What’s the question you can find in every London news publication currently? It’s whether or not buses should be removed from Dundas Street. If you have been following the news and are aware of the facts chances are you have a pretty strong opinion on the topic. I for one am completely for the removal of bus traffic on this main artery of the downtown core. This in no way is anything against buses, bus stops, and the crowds that come with them, it simply feeds directly into visions for a downtown renaissance the city has been proposing for years. I love the LTC. It gets me where I need to go everyday and specifically to and from stops on Dundas or very close to it. However, I feel that by decreasing noise, fuel emissions, and crowds in various Dundas areas (9 bus stops that service 11 routes to be exact) and interspersing the concentrated stops amongst surrounding areas, could only bring positive change to our once great and thriving street.
There are many issues, financial primarily, that will significantly impact the LTC that were not allotted for in the city’s 2011 budget. Transit Comission GM Larry Ducharme said that the reroute would cost roughly $750,000 and hasty or rash decisions must be avoided. Two upcoming London master plans to be discussed at the June 19 committee meeting -- one for transit and one for downtown -- will surely help visualize next steps regarding whether or not the reroute is a plausible course of action.
The bottom line is we want a more enjoyable, pedestrian–friendly downtown core filled with restaurants and businesses.The reroute is proposed from Wellington to Ridout and it doesn’t get much more ‘core’ than that. I found it fantastic to walk freely across and on Dundas Street during its construction closure in the first 2 weeks of May and found myself venturing down it far more often. Imagine the freedom for businesses to expand out on to the sidewalks with cafes, patios, and merchandise while you had a sidewalk the size of an entire road to promenade upon? I know that I would happily spend most of my shopping and leisure in this re imagined urban utopia.
While there are various problems that need attention on Dundas Street and removing the buses is not the sole answer, just envision for a moment the Forest City having its own version of Old Port in Montreal, Sparks Street or Byward Markets in Ottawa, or to be seriously idealistic, the Stone Street Historic District in New York City (pictured above and below). Just picture what something like that would do to London, an already culturally diverse, artistically vibrant city with a never ending list of things to do (i.e. art galleries, concert venues, and sporting events). In my opinion, it would immediately and significantly change the city’s image, attract tourists, enhance regional pride, and improve local businesses. If the bus reroute is the first step in actualizing this vision than I think all signs point to DO IT!
There will be many changes, developments, setbacks, and advancements in the coming months but with the adamant support of our Mayor Joe Fontana, things are looking good for pro-rerouters. As far as I know, there’s a little event coming up on Saturday June 9th called Car Free Day...I propose a test run! So stay informed and contribute where you can. It may be years in the making but we have to start somewhere and, as the saying goes, there’s no time like the present.