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I-XPRESS a hit in Waterloo.



It looks like the I-XPRESS bus route in Waterloo Region is doing pretty well. To bad TTC does not get it yet that people want speedy service. But anyway some little articles about the I-XPRESS in Waterloo Region.

Riders rushing onto express buses

Riders on fast route increase by 1,000 from slower routes in just four weeks


Grand River Transit's new express service that links Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge is quickly drawing riders.

After four weeks, a $10-million express service is quickly drawing Grand River Transit passengers from slower bus routes.

What's not known is if passengers are also being lured from their cars.

"That's a deeper challenge," said John Cicuttin, associate director of transportation planning for Waterloo regional government.

Grand River Transit launched its weekday iXpress service Sept. 6. The route, with only 13 stops, links Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge.

In week one, the express service drew 1,800 passengers a day. By last week it was drawing 2,800 daily passengers.

"We're hoping that momentum continues," Cicuttin said.

"We're pleased."

Comparable Grand River Transit routes draw between 2,000 and 14,000 passengers a day.

The push to get more drivers onto public transit will start in earnest next year with the launch of a special marketing campaign. It may include approaches to employers, door-to-door canvasses of neighbourhoods and offers of free bus tickets, Cicuttin said.

Getting people out of their cars is seen as a challenge in a community where only four per cent ride the bus to work, compared with 89 per cent who ride in cars.

Express passengers interviewed this week said they enjoy its speed and convenience. All were already regular transit users.

"It's not that busy at all," said Danny Gervais, 38, of Kitchener.

He's in a wheelchair and has room to manoeuvre on the express bus. "It's a lot faster to get around town. I hope it continues."

Student Paige Ballagh, 15, of Kitchener said the express bus is sometimes busy, sometimes not.

"It's very much faster, and more convenient. I'll be upset if it goes."

Nancy Caetano, 25, is pleased the express service is not as crowded as some Toronto buses. Toronto buses are sometimes so full that passengers can barely move and no one else can get on, she said.

Caetano commutes by bus from her Toronto home to Waterloo, where she's a graduate student. She's looking for a place to live here.

"I like the fact that it's express," Caetano said. "I like the fact that it's very punctual."

Express buses speed along by stopping infrequently, turning the lights green at 18 intersections, and plying the quickest roads.

The buses travel from Conestoga Mall in Waterloo to the Ainslie Street station in the Galt section of Cambridge in 77 minutes, about an hour faster than before.

By next fall, satellite technology will tell express passengers, in real time, when the next bus is due.


Average daily passengers on iXpress

Week one: 1,800

Week two: 2,100

Week three: 2,500

Week four: 2,800

Goal after one year: 3,800

Compared with other GRT routes: (All figures for 2004)

Route 52: 2,000

Route 51: 2,500

Route 12: 5,000

Route 8: 5,000

Route 7 mainline: 14,000

Average daily ridership, all GRT routes in 2004: 42,000


Riders rave about new speedy bus

Passengers on long trips hailed the new service for shaving an hour or more off their travel time.

"I'm quite glad that it's finally here," Marcel Lambert said. "It's a very good thing for me. I'm very pleased."

Lambert, 21, regularly leaves her car at home to save on parking and gas and takes the bus from her computer studies in downtown Kitchener to her home in Cambridge.

Before yesterday, the trip would sometimes take her up to two hours on three different buses. Express service eliminates a transfer and saves her 45 minutes or more.

"Compared to what it was, this is pretty good. It's really good," Lambert said, beaming as she got off the express bus in Cambridge.

Peter McPhee, 34, figures he'll save up to two hours on a round trip from his Cambridge home to Grand River Hospital in Kitchener, where he has regular appointments.

"My time is valuable," said McPhee, pleased about the faster trip yesterday.

Fred Hart, 61, rode the new bus from his Cambridge home to the Conestoga Mall to test it out and to have a coffee in Waterloo.

"I've got a lot of friends who want to know how it runs," he said. "It's perfect."

Hart remembers when only four buses ran in Cambridge, and passengers couldn't travel to Kitchener or Waterloo.

The creation of a regional transit agency in 2000 to provide three-city service was "the best thing they have ever done," he said.

Grand River Transit hopes express service will help double transit ridership by 2016.

The hope is that the service will ease automobile use, reduce air pollution and lay the groundwork for a proposed rail transit system.

"The main purpose really is to attract ridership from people who are currently now driving," said John Cicuttin, associate director of transportation planning.

This is a challenge in a community where only four per cent take a bus to work, compared with 89 per cent who ride in cars.

Express buses have a unique paint design. They drive on highways, avoid some busy streets and use transit technologies to keep moving.

These include transponders to turn the lights green at 18 intersections as an express bus approaches.

"It's a driver's dream," bus driver Greg Pytlik said.

By next year:

Satellite tracking will tell express passengers the exact arrival time of the next bus.

Express stations will include shelters, bicycle racks and lockers.

Passengers will be able to use an online trip planner.

Alan and Sheila Pavelin, a retired Kitchener couple who do not own a car, hope they'll be able to use the express service to visit a United Kingdom social club in Cambridge.

"It opens up a new window for us," said Sheila, 69.

The Pavelins rode the express service yesterday to test it out and ended up shopping in Cambridge.

"Very good value for the money," said Alan, 72. "We give it the thumb's up."

Express service runs Monday to Friday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

It may be extended to evenings and weekends if it attracts enough riders, Cicuttin said.


Current bus travel time between UW and Fairview Park mall in Kitchener: 50 minutes.

New express service: 27 minutes.

Current bus travel time between WLU and Cambridge Centre: 100 minutes, two transfers.

New express service: 45 minutes, no transfers.

Express service will run from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday. Every 30 minutes, every 15 minutes in peak periods.



"Now with shelters!" :rollin

Not unlike VIVA, from what I've seen. Looks like they are trying to build a backbone to the system. Of course, the TTC already has an express backbone they call the subway.


"Now with shelters!"
... and I believe that shelter in the ad is a clone of a new TTC shelter. It even appears to have a TTC map!

I applaud the efforts of what used to be non-transit cities in Canada, US, even Latin America that are doing all they can to get people on the bus (in most cases BRTs). However, different strategies work in different contexts. Toronto is a transit market where taking transit is already the common thing to do. I don't think the TTC's priority right now is to get GPS, or bike lockers, or a trip-planning website (though they are all good things)... the priority now is to increase capacity and, as Mike rightfully points out, get people from A to B faster.


At 3,800 passengers per week these express buses run every 15 minutes? I can understand the need for GPS.

This isn't a place for TTC to look for ideas. In fact, there are 3 Blue Night bus routes with higher ridership than I-XPRESS. TTC Night service ridership has increased by 29% from 1987 to 2004 (keep in mind the late 80's was peak ridership for TTC).

Speaking of which, I wasn't paying attention. When in 2005 did Sheppard East, Steeles East, and Lawrence East receive night service?


Check out the article. It's 3,800 per day.

The route is definitely a great idea, though I haven't had occasion to take it. One of the biggest advantages is that it apparently runs until 2am. This could be a big benefit to the bars in downtown Kitchener and even Waterloo since it will provide easy access to the universities. It'll be good for making U of W students a little less isolated, too.

Recall that Waterloo region has always had pretty high transit ridership, largely because of the massive number of students.


How linear the region is certainly helps as well. I would be really surprised if there was another city region in NA with fewer than 300,000 people that has a bus service that runs every 7 minutes.


How linear the region is certainly helps as well. I would be really surprised if there was another city region in NA with fewer than 300,000 people that has a bus service that runs every 7 minutes.
It can't be that low, unless you're only counting K-W, and not Cambridge, and I think Waterloo and Kitchener combined now have more than 300,000, but you are correct - the trip generators - the universities, malls, downtown/uptown, the main hospital, are all on one corridor - then when you add Cambridge, you also get Galt and Preston (and the main big-box complex) on that corridor as well. When you have one corridor with frequent bus service, it is much easier to plan a feeder system, partly since you rely less on timed connections (if the bus comes every 5-10 minutes, not such a big deal).


I went to Statscan and added together the 2001 populations for the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo. Came to 286,000 IIRC.


You guys can make fun of it all you want.

But the fact of the matter is that Waterloo Region has a plan to double transit ridership and they are on plan to do it.

They understand fast transit is the only way to attract riders.

They are taking a busy transit corridor(the route 7 Mainline) that carries 14,000 riders a day, and offering a speedy addition to it.

If only the TTC thought about that for routes like FINCH which carry over 40,000 riders a day.

GRT has the right idea, and lets hope it is a success.


Check out the article. It's 3,800 per day.
Silly chart put numbers beside week labels and hides the units in a blob of text above it.

Indeed. 3800 per day is quite reasonable as a percentage of the total ridership.


So add route 52 - people from Cambridge are allowed to transfer into Kitchener. Starting with 286,000, adding students alone brings you over 300,000, then add Cambridge, and 5 years of growth...that's ~450,000 people in the three municipalities all relatively close to the ixpress line. Seems that ixpress combines routes 52 and 7. But you're right that it works mainly because almost the entire region is strung out along one long axis - the road network in the region is so messed up that the ixpress route seems both convenient and obvious.


Well, if we are still talking about my original comment that "I would be really surprised if there was another city region in NA with fewer than 300,000 people that has a bus service that runs every 7 minutes", the fact of the matter is that neither iXpress nor route 52 run every 7 minutes. So, hence, I didn't factor in Cambridge.

And if we're not talking about my original comment... sorry.

Anyway, kudos to GRT. Along with YRT and the new DRT, it's easy to see that region-wide transit systems make sense and most importantly of all, improves service and useability for passengers. Unless you've got political interests clouding your judgement, it should be plain to see.