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Week in review: December 3, 2016

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Consultations and feedback deadlines

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Let’s make the connection: how can you help?

Last week, we talked about the gap in transit planning around ION and the 202 University Avenue iXpress. Click here to read the details. The Waterloo Region Record has also published a story, and we’ll be on CBC radio Tuesday morning at 7:40 to discuss it.

How can you help ensure that connections are in place for ION and GRT iXpress buses on University Avenue in time for 2018?

  • Give GRT your feedback! Follow that link to learn about the UW transit plaza and find a link to submit your feedback. Tell GRT you want them to live up to their key priority of building seamless connections to ION light rail.
  • Tell the University of Waterloo what you think. Contact the president’s office and explain that UW needs to step up and help our community get maximum value for our transit money, rather than obstructing good transit access to ION. Let the 202 pass!
  • Student or alumnus of UW? Contact the UW Feds and tell them you want the University to work with GRT, not against them, in order to make your own transit experience along University Avenue better.

With your help, we can make the connection.

 

 

 

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Week in review: November 26, 2016

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Consultations and feedback deadlines

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Missing the connection: Will the University iXpress bypass ION?

Grand River Transit is investing in a new transit plaza next to the University of Waterloo’s ION station. But they have no stated plan to connect the 202 University iXpress with this location. In fact, they propose to have the 202 drive over the tracks and not stop near ION at all. How could this be? See the plans yourself, and then tell GRT you want the 202 to connect with ION.

Imagine that it’s early 2018, and ION has begun service. A young woman leaves her home in the Beechwood neighbourhood bound for work. Instead of getting in the car as she normally would, she walks towards the closest bus stop. Today she will find out if ION works for her.

It’s a short walk to the bus shelter, and a short wait for her bus to arrive: a 202 University iXpress. It quickly carries her along Erb to University Avenue, then through campus and she steps off the bus just metres away from the ION platform. It’s a quick and convenient transfer as the train glides smoothly into the station as she walks up and just like that, she’s on her way downtown.

Now imagine instead, her bus drives right past the University of Waterloo. There’s the unmistakable thump-thump of crossing railway tracks: surely, this must be the place to transfer. But no, the bus keeps going.

She gets out at the very next stop, beyond Phillip St. She doesn’t know the area, and she can’t see the station anywhere around here. She asks a passing student, who points back towards the tracks. She starts walking.

Despite crossing each other, the 202 and ION stops are a long way apart.

Despite crossing each other, the 202 and ION stops are a long way apart.

It’s almost 10 minutes before she has found her way to the ION station. By now, she’s cold and annoyed. These iXpress buses were supposed to connect seamlessly with the train, she thinks. Do they actually expect her to walk all this way every time to catch her train downtown, and then find her way back to this bus stop in the evening? Why does her bus completely bypass the light rail line whose tracks it drives over? She can’t understand why anyone would think this was a good idea. She resolves to go back to driving tomorrow.

202walk

Of all these routes, the 202 is the most vital to connect with ION.

Sadly, it is this latter scenario that we are being set up for. GRT revealed its plans for the new UW transit plaza and route adjustments in the area to connect here, and those plans specifically exclude the 202 University iXpress. Despite the creation of this plaza and the placement of the UW ION station, the University of Waterloo wants to block bus access to sections of Ring Road. The 202, serving our region’s second largest transit corridor, is a casualty of this decision, currently relegated to bypass ION and stop a long distance away.

The 202 is Waterloo's best cross-town route, extending to Erb West and University East.

The 202 is Waterloo’s best cross-town route, extending to Erb West and University East.

But there are alternatives. There are ways to make this work. Unfortunately, Grand River Transit appears to be proposing inaction when they presented to the public last week. The vision of iXpress cross-town lines feeding the ION transit spine may well be abandoned where it is most critical.

We must ensure that this connection happens. GRT needs to step up, and deliver a solution. And if GRT can’t bring the 202 to the UW transit plaza, then it should instead be routed to connect with ION at the Laurier-Waterloo Park station on Seagram drive.

Why not connect 202 with ION on Seagram, and also provide Laurier with an ION shuttle at the same time?

Why not connect 202 with ION on Seagram, and also provide Laurier with an ION shuttle at the same time?

Making these connections between ION and iXpress is of paramount importance to ensuring that our investment in LRT benefits more than those who live and work immediately adjacent to the line, because they connect ION riders to many more destinations outside the central transit corridor.

It’s not too late to tell GRT directly that you want to see the 202 iXpress bring you to ION’s doorstep. You can see GRT’s plans yourself, and submit your comments online. Let’s help our transit planners make the connection.

Find out other ways you can help to make the connection.

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Week in review: November 19, 2016

Consultations and feedback deadlines

Municipal budgets

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Week in review: November 13, 2016

Consultations and feedback deadlines

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Week in review: Nov 5, 2016

Consultations and feedback deadlines

Vision Zero

  • 91 year old man struck at Vanier and Shelley, dies of injuries (The Record)
  • Victim blaming: Pedestrian shaming campaigns have got to stop (Curbed), Pedestrian advocates protest new safety campaign (CBC), Speeding, reckless turns, and hungry wolves: stop blaming pedestrians for dangerous drivers (Metro)
  • Stemming the tide: Slow down and stop the killing (The Star), How driverless cars could empower pedestrians (CityLab)

Cycling

  • Money: Ontario seeking feedback on how to spend $150-225M from climate change action plan funds for cycling infrastructure & initiatives
  • King Street too: Bikes belong on Main Street because bikes are not primarily used for commuting (People for Bikes)
  • Halloween scare:

Transit

  • Light rail: Metrolinx contract squabble with Bombardier won’t affect ION (CBC)
  • GO: Kitchener-Waterloo joint services agreement makes GO trains a priority (Waterloo Chronicle)
  • Transit oriented development: Solving the last mile problem (Ryerson City Building Institute)
  • Privatization: What’s at stake when private companies like Uber poach riders from public transit (The Atlantic)

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Week in review: October 29, 2016

 ION light rail

An update and new round of public consultations for ION stage 2 into Cambridge have been delayed until the new year. Meanwhile, GRT and ION drop the confusing municipal jargon to tell us what we’ve known all along about transit fares when ION opens:

Regional committees November 1

Administration and Finance

Development charges: An update report will be given for adding charges to new developments to help pay for light rail and conventional transit. This could lead to significant savings for an already tight budget year, but there is some resistance from municipal governments. Final recommendations are expected to come forward November 22.

Planning & Works

Breslau GO station: Breslau has been selected as one of the locations for a new “Regional Express Rail” GO station, so the Region and Woolwich have been asked to give their approval for the new station. Unfortunately, the identified site for the stop is at Greenhouse Road, disconnected from presently built-up parts of Breslau. It will be difficult for Breslau residents to access the station by foot or bike, and as the report notes, it will be challenging to serve with decent transit until additional roads are built. Planned densities for an unbuilt suburb near the station may not come near provincial guidelines for transit supportive development.

Consultations for upcoming road and transportation projects:

  • Church Street East in Elmira, November 10: new sidewalks and bike/buggy lanes
  • Ottawa Street South, November 22: new multi-use trails
  • Weber Street North, November 8: potential for bike lanes or paths. The staff preferred design would reduce the bridge over the ION tracks from 4 to 3 car lanes, with 1.8 m bike lanes on either side.
  • William and Strange Street water supplies, November 22: this project could see construction of a new water main along the Iron Horse Trail.
  • University Transit Plaza, November 16: a new transit plaza will be built between the ION station at Ring Road and Philip Street. Shockingly, GRT conceptual maps are still not showing the 202 iXpress connection with ION at this station.
Apparently some road engineers think people who bike look like linebackers.

Apparently some road engineers think people who bike look like football players..

Other consultations and feedback deadlines

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Week in review: October 22, 2016

Regional Budget

It’s time for the Region to start preparing next year’s budget again. Assessments are down, which means less natural revenue growth. The projected property tax increase to cover planned or anticipated expenses is about 4%.

At risk is the GRT business plan, which calls for increasing bus service by nearly 30% over the next five years. This is necessary in order to integrate GRT buses with ION light rail service and grow ridership by 40%. This will be a challenging task, one not made easier by the fact that ridership has fallen in the face of years of punishing fare hikes. Will Regional Council have the vision to continue to invest in transit in Waterloo Region, without gouging transit riders?  (more…)

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