The City of London is inviting downtown businesses to air their concerns about bus rapid transit during two closed-door meetings with city engineers, transit representatives and councillors.
“Through the last public input session we had at the library, there were a number of questions that were raised,” explained acting city manager Martin Hayward.
“We felt it was important to go out and… speak with the business community, and the downtown, and make sure that we could cover off the issues they were raising. Or at least talk to them, and make sure they have been heard in the process.”
Hayward hopes the meetings will better illustrate the kinds of concerns that merchants have about London’s $560-million dollar bus rapid transit plan, and that business owners will also come away with a better understanding of why routes were proposed to run in an L-shape on King Street and Clarence Street, and a seven-shape on King Street and Wellington Road.
“One of the big things I’ve taken away so far, is that everybody wants rapid transit. Everybody wants the federal and provincial government to contribute their fair share to London, and they just want us to do it right. And part of doing it right, is making sure we engage properly,” Hayward explained.
At a bus rapid transit implementation working group meeting two weeks ago, politicians agreed to send staff back to the drawing board for alternative corridors, and to meet with downtown business owners, but it has yet to go to full council for approval.
A group of downtown business owners dubbed Down Shift has been putting pressure on city hall to stop moving ahead with the transit plan; they’ve collected more than 130 signatures on a petition they’ll give to Mayor Matt Brown and council.
Areas of concern include a 900-metre tunnel under Richmond Row that would run between St. Joseph’s Hospital and Victoria Park, and two rapid transit lanes on King Street that would limit vehicle traffic to a single eastbound lane and remove on-street parking.