London Moves – Part 9 – The Price Tag

At the outset of this 9-part series, I made it clear that I believed in the common good created by public transportation and the importance of our collective investment in it.

I also made clear my belief that our city’s transportation plan needs to multi-modal and respectful of all transportation, with an eye towards the future.

I also believe that the broad objectives for this plan as set out in Part 3 …

  • Attract employment and external investment
  • Stimulate intensification and revitalize our downtown
  • Integrate and Improve mobility and public spaces for all
  • Improve transportation safety, activity and accessibility
  • Improve public spaces, property values and urban environments
  • Minimize disruptions, impacts and costs
  • Mitigate congestion and improve travel times
  • Maintain operational flexibility and infrastructure adaptability

…. can be achieved at a lower overall life cycle cost and potential consequence to the community than the current Shift BRT plan.

I also believe that much of this work can be accomplished quickly, efficiently and with much less risk than the proposed Shift BRT plan.

Finally, I believe that the recommended actions outlined in London Moves helps favourably position our city for the pending evolution in transportation, no matter when or how it unfolds.

The Investment

In an effort to clearly convey the estimated price tag associated with this transportation plan, I have separated the capital investment from annual operating costs to give the reader a sense of the initial and ongoing investment required.

The following breakdown by mode should give you some sense of the investment required to deliver this plan, such that you can assess the value of each strategy in your life and the lives of your family.   It is my belief that a large majority of Londoners will support this approach, not because it has everything an individual might want, but because collectively, it moves our city forward in a way that maximizes the benefits to our community at a much lower cost and risk to the taxpayer than that proposed through Shift BRT.


As outlined in Part 4 of London Moves entitled YXU, the plan calls for the expansion of regular flight service to two major hubs in the US (e.g. New York, Chicago or Atlanta).   The maximum annual subsidy required to support this service during its initial years is estimated to be approximately $2.5 million per hub.  Therefore, subject to Council approval and the successful negotiation of service agreements, I would recommend a four-year commitment of $5 million in annual operating expense to support the startup of service to two select destinations in the US.


As outlined in Part 5 entitled Rail, I believe that there is an opportunity to work with our Federal partners and re-route the CP connection from Adelaide to the northwest corner of the city for reasonable cost.  The question is what is reasonable.  I have been reviewing similar proposals in other jurisdictions, most notably Saskatoon and found what I believe to be a reasonable price point and below the aggregate cost associated with building under/overpasses at each major intersection over the next two decades.   Having said that, for purposes of negotiations, I do not think it is a good idea to reveal that number publicly.  However, I also believe in the value of a sound Plan B, including Council’s proposed $60 million investment into an underpass on Adelaide.  I support it and hope that work on can proceed concurrent with ongoing negotiations with CP.


Given London’s spatial breadth and affinity for personal vehicles, the City’s current $800 million road widening and maintenance plan is appropriate. However, I am unsure if the forecasted budget includes sufficient investment to support other measures to improve traffic flow (e.g. traffic light synchronization, peak traffic management systems, HOV lanes, etc.), so I have boosted the proposed capital budget by $225 million and operating budget by $2 million to accommodate these necessary advances in vehicular management.

Active Transportation

While the London ON Bikes plan is thoughtful and comprehensive, it does not quite meet the standard that I described in Part 7 of my London Moves plan.  As such, I would recommend adding $10 million to the existing $20 million active transportation capital budget to properly protect existing bike lanes and improve pedestrian crossings (e.g. pedestrian priority, automated crosswalks, elevated walkways to slow traffic).  I would also recommend increasing the $7 million active transportation operating budget by $2 million annually to help maintain existing bike paths, expand VisionZero initiatives and introduce an active school travel program.  I believe that London can become a leader in active transportation within one term of Council if our collective will is there to make it a reality.

Better Transit

As outlined Part 8 of my plan, the Better Transit initiative recommends a material increase in the original investment proposed in the 2012 Transit Priority Strategy. This necessary increase, which I estimate to be $60 million in capital and $15 million in operating, is still below the percent transit investments made by London’s peer municipalities and well below the investment thresholds proposed in the Shift BRT plan. London also needs to add in an investment in specialized mobility, an estimate that I still need some help compiling.  Nevertheless, this level of investment should help improve transit service throughout the city while keeping our infrastructure flexible as market needs change and consumer mobility options evolve.


Total Incremental Investment:  $295 million capital, $24 million operating


Obviously, the numbers outlined above are rough estimates and subject to revision and reprioritization by Council and the community.  In fact, I welcome all input.   My intent in tabling them is to provide Londoners with an option for their consideration, one that invests in improvements across several modes of transportation at a comparatively lower overall price point to Shift BRT.

More importantly, I believe that London can accept and adopt all of the above recommendations within a four-year term of Council, and implement a plan that:

  • satisfies several mobility needs in a time window that can make an immediate and positive influence in the lives of Londoners and their families, and
  • keeps our City open to the possibilities of the future.

The choice resides with you.