Shift Rapid Transit Recommendation

The question has been asked, what has changed? Simple answer.  Timing.  The preliminary recommendation that was identified in November is still the longer term solution.

The Shift Rapid Transit Environmental Assessment is about the implementation of a rapid transit system, and the main objective of the project is to transform the transportation and transit system in the City, through the lens of mobility, constructability, economic development, city building and urban regeneration. It is an infrastructure project and business cases are based on a demonstrated need for the project and follow an evidence based decision making process to allow for an objective comparison of proposals for funding.  The demonstrated need is based on the existing and future ridership requirements of the system and the ability of the solution to meet those needs.
The Full BRT is being recommended at the present as a first step based on a findings of the business case.  The technical analysis that forms the basis for the evaluation identifies the Full BRT as the most cost effective and best value investment that meets the ridership needs and provides significant benefits from an economic growth, social, environmental and city building perspective.
BRT systems have been proven to be highly effective at providing social, environment and city building benefits when they are designed in a manner that includes dedicated rapid transit lanes, modern accessible permanent stations and attractive vehicle technology that can attract “discretionary” car-owning riders. A BRT solution will provide the same travel times, mobility benefits and character of a LRT solution.
The City may choose to utilize electric and modern designed vehicles, as technology is rapidly changing, which provide the same enhanced qualitative attributes as a light rail vehicle (noise, smooth ride, air quality) and will help attract the choice and discretionary riders by making transit a more attractive mobility alternative and enhance the image of transit.
The Full BRT system provides a more effective operational model today as it provides greater frequency of transit, matching ridership levels with the capacity of the vehicles, while at the same time providing higher reliability due to its flexibility.
System ridership is an essential quantitative factor in determining the need for the project, its viability for funding from other levels of government and financial affordability for the City. The Full BRT alternative meets the transit ridership needs and requirements of today, as well as the projected ridership levels in 2035, which are well within the capacity of the bus rapid transit system. While the ridership projections for 2035, 20 years from today, identify the LRT technology as a potential solution, the ridership levels are at the low end of the spectrum to justify the implementation of the LRT technology.
Transit systems across the country have experienced a flat lining of ridership, despite significant investment in infrastructure.  The London Transit Commission experienced a substantial drop in ridership in 2015. The draft London Plan recommends a target of 45% intensification with development focused on the rapid transit corridors and transit nodes in order to help grow rapid transit ridership.  At a growth rate of 1 percent per year, the rate of ridership growth is moderate and reinforces the Full BRT recommendation as the solution to best accommodate the projected ridership level.  A significant amount of sensitivity analysis was undertaken as part of the business case analysis related to intensification, ridership growth, land value uplift and energy costs.  The Full BRT solution provides the highest cost benefit analysis under each of the scenarios.
The Shift Business Case puts forward a Full BRT technology and route recommendation that takes into account a higher degree of analysis in ridership projects, recent trends and transportation technology advancements, operational considerations and public input received through the engagement process.  The recommendation provides the right solution at the right time, while taking into account financial affordability and the long term transitional requirements for future conversion to LRT technology.


London’s rapid transit initiative is the city’s largest, most important transformational project.
The rapid transit system will build a more modern, prosperous and environmentally sustainable community and the recommendation before Council is flexible and able to transition to new and evolving transit technologies when warranted.
Rapid transit will improve travel options for all Londoners, build a strong community and promote economic development.




Edward Soldo, P. Eng.

Director of Roads and Transportation, City of London







Showing 14 reactions

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  • Jeremy Lynch
    BRT which stands for Bus Rapid Transport seems to be a very uninspiring vision for future Public Transporting. For London to acheive high quality of life for its citizens it must be proud of its public transportation. At the moment this is not the case. Relying on the Bus for fantastic Public transporting is possible. Frequency, punctuality coverage vehicle design, cost and 24 hour service is what makes great Public Transporting.
    Hopefully more and more Londoners will become proud of their public transporting and get out of their Auto.
  • Ken Wightman
    It is interesting to note that according to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune “millennials bought 4 million cars and trucks in the U.S. last year, second only to the baby boomers.” In the biggest car market in the U.S., California, “millennials outpaced boomers” when it came to car purchases. The belief, held by many, that millennials don’t want cars is beginning more and more to look like an urban myth.
  • Steve Struthers
    I’m very disappointed to see the city opted for a BRT-only system, despite the large chorus of people who made presentations in favour of LRT at the public participation meeting that was held at City Hall on Thursday afternoon. That meeting now looks like so much window-dressing designed to fool the public into thinking that their voices actually mattered, when the decision to go with BRT-only was probably made months ago, and only needed to be sanctioned by a council vote before it could be implemented.

    The city seems to have the idea that we can always add LRT if and when ridership justifies it – and ideally this would not happen for the next 25 – 30 years so city council would not have to make any uncomfortable or potentially controversial decisions. In other words, let’s throw the problem on the backs of a future city council and defer dealing with it indefinitely.

    The problem with this kind of thinking is that it is exactly the same kind of thinking that explains why London never built an in-city expressway despite having had ample opportunity to do so. And now, because of the way the city has developed over the last 40 – 50 years, the opportunity to build such an expressway is gone forever. We now have to satisfy ourselves with the idea of a ring road which will force drivers to go a considerable distance out of their way to avoid traffic jams. And in the end the ring road will solve none of the problems that it is supposed to solve.

    The Kitchener-Waterloo region didn’t buy into the idea that the best time to build their expressway would come when traffic patterns demanded its construction. Sometime in the 1960s, when the K-W region was still relatively small in population, they built an in-city expressway. Initially, it was little used. But as the region grew, use of the expressway increased exponentially. Today, that expressway is one of the K-W region’s most heavily-travelled roads.

    If the K-W region had waited, traffic would have reached unmanageable levels and development of the city would likely have foreclosed the ability to build just such an expressway. Thus making construction of an expressway much more difficult and expensive.

    If London waits to build LRT lines, despite the fact that the city’s population is expected to grow by 100,000 over the next 25 years, we could well see a situation where existing LTC resources will not be able to handle the overflow. Despite claims of flatlining or declining ridership, I’ve been hearing many reports of full or even overcrowded LTC busses.

    If newcomers can’t get good public transit (and many of these newcomers will be millennials who don’t want to own a car), they will not stay. In other words, waiting until ridership justifies installation of LRT lines may well end up becoming a too-little, too-late kind of situation. London can’t afford to wait and then spend another 10 years building a LRT system to satisfy the needs of newcomers. Not if it wants to see London grow and be prosperous. In short, BRT is only a stop-gap solution, something that city council is famous for because it lacks progressive vision.
  • Richard Hammond
    I support the recommendation for a BRT only system as the best fit for London now and in the foreseeable future. This is also consistent with the original recommendations from the Smart Moves Transportation Master Plan. BRT offers many advantages, particularly flexibility in responding to changes in demand. Dedicated lanes would provide similar levels of service to LRT. Buses can also be re-routed around construction or traffic incidents, which trains cannot. I credit the senior levels of Administration, Planning and Transportation at the City with taking a closer look at this issue and reaching a more informed conclusion.
  • Reinhard Schwarz
    I definitely would like to see the LRT option. Lets do it right the first time instead of fiddling around. Is this another promise the mayor has backed out of
  • Pete Martin
    Please read this….

    By backing out of the hybrid solution so many have supported, whether due to lack of government funding or poor ridership performance, London will almost completely disengage citizens from this initiative.

    Forget the full BRT, it’s still a bus. It doesn’t provide the shift in perception required to make this project a success. My suggestion is to spend the money elsewhere or scale back the project to one LRT north-south line.

    Lets not build something with the plan to upgrade it later. A full BRT system will be a spectacular failure and will be a burden on citizens and City Hall alike. London needs the Shift project to do just that, Shift london into “big city” gear, not be a thorn for the next 20 years until we maybe upgrade it to what it should have been.

    Thanks for reading.
  • Brett Leuszler
    Spending large sums of money and time farting around with public transit solely to delay/avoid the elephant in the room (a PROPER and EFFICIENT municipal expressway system) is a waste of both. For better or worse, accurately or not, it remains the case that the OVERWHELMING percentage of Londoners see Public Transit as a necessary evil intended strictly for the use of people not able to afford a proper vehicle. I would point out that, in all liklihood, spending a lot of money to make it fancier and/or prettier isn’t going to impact that perception and the negative impacts on already over-stressed municipal roads that are struggling to cope with both local traffic, AND the traffic that SHOULD be on a municipal freeway (i.e. Dundas St, Highbury Ave, Oxford St, Wonderland Rd) will be FURTHER stressed by the complications of sharing the road with a separate but co-existing dedicated-transit system. Quit putting off the inevitable and tackle the real problem already, all this hedging about and ducking it isn’t accomplishing anything except wasting time, energy and public funds…
  • Adam Aasen
    I think settling for something like BRT vs LRT is a poor choice. Having even one LRT line in London would dramatically improve the city as a whole. BRT is a system proposed as a crutch between buses and proper transit systems; the problem is once implemented, the real promised infrastructure never happens. LA for example has BRT lines…and the worst congestion problems in North America. That doesn’t sound like a good idea to me. Stick to the plan, go for LRT, make our city great. Lets not learn the lesson that Toronto has, where infrastructure development has become so costly it will never happen.
  • Bill Brock
    Corrections; BRT is based on building transit as ridership increases ; failure to increase impacts on implementation time lines. Also, London Transit ridership didn’t flat line as implied! They lost over a million passengers with elimination of Ontario Works Bus Pass!
    Transit gives you maximum flexibility to progress towards the goal when needed! You don’t do bricks and mortar now; you do the planned network by LTC first as they presented.
  • Don Millar
    A lot of cities are switching to battery-electric buses. If London is going to turn its back on LRT (which I still think is the better solution), can we at least switch from highly-polluting diesel to battery-electric for our BRT? Please and thank you.
  • Rosemary Redgrift
    Helloooo ? What is Full BRT? Please explain, instead of assuming everyone knows what that is.
  • Joe Nolan
    It works for Winnipeg. Now that is a city to aspire to!
  • Bob Kennedy
    What it seems happened here is that you got the majority of people in the focus groups, questions and answer meetings ,etc all excited about LRT hybrid and felt they were part of a decision and the way the City wanted to go, and then pretty much told them, their opinion didn’t count. smacks a little of the whole “Food Truck” fiasco. Good luck getting anybody enthused about transit now.
  • Scott St John
    I certainly respect the careful analysis of ridership & spending, but I think the flat ridership numbers at LTC show that Londoners are not inclined to switch to the bus. I take the bus to Western, and it’s often crowded and uncomfortable. Light rail would be a different world, with low-floor boarding and comfortable room for all. More riders, less congestion. A winning solution.