London to St. Thomas transit in the works, local mayors say

The new Amazon robotics fulfillment centre (XYU-1) is slated to open Oct. 1.

However, to get to work at the new plant in Southwold Township, you would currently need a vehicle, as there is no public transportation system that runs by the factory.

That could soon change, according to St. Thomas Mayor Joe Preston.

“We’re going to go at getting this done, long before winter we hope,” said Preston, who has been spearheading a push to bring a regional transit system.

Preston and London Mayor Josh Morgan have been meeting on a regular basis regarding regional transit.

“We have been in constant dialogue over a number of months about the movement of people between our cities,” said Morgan. “There’s been engagement with the provincial government, not just at the recent AMO (Association of Municipalities of Ontario) Conference, but at a previous ROMA (Rural Ontario Municipal Association) conference where mayor Preston led that effort.”

St. Thomas, Ont. Mayor Joe Preston has been approached by Voyago to discuss a regional transit system between his city and London, Ont. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)While at the AMO Conference in London, Preston was approached by Voyago.

“He came up and said, ‘We’d like to now really talk about how we can do this from a retail point of view. We think there’s a market for us to run it,’” said Preston.

While touring the XYU-1 facility, CTV News London asked plant general manager Himanshu Kalia about plans to get their upcoming workforce to the factory.

“We are actively working with the community partners had to see how our workforce will come to the building,” explained Kalia. “Our initial assessment says most of the folks will be driving to the facility here. We are actively in partnership with the local mayors in terms of getting some public transport support. That would actually help a building a lot.”

It’s not just their building, post-secondary institutions Fanshawe College and Western University, along with many factories on the outskirts of London and St. Thomas.

amazon facility elgin county aug 2023 1 6541444 1693420735557Employees at the new Amazon robotics fulfillment centre (XYU-1) could benefit from a regional transit system between London and St. Thomas, Ont. Opening day for the new facility is slated for Oct. 1, 2023. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)“When you think about Volkswagen, Amazon, Maple Leaf and some of the other large employers that we have…[having] that movement of people between our cities is key,” said Morgan.

“When you look at local transit options in St. Thomas, and the southern terminus of our BRT (bus rapid transit) route — which is now under construction — there is a natural conversation that we can have about the movement of people between our cities,” he added.

Morgan said many options are on the table.

“The one we land on is the one that’s going to make the most sense for the movement of people to connect where they need to go, and which is fiscally sustainable from a financial perspective,” said Morgan.

Preston meanwhile said he’ll meet with Voyago and Morgan in the next few weeks.

“We think we could put together the final ‘How will it look?’” said Preston. “How will it run? How many runs a day will there be? And from that we’ll get the rest of the government connection right after that.”

Recommended For You