Sustainable housing and real estate in Kitchener-Waterloo Region

Is Rapid Transit in the future for the K-W region?

The need for a Central Transit Corridor that would link the three cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge was first identified in 1976 and it seems that an active plan is finally underway to start to really connect them. The region is currently connected by a bus system or by hopping on one of the many roads, highways or walkways. The growing population makes congestion a real issue as nearly three quarters of a million people are expected to be living within the K-W  in the next 25 years.

The region has proposed a light rail transit (LRT) route starting at Conestoga Mall in Waterloo (and possibly extended along King Street to St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market) all the way through the city in a southerly direction to the Ainslie Street Terminal in downtown Cambridge. The system will possibly also feature a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. Think of the LRT system like the streetcars in downtown Toronto. The LRT vehicles use rail technology that travel in dedicated lanes, using overhead electric or on-board diesel/hybrid propulsion to make their way through the city. It would be quicker than a bus, but services a smaller, and more direct line. The BRT system uses buses that travel in a dedicated laneway. It would mean there would be an extra lane on the streets with the BRT system dedicated solely to the bus route, allowing it to move much more rapidly through heavy traffic.

The benefits these systems are to be weighed and evaluated and on June 24th, the Preferred Rapid Transit System will be presented to the Regional Council for consideration. If passed and incorporated it would mean another alternative to get around and within the three cities (Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge) without having to use a car.

There are many advantages to these types of systems from an environmental standpoint. A single LRT train could reduce the traffic of nearly 200 vehicles, severely curtailing traffic, congestion and idling within the city. This would mean less smog, and less pollution. If made affordable, an expanded tranist system could also be a cheap option for many people to get to and from work.

I currently ride the #8 bus on almost a daily basis to get to where I need to go during the day. Unfortunately, I still need a car for my business, but I try to use the bus for social events, or many other things I need to do during the day. It comes almost just outside my door at most every 15 minutes and at worst every 45. Depending on the time of day and where I am on the line, the bus can be completely overcrowded or almost completely empty.It’s easy. It ‘s fairly cheap. It gets you where you need to go.

My biggest complaint with this type of system is that they do not run completely responsibly. A service that is carrying people across locations should be accessible when people need it. There is currently almost no service earlier than 5:30 in the morning or 12:30 at night. For someone starting work very early in the morning, tranit is not a good option. It also leaves little option for late night party-goers  to choose a responsible way home. I have been saying this for years:  If you want people not to drink and drive– give them a cheap and reliable way to get themselves home! Keep the buses running an extra 2 or 3 hours or add a few late night options to get people across the cities.

If we are beefing up the transit between the tri-cities, we should also seriously consider beefing up the transit options between cities like Toronto, and London with the K-W. The current round-a-bout system of buses, or trains from Kitchener to Toronto makes inter-city travel between these two cities a tedious and rather costly affair. If the government wants to encourage people to use transit instead of cars, they should subdidize transit to be more affordable. If a ticket from Kitchener to Toronto costs more than the gas to get there and takes at least 2 times as long to get there– who wants to take it?

Do you think the proposed LRT is a good idea? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


4 Comments so far
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I am extremely excited for a rapid transit / light rail system to come to kitchener-waterloo. We need a more efficient and as you say, responsible public transport system. The GRT has improved in recent years but it’s still nothing special. I can only begin to imagine the culture that would spring out from our region if we were denser and more connected.

Comment by Bartek

The proposal was accepted last night by the Regional Council. Light Rapid Transit will now be in store for the K-W conditional on funding from the Provincial and Federal governments.

Comment by kwarearealestate

[…] Is Rapid Transit in the future for the K-W region? « Sustainable … […]

Pingback by » Kaohsiung Mass Rapid Transit Pope Pius V

The less cars on the street, the best, so a big plus for this proposal !

Comment by Costa rica property

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