photo-1468689210283-44a1b8ba20ce

Week in review: September 24, 2016

Consultations and feedback deadlines

TriTAG this week

On the blog, we questioned why vehicles were being prioritized over pedestrian safety at the corner of Queen and Charles, where the sidewalk tapers to less than a metre. We also called for an all-day frequent network for iXpress routes.

Headlines

14435018_10209333865217908_7389558894695083537_oION: Small sidewalk at Queen and Charles not permanent: Grandlinq (CTV Kitchener), Roads, intersections, and highway ramps reopening next week (CTV Kitchener)

Ride-sharing: Uber, other ride-sharing bylaw approved by Waterloo Region (CBC KW), Editorial: A Region rides into the future (Waterloo Region Record)

Development charges: Who pays for what will be quite a debate (Karen Scian for Waterloo Chronicle)

Traffic calming: Sunny Kitchener mural shines a light on fast drivers at Lancaster and Chapel streets (CBC KW)

Accessibility: Small steps still big barriers to wheelchair access, advocates say (Waterloo Region Record)

Transit fares: Group wants free public transit for the poor (570 News)

Trails: The City of Waterloo is getting close to counting its millionth trail user in 2016 (@CityWaterloo)

Top Reads

Schools: Guide to safer streets near schools (Toronto Centre for Active Transportation)

Cycling: Anonymous San Franciscans are making renegade bike lanes (CityLab), Good riddance to the Prospect Park West bike lane lawsuit (Streetsblog)

Parking: I have met the enemy, and it is parking: Matt Elliott on Toronto’s biggest barrier to progress (Metro News)

Regional transit: Solving the Last Mile (Ryerson City Building Institute)

Planning: Jane Jacobs’s street smarts (New Yorker)

Self-driving cars and ride-sharing: Lyft president predicts private car ownership will be over by 2025 thanks to self-driving cars (CityLab), Report on how paratransit costs can be saved through new reservation tools, collaboration with ride-sharing services (NYU Rudin Center for Transportation), Can self-driving cars protect black people from police violence? (CityLab)

Read More »

photo-1468742886740-1ad3f553ff53

How long should you have to wait for the bus?

Imagine a gate at the end of your driveway that opens only once every 30 minutes. How would that affect you?

We tend to think of trips by car in terms of how much time they will take. So it’s natural to compare transit by the same yardstick. How long will this trip take by bus compared to car? Is a train that takes 44 minutes to travel 18km fast enough? No question: fast transit is good.

But frequent transit is better. Frequent transit means being able to travel when we want. But this is often overlooked. It may even be overlooked in the next GRT business plan. But more on that in a moment. (more…)

Read More »

desk-office-hero-workspace

Week in review: September 17, 2016

Consultations and feedback deadlines

Headlines

Top Reads

Read More »

pexels-photo-122477-1

Week in review: September 10, 2016

Consultations and feedback deadlines

Headlines

Top reads

Read More »

CrMlF9sWcAA0j9p.jpg-large

Week in review: September 3, 2016

Consultations and feedback deadlines

(more…)

Read More »

14053839_1007107382742526_3851992320081219897_o

Week in review: August 27, 2016

Consultations and feedback deadlines

Transit

On the blog, Chris takes a first look at Grand River Transit’s upcoming business plan. Stay tuned for more over the coming weeks as we delve into the questions this report raises. Meanwhile, Mark spoke with Eric Drozd of 570 News about pedestrian crossings of ION tracks for the Traynor neighbourhood (interview starts around 22:50).

One Tuesday, the federal and provincial governments announced nearly $23 million in funding for transit projects in Waterloo Region. About half of the money will go to vehicle replacements and upgrades, while the rest will be spent on iXpress and ION connection stations (including a transit plaza at UW), and a new bus facility on Northfield Drive. (Here’s the full listing of projects in Ontario municipalities.) There’s also about $12 million left in Waterloo Region’s share of transit funding from the feds, with potential projects it could fund to be presented to Regional Council this fall. (more…)

Read More »

ixpressmap

What’s in store for Grand River Transit?

What’s in store for GRT? As we prepare for the arrival of ION, the region’s Transit Services has given us a glimpse into the next few years of Grand River Transit. Here  at TriTAG, there’s nothing we like more than a thick PDF full of juicy planning details. We dive into the Interim Report on GRT’s 2017-2021 business plan so you don’t have to!

Obviously, ION’s launch in early 2018 represents a major change for our region. With ION light rail providing a fast, reliable backbone for transit trips across a single fare, integrated transit network, the bus system needs some changes to take advantage of this. In addition, plans are afoot to continue growing the iXpress bus network:

  • New 205 Ottawa iXpress (Sept 2017)
  • 10 minute peak frequency on 201 and 202 (Sept 2017)
  • Extension of 201 to Block Line ION (early 2018) and then on to Conestoga College (late 2018)

You should expect to see some major changes to other bus routes in the wake of ION, as well:

Also look for service frequency improvements a number of routes, as well as possible expansion to serve new suburbs and some townships.

Some of the changes proposed by GRT for 2017.

Some of the changes proposed by GRT for 2017.

Underlying all of this is a strong growth target being set. After over a decade of skyrocketing ridership, 2014 and 2015 saw a decrease in the number of riders. Planners blame this on a loss of school board funded high school trips, the disruption of ION construction, and also on years of unrelenting fare increases that GRT has been directed to undertake.

However, region staff expect ridership growth to bounce back and then some. Serving just under 20 million rides a year right now, the plan is to reach 28 million in just 5 years!

This will take some doing. For one, ION will need to live up to its expectations. But the real question is whether our regional council is ready to make the investment in transit that this requires. This means committing to funding the expanded service hours (29% over 5 years) and to stop driving away riders– in particular, the new riders GRT seeks– with continuous fare hikes well above inflation.

Regional government must commit to supporting ridership growth to hit these projections.

Regional government must commit to supporting ridership growth to hit these projections.

There’s more in this report that catches our eye, but only so much we can go into in one post. Do the proposed route restructures make sense? Is GRT being too cautious and incremental in its redesign to meet lofty ridership goals? And is there an overemphasis on peak service frequency at the expense of all day flexibility?

We’d like to delve deeper into these questions. Watch this space.

Upcoming consultations on the GRT business plan:

Thursday, September 22, 2016 
Drop in anytime between 5 – 8 p.m.
Lions Arena
20 Rittenhouse Road, Kitchener
GRT Routes 3, 12, 22 and 201 iXpress

Thursday, September 29, 2016
Drop in anytime between 5 – 8 p.m.
Waterloo Memorial Recreation Centre,
2nd Floor, Hauser Haus
101 Father David Bauer Drive, Waterloo
GRT Routes 5, 8, 12 and 200 iXpress

Read More »

people-feet-train-travelling

Week in review: August 20, 2016

Consultations and feedback deadlines

(more…)

Read More »

IMG_20160808_1918042

ION – Walkability, Fences, and It’s Never Too Late to Fix Mistakes

ION light rail, well under construction, is going to tie our region together, promoting dense, walkable communities around each new station.

We may remember the panic at the thought of a “Berlin Wall” being erected through Waterloo Park. Cutting the park in two, and separating the sides. While we may have a fence after all, it is proving not to be a barrier at all, as plentiful crossings of the rail corridor at Father David Bauer and Central Dr keep the sides connected. When ION opens, it will be just as easy to get from one side of Waterloo Park to the other as was before.

However, while all eyes were turned to Waterloo Park, it turns out another part of town was going to be cut in two.

The Traynor-Vanier Neighbourhood
hydro-corridor-aerial-before

The Traynor Ave neighbourhood lies just north of the Hydro right-of-way that divides it from the businesses on Fairway Rd. “Divide” in this case, is a rather strong term. In fact, there are dozens of formal and informal paths connecting this neighbourhood to the dozens of retail businesses on Fairway. Restaurants, fast food, groceries, services, clothes, housewares, and much more are all accessible to this neighbourhood by a short walk on foot.

IMG_20160808_1918042But this is coming to an end.

While attention was focused on Waterloo Park, the alignment of LRT through Uptown Waterloo, station placement in the university area, and several other proposed improvements, plans were finalized for the Fairway Hydro right-of-way that would cut this community off from their local shops.

A 1 Kilometre Detour

Over the past month, installation of a fence next to the tracks began, sparking shock and surprise among locals. The Rapid Transit team has since confirmed that there are no planned pedestrian crossings between Courtland Ave and Wilson Rd, a distance of 1 km. What was once a 100m walk for Swiss Chalet is now to be a 1100m hike. Residents have now started a petition asking for a crossing to be reinstated.

Before construction began, there were dozens of paths connecting residents to the businesses. Here they are highlighted in red with some close ups:

Formal paths in green. Informal paths in red. Selected crossings shown with inset photos

Formal paths in green. Informal paths in red. Selected crossings shown with inset photos

These are not simply informal holes cut in fences. Most of these paths have even been legitimized by the businesses that they open on to. Fences have been properly framed to allow crossing. Other properties have never even bothered to install a fence, allowing customers free access.

Unintended Consequences

Much has been made of ION Light Rail’s ability to help make Waterloo Region a more walkable community. However here, we see a community that was already walkable, have their access removed. It’s unreasonable to expect residents to walk the 1km detour being imposed upon them, and this will directly lead to more trips by car. The exact opposite of the goals of Rapid Transit.


Residents crossing the LRT tracks through incomplete fences.

The residents of the Traynor neighbourhood already see little positive impact from LRT. They are at the midpoint of the second longest stretch of track between stations in the entire system. The line goes through their literal backyards without stopping. Now, to add insult to injury, LRT has cut them off from their own neighbourhood stores.

Not Too Late For Change

The good news is that it’s not too late to change this. There are 18 months still to go before ION’s opening day in 2018. The issue now has the attention of regional councillors. Whether a change is worked out with GrandLinq, or the Region does the work on their own after initial construction finishes in 2017, there is still time to fix this before it requires interrupting ION service.

There will be a cost to put this right, but the purpose of ION is to connect us, not to divide. Let the Region of Waterloo, and the City of Kitchener know about the importance of this connection by signing the petition, and speaking to your councillors.

Read More »