Mak­ing con­nec­tions

City look­ing to other cen­tres for in­spi­ra­tion as it mulls best op­tions for bus rapid tran­sit plan

The London Free Press - - LOCAL - ME­GAN STACEY mstacey@post­media.com twit­ter.com/Me­ganatLFPress

Chicago or New­mar­ket? Bos­ton or Cleve­land?

Lon­don is look­ing to cities big and small for in­spi­ra­tion on bus rapid tran­sit — and, more specif­i­cally, where to put the buses.

The city ’s planned $500-mil­lion BRT sys­tem will de­pend on ded­i­cated lanes to keep buses run­ning ev­ery few min­utes with­out get­ting tied up in traf­fic snarls. So where should those lanes go?

They might run be­side the curb, like a bike lane for buses. That’s the model used in parts of Chicago and Bos­ton. Or the buses could travel down lanes in the cen­tre of the road, like rapid tran­sit in New­mar­ket and Cleve­land.

Lon­don’s sys­tem also may use some of each.

That’s a de­sign de­ci­sion that Lon­don­ers will have a chance to de­bate dur­ing a se­ries of pub­lic meet­ings in De­cem­ber. Dates haven’t been set yet.

Politi­cians like the idea that BRT lanes will be tai­lored to dif­fer­ent ar­eas of the city.

The same goes for the rapid tran­sit sta­tions, which might even be equipped with wire­less in­ter­net.

“I like the op­por­tu­nity to see cus­tomiza­tion and to help the neigh­bour­hood be a neigh­bour­hood,” tran­sit com­mis­sioner Dean Shep­pard told the rapid tran­sit work­ing group Thurs­day.

The BRT team is us­ing drones to take pho­tos and video of the 24-kilo­me­tre BRT routes. Those will be used to cre­ate real-life de­signs so the pub­lic can get a sense of what lanes and sta­tions might look like on Lon­don streets.

It all comes down to what fits best in a neigh­bour­hood, project di­rec­tor Jennie Ram­say said.

“Not ev­ery sec­tion of the BRT is go­ing to look the same,” Ram­say said. “For each of those key legs of the cor­ri­dor, what is best suited? We don’t know the right an­swer. That’s what this process will help us an­swer — and we want the pub­lic’s in­put on that.”

And those lanes won’t al­ways be ex­clu­sive to BRT. In some parts of the net­work, other Lon­don Tran­sit Com­mis­sion routes can dip in and out of the lanes and stop at BRT sta­tions.

Even those who don’t have ac­cess to BRT right at their doorsteps can link up with the net­work us­ing other routes.

“There’s a feel­ing out there, that con­tin­ues to per­sist, that BRT is some­thing to­tally dif­fer­ent that has noth­ing to do with LTC. I’m not sure how we’re go­ing to get over that,” Deputy Mayor Paul Hu­bert said.

Lo­cal routes com­bined with the new rapid tran­sit sys­tem will in­crease bus ser­vice in the city by 35 per cent over the next 20 years, Ram­say said.

“BRT isn’t in­tend­ing to re­place the LTC sys­tem, but to en­hance it,” she said.

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