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Ion Light Rail (Kitchener-Waterloo) & King/Victoria Transit Terminal

drum118

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I have a video for the whole route shot station to station and its 36 minutes with the stopping at stops not shot. Having issues getting to a a short one at high speed at this time and have set it a side for now.
 

E•MO•TION

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a) Northfield Station — I do not understand why they couldn't fit a bus loop here, or why the 19 and busPLUS couldn't serve this stop
19 and 73 serve stop 1256, in front of the fire station.

c) Laurier Station — If UW is so keen on not running buses down Ring Road, why didn't they build a bus terminal at Laurier to serve the 202, 12, 29, 19 (maybe) serve this stop instead? It's not a long detour, maybe 3 minutes via Albert and Seagram.
As a Beechwood West resident, it annoys me that GRT planners have been so stubborn on this issue. A few options have been suggested in the past including:

1. Reroute all buses to Laurier - Waterloo Park Station via Seagram and Albert as you suggested.
2. Reroute all buses to Laurier - Waterloo Park Station via Seagram and Lester. This would better maintain service to Campus Court plaza but would require new parking restrictions on Lester.
3. Add new stops on University at the Laurel Trail to reduce to reduce to walking transfer distance from the current stops at Seagram.
4. Upon completion, reroute all buses to the transit plaza via Phillip, inbound and outbound. Buses would use the proposed driveway connecting EC5 to the transit plaza to turn around.

d) Central Station — What a cluster****, it's so difficult trying to transfer in downtown. They need to get the new terminal constructed as soon as possible.
Central Station is (rightly or wrongly) intended to be an intercity terminal for VIA, GO, and Greyhound. GRT buses will continue to use the stops on the street upon the completion of the transit hub.

e) Block line — How is there no bus loop here yet?
A development of some sort was proposed on the hill between Courtland and the Huron Spur which was said to include a transit hub. I even recall Tom Galloway teasing it on Twitter but haven't heard anything since.

The current bus bay can only accommodate two forty foot buses without blocking the crosswalk. We'll see where they take things when our first articulated buses arrive.

5. I feel like GRT could have done a bit of a better job scheduling bus connections with the light rail.
This has been a longstanding frustration of mine since GRT first started moving towards a grid system in 2011. As I've been saying since then, the only thing worse than a hub and spoke system is infrequent grid, and that's what GRT is most of the day. Just take the 201 up and down Fischer-Hallman and see how many reliable connections it makes to the crosstown routes.

If I recall correctly, the westbound 29 was scheduled to cross Fischer-Hallman two or three minutes before the northbound 201 would reach the same intersection, leaving me to walk a good fifteen minutes home. Eventually I bought a car, which brings me to my next point: I wish there were more park and ride lots. Northfield, Research and Technology, and the field at Central Station are great candidates.

Service on Westmount Also needs significant improvement.
I'm curious as to why you think this. For the first time since GRT's infancy, 12's have been arriving at Fairway Station on-time with sufficient connection time.
 
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Steve X

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The ION really seems to be a standalone project than an integrated system. It's definitely not designed to be a mass transit system unlike Ottawa or TTC subways. It's convenient if one lives on the line and is headed to a destination on the line. All the developers will pick prime locations along it. So it will work well if one lives, works, shops, eat out and hang out with friends along destinations on the line. Hamilton will see the same thing happen. That was an intention of the Transit City LRT lines in Toronto too.
 

lrt's friend

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The ION really seems to be a standalone project than an integrated system. It's definitely not designed to be a mass transit system unlike Ottawa or TTC subways. It's convenient if one lives on the line and is headed to a destination on the line. All the developers will pick prime locations along it. So it will work well if one lives, works, shops, eat out and hang out with friends along destinations on the line. Hamilton will see the same thing happen. That was an intention of the Transit City LRT lines in Toronto too.
Better ION frequency will enable better connections to local buses. Hopefully, ridership will drive better frequency some day.
 

Streety McCarface

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I believe busPLUS route 73 serves the former southbound iXpress stop at Northfield, as does the 19B (although I don't recall seeing it on the stop marker). 19A's schedule makes the bold claim that its stop 200 m down the road also counts as an ION transfer point.

The university is currently constructing yet another engineering building in the vicinity of the future station. Hopefully work can begin soon after said building is complete.

I agree that the total lack of bus connections to Laurier-Waterloo Park is absurd (my commute could certainly benefit from some), but any detour from University onto Seagram would bypass the extremely busy University / Philip intersection.
They are? I thought E8 was postponed indefinitely until funding could be secured. It's absurd that they haven't built the UW bus terminal yet, that was supposed to be open 2 years ago. It also frustrates me that they haven't built a bus terminal at Laurier either, there's nothing but a parking lot there, it's perfectly suited for one!

73 and the 19B do "technically" stop at the station, but trying to cross Northfield to a waiting bus is a disaster waiting to happen. They should have constructed a loop or rerouted bus routes to Parkside via a new bus only road around the new MNP building. No one is ever going to transfer from the 19B to northfield, which is a shame because it would save a bunch of people a lot of time. If they did build a terminal at Northfield (see the crappy sketch below), They wouldn't have to run the 9 and 14 to Conestoga Mall, and could potentially run new routes (such as a Westmount express, a separate route to St Jacobs, a better Northlake bus, or a bus serving the new developments near the YMCA). Conestoga Mall will be more crowded in the future as they increase service on the 201 and 202, and eventually have to rebuild platforms to fit articulated buses, so shifting some routes over to a terminal here would honestly do wonders and keep the mall off of GRT's tail.
Screen Shot 2019-06-27 at 1.56.38 PM.png

They'd only have to expropriate a few parking spaces, and there's plenty of room to work with there.


Central Station is (rightly or wrongly) intended to be an intercity terminal for VIA, GO, and Greyhound. GRT buses will continue to use the stops on the street upon the completion of the transit hub.

The current bus bay can only accommodate two forty foot buses without blocking the crosswalk. We'll see where they take things when our first articulated buses arrive.

I'm curious as to why you think this. For the first time since GRT's infancy, 12's have been arriving at Fairway Station on-time with sufficient connection time.
That would honestly be a huge mistake, Downtown isn't particularly the safest part of the city, and not having a sheltered space for people to use the restroom, get food, wait for their transfers, get help, allow GRT to perform crew changes, and most importantly, connect easily and conveniently with iON would just force people to stop using GRT altogether. No one wants to have to wait for the 1 for 30 minutes outside in the rain or snow, and many people want to have a central location to transfer because downtown is a confusing mess.

Articulated buses are going to screw with GRT so much, and as much as I want them to be integrated into our network, GRT just doesn't have the infrastructure to support them. Hopefully they figure things out and make fixes to existing stops and bays before they enter service.

I have a bunch of friends who use the Westmount corridor, they would take the buses from WCI to their homes and now take it from UW to their homes. There are always huge surges of students that need to get on these buses. Westmount used to have both the 8 and 12 running at 15 minute peak frequencies down that road and buses were still overcrowded. The new schedules remove about half of the service. It may not be an issue now since St Davids, WCI, and SJAM have concluded classes and with UW/Laurier are on the spring term, however, come the fall, if they don't increase frequencies, we're likely going to see massive overcrowding on the 12.

I think the reason the 12 is much more predictable now is the fact that it no longer has to do its silly run through the Lincoln neighborhoods, stop at conestoga mall, and have so many convoluted short turns. The 12 split was one of the best things they did in this service update, but they're not integrating the 12/29 with iON and they're not accounting for all service lost. Hopefully they address concerns in the fall service update.
 

reaperexpress

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Here are some of my takeaways from the new line:

BTW I did have a GPS speedometer out when I wasn't looking at the actual cab speedo, and we only reached 55 km/h on the spur lines even though the posted speeds went up to 70 km/h. We did indeed reach 50 km/h on King Street, and the notion of a 20 km/h on-road limit is further disproven by the numerous speed limit signs which are higher than 20 km/h...
 

timc

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I believe busPLUS route 73 serves the former southbound iXpress stop at Northfield, as does the 19B (although I don't recall seeing it on the stop marker). 19A's schedule makes the bold claim that its stop 200 m down the road also counts as an ION transfer point.

The university is currently constructing yet another engineering building in the vicinity of the future station. Hopefully work can begin soon after said building is complete.

I agree that the total lack of bus connections to Laurier-Waterloo Park is absurd (my commute could certainly benefit from some), but any detour from University onto Seagram would bypass the extremely busy University / Philip intersection.
Surely one bus bypassing University/Phillip is worth it to connect to ION. Not only would it allow east-west riders to easily transfer to ION, but it would give a direct transit connection to Laurier. I strongly believe that Route 29 would not be hurt by a diversion onto Seagram.
 

Streety McCarface

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Here are some of my takeaways from the new line:

BTW I did have a GPS speedometer out when I wasn't looking at the actual cab speedo, and we only reached 55 km/h on the spur lines even though the posted speeds went up to 70 km/h. We did indeed reach 50 km/h on King Street, and the notion of a 20 km/h on-road limit is further disproven by the numerous speed limit signs which are higher than 20 km/h...
Nice shots, and those speed readings are similar to those I read when I've ridden the line end-to-end. I'm not sure why operators are not reaching top speeds on the separated rail corridors, but it sure makes the commute feel longer than it should be. I'd argue the section on Northfield between King and the Waterloo Spur should have higher speed limits (60-70 km/h), it's a straight shot with only one intersection that's almost always clear. 50 km/h max on other sections of the line make sense, the train operates on LOS, and the speed limits on the majority of roads are around 50 km/h. There are also sections of the spurs where speed limits are far too low, 40 km/h while crossing Columbia st, are they crazy? I've been on TTC streetcars faster than this.
 

Streety McCarface

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An update: Ever since fares were implemented, today, ridership is probably 20-30% of what it was last week. This is much lower than anticipated but is likely due to it being Tuesday and the fact that students aren't in class. We'll see how things play out later today.
 

Andy_in_Toronto

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What is the actual frequency today? On Sunday, I witnessed 14 min. which was not that great.

I spoke to several people on-board. Especially elderly people like the tram a lot as it offers at level boarding without obstacles. Also, someone told me that she would need to re-do her drivers license due to her age. With the train running she was considering to stop driving.

Bottom line it is a process of change that needs some time, but everyone seems to love the new service!
 

timc

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The trains are running on their usual schedule, which is every 10 minutes during daytime. Saturday/Sunday frequency is 15 minutes.
 

Kyle Campbell

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An update: Ever since fares were implemented, today, ridership is probably 20-30% of what it was last week. This is much lower than anticipated but is likely due to it being Tuesday and the fact that students aren't in class. We'll see how things play out later today.
This is one of the quietest summer weeks in general with people using the long weekend to extend their vacation plans. You probably won't get a real feel for how busy it will be until September when students are back and summer vacations have ended.
 

Streety McCarface

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What is the actual frequency today? On Sunday, I witnessed 14 min. which was not that great.

I spoke to several people on-board. Especially elderly people like the tram a lot as it offers at level boarding without obstacles. Also, someone told me that she would need to re-do her drivers license due to her age. With the train running she was considering to stop driving.

Bottom line it is a process of change that needs some time, but everyone seems to love the new service!
Weekend service is every 15 minutes, and for sure. My comment was just more of a statement of what happened today rather than a concrete observation. We'll have to Wait till October for more accurate ridership levels.
 

jamincan

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What is the actual frequency today? On Sunday, I witnessed 14 min. which was not that great.
I was heading home Sunday afternoon from Victoria Park, and the train I boarded was quite full, though not as bad as earlier in the week. The driver announced that the next train would be 10 minutes. Elsewhere someone mentioned that there was a train out-of-service at Conestoga Mall station and when I arrived at Fairway, there was a train waiting there too, so I wonder if they ramped up the frequency part way through the day due to elevated demand.
 

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