Category Archives: TriTAG


Highway 7 Alternatives

Update: With work on Highway 7 expected to begin in 2015, there appears to be little chance of a change in plans for the road corridor. However, your support is still needed to ensure transit connections are prioritized between Waterloo Region, Guelph, and the rest of the GTA, including two-way all-day GO train service. Contact your representatives today.

With the upcoming Kitchener-Waterloo by-election, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has pledged to construct an 18km grade separated 4-lane freeway. This 18km roadway will be placed along a new 100m wide right-of-way to the north of the existing highway, include a new crossing of the Grand River and include 6 interchanges. Of particular interest is the modification of the existing Wellington Street interchange with the Conestoga Parkway into a 4-level interchange with high-speed direct flyover ramps set to be a quarter of the cost of this project.

Image of the planned Highway 7 route taken from a presentation made to Regional council in 2011

However, is the construction of a highway at an unknown cost (>400 Million according this presentation) best way to meet travel needs on this corridor? TriTAG’s position is that before a new highway corridor is constructed between Kitchener and Guelph, less invasive approaches to this issue involving transit need to be investigated.


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TriTAG June Pub Night

On Tuesday the 19th, TriTAG will be hosting our almost monthly pub night to chat with anyone and everyone interested in transit and active transportation in Waterloo Region. We generally hold these the third Tuesday of every month.

Stop by and bring your friends – we’ll be at McCabe’s at King & Francis in downtown Kitchener. You should see us straight ahead past the entrance, but if not, ask when you enter. (If you like, join the Facebook event.)

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Upcoming events and meetings

A number of things are happening in the next two weeks, which you shouldn’t miss!

Next week is the Commuter Challenge, aimed at getting people to rethink their commutes. Check that link for details on all the constituent events. On Monday, June 4, is the launch event, which is also an open house and consultation for both the King/Victoria transit hub walking/cycling access plan and for the Region’s active transportation master plan. If that weren’t enough, there will be a presentation by Hans Moor on developing a cycling culture, including a discussion of the successful Dutch approach. The event is from 4:30pm to 8:00pm at the UW School of Pharmacy, with the presentation at 6pm. (It is not entirely clear whether the public consultation / open house continues through the presentation.) You should attend. More information is available from the Region and from Sustainable Waterloo; people are encouraged to register.

The following week is the final one of three week-long public forums on the Central Transit Corridor development strategy. The topic for the week is how the LRT can strengthen existing aspects of the community. It will include two open houses, one in Cambridge and one in Kitchener. The first open house will be followed by a keynote talk by Sue Zielinski; if it’s anything like the previous two, it is well worth attending. Details are in this document; you can also check the project website as well as the storefront office by Kitchener City hall. There is a Facebook event for the talk that can help you spread the word.

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TriTAG April Pub Night

Next Tuesday the 17th, TriTAG will be hosting our monthly pub night from 6:30pm to 9:00pm to chat with anyone and everyone interested in transit and active transportation in Waterloo Region. Our plan is to hold these the third Tuesday of every month.

Stop by and bring your friends – we’ll be in the Harp Room at McCabe’s at King & Francis in downtown Kitchener. (If you like, join the Facebook event.)

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University Area LRT Station Spacing

One of the main goals of rapid transit is to decentralize the bus network from a system of hub-and-spoke routes to a system of cross-corridor bus routes which connect to rapid transit stations. However, the current planned LRT station locations in Waterloo between Uptown and Northfield are not optimally placed to achieve this goal.

Currently, stations in the University area are planned at Seagram Drive and mid-block between University Avenue and Columbia Street:

Current station locations at Seagram and UW Davis Centre with 600m walking radius

The issue with the above setup is that it would divert cross-corridor routes off their corridors and into a terminal station in front of UW Davis Centre. Diverting trips from these corridors would result in longer cross-town travel times, and would reduce the amount of mixed-use development potential at the cross-corridors. Anyone who has travelled on Routes 7 and 8 through Charles Street Terminal knows the frustrating experience that even a minor route diversion can have on your overall travel time. Time wasted sitting at a terminal is time spent thinking about how much quicker it is to drive or even walk.

As such, TriTAG supports altering the University station locations to the following:

Modified station locations at University Ave and Columbia Street with 600m walking radius

Placing a station at the street provides many benefits over a station mid-block: (more…)

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TriTAG March Pub Night

On Tuesday, March 20, TriTAG will be hosting our now monthly pub night to chat with anyone and everyone interested in transit and active transportation in Waterloo Region. We’ll be there from 6:30pm to 9:00pm. (Facebook event here.) Stop by for some food, drink, and friendly conversation. (Food and drink at your own expense.)

We’ll be in the Harp Room at McCabe’s at King & Francis in downtown Kitchener. There will be a digital projector set up for those who want to share something on a larger screen.

We hope to see many of you there!

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Recent Trends Favour LRT

We read with interest an opinion piece in the Cambridge Times by John Shortreed about a number of developments which, he claims, require us to reconsider our decision to proceed with the construction of Light Rail Transit in Waterloo Region. He raises interesting points.

However, he may be dismayed that we don’t agree with his conclusions. In fact, Shortreed unwittingly presents strong evidence which validates the LRT project.

He points out that a population shift is occurring right now, as condominium building has accelerated within our cores, and asserts that this trend makes LRT redundant as an intensifier. Unfortunately, he ignores the effect of LRT approval on this same process: now that plans are firm and station locations have been identified, development has picked up pace. The Red Condominiums, a second building proposal at 144 Park, a long awaited new “Waterloo Commons” development at the NCR property in North Waterloo and an accompanying development next to it– pointedly named Northfield Station— are just some of the developments unleashed now that LRT is in active planning.

It goes against common sense to view this as evidence that we don’t need LRT for intensification while ignoring the effect LRT is already having on them. But perhaps Shortreed has a point. Perhaps intensification is a natural force, driven by shifting demographics and the increasing cost of unsustainable sprawl, and rail transit’s proven effects on driving intensification are superfluous.

If so, we must plan for an urban form that will be well served by rail transit, and an aging population who will be increasingly unable (physically or financially) to get around by private automobile. We must also face the growing attractiveness of urban life to young professionals. These factors will continue to drive demand for transit.

Speaking of demand for transit, Shortreed also identifies rapid uptake of the iXpress system, as it continues to knock down ridership targets ahead of schedule. We agree with Shortreed that iXpress is an unmitigated success, but strongly disagree with his conclusion that it is sufficient for our future needs. This is like pointing at an increasingly busy highway and saying that all that traffic makes the highway a success, but we shouldn’t ever worry about widening it.

In fact, the success of transit in Waterloo Region and the shift in our urban form– driven both by demographics and the attractiveness of light rail along our densest corridor– translate into the kind of ridership numbers that won’t just validate LRT, they will demand it. iXpress in mixed traffic has some headroom left, but saturation is already in sight. It will be crushed under the weight of its own success. Higher-order transit is required.

Finally, we share Shortreed’s concerns about Waterloo Region census data and the economic difficulties ahead, though our still healthy growth rate is hardly a “Rust Belt”-like decline. Nor should we batten down the hatches in an exercise of damage control: we believe the communities that will weather this economic storm and come out on top will be those that invest in themselves to stay competitive and attractive to new growth, instead of being satisfied to wither away.

The case for Light Rail has never been so compelling.

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TriTAG Pub Night and Idea Swap

On Tuesday, February 21st, TriTAG will be hosting an informal drop-in to get in touch with members of the community, and for people to share with us their concerns and ideas in the realm of transit and active transportation in the Region of Waterloo.

If you’d like to stop by for some pub fare and friendly conversation, feel free to join us at any time between 5 and 9 pm at the 3rd floor boardroom of Barley Works (Huether Hotel), at King & Princess in uptown Waterloo. Bring your ideas! We will have a digital projector set up for those who may want to put something on a larger screen.

Visit this link for the Facebook Event Page. We hope to see you soon!

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Statement Regarding Uptown LRT Routing

Below is the TriTAG statement Duncan Clemens presented tonight to Waterloo City Council, prior to its deliberation about the Region’s preferred approach to LRT routing in Uptown Waterloo. We will present a similar one tomorrow at Waterloo Region’s Planning & Works Committee meeting.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you tonight about what has been a lengthy process. We congratulate other members of the community who have also come tonight to add their voice.

The Tri-Cities Transport Action Group is pleased that the Region of Waterloo has taken the time necessary to carefully explain the Uptown Waterloo routing challenges to the public in its September 27 meeting. This process of engagement was good for the community, and we hope to see more of it as the detailed system design commences. Doing this kind of consultation helps the public take ownership of what will in 2018 become their rapid transit system.

The preferred option helps to address new development in the quickly-growing area of Waterloo surrounded by the new station at King and Allen. In addition, moving one of the two platforms of the station at Willis Way next to the Public Square encourages people to use Waterloo’s main public space and its surroundings. The use of the spur line and the station platform adjacent to the square will allow for the preservation of surface parking on King, traffic flow on Erb, and is truly a best practice in placemaking. The routing will enhance a square that is already a resounding success for the City of Waterloo.


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East-west Mobility in South Kitchener

Last night I presented to Regional Council on behalf of TriTAG regarding the plans for extending River Road across Highway 8 and Hidden Valley in south Kitchener. See the agenda (PDF) for the staff report and recommendation. Below is the text of my written submission. Other presentations focused on the environmental impacts, the cost, and alternative alignments. In a 13:2 vote Council went ahead with this step of the planning process, but several indicated reservations and there seemed to be some interest in the suggestions in my presentation and those of others.

I would like to express TriTAG’s disagreement with the direction being taken on the River Road extension project.

We do not believe that there has been serious consideration of alternatives for increasing capacity for east-west movement of people in that part of Kitchener. We do not believe that expanding capacity for the movement of vehicles in this corridor at great cost is appropriate – not to mention the environmental costs, both local and Region-wide. However, if capacity for vehicle movement has to be increased, we believe there are better alternatives which have not been considered. (more…)

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