Light Rapid Transit Information:


The Region has released their report on the proposed re-alignment: 

Link to maps of proposed stops:

Upcoming public meetings: 

 Regional Updates:

Nov 22, 2011, Rapid Transit - Transit Project Assessment - Notice of Commencement
The Project
The Regional Municipality of Waterloo (Region) is proposing a rapid transit system that connects the Region's three major urban centres of the Cities of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo.  This project is part of a strategic framework to enhance transit service in high-demand transportation corridors and to guide and manage long-term growth within the Region, as set out in the Regional Growth Management Strategy (2003) and the Regional Transportation Master Plan (2011).

Stage 1 of the rapid transit system consists of both Light Rail Transit (LRT) and adapted Bus Rapid Transit (aBRT) operating along the rapid transit corridor.  LRT will operate between Conestoga Mall in the City of Waterloo and Fairview Park Mall in the City of Kitchener (19 km), and aBRT will operate between Fairview Park Mall and the Ainslie Street Terminal in the City of Cambridge (17 km).  There will be a total of 21 stations along the 36 km corridor.
The Process
The environmental impact of this transit project is being assessed in accordance with the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP) as outlined in Ontario Regulation 231/08, Transit Projects and Metrolinx Undertakings (Transit Projects Regulation).  As part of the TPAP, an Environmental Project Report is being prepared and will be available for public review in early 2012.  All information (planning and engineering studies and public meeting materials) produced as part of this project including an electronic version of the above map, is available on the Region's rapid transit website at and the Region's Administrative Headquarters.

Members of the public, agencies and other interested persons are encouraged to participate actively in this process by attending consultation opportunities or contacting staff directly with information, comments or questions.  The Region will continue to consult all stakeholders during the TPAP through a series of Public Consultation Centres (PCCs) regarding the design and impacts of the proposed project.  Details of the PCCs, scheduled for early 2012, will be published at a later date with advertisements in local newspapers, on the rapid transit website, and a direct mail notification to the project mailing list, which includes owners of properties along the proposed corridor and other interested persons.

 Uptown Waterloo Light Rail Transit Route Workshops on September 27: 

Rail transit plans quietly take shape as region pursues its vision
September 8, 2011

Council approved the $818-million project in June in a bid to draw jobs and homes to central neighbourhoods. It calls for street-level electric trains in central Kitchener and Waterloo and express buses in central Cambridge.

“I’m optimistic that we’re on track,” said Coun. Jim Wideman of Kitchener, who chairs regional planning meetings. “It needs to be on time and it needs to be on budget. I’ve staked my stake in the ground on that issue.”

Since approval in June:

   Grand River Transit has launched a new express service on Fischer-Hallman Road in Kitchener and Waterloo. It’s the first of several express routes meant to help feed passengers into trains.

   Councillors have fast-tracked by two years the $51-million widening of Weber Street to four lanes through north Kitchener. Pending land acquisition, the new plan aims to start construction by 2013. Widening will provide an underpass at Victoria Street, limiting traffic disruption by soon-to-launch GO commuter trains, and provide lanes to replace lanes lost to tracks on King Street.

   Crews have been surveying utilities, roads and sidewalks to guide design and determine what needs to be relocated to accommodate trains and buses.

   Regional government is preparing to hire or contract up to 25 people to help implement rail transit, expanding the current team of five. “We are very small and have been running very lean and mean,” said Thomas Schmidt, regional transportation commissioner. A mix of staff and consultants is expected.

   Councillors voted this week to spend $440,000 on better technology for buses to trigger green lights. Many buses would use it including Cambridge express buses, now expected to launch by 2013 as part of the rail transit system.

   Planners continue to finalize rail transit details on many fronts.

For example, planners are reviewing the proposed train route in central Waterloo after it came under fire. Residents will be invited to workshops Sept. 27 to consider rail impacts at King and Erb streets and in the area of Caroline and Allen streets.

Planners are preparing a final transit report that’s expected to go to three public meetings in November before heading to the province for final approval. It’s expected to be the same plan council approved in June. They’re also developing a strategy to buy, install and operate trains and buses. This may include private partnerships. Council is expected to consider a procurement strategy later this year.

And planners are finalizing a work plan to guide the project until shovels go in the ground in 2014. They are also finalizing the agreement to secure up to $565 million pledged by senior governments.

Regional taxes will rise seven per cent by 2018 to fund local costs to build and operate rail transit, and to expand regular bus service by 25 per cent. Further local costs equal to 3.5 per cent in taxes are to be funded through other regional sources.

Planners continue to discuss utility relocations with city governments, and are also considering ways to boost transit ridership in Cambridge, drawing on $10 million to be spent for that purpose over 10 years 

Rail Plan Passes

By Jeff Outhit, Record staff
June 15, 2011

WATERLOO REGION — In six years, expect to see trains on city streets, carrying passengers to work, home and school.

In a historic decision, regional council voted 9-2 Wednesday to build an $818-million rail transit system, the largest public works project ever undertaken in the region.

Council believes the leap to rail transit will:

  Persuade investors to build homes and workplaces in central neighbourhoods. It’s expected this will happen within 800 metres (walking distance) of stations.

  Draw residents from their cars and reduce by $500 million the anticipated spending to expand roads.

  Help curb suburban growth into green fields as the regional population swells to 729,000 by 2031, up from 544,000 today.

“This is a long-term vision of what our community will require to sustain itself,” Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr said.

“I ask for our entire community to stop waiting for the future to happen. Instead, join us in creating it.”

“It is rare that an opportunity comes along that we can truly make a transformational decision,” said Coun. Sean Strickland of Waterloo. “It is time to seize the day. It is time to face the future with boldness and courage.”

“It can help to shape the look of our urban centres, to make them look more vibrant, more green,” said Coun. Jean Haalboom of Kitchener.

Critics fear trains will prove a costly blunder in a car-friendly community where commuters shun transit. Some critics argue rapid buses — at $702 million — are a cheaper, more flexible way forward.

“It is not what I believe our citizens want,” Waterloo Mayor Brenda Halloran said, in opposing trains. “Vision means different things to different people.”

Halloran said she was overwhelmed by public opposition to trains and their cost during the municipal election last October. She pledged then to oppose the plan and is sticking to her campaign promise.

“Right off the bat, we heard door after door after door, our citizens’ complete opposition to the light rail transit system,” Halloran said.

“That is the message that many of us heard while campaigning. What has happened to the voice of our citizens?”

“I stand alone for Cambridge,” Coun. Claudette Millar of Cambridge said, in voting against the $818 million plan. “It’s not that we want to be snippy. It’s the facts as we have heard them.”

About 140 people packed into council chambers to watch council approve trains. Most stood to applaud after the vote.

Observers have likened the rapid transit debate to the grand vision that launched the local expressway in the 1960s, also amid controversy and expense.

The approved plan and latest timeline suggests that by 2017 you will see electric trains, drawing power from overhead wires, running 19 kilometres between Conestoga Mall in Waterloo and Fairview Park mall in Kitchener.

The trains will run in dedicated lanes, displacing traffic. They will travel at the speed of traffic, averaging about 30 km/h, and will share signalized intersections with traffic. They will trigger green lights while cross-traffic waits.

Trains will pass every 7.5 to 15 minutes and stop at up to 18 platforms. Mall-to-mall travel time is estimated at 39 minutes, up to nine minutes faster than the schedule for express buses today. Fares are undetermined.

Trains will split onto separate streets in the downtowns of Kitchener and Waterloo, operating curbside rather than in the middle of the street.

From Kitchener, buses driving in mixed traffic will carry passengers 17 kilometres into Cambridge, linking to the Ainslie Street terminal. Buses will operate every 10 to 15 minutes and could begin to launch next year.

Cambridge is getting buses instead of trains because transit ridership is lower there, redevelopment potential is less, and rapid transit is being implemented in stages to save money.

Unlike trains, buses will not have dedicated lanes. Instead they will have features to bypass congestion, for example bypass shoulders on highways, special lanes to bypass queues at intersections, and the ability to trigger green lights.

Cambridge travel time is estimated at 33 minutes, up to two minutes faster than today’s scheduled express buses. There’s a new stop at Sportsworld Drive and a new route on Hespeler Road.

Council pledged to also launch trains in Cambridge in a later stage that has no funding or launch date. This delay has upset many in Cambridge.

“They feel very discouraged and disenfranchised,” Cambridge Coun. Nicholas Ermeta told councillors.

To pay for all this, council voted 10-1 to hike your regional property taxes by up to seven per cent, phased in over seven years.

An average home assessed at $254,000 will pay a total of $450 between 2012 and 2018. By 2018, property taxes will be up to $113 a year higher than today.

“I do not believe it to be an onerous amount,” Zehr said. “This is a reasonable figure.”

Waterloo’s Halloran opposed the tax increase.

The increase covers construction and operating costs for trains and expands Grand River Transit bus service by 25 per cent, to help feed suburban residents into central trains.

To ease costs, politicians have delayed the original plan to expand supportive buses by 60 per cent. This expansion will now happen after trains launch.

Senior governments are paying up to $565 million, leaving $253 million to local taxpayers.

To limit the tax increase, council has pledged to pay about one-third of increased costs out of current regional spending, drawing on paid-off mortgages and welfare costs soon to be assumed by provincial taxpayers.

To further limit tax increases, developers may be charged higher fees on new homes and buildings. This will require provincial approval.

Regional council will spend $10 million over 10 years on projects meant to help build transit ridership in Cambridge.

Council also voted 10-1 to review the proposed route in downtown Waterloo. Strickland and Coun. Jane Mitchell said they have heard concerns about trains using the intersection of King and Erb streets.

Halloran opposed the review, saying Waterloo council favours the route as proposed. “It came as a complete surprise to us,” she said about the route review.

Politicians have already spent $7 million to develop the rail proposal over nine bumpy years.

Council proposed trains in 2002. Senior governments refused funding but agreed to pay for more studies, leading to the proposal finally approved and funded Wednesday.

Four councillors declared conflicts of interest this year because they, their children or their employers own properties near stations, where land values are expected to rise.

Candidates stampeded away from rail transit costs in the municipal election last October, as residents trashed the plan on doorsteps.

After the election, politicians reconsidered buses, ordered more public consultation and rejected a late call for a referendum. The plan they approved is the same plan council approved in 2009, before funding was known.

Three councillors who voted for rail transit acknowledged they had been critical of the plan and its costs during the 2010 election.

They said they have since been persuaded to support trains, responding to planners, research and public support.

“I started putting it in perspective,” Woolwich Mayor Todd Cowan said.

“I think people have a better understanding of the whys and whats of LRT,” said Coun. Geoff Lorentz of Kitchener. “There is no question that the steps we will take tonight are the right ones.”

“I can support this,” Wilmot Mayor Les Armstrong said. “There is good work here.”

Council’s approval delighted Tim Mollison of the pro-rail Tri-Cities Transport Action Group.

“We’ve taken the first steps in changing how our community thinks about people who use transit,” he said. “It’s important that we continue to keep the pressure on regional council to follow through on the promises that they’ve made to Cambridge today.”

Leading technology, business and environmental organizations have endorsed trains. This includes Communitech, representing local technology firms, and the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce.

Cambridge council and the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce endorsed rapid buses, arguing this would be fairer because all three cities would get the same transit system right away.

Three scientific public opinion polls conducted this spring found the community divided over transit options, with 18 to 32 per cent of residents seeing no need for any rapid transit.

According to the polls, residents who favour rapid transit in principle lean more to trains than buses. However, residents are also concerned about the high cost of trains.

A poll by The Record found trains are more appealing to the young than the old, and more appealing to men than women.

Planners estimate trains will not launch before 2017. Between now and then, council has to conclude more studies, decide how the project will be built and by whom, formalize funding agreements with senior governments, sign contracts and order vehicles.

Politicians have not yet decided how deeply to involve private investors in the project.

Work to relocate or encase utilities beneath streets could launch by next year, to prevent ruptures and maintenance from disrupting transit. Track construction could launch by 2014. 


The LRT decision: What regional councillors said

Record staff
June 16, 2011

Here is a summary of what councillors said as the proposal – eventually passed by a 9-2 margin – to build light rail transit in Waterloo Region was discussed on Wednesday night.

Waterloo Mayor Brenda Halloran and Cambridge Councillor Claudette Millar voted against the $818 million plan..

Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr said supporting light-rail transit is “clearly a defining moment for this council and this community.

“This is a major principle statement we are making tonight.”

Coun. Sean Strickland of Waterloo said he strongly favours trains over buses as a more sustainable solution.

“It is time to seize the day. It is time to transform the community . . . It is time to vote for LRT.”

Coun. Jane Mitchell of Waterloo said light-rail transit will generate jobs locally and will benefit the city of Waterloo the most as people working in the city or attending one of the two universities will be its main users.

But Waterloo Mayor Halloran said while she supports a rapid transit system, she was voting against light rail transit because opposition to the plan is what she heard from the citizens during last fall’s municipal election.

“For me it is a simple ethical decision. I made a campaign pledge to the citizens of Waterloo who elected me and trusted me,” she said.

Wilmot Township Mayor Les Armstrong said since he became elected last fall, he has learned a lot about light rail transit from regional reports and staff.

“I can support this. There is good work here. There are good staff reports here,” he said.

Coun. Geoff Lorentz of Kitchener said “clearly the status quo is not good enough,” and council needs to plan for the future.

He likened the opposition to light rail transit to similar views that were expressed when the Conestoga Parkway and Kitchener Auditorium were built decades ago. Those projects were also considered too costly and not needed, he said.

“You need to have vision and see the benefits, not just for you, but for other people,” he said.

Woolwich Township Mayor Todd Cowan, another newcomer on council, said he grew to support the light rail system once he learned more about it.

He said a township survey found that 82 per cent of residents support a rapid transit system and 66 per cent preferred light rail transit.

Coun. Jean Haalboom of Kitchener said light rail transit “can help shape the look of our urban centres” with more green space, while protecting rural lands.

Wellesley Township Mayor Ross Kelterborn, who did not indicate how he would vote until the actual voting occurred, said before the meeting he had Chinese food and his fortune cookie said: “You are headed in the right direction. Listen to your instincts and that is what I did.” He voted for LRT.

Millar said Cambridge – which will not get LRT but instead rapid buses in the project’s initial phase - is being unfairly treated.

“I stand alone for Cambridge. It is not that we want to be snippy. It is the facts as we have heard them,” she said.

Coun. Jim Wideman of Kitchener, who chaired the meeting, said light rail transit will lead to less congested roads, quieter neighbourhoods, cleaner air and a region that will attract more employers.

“I believe this can truly be a barnraising event,” he said. 


Rapid Transit Public Meeting

Kitchener residents and business owners are invited to attend a special public meeting of Kitchener City Council that has been scheduled to allow discussion on the subject of Regional rapid transit proposal and its potential impact on the city. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011 - 6 p.m.

Kitchener City Hall - City Council Chambers

200 King St. W., Kitchener

To register as a delegation to this special public meeting of Kitchener City Council, please contact Linda Korabo at 519-741-2591. 

Please note that the final decision on the Regional issue of rapid transit will be made by the Region of Waterloo Council and is scheduled for June 15. Regional Council has scheduled public input meetings on May 31 and June 1, starting at 6 p.m. in Regional Council Chambers, located at 150 Frederick St. in Kitchener.   



Mixed signals on support for rapid transit

By Jeff Outhit, Record staff May 4, 2011 

WATERLOO REGION — Tim Mollison looks at 38-per-cent public support for trains — and sees victory for light rail transit.

Ruth Haworth looks at 38-per-cent public support for trains — and sees opposition to light rail transit.

They were reacting to a Record poll showing a community deeply divided over an $818-million plan to put electric trains on streets in Kitchener and Waterloo.

The opinion poll reveals 38 per cent of residents support trains, 32 per cent want rapid buses, and 30 per cent support road upgrades without rapid buses or trains.

“We’re very glad to see this, because what this says is light rail would win a referendum in this community,” said Mollison, spokesperson for the pro-rail Tri-Cities Transport Action Group.

Mollison argues the poll shows trains are supported by a plurality of residents. That’s how voters elect governments, he said. Whoever gets most votes wins.

Haworth argues the poll shows the majority of residents do not want trains, so politicians are on the wrong track.

“It shows that we need a referendum,” said Haworth, spokesperson for the anti-rail Taxpayers for Sensible Transit.

“We have a proposal before us to put trains on the streets. And it seems that people are against it.”

The poll of 1,036 adults is the first to gauge public sentiment about the rapid transit proposal in a scientific way. It was conducted by Metroline Research Group and is considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Regional council must vote in June to confirm rail transit as an urban redevelopment scheme, meant to persuade investors to build homes and workplaces in central neighbourhoods.

Politicians parsed results to see support and opposition.

“It encourages me,” said Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr, who intends to vote for rail transit. “It strengthens the view that most people are looking into the future on this.”

Zehr interprets poll results to show that two out of three residents support rapid transit in some form. He believes trains are the better choice, more costly at first but cheaper in the long run.

Ridership “won’t be there right away, the way it needs to become,” Zehr said.

“But we’re building for people who haven’t yet been converted, and who have yet to move into this community, because we’re going to have another 200,000 people.”

Coun. Geoff Lorentz of Kitchener said poll results reflect growing opposition to trains. “People are starting to get worried,” he said.

Lorentz argues trains will cost a lot, are no faster than buses, will limit drivers to right-ins and right-outs, and will displace traffic into residential neighbourhoods. “We don’t have the critical mass to make this work,” he said.

Waterloo Mayor Brenda Halloran is not surprised by what the poll found.

“I think the poll really captured exactly how the community is feeling, and the division that is within the community,” she said.

Coun. Sean Strickland of Waterloo sees “pretty strong support for (light rail transit)” in the poll. He plans to vote for rapid transit in some form.

Strickland points to the “fairly high percentage” of residents who do not support rapid buses or trains. “It tells me we need to do some more education about what the future of our community is really going to look like,” he said.

Coun. Jim Wideman of Kitchener was surprised to see 30 per cent willing to go without rapid transit. He argues this will lead to high local costs and social disruptions, as roads are expanded through neighbourhoods, without senior government funding to help pay the bills.

“This is likely going to be one of the toughest decisions that I will be making as a politician,” said Wideman, who intends to vote for rapid transit in some form. “At the end of the day, I think this is the time to show leadership.”

Retired transportation professor John Shortreed figures the poll confirms public opposition to rail transit.

“That’s a very clear outcome, that 62 per cent of the people favour other solutions other than (light rail transit),” said Shortreed, a leading critic of the rail transit plan.

Metroline surveyed adults by telephone, on land lines and cellphones. The sample was controlled to reflect community demographics based on the 2006 census. Results reflect public opinion at the time residents were polled.

Public opinion on the rail transit proposal remained divided at a public consultation session held in Waterloo Wednesday evening.

“I really like the idea,” said Waterloo resident Louise McLaren. “I think it’s more cost-effective in the long run.”

Her children are already daily Grand River Transit users. “The buses are already filling up. They’re just clogging up our streets,” said Billy McLaren.

“It’s only going to get busier,” added his sister, Erin. “Light rail transit gives you that solid base.”

Some critical of the plan see the cost as too prohibitive, and too great a burden on taxpayers.

“Tax-wise, it’s too expensive,” said George Sommerstorfer of Waterloo. “People who are retired, on the Canada Pension Plan, can barely make ends meet as it is.”

But Mark Kompter said funding available from the federal and provincial governments should be taken advantage of while it’s being offered. “I’m sure it’s on a time limit,” he said. “I’d say now is the best time.”

Karen Hilling said the whole concept is based on an outdated belief that businesses need to be attracted to a downtown core.

“In pioneer days, the village was the centre of commerce and social activity. However, with the increase in global communication, business can happen any time and anywhere.”

In a letter Hilling sent to regional and municipal councils, she urged politicians to remember their mandate to represent their constituents.

“I think that some politicians have been blinded by the allure of shiny trains and new buildings,” she said. “Waterloo Region is not Toronto or Calgary. We do not have a strong sense of identity with the city core.”

Jim Huxted of Kitchener said he feels that planners are wearing light rail blinders. “They haven’t really shown us if buses could work.”

Huxted, like others, has concerns that the system would be underused. “I think they have to develop the ridership before they can be spending the money we’d be spending on light rail,” he said.

“We’ve got three downtowns, not just one,” Huxted said. “The population base in each downtown doesn’t even come close to other cities with a rapid transit system.”

A similar public session was also held Wednesday at regional headquarters in Kitchener. with files from Brent Davis, Record staff

The rail transit plan

A proposal approved in principle calls for electric trains on dedicated lanes in Kitchener and Waterloo, running between the Conestoga and Fairview Park malls. Buses driving in mixed traffic with features to speed past congestion would run to the Ainslie Street terminal in Cambridge.

Total estimated travel time at over 72 minutes would roughly match today’s express buses.

Senior governments have committed up to $565 million. This leaves local taxpayers with a bill of up to $253 million for a system to launch in 2017.

Regional taxes could increase 10.5 per cent over seven years to launch trains and pay for partial bus upgrades. By 2018 an average home assessed at $254,000 today could be paying an extra $196 a year in property taxes.

Politicians hope to ease the local tax impact in part by seeking provincial approval to shift more transit costs onto development fees.

Have your say

More public consultation sessions are underway. You can drop in between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. in Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge and between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. in townships.

Thursday May 5 at the Cambridge Centre for the Arts, 60 Dickson St., in Cambridge and at the First United Church, 16 William St. W., in Waterloo.

Tuesday May 10 at the United Kingdom Club, 35 International Village Dr., in Cambridge and at the Kitchener Gospel Temple, 9 Conway Dr., in Kitchener.

Thursday May 12 at the Ayr Fire Hall, 501 Scott St. in Ayr, North Dumfries Township and at St. Agatha Community Centre, 1791 Erb’s Rd., in St. Agatha, Wilmot Township.

Wednesday May 18 at St. Clements Community Centre, 1 Green St., in St. Clements, Wellesley Township.







Light rail trains without majority support, poll shows

By Jeff Outhit, Record staff
May 3, 2011

WATERLOO REGION — Residents are deeply divided about plans for light rail transit.

An opinion poll conducted for The Record reveals 38 per cent want to put trains on local streets, 32 per cent see rapid buses as the better choice, and 30 per cent want to improve the roads without building rapid transit.

“You can’t really see any clear direction,” said Dave Kains of Metroline Research Group. “There’s still a lot of confusion out there as to whether people either see a need for it, or if they do see a need for it, what form it should take.”

Metroline polled 1,036 adults, contacted randomly across the region, between March 21 and April 9. Results are considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

It’s the first scientific poll to gauge public sentiment about an $818-million urban redevelopment scheme that’s meant to persuade investors to build homes and workplaces in central neighbourhoods.

Regional council has approved light rail transit in principle. It must confirm its choice in June to move toward construction.

Rail proponents argue putting electric trains on streets will restrain suburban growth, improve downtowns and get more residents out of their cars. Critics argue trains will be too costly, disruptive and underused in a community where few ride transit and the car rules.

The latest estimate suggests regional taxes could increase 10.5 per cent over seven years to launch trains and pay for partial bus upgrades. By 2018, an average home assessed at $254,000 today could be paying an extra $196 a year in property taxes.

The Record poll reveals that:

 • Supporters of light rail transit feel trains are more efficient, better for the environment and will encourage ridership.

 • Supporters of rapid buses feel trains are too expensive, too disruptive and lack flexibility.

 • People who don’t want rapid transit feel bigger roads would ease congestion, many people drive so rapid transit is unnecessary, and light rail is too expensive.

A furious public debate is underway on the level of support for rail transit.

Last fall, some candidates bashed rail transit in the municipal election, startling other politicians and suggesting deep public concern.

Critics of rail transit have called for a referendum, but council has refused to put its project to a public vote.

Transit planners argue public support for trains is strong. They point to feedback at recent public meetings. But poll results reveal no consensus.

While two-thirds of residents support rapid transit in some form, there are comparable levels of support for trains, for buses, and for doing neither, Kains said.

The proposal approved in principle calls for electric trains on dedicated lanes in Waterloo and Kitchener, running between the Conestoga and Fairview Park malls. Buses driving in mixed traffic with features to speed past congestion would run to the Ainslie Street terminal in Cambridge.

The Record poll reveals that:

 • Light rail has an edge — 54 per cent to 46 per cent — among residents who favour rapid transit.

 • If light rail is built, 56 per cent of residents would like to see trains extended to all three cities at the outset. This finding did not include any discussion of estimated costs reaching $1.5 billion.

Residents were asked why rapid transit makes sense to them.

Supporters of trains and buses agreed most strongly that it is important to plan for the future, and that it will help ease congestion. They showed the least enthusiasm for rapid transit helping to rejuvenate downtowns.

When asked to choose between encouraging transit or expanding roads, 55 per cent of residents favoured transit growth while 45 per cent favoured roads.

The Record poll was conducted by telephone. Residents were contacted on land lines and cellphones. The sample was controlled to reflect community demographics based on the 2006 census. Results reflect public opinion at the time residents were polled.

Planners have prepared one rapid bus option but have dismissed it as inferior to trains. It would cost $702 million to launch and would provide buses in dedicated lanes from St. Jacobs north of Waterloo to Ainslie Street in Cambridge.

Planners have ruled out improving roads without rapid transit. They claim the community would choke on traffic congestion and suffer through disruptive road expansions.

Senior governments have committed up to $565 million. This leaves local taxpayers facing a bill of up to $253 million for the proposal approved in principle.

Politicians hope to ease the local tax impact in part by seeking provincial approval to shift more transit costs onto development fees.

Have your say, again

More public consultation sessions are underway on rail transit. You can drop in between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. in Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge and between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. in townships.

Wednesday May 4 in the front lobby, Region of Waterloo headquarters at 150 Frederick St. in Kitchener and at the Albert McCormick Community Centre, 500 Parkside Dr. in Waterloo.

Thursday May 5 at the Cambridge Centre for the Arts, 60 Dickson St. in Cambridge and at the First United Church, 16 William St. W. in Waterloo.

Tuesday May 10 at the United Kingdom Club, 35 International Village Dr. in Cambridge and at the Kitchener Gospel Temple, 9 Conway Dr. in Kitchener.

Thursday May 12 at the Ayr Fire Hall, 501 Scott St. in Ayr, North Dumfries Township and at St. Agatha Community Centre, 1791 Erb’s Rd in St. Agatha, Wilmot Township.

Wednesday May 18 at St. Clements Community Centre, 1 Green St. in St. Clements, Wellesley Township.



Region chair, Cambridge mayor bow out of rapid transit votes 
By Frances Barrick, Record staff

April 12, 2011

WATERLOO REGION — Light-rail transit has lost its biggest champion and loudest critic.

Both Regional Chair Ken Seiling and Cambridge Mayor Doug Craig will not be voting on rapid transit as both say they have children with properties along the proposed route.

The pair declared their conflicts of interest at Tuesday’s regional council meeting.

This brings to three regional councillors who have declared a conflict of interest, leaving only 13 councillors to decide on the fate of a proposed rapid transit system for Waterloo Region.

North Dumfries Mayor Robert Deutschmann declared his conflict of interest in February, saying the proposal could increase the value of a building he owns in downtown Kitchener.

Deutschmann is part owner of 10 Duke St. which houses his personal injury law office and is across the street from a proposed rail transit station. 



Rapid transit options expand to 10
By Jeff Outhit, Record staff

February 14, 2011 

WATERLOO REGION — Regional council is now looking at 10 rapid transit options, including three versions that could launch for tax hikes under $100.

Planners have revised a controversial $790-million rail transit proposal to include engineering savings, federal and provincial funding of up to $565 million, money-saving route options, and inflationary increases through the end of construction in 2016.

Revisions made public Monday put 10 options before politicians who intend to make a decision by June. Included are eight options that mix electric trains and fast buses, one option that includes only trains, and one option of only rapid buses.

Public consultation is expected to launch in March. Among the highlights of the options:

Construction estimates for various options now range from $608 million to $1.6 billion. These estimates include inflation impacts. They vary depending on the mix of buses and trains.

Taxes would rise by $88 to $376 on an average home assessed today at $225,000, depending on the option. The increase covers construction and operating costs. Tax increases would be phased in incrementally over six years, starting in 2012.

Rail transit proponent Tim Mollison continues to favour trains over buses, in part because he contends passengers will more likely want to ride trains. He wants politicians to speed up planning and not wait until 2014 to launch construction.

“We really need to stop dragging on this,” said Mollison, spokesperson for Tri-Cities Transport Action Group. “Every year that we can start this earlier is a year of inflation we don’t have to pay.”

Rail transit critic Ruth Haworth is bothered that trains account for nine of 10 options heading for public consultation.

“So much for putting buses back into the mix,” said Haworth, spokesperson for Taxpayers for Sensible Transit. She fears the focus on trains is “more due to creating a flashy legacy project for departing politicians than it is about good city planning.”

Council has approved rail transit in principle as an urban renewal scheme, to persuade investors to build homes and offices near transit stations.

Critics contend rail transit will be too costly and little-used in a community where few ride transit. Some contend the approved proposal treats Cambridge unfairly.

The currently approved option, now estimated at $818 million to build, calls for electric trains from the Conestoga Mall in Waterloo to the Fairview Park mall in Kitchener, and fast buses driving in mixed traffic into Cambridge.

Three revised options with the smallest local tax impact are:

Electric trains in dedicated lanes from Northfield Drive in Waterloo to Ottawa Street in Kitchener, with fast buses driving in mixed traffic to the Ainslie Street terminal in Cambridge. This version shaves seven kilometres of tracks from the approved proposal. It would cost $608 million to build and would raise regional taxes by $88 over six years for an average house.

Rapid buses in dedicated lanes from the St. Jacobs farmers’ market north of Waterloo to the Ainslie Street transit terminal. It would cost $702 million to build and would raise regional taxes by $94 over six years.

Electric trains in dedicated lanes from the Conestoga Mall in Waterloo to Ottawa Street in Kitchener, with fast buses driving in mixed traffic to Ainslie Street. This version shaves five kilometres of tracks from the approved proposal. It would cost $644 million to build and would raise regional taxes by $96 over six years for an average house.

“It won’t be a price-only determination,” said Regional Chair Ken Seiling, a strong proponent of trains. “It really has to be based on what’s the best, most effective use of the money, what’s the biggest bang for the buck.”

Regional planners predict rapid buses would be overwhelmed by 2031, with too many passengers for buses to carry effectively. A report warns it would then be “very difficult” to convert to trains, because buses would have to shift into regular traffic while tracks are installed, significantly disrupting service.

Planners have included a roads-only option for comparison. It suggests taxpayers would have to spend an extra $500 million to expand roads if no rapid transit system is built. Taxes would rise by $150 over six years.




WATERLOO REGION – Ontario is providing the Region of Waterloo with $300 million to build rapid transit.

The project would be the largest single investment in transit infrastructure in the history of Waterloo region and includes light rail transit in both Waterloo and Kitchener, and bus rapid transit in Cambridge, according to a media release.

These transit improvements will, according to the release:


  better connect the cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge.
   link to Grand River Transit and park and ride facilities.
  connect to future GO Transit services.

This investment is expected to create about 3,000 jobs and economic opportunities for local businesses.



June 25, 2009
Light Rail Transit approved by Regional Council

Waterloo Region - Light Rail Transit (LRT) was approved by Regional Council Wednesday as the preferred technology for the Region of Waterloo's rapid transit system.

"In future years, people will look on this decision as doing more than anything else to manage growth and shape Waterloo Region," said Ken Seiling, Regional Chair. "Our ability to cope with growth and ensure our future quality of life will depend on providing a transportation system that encourages intensification, limits urban sprawl to protect our agricultural and environmentally sensitive lands, and avoids gridlock by providing alternatives to the dependence on cars as we grow."

The rapid transit system will provide a long-term, environmentally sustainable solution to help manage the Region's future growth and transportation needs and help build a vibrant and sustainable community.

The project will be implemented in a staged approach that will allow the Region to match transit technology with current and projected ridership and development potential in a cost effective manner. Stage 1 of the approved rapid transit route consists of light rail transit running from Conestoga Mall in Waterloo to Fairview Park Mall in Kitchener and adapted bus rapid transit from Fairview Park Mall to the Ainslie Street transit terminal in Cambridge. Stage 2 consists of continuing light rail transit from Fairview Park Mall to the Ainslie Street terminal, which will follow the completion of Stage 1 as closely as possible.

The approved rapid transit system will cost an estimated $790 million. Council also allocated $1 million annually for an initial 10-year period to implement transit supportive strategies to build transit ridership in Cambridge.

"The Region has undertaken an unprecedented program of public consultation on this issue over the last four years," said Mike Murray, Chief Administrative Officer. "We have heard from thousands of people and organizations, and their input has helped shape this project. Rapid Transit will help manage growth, move people, and make our community healthier and more sustainable for decades to come."

The Region will now proceed to negotiate funding agreements with provincial and federal governments. When funding is secured, final design will be undertaken in 2010. Construction of LRT is scheduled to launch in 2012, with the system opening late in 2014. Adapted bus rapid transit in Cambridge could start as early as 2011.


What is Rapid Transit?

Rapid Transit is defined as a public transportation system operating for its entire length primarily on a dedicated transit lane. The definition includes systems operating at street level, and systems operating on elevated or underground facilities.

Rapid Transit involves new forms of transit service designed to increase travel speed, reliability, passenger comfort and convenience in order to be more competitive with car travel. Some Rapid Transit technologies include: bus rapid transit, light rail transit, monorail, subway, and commuter rail.


Since its formation in 1973, Waterloo Region has consistently ranked as one of the fastest growing communities in Canada. It is now the 10th largest urban area in Canada and the fourth largest in Ontario. With a current population of approximately 508,000, and forecasted population growth to 729,000 within the next 25 years, the Region is planning now for the challenges and opportunities associated with population and employment growth.

In June 2003, Regional Council unanimously adopted the Regional Growth Management Strategy (RGMS), a long-term strategic framework that identifies where, when and how future residential and employment growth will be accommodated. The strategy is anchored on growing by choice rather than chance and a rapid transit service linking Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo through a Central Transit Corridor is a key component.

The need for a Central Transit Corridor (CTC) to connect major activity centres in the Region and link the three urban areas was first identified 1976, when the first Regional Official Policies Plan (ROPP) came into effect, and was incorporated into the RGMS. Planning studies conducted during the creation of the RGMS concluded that continuing with road expansions alone was not a realistic or affordable option to manage growth. Instead, aggressive efforts need to be made to pursue land use and transportation policies that will promote public transit, reurbanization and greater transportation choice.

Rapid Transit is identified in the RGMS, as well as the new Provincial Places to Grow Growth Plan, as one of the key catalysts to support downtown revitalization and control urban sprawl in the region. It would also provide one part of a planned inter-regional transit system linking the region to the Greater Toronto Area, Guelph, Brantford and Hamilton.

The Region has commissioned a number of studies to determine if Rapid Transit in Waterloo Region is feasible, such as the Central Transit Corridor Feasibility Study and the Project Delivery Framework for Implementing Rapid Transit.

On May 15, 2004, the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario and the Region of Waterloo jointly announced funding of up to $2.5 million for the Region of Waterloo Growth Management Strategy and Transit Initiative Technical Studies and an Individual Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Rapid Transit Initiative.


Information provided courtesy of the City of Waterloo.







Red line - electric train route

Green solid line - rapid bus route

Broken blue line - section dividers

This map illustrates the top-ranked rapid transit routes and technologies for seven sections of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge. It is not a seamless or final proposal. The routes do not all link together, and do not share a common technology. Six use electric trains while one route uses rapid buses. Complete routes, drawn from these leading options and other contenders, will be proposed for public consideration later this year.

Local: Is region on the right track?

A new study ranks 94 possible options for better public transit in Waterloo Region. Leading the list is a rapid-rail system with a first-phase cost of more than $300 million


Costly electric trains are strongly favoured over cheaper buses in the latest study on a proposed rapid transit system.

Planners have now ranked 94 options for dozens of possible routes still under review in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge.

Trains are favoured in six of the seven top options.

"The advice from others is that the light rail is probably the preferred route to go," Regional Chair Ken Seiling said yesterday. "It gives you a higher degree of ridership. It has a better track record of attracting investment."

Planners who took part in the regional study are pitching rapid transit as a way to lure buildings to neighbourhoods near transit stations.

This is to help meet a provincial demand that 40 per cent of new homes be built in urban areas by 2015.

"Rail has a better ability to focus development around stations," said Yanick Cyr, rapid transit project director. "It's seen as more permanent.

"Even if it's a more expensive system, it brings more benefits to the community."

Rapid transit has yet to be approved, and construction remains several years away at the earliest.

It's estimated rail transit would cost up to $306 million to build for just a first phase in Kitchener and Waterloo. That's in 2004 dollars.

Planners contend rapid transit will draw the riders it needs to be viable, even though few residents use public transit today.

Cambridge residents offered support but also skepticism in interviews near Hespeler Road.

Hans Hansen grew up in Toronto and laments the lack of rapid public transit in Cambridge.

"Here, I'm trained to drive because transit isn't developed," he said, while pumping gas into his truck at a filling station.

He doesn't like driving on Hespeler Road to head south into old Galt because "it really looks junky," traffic is thick and Grand River Transit service isn't convenient to his house.

Guy Weatherston agrees Hespeler Road is "pretty congested" with traffic but isn't convinced there's much government can do to change it.

He's indifferent to rapid transit plans -- he wouldn't use it.

Of the options, a rapid transit route "down the middle would be good," he said. "I don't know how much it would be used."

Christina Lahey sees little hope for rapid transit on car-centric Hespeler Road.

"They're dreaming," said Lahey, who walks the busy road after work. "I won't be around to see it."

It has not been determined if a Cambridge rapid transit route should travel along Hespeler Road, through Preston, or through both areas.

In the latest findings of a $2-million transit study, 94 bus and train options are ranked by 21 criteria, including ridership, cost, environmental impact and community benefits.

The only place where buses outperform trains is in the Sportsworld area of south Kitchener and north Cambridge. There, buses have the edge because they would draw more riders at much less cost.

In most other places, planners contend trains will draw more riders and also outperform buses in other ways, despite costing more.

Later this year, planners intend to narrow rapid transit options to five complete routes. These would include train routes, bus routes, and possibly a route mixing both.

"The next step is to do a cost-benefit analysis on complete systems," Cyr said.

The provincial government has pledged to pay two-thirds of construction costs for an approved first phase in Kitchener and Waterloo.

Regional council wants the federal government to pay the remaining one-third of costs but has yet to secure a commitment.


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