London

London gets $200 million in federal transit cash

London's portion of transit infrastructure funding is $200 milliion, the exact amount needed for the city's Bus Rapid Transit project.

The money is exactly the federal amount needed for Bus Rapid Transit in the city

Proposed Bus Rapid Transit lanes on King Street and Wellington streets. (Supplied photo)

London will get $200 million in federal transit infrastructure funding, the federal government announced this morning. 

It looks like the final piece of the funding puzzle for the city's bus rapid transit project, although the reality is a little more murky. 

The cash is exactly the amount the city needs from the feds to make up the total cost of the BRT project, also called SHIFT. 

But London North Centre MP Peter Fragiskatos called that "an interesting coincidence." 

"It's the result of a formula based on ridership, and it's a general allocation that is to be used for transit projects," he said after this morning's announcement. 

"Certainly, Londoners want a better transit system. It's the reason I fought for a transit investment in the city." 

The provincial and municipal portions of the BRT funding have already been allocated.

Federal government approval needed

How the money is used has to be approved by the federal government, whether the cash is spent on BRT, getting new buses or upgrading existing transit networks. 

"If we build a better transit system, people will use it," said Coun. Jesse Helmer. "They'll choose to use it and they'll make different decisions growing up, and I think it's really important that we move on it now."

But earmarking the federal money for the BRT project is still several steps away — the city will need to submit a business plan to Ottawa if it wants to use the money for BRT. 

This is not just good news. This is outstanding news for the city.- Peter Fragiskatos, London North Centre MP

"The SHIFT plan has proved divisive but we have a government that cares about transit, and the vast majority of Londoners want to see a better transit system," said Fragiskatos. "This is not just good news. This is outstanding news for the city." 

The money, announced Friday morning, is London's share of $33 billion in federal infrastructure funding countrywide. 

London's BRT project is the city's largest infrastructure project. 

The province is kicking in $170 million and the city's portion is no more than $130 million. 

Mayor Matt Brown, on vacation for March Break, released a statement that said money will be "transformative" for the city. 

"We have a commitment for our provincial partners to fund our transit priorities and we are pleased to see our federal partners recognize London needs better transit and better infrastructure," Brown said in a statement. 

About the Author

Kate Dubinski

Reporter/Editor

Kate Dubinski is a radio and digital reporter with CBC News in London, Ont. You can email her at kate.dubinski@cbc.ca.