Communication #4 – Email from Paul Brooks, dated January 23, 2019 re 2019 Service Plan – Route 1

January 23, 2019

Delivered Via Email:

London Transit Commission 450 Highbury Avenue North London, Ontario NSW 5L2

Dear Sir/Madam:

Re: Proposed IA Bus Routes along Regent Street & Colborne Street

I am a long-standing resident of Old North, and my family and I have lived on Regent St. for decades. My neighbours and I appreciate the opportunity to express some of the concerns and objections we have to the proposed route, at your meeting scheduled for January 30, 2019. I wish to review and confirm some concerns regarding the proposal, and I have been asked to speak on behalf of other property owners located mainly on Regent St. We are all vigorously opposed to the proposed changes, and in particular, to Colborne and Regent St. being turned into a bus route.

We understand that there may be differing views on this proposal, and that while the vast majority of people who are located along the proposed route are strongly against it, there may be a minority, who may support it.

The Director of Planning for LTC has advised that the proposal is not connected to the proposed BRT; that it is to improve access to residents in the area to be within 400 meters of a transit route; and, to straighten out the route. LTC requested public input regarding the proposal. Based on the public input we have reviewed, it appears that whatever side of London’s larger transportation issues one is on, the majority of residents who have responded, see this proposed portion of the route as being contrary to good planning for this neighbourhood, and want LTC to reconsider it in order to avoid any alleged benefits being outstripped by losses, in this established, quiet residential neighbourhood.

The following areas are of particular concern:

  1. A review of the reasons given for the proposal makes it clear that the benefits sought by the LTC are either not supported by the majority of residents; and/or, will be outweighed by the costs to the neighbourhood. For example, these streets are narrow and have parking on both sides of the street. Many residents also have regular lawn care/snow removal and/or other vehicles on the street. We expect this to create regular blockages where buses will be faced with oncoming traffic (including buses) and room for only one vehicle to
  • There is a long list of other issues created by this proposal which, to our knowledge, has yet to be addressed. To our knowledge the questions of serious noise and light pollution created by buses passing in front of our homes 100 times a day and on weekends, have not been properly considered or addressed. Similarly, other impacts of buses on these residential streets and neighbourhoods such as exhaust, traffic flows, litter, etc., have not been addressed. In our view, it would be foolhardy in the extreme, indeed negligent for LTC to go ahead with this, without discussing the traffic and land use planning problems, and other problems, and the options, more carefully. It is not sufficient to say that these matters will or may be addressed. The very real risk is that the route will be a fait accompli,

leaving little if any incentive or room to address the problems, or to consider alternatives. Unless the proposed route is stopped immediately, work on trying to address the environmental, traffic, planning and other issues will be futile, and the neighbourhood will be stuck with the problems.

Most municipalities want and aim to establish and preserve healthy, established, single-family residential neighbourhoods like these. One way they accomplish this is by directing bus and other traffic onto main traffic arteries, not running buses through them. LTC’s Director of Planning has stated the reasons for the proposal, and that it is not related to the BRT. LTC has made it clear that it wanted public input on the proposed route, and the public has provided input. The majority of the public has said that it does not want the route. LTC should pay attention to that, and not proceed with it.

In response to the reasons given for the route, we have the following comments. This neighbourhood has thrived nicely for decades, without this bus route. Some of the reasons for that, include the ones noted above. Most people agree that buses should be on main traffic arteries, not on quiet residential streets like Regent and Colborne. The residents on this route have never wanted or needed more buses. The reasons for that include the fact they are within walking/biking distance of most of their destinations, including downtown, King’s, St. Joe’s Hospital, Western, etc.

LTC proposed a bus route on Regent St. about 30 years ago. It was opposed by the residents then, for the same reasons it has always been, and continues to be opposed by the residents. Whether or not LTC’s “400 meters”, or “straightening out the route” standards, are useful general quantitative guidelines elsewhere may be debatable. Even if they are useful general quantitative guidelines in some areas, they are not appropriate in this neighbourhood; and, they are only guidelines. They are not laws, and should not be applied as if they were, or as if they were applicable in all neighbourhoods, irrespective of the adverse effects of their application on the quality of life in those neighbourhoods.

In any event, the application of the “400 meters”, and “straightening out the route” standards, are opposed by the majority in this neighbourhood. If that majority opposition were not enough, the 400 meters standard makes little to no sense either. All of the residents on Regent St. are currently within 400 meters or one block of the Huron bus route. Residents on Regent are also within 400 meters or three blocks of a second bus route at either Richmond or Adelaide. Similarly, most of the residents on Colborne are currently within 400 meters or three blocks of the existing bus routes on either Adelaide, Oxford, Cheapside or Huron.

Public transit should serve the needs of residents, not the other way around; and, as the petition signed by about 500 people against this proposal suggests, the majority in this neighbourhood is opposed to the proposed changes.

I can think of no other municipality that runs buses through quiet, established residential streets. Even in North Toronto, which has many times London’s traffic, the TTC does not run buses through the established residential neighbourhoods of Lawrence Park bounded by Avenue Rd., Yonge St., York Mills and Eglinton. Rather, they direct public transit and other traffic to main arteries, and away from quiet, established, residential neighbourhoods.

In short, not surprisingly, the majority of residents in this neighbourhood oppose the current proposal, and the proposal is completely contradictory to the normal accepted approaches to planning and preserving the integrity of quiet, residential streets and neighbourhoods. There are plenty of existing

bus routes located appropriately on Cheapside, Richmond, Adelaide and Huron, which are all streets with mixed uses, that serve St. Joe’s Hospital, King’s University, Merrymount, Western, etc., and which are all three blocks or less from Colborne and Regent in any direction. It makes no sense to have a route on Colborne and Regent, when the nearby already existing routes, are on streets appropriate for buses.

We trust that you will do what is right and not proceed with the current proposal. Yours very truly,

Paul Brooks