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I drive a car

Tackling gridlock

Part of a plan to manage future congestion

 

With upgraded road designs, smarter traffic systems and buses carrying thousands of riders in dedicated bus lanes, BRT is designed to help ease future gridlock.

Construction will happen in phases to minimize disruption, and will be coordinated with other major road improvements, like Adelaide Street and Wharncliffe/Western Road.

Did you know?

1. BRT buses won’t add to traffic congestion

If we just add buses, they would still be mixed with regular traffic. By travelling in dedicated bus lanes, BRT buses will help keep general traffic lanes flowing smoothly.

2. Smarter traffic systems are coming

BRT is driving the transition to smarter traffic systems that can help prevent gridlock and improve traffic flow – not just along BRT corridors, but throughout London.

3. There will be minimal lane reductions

Along the 24-km BRT route, most roads will keep the same number of general traffic lanes. The roads will be widened in order to accommodate the dedicated BRT lanes and the same number of general traffic lanes.

BRT won’t have a big impact on parking downtown

Of 711 on-street parking spaces downtown, BRT is expected to remove 82 spots. There are about 10,000 parking spaces downtown in total.

London is growing Planning for tomorrow

London’s population could grow by 84,000 people in the next 20 years – that’s like adding 8.5 more Masonville communities. Under a business-as-usual scenario, the volume of car trips in 2035 will grow by more than 20 per cent compared to 2009.

Who rides the bus? London's ridership is higher than comparable cities

  • 59

    Riders per capita

    London

  • 47

    Riders per capita

    Waterloo

  • 45

    Riders per capita

    Hamilton

  • 21

    Riders per capita

    York Region

Part of a city-wide plan to improve roads

Other road projects – some already happening – will work with BRT to change the way traffic flows and ease congestion. In total, $1.2 billion is being spent over the next 20 years to improve London’s roads.

  • Widening Wharncliffe/Western Road from Oxford Street to Platt’s Lane, which started in Spring 2018, is expected to ease congestion by becoming a natural route commuters can use instead of Richmond Street.
  • Adding an underpass at the CP rail line on Adelaide Street will increase reliability on this main road running parallel to Richmond. As many as 20 trains cross Adelaide every day and some of them last up to 20 minutes (unlike Richmond, where the average train lasts about five minutes). Many people currently use Richmond to avoid these trains, when Adelaide would otherwise be a more natural route. City staff expect traffic on Adelaide to increase by up to 200 cars an hour once the underpass is in place. Construction is expected to start in 2021.
  • Replacing the CN rail overpass on Wharncliffe Road north of Horton is designed to improve car capacity on Wharncliffe.

Frequently asked questions

Q: I have no plan to give up my car. Does this plan impact me?

As the city grows, BRT will carry thousands of transit riders in dedicated bus lanes, helping ease future traffic congestion for everyone.

The BRT project will cover necessary road upgrades and resurfacing along 24 kilometres of London’s busiest roads. Smarter traffic systems, which will help to manage future gridlock, are a key component of the project. BRT will repair and revitalize roads, sidewalks and streetscaping with the potential for other levels of government to contribute up to 74 cents on the dollar.

Rapid transit also paves the way for urban regeneration – including the development of more vibrant, connected, walkable neighbourhoods – and supports the vision to strengthen London’s downtown.

Q: Is BRT reducing lanes for drivers?

Along the 24-km BRT route, most roads will keep the same number of general traffic lanes. The roads will be widened in order to accommodate the dedicated BRT lanes and the same number of general traffic lanes.

Only about one third of roads will have lane reductions. Major streets affected are:

  • Richmond Street north of Central Avenue
  • King Street between Colborne and Ontario streets
  • Dundas Street between Ontario and Highbury
  • A small portion of Wellington Road

Q: Why can’t we just widen all our roads?

One of the City’s goals is to maintain natural and agricultural lands by concentrating future population growth in existing built-up areas. As the City grows inwards and upwards, we will need more space-efficient ways to move people. Widening roads is not an effective solution on its own – creating a way to move more people with fewer vehicles is also needed.

Q: How will BRT construction impact my drive?

To minimize traffic jams, BRT construction won’t happen all at once. Like any city road project, it will happen in phases, with lots of advance communication and notice to residents and businesses in the area. The first stage of construction is slated for downtown in 2020 before heading east. From there, construction is expected to continue through the north, south and west corridors.

Most roads along the BRT network are due for necessary upgrades in the near future. With BRT, 24 kilometres of required road work – including wider, revamped streets and corridors – will be paid for as part of the project budget.

We will work closely with other City project teams to provide coordinated, advance updates about construction and road closures throughout the city. Every effort will be made to ensure Londoners are aware of construction zones and traffic detours resulting from road work, whether it be through online portals, media relations, citywide mail, or other forms of informative content. For the most up-to-date information on construction, click here to sign up for our e-newsletter.

Q: How will BRT impact traffic in London?

The project team has extensively studied traffic along the corridors to predict traffic flow with BRT in place. And these studies show BRT will help ease future congestion – not add to it.

Traffic was studied at every signalized intersection (86) on the BRT corridors, comparing how traffic functions now with how traffic is expected to function with BRT. Among other things, the findings helped determine appropriate locations and designs for turn lanes.

The team also studied around 1,000 side streets and driveways near the BRT network to target where left-turn lanes will need to be changed to accommodate for U-turns at signals.

Q: Why not just add more local buses?

If we simply add more local buses to the road, those buses would still be mixed with regular traffic – meaning they would be adding to congestion on the roads. By travelling in dedicated bus lanes, BRT buses will help keep traffic flowing smoothly in general traffic lanes, instead of adding to the gridlock.

Q: How will BRT impact parking spots in this city?

Of 711 on-street parking spaces downtown, BRT will remove 82 spaces. There are around 10,000 parking spaces in the downtown in total.

Q: Does investing in transit make sense with driverless cars on the horizon?

Prioritizing autonomous vehicles alone would lead to more traffic congestion in the long run. With or without drivers, the reality is 70 people in cars take up far more space than 70 people on a bus.

It is possible that other vehicle technology, such as driverless cars, can work together with BRT as first/last mile solutions for connecting to the network. BRT is flexible enough to adapt to changing transit technology.

Q: How much is this project going to cost taxpayers?

London’s share of the $500-million transit investment is just over a quarter of the cost – $130 million – the majority of which will be funded through development charges.

Q: Is BRT expected to convert drivers into bus riders?

Many Londoners will never ride BRT, but the goal is to provide Londoners with choice. London already has higher ridership per capita than other municipalities implementing rapid transit systems, including Hamilton, Waterloo and York Region.

Population and transit ridership in London are growing and are expected to continue to grow, highlighting a need for the expanded service that BRT will provide. Between 2006 and 2016, bus ridership grew by 20 per cent, from 18.7 million to 22.6 million.  And 84,000 new residents could call London home by 2035.

Ridership analysis from the fall of 2017 shows around 25 per cent of LTC bus routes are totally full – with no available seats – during both morning and afternoon peak period service.

Q: Can emergency vehicles use the dedicated BRT lanes?

Yes. Emergency vehicles will be able to use the dedicated lanes.

Q: How can BRT be ‘rapid’ when there are train crossings?

The project team has studied rail crossings in great detail and determined the impact of those crossings can be managed with minimal impact on BRT buses. Using the Richmond crossing as an example: the typical number of trains over the course of a 24-hour day crossing this location was 11, of which an average of two interruptions per day occurred during the a.m. and p.m. peaks.

Based on an average travel time delay of approximately five minutes, there will be potential queuing of two BRT buses within their dedicated lanes. This will be managed with real-time schedule notices at BRT stops to inform riders of the short delay and when to expect the next bus. When the train passes, BRT buses will continue unimpeded in their dedicated lanes. The team is also looking at technology solutions to help anticipate trains and “catch up” buses after a short train-crossing delay.

Q: How will we make left hand turns across dedicated bus lanes?

With centre-running BRT lanes, there will be changes to the way you turn left on some parts of the City’s roads.

BRT intersections will now have a dedicated left-turn traffic signal. This means drivers will make left turns or U-turns when the left-turn signal is green – and won’t be able to cross dedicated BRT lanes to turn left without a signal. To get to entrances that are between intersections, on the opposite side of the road, drivers should make a U-turn at the next signalized intersection.

Here’s how to make a turn on intersections along the BRT Corridors.

Q: How long will it take to build BRT?

The entire system is scheduled to be up and running by 2028, but it’s important to note that BRT construction will not happen all at once. The first stage of construction is slated for downtown in 2020. From there, construction is expected to continue through the north, south and west corridors. Like any city road project, construction will happen in phases, with lots of advance communication and notice to residents and businesses in the area.

Q: How will BRT impact traffic on Richmond North?

A key part of the BRT project is balancing property impacts with transit needs. Wherever possible, the goal is to minimize impacts to homes and businesses. On Richmond Street North, the project team explored several options for putting BRT into place – including widening the road to make more room for dedicated bus lanes (which would have had significant property impacts), and maintaining the current road allowance (which would have less impact on properties).

Homeowners, businesses and the public were invited to provide feedback on these options, and a key concern was that widening the road for BRT would impact residents’ properties. A detailed traffic simulation was also completed for the area, which looked at how traffic moves now on Richmond compared to expected traffic flow with BRT.

For the Richmond Street option that kept the current number of lanes, converting 2 general traffic lanes into dedicated BRT lanes, and keeping 2 general traffic lanes (1 in each direction), the simulation showed that:

  • During peak hours, if general traffic lanes are reduced to two on Richmond, there could be a difference of 30-90 seconds in typical travel time. Impacts outside of rush hour are expected to be minimal.
    • Local streets are not expected to experience increases in “non-neighbourhood” traffic.
    • There will be somewhat less capacity on Richmond if general traffic lanes are reduced to two, but the added capacity on Western Road and closure of University Drive Bridge will make Western Road more attractive for car drivers, resulting in less demand on Richmond.
    • A planned underpass on Adelaide, which will be complete before BRT is constructed along Richmond, is also expected to divert traffic away from Richmond.
    • Constructing additional dedicated left-turn lanes at key intersections along Richmond will mean that traffic can flow more smoothly in the general traffic lanes compared to today, where traffic on Richmond currently backs up behind cars turning left without devoted turn lanes.

The Richmond Street design that includes two general traffic lanes and two BRT lanes was approved by Council on May 8.

For more information on the traffic studies that have been done as part of the BRT plan, check out the Draft Environmental Report’s Traffic studies here.

Q: How many Londoners ride the bus?

London bus ridership is higher than comparable cities with rapid transit.

Annual transit ridership in London in 2016 was 22.6 million, compared to 11.9 million in 1996 (on the conventional service). London currently has more transit riders per capita than comparable urban areas such as Waterloo, Hamilton and Mississauga, which are already implementing rapid transit.