Yesterday, I ended Part 2 by expressing my intent to utilize the goals and objectives outlined in the Transportation Master Plan (TMP) and related sub-plans to serve as the basis for my proposed mobility plan, albeit in a more measured and cost-effective manner. After all, I am not looking to re-invent the wheel, just help it roll a little better for everyone.
The TMP states that its key goal is “to provide more attractive travel choices for those who live, work, and play in our city”.
The TMP then lists 13 objectives and guiding principles for London’s transportation network. Similarly, the Shift BRT plan lists 27 objectives under four guiding principles for London’s Bus Rapid Transit system.
While both lists are rather long, for the record, I agree with almost all of them. In fact, the Shift BRT objectives, which I have consolidated below, are pretty comprehensive and could easily apply to all modes of transportation as well. They include:
- Attract talent, employment, in-migration and external investment
- Stimulate and promote infill and intensification
- Downtown revitalization
- Connect institutions
- Increase property values
- Mitigate congestion
- Improve mobility options for all residents
- Improve travel times
- Improve service reliability and user experience
- Integrate with active modes (cycling and walking)
- Improve transportation safety
- Make accessible to all residents
- Improve walkability and public spaces
- Develop a stronger sense of place and civic pride
- Improve air quality
- Regenerate urban environments
- Minimize disruptions and construction impacts*
- Maintain operational flexibility*
- Maintain infrastructure adaptability*
- Minimize operating costs*
My lone objection within the list of Shift BRT objectives is where it states an intent to “shift mode choices away from personal automobiles”.
That, for me, is a non-starter for two reasons.
First, if we are going to ask Londoners to accept an investment in the common good associated with a more robust public transportation network, we cannot do it at the expense of another transportation mode and another’s personal utility. The approach needs to be perceived as an addition and not a replacement.
Second, we need to provide our community with time to test these new options and adjust to change. Our community has been largely car-dependent for decades. Londoners may want to give themselves the time necessary to test and assimilate these new approaches. If we don’t give ourselves room to adjust to change, then we’re tying our own hands.
I have also italicized and added an asterisk (*) to the last four points listed in the above objectives, because, in my view, these objectives are paramount to the successful implementation of any transportation investment.
These last four objectives are included out of respect for the ratepayers, the businesses, and residents charged with delivering this common good.
These last four objectives ensure that future generations are free to make their own choices as market needs change, technology improves, and transportation options increase.
These last four objectives explain why I support the general intentions of an improved transit plan, but not the approach detailed inside the Shift BRT plan. In my view, the current Shift BRT plan imposes undue financial hardship and risk on our community, impedes our city’s future flexibility and adaptability to new technologies and modes of transportation, and is susceptible to large and sustained spikes in operating costs if planned ridership forecasts do not materialize.
The primary goals of my plan, like that stated in the TMP, is to provide attractive travel choices for those who live work and play in our city. I also want to do so at a price point, timeframe and risk level that is respectful of the many taxpayers funding this plan, and one that enhances the transportation experience for users across all modes and across all parts of the city.
Next week – Mode-Specific Strategies