September 2, 2013
The Region of Waterloo’s Light Rail Transit project continues to attract a lot of attention, but did you know that Regional Council’s approved tax plan also includes a significant expansion and overhaul of regular surface transit across the Region?
I served as Waterloo City Council’s liaison to the Region’s transit improvements committee and was happy to help guide Regional planners on their budgeted improvements to public transportation, which mainly fell in Waterloo this year.
As of today in Waterloo:
- a new express bus (Route 202 – University iXpress) connects the Boardwalk on Ira Needles to Conestoga Mall via the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, RIM Park, and the northeast BlackBerry campus (you can ride the 202 for free every Friday until the end of December)
- the west side express bus (Route 201 – Fischer-Hallman iXpress) adjusts slightly, now connecting the west side from Forest Glen plaza to Conestoga Mall via the Beechwood Plaza, the Laurelwood Shopping Centre, the University of Waterloo, BlackBerry, Waterloo Collegiate Institute, and Manulife (King St)
- Laurelwood has revamped, two-way bus service (Route 13 – Laurelwood) that connects residents both to the University of Waterloo and the Boardwalk, running more frequently and until midnight
- Columbia Street has dedicated weekday service (Route 31 – Columbia) running the full length of Columbia Street and ending at Conestoga Mall via Eastbridge, providing access to the foot of the new west side lands
- Erb Street has revamped, two-way service (Route 5 – Erb) extending from the Bridgeport community in the east to the Boardwalk in the west via Uptown and Westvale, running until midnight (Monday – Saturday) and on Sunday
- the east side has more frequent and direct service, with adjustments to Route 5 – Erb, Route 6 – Bridge, and Route 12 – Conestoga Mall/Fairview Park Mall, collectively replacing a meandering and infrequent Route 35
- Lakeshore has more frequent service (Route 9 – Lakeshore) on Sunday and from McCormick arena to the University of Waterloo during the day, which is relieving severe overcrowding
The plan calls for another express route in 2015 along Highland/Victoria and in 2017 along Ottawa as well as a redesign of key high volume regular surface routes for 2017. More service is also coming to Conestoga College from Pioneer Park, Preston, and Hespler, which will serve the critical new Cambridge employment lands.
When Light Rail Transit arrives in 2017, it will be connected to most residents in Waterloo by express and regular buses that run more directly and more frequently. As a heavy user of public transit myself, these expansions today make it that much easier for me to get from my home to the grocery store, to work at my full-time job, to events at RIM Park and the Harper Library, and to talk to residents in all parts of my ward from Maple Hills and Beechwood to Northdale and Sugarbush.
Together with City of Waterloo investments in cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, these transit improvements are providing real transportation choices to all of us, consequently reducing future congestion on our roads, leaving all of us with more time for the important people in our lives.