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

nfitz

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Sunday was still free. It's not surprising that ridership would drop significantly this week, once you have to pay. There shouldn't be any less university students this week than last week - it's the middle of the trimester. But I remember being a student - I'd often walk from Erb and Caroline to UW. Gosh, if there's a free streetcar, I'd jump on it, that's for sure. But if I had to pay on a sunny day? No.

Oh, yes, stop spacing on the iON is definitely an improvement from the streetcar stop spacing ...
We could always get rid of a few streetcar stops ... sometimes the 200 metre spacing does seem a bit much, and 400 might make sense - though often it's pretty constrained by major intersections and intersecting routes.

But I wouldn't call the 1.8 km from the UW north campus stop (R&T) to Northfield an improvement. The route has managed to completely miss the Albert McCormick area, which has some relatively significant density - meanwhile none of the stops north of the main University stop seem to have anyone living withing a half-kilometre of them them other than that tiny-co-op north of Conestoga Mall!

If I was still living in that area, I'd be furious that they skipped a stop where the track crossed Old Albert Street, which is 800 metres from one station and 1 km from another. (and that's along the track, if you walk it's 1.0 km to the south and 1.2 km to the north. Back in the day, I used to just walk along the tracks because it was shorter! That probably isn't kocher anymore.
 

Streety McCarface

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Sunday was still free. It's not surprising that ridership would drop significantly this week, once you have to pay. There shouldn't be any less university students this week than last week - it's the middle of the trimester. But I remember being a student - I'd often walk from Erb and Caroline to UW. Gosh, if there's a free streetcar, I'd jump on it, that's for sure. But if I had to pay on a sunny day? No.

We could always get rid of a few streetcar stops ... sometimes the 200 metre spacing does seem a bit much, and 400 might make sense - though often it's pretty constrained by major intersections and intersecting routes.

But I wouldn't call the 1.8 km from the UW north campus stop (R&T) to Northfield an improvement. The route has managed to completely miss the Albert McCormick area, which has some relatively significant density - meanwhile none of the stops north of the main University stop seem to have anyone living withing a half-kilometre of them them other than that tiny-co-op north of Conestoga Mall!

If I was still living in that area, I'd be furious that they skipped a stop where the track crossed Old Albert Street, which is 800 metres from one station and 1 km from another. (and that's along the track, if you walk it's 1.0 km to the south and 1.2 km to the north. Back in the day, I used to just walk along the tracks because it was shorter! That probably isn't kocher anymore.
That was a dumb mistake on their behalf, but honestly, I'd be fine with it if they built a proper bus loop at Northfield. There is definitely an easy way to access the rail line from McCormick, so a future station could easily be built there. It's not like trains are traveling at design speeds anyways.
 

Bytor

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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.
But we can compare to July & August last year. That;s more relevant than a single month's (or even 11 days') numbers with no context.
 

Streety McCarface

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Update:

During this week, I was able to travel along the entire line during numerous times of the day for different days. As expected, Tuesday's ridership was much lower than it should have been, with ridership gradually climbing up ever since.

Most interestingly, the morning southbound trains have very little to no passengers using them whatsoever, I and between 5-10 people seem to be the exception. However, afternoon peak ridership is rather impressive, with all seats taken and about 1/3 the standing room used. I'd estimate that a good portion of these trains have between 80 and 100 people on them at a given time. During the afternoon rush, UW had about 30-40 people catching the southbound trains (especially at 4:30, 5, and 4), while Central station and City hall had at least 25 people waiting at 5 pm. Conestoga Mall sees about 5-10 people board each train, but during afternoon rushes, 20+ people can be seen getting off. It looks like Conestoga will be an evening station, where the majority of its use will come from people going to the mall after work.
 

nfitz

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Most interestingly, the morning southbound trains have very little to no passengers using them ...
I remain baffled where anyone who lives north of Waterloo Park would board, other than perhaps a bus link to Conestoga Mall. It certainly doesn't serve the students in the Bearinger/Albert/Sunnydale area very well ... they might as well keep walking by the time they get to R&T station. Bus connections seem poor.
 

Streety McCarface

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I remain baffled where anyone who lives north of Waterloo Park would board, other than perhaps a bus link to Conestoga Mall. It certainly doesn't serve the students in the Bearinger/Albert/Sunnydale area very well ... they might as well keep walking by the time they get to R&T station. Bus connections seem poor.
They really are, it's stressful enough trying to make my connection every morning and I'm lucky in that I can connect at Conestoga Mall. For the lakeshore people, it is probably a lot worse. I'm still convinced that the least they can do is schedule the buses properly, but my hope is that they eventually build a bus loop at Northfield and build a station at the old McCormick buildings. if the LRT is never going to travel faster than 50 km/h, then I don't see any issue with adding one stop there.
 

nfitz

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If the LRT is never going to travel faster than 50 km/h, then I don't see any issue with adding one stop there.
If no one rides the LRT that far north, I don't see a reason not to either! I suspect that would be the busiest non-terminal stop for AM peak boardings north of Uptown!

Currently it's about 3.3 km from the north campus station to the mall, with one stop. Two stops is still huge spacing.

I was initially surprised they weren't building a King/Northfield stop - 500 metres north of Conestoga Mall.

Though I was also surprised that there were no sidewalks on the road from the Kraus Drive/Conestoga Rd roundabout to the Ion station, ... expecting pedestrians who live near Kraus Conestoga to walk all the way up to King Street along two sides of a triangle, or wander through the CIBC parking lot. ... perhaps they've remedied that?

Gosh, there's a sidewalk along Frobisher Drive now! That's new. The crazy stuff I saw along there, little kids walking to the mall. Though the blind person trying to stay out of traffic and dodge the snow banks was the worst.
 
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KevinT

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I had my first experience with fare inspection this morning.

I'd tapped in at Block Line station to head north, and the inspectors apparently boarded at Central wearing the yellow Transit Security vests that I've seen before. I didn't notice them boarding but there was an automated announcement "Fare inspectors onboard, please show proof of payment." The two inspectors had boarded at opposite ends and worked their way to the middle, using terminals that looked similar to restaurant debit machines but which probably also had barcode scanners in their ends (I didn't get to see a paper bus transfer being scanned to confirm).

Despite the train having full seats and about 20 standing passengers, they were done and had met in the middle by Grand River Hospital thanks to everyone having their cards/transfers ready for inspection due to the announcement. As far as I could tell they didn't have to ticket or warn anybody, then they got off at Laurier - Waterloo Park station.

I was impressed by how courteous, fast, and efficient the whole process was. Well done guys!
 

nfitz

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So now that fares are working, how do those of us just popping in occasionally do things? Can we just tap our credit cards on the reader in the car? Or do we have to use a ticket machine in the car?

Hmm, and how do transfers from GO work - to get the discount?
 

Streety McCarface

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So now that fares are working, how do those of us just popping in occasionally do things? Can we just tap our credit cards on the reader in the car? Or do we have to use a ticket machine in the car?

Hmm, and how do transfers from GO work - to get the discount?
Ticket machine on the platform.

Best bet is to get an EasyGO fare card (should have gone with presto :mad: ) and fill it up with pay as you go. The machines dispense them. Paying with cash isn't worth it even if you only use transit like once a month.
 

nfitz

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Ticket machine on the platform.
You have to be kidding me. After all the fuss that GRT made, about selecting a payment card that was compatible with debit/credit tap, thus eliminating Presto? Vancouver let's you tap credit cards on vehicles - isn't that the big benefit to not using Presto?

So I can just tap my credit/debit on the platform and go? I don't really have to stand there risking missing a streetcar do I?

Best bet is to get an EasyGO fare card (should have gone with presto :mad: ) and fill it up with pay as you go. The machines dispense them. Paying with cash isn't worth it even if you only use transit like once a month.
Probably closer to 3-4 times a year - and it's a business expense, so saving a few cents isn't a huge concern. Simplicity and not missing streetcars is a big concern!
 

KevinT

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So now that fares are working, how do those of us just popping in occasionally do things? Can we just tap our credit cards on the reader in the car? Or do we have to use a ticket machine in the car?
There are no fare vending machines or card readers on the trains themselves, you validate before you board. Each end of each station platform has a little podium with an RFID reader in the top and a barcode scanner in the front for validating your EasyGO fare card or printed bus transfer. In the center of each station platform is a fare vending machine with touchscreen where you can validate or load your EasyGO card, purchase an EasyGO card (but not senior or child versions, which require ID and are done at a staffed location). The fare vending machines also accept cash, debit, or credit for purchasing paper single or multi-ride tickets. I think once you purchase the EasyGO card / ticket, you still have to validate it in a separate operation in order to start the 90 minute transfer window.

Edit to add: All door boarding goes much quicker when people validate as they arrive at the station, rather than trying to access a machine on the train while boarding.

Hmm, and how do transfers from GO work - to get the discount?
You have to visit a staffed location to set up the "connect to GO" flag on your EasyGO card. I tried to do this when I got my card in late May but they weren't set up to do it yet, and I haven't been back to try since. In theory you can then tap it at the GO park and ride lot within a certain time window of tapping it to validate a fare/transfer to get the discount. Not sure why they didn't just set up the regular RFID podiums and fare vending machines to recognize a Presto card and have you tap Presto then EasyGO to claim the discount. (The TagInfo android app on my phone currently recognizes it without knowing the super sacred secret Metrolinx keys, as the Mifare Application Identifier (AID) is public knowledge.) They could still limit it to working only at stops/stations near a GO connection, having to get a Connect to GO flag pre-set on the EasyGO card just seems like an unnecessary hoop to jump through.

Just looked at https://www.grt.ca/en/fares-passes/go-train-riders.aspx and at least they're now saying that "The Connect-to-GO flag is not available yet".
 
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nfitz

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What a fail. You should be able to just tap your credit card.

And good grief - if Quebec transit agencies can supplementally handle Presto cards for transfers - then surely GRT, partially funded by Ontario, should have been able to do it.

And really - there's no way of paying your fare on board - even with a GRT fare card?
 

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