipate it being as big a problem as people might believe," she said.