September 25, 2021

Altunhatours

The Devoted Travel Technicians

City council eyes regional transportation hub in downtown London

4 min read

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Billing it as an economic opportunity, city politicians voted Wednesday to start crafting plans for a regional transportation hub in downtown London, despite the core’s own transit woes.

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Mayor Ed Holder and deputy mayor Josh Morgan urged council to see London’s potential to connect workers and visitors from across the region and even further afield.

“I think there’s an incredible opportunity to consider the impacts of what a downtown transportation and mobility hub might look like,” Holder said, citing economic and tourism possibilities.

Council, sitting as a committee, voted unanimously to recommend city staff “develop a conceptual framework” for the regional hub. If approved by council next month, Holder would also consult area politicians and leaders on a Southwestern Ontario transportation task force, which he chairs.

The move comes as smaller communities surrounding London beef up their public transit and launch “micro-transit” to get people from county to county and to other destinations, like the beach.

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A recent federal government announcement promising to investigate improved rail service between London and Windsor could also play a role. Ward 8 Coun. Steve Lehman said a regional hub could add some “heft” to London’s negotiating position for more frequent train trips.

“We have to keep London’s voice a strong voice in the transportation conversation with higher levels” of government, he said.

Still, London has its own transportation issues within city boundaries. Some areas, especially industrial parks where employers are eager to woo more workers, are inaccessible by city bus despite years of advocacy from businesses and civic leaders.

City council carved up the controversial bus rapid transit plan in 2019, killing the corridors between the core and north and west London. Holder, who campaigned on an anti-BRT platform, and Morgan both helped seal the end of the city-wide system, though they’ve since argued London should look for alternatives to boost transit in the rapidly growing west end.

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The downtown rapid transit loop, which was intended to form the centre of the rapid transit system, doesn’t connect to the train station – though it’s only a block away. It’s being built now and is expected to be done in 2023.

And with Greyhound bus service ceasing across the country after its routes were shut down during the pandemic, London’s only bus service to Toronto will now pick up passengers at the Flying J truck stop near Highway 401.

Ward 6 Coun. Phil Squire pushed to include local bus routes in any future downtown hub.

“If there ends up being a transit hub in downtown London that connects outside transit to the city of London, we should also be looking at how the enhancements we’re doing in transit would connect to that and distribute traffic to other areas of the city,” he said Wednesday.

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