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

robmausser

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From the 401 widening thread- found a PDF for phase 2 of ION:

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I was reviewing Phase 2 plans for Waterloo Region's ION LRT and I noticed it runs along King Street between Highway 8 and 401

I also see the proposed flyovers missing from the 8/401 interchange in the plans. Probably part of a separate project? That area of King is already a mess- would be even crazier with the LRT without these put in. Should be done first if possible

Link:
Im going to start calling the ION the "noodle line" because its like someone threw a Spaghetti noodle onto the map.
 

tmlittle

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^ I am pretty constantly amazed at how non-direct the line seems. I look forward to checking the LRT out in person sometime to see for myself.
The original ION section is relatively direct in following the "north-south" (not actually north or south) alignment of Kitchener and Waterloo, but the Cambridge section is really noodly. Historically speaking the Grand River Railway (the old interurban) went directly from Galt to Kitchener via Preston and had a branch line coming off it to serve Hespeler. Hespeler is a bit isolated from the rest of the Region and even from the rest of the city of Cambridge, and is honestly more in the orbit of places like Guelph or along the 401 in general. Having the highway placed between it and everything else also really cuts it off. So there's certainly political considerations with making ION Stage 2 take a giant detour through Hespeler and Cambridge Centre on its way to Galt. At the same time, there is a lot of money and effort being poured into building up Galt as "Downtown Cambridge" and marketing Galt specifically *as* Cambridge for purposes of tourism, advertising, etc (most of the rest of Cambridge has nothing about it to market, and is just faceless suburbs). The success of the Handmaid's Tale put it on the map a bit. This is all a complete 180 for the City of Cambridge (which still has a number of small-town style city councillors who aren't great at making planning decisions), after decades of undermining the historic centres in the city like Preston and Galt in favour of suburbanization, and (along with the GRCA) demolishing a number of heritage structures along the riverside in Galt to build giant berms as a misguided flood control measure after the historic flooding in 1974.

With the 206 Coronation iXpress now operating, it seems very likely that, for example, if you wanted to take transit from Galt to Preston, the 206 would be a much faster ride, or at least much more direct -- this will probably become even more accentuated over time if the Region follows through with BRTification of the iXpress network. That said I imagine part of the idea with the line is that people from Hespeler and Preston might go to Kitchener or to Galt, but people in Galt aren't necessarily very likely to go to Kitchener, as Galt has more downtown amenities of its own.

That picture isn't very close to crush load. Crush load is extremely uncomfortable, with practically no space between passengers. No seat would be left empty. Plenty of riders at each stop would be opting not to get on a crush-loaded car.

I haven't experienced crush loading on the Ion, but I hope I never do, and it does get busy at some periods. I take it from Conestoga to Grand River Hospital in the afternoon peaks, and it can be fairly busy. As mentioned, GRH is busy anywhere from 2:45 to 4:30 with high school students. The University segment can get busy at various times a day.

The system is supposed to have better frequency than this already, but that has been delayed by vehicle reliability issues. Hopefully soon. Often, it does seem called for.
The only time I experienced genuine crush loading was on launch day, which was at least in part because many people didn't know how to/where to stand, as most people in KW (unless they take heavily crowded routes like the 110) are used to getting a seat the majority of the time. Rider aptitude seems to have improved dramatically over the few months service has been happening.

I think once 8-minute peak period frequencies come in, the dynamics will change a bit -- Google Maps still often recommends parallel local bus routes for me like the 6, 8, or 12 because door-to-door time can sometimes be less when you factor in waiting 5-10 minutes, or 15 if you are unlucky and also off-peak. 8-minute frequencies will also enable better transfers -- I don't care at all about a single-seat ride, but Google Maps thinks I do. I suspect the higher frequencies will induce more app-driven demand, and ultimately boost ridership even if the average pphpd is lower after the switch.
 

Kyle Campbell

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It also has way less ridership. Crush loads can cause a lot of problems, like door issues,
Also, people don't seem to be complaining about KW buses. While the trains certainly have issues here in Ottawa, it's really compounded by problems throughout the entire system brought on by the network changes they did. People in Ottawa would be screaming just as loudly even if the trains were flawless because the problems run so much deeper. OC Transpo really mucked things up
 

Streety McCarface

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Just look at how the streets are laid out. They all look like noodles.
The region of waterloo and their cities' road networks were designed by a drunk guy eating spaghetti that vomited it all up and called it a day. I don't know how they managed to screw this city up so badly from a road planning perspective.
 

innsertnamehere

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The region of waterloo and their cities' road networks were designed by a drunk guy eating spaghetti that vomited it all up and called it a day. I don't know how they managed to screw this city up so badly from a road planning perspective.
They didn't have concession roads lining up in nice little squares like the GTA did. The Concession system is much more fractured in the area, making planners peice together and build new arterial roads.

Compare to the GTA, where the main arterials are just upgraded concession roads from the 1840's.

I find it interesting how the density of the concession grid is often a pretty good indicator of how bad traffic is in an area in the GTA. Scarborough has pretty light arterial road traffic because it's concession grid is considerably denser, meaning more capacity overall. compare to York Region, which has massive concession grids, and the congestion is way worse.

Brampton too. Concession grids are 1.4x3km, but they have mostly built new arterial roads to break up the 3km distance, making an effective grid of 1.4x1.5km. Compare to York Region's 2.1x2.1km.. you end up with an effective arterial road grid that has double the capacity.
 

tmlittle

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I think there's also a big distinction between the old downtown street system which was planned in a radial continental European style, and the later suburban arterial roads planned in the 50s and 60s. The former are distinctly car unfriendly and great for pedestrians, the latter are a pedestrian nightmare as the high speeds and gradual curves make it harder to cross safely, as trees, bushes, and noise barriers often obstruct drivers' vision. The old streets, in contrast, are basically always straight, but have frequent angled intersections, which are dangerous with cars around, but less prone to high speed collisions that kill people.

Another interesting though almost disappeared feature is the tendency for older commercial blocks to have a laneway running through them to access a central courtyard. Many older residential blocks have this as well. The City of Kitchener has been slowly working to pedestrianize a few of these, with decent results, where there are now a few laneway businesses (like a small grocery store downtown) that are effectively only pedestrian-accessible, and not even visible from major roads -- a progressive step. Despite rampant condo development, damage to the downtown done in the 50s-2000s is being slowly reversed, and the ION will certainly help.
 

robmausser

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I'm not going to hate on the K-W street grid. If developed with medium density, it will probably be the closest thing we get to an old-European style city in Ontario.
I do believe the ION goes beyond the fact that the streets in Kitchener are not a grid. It jumps back and forth between many rights of ways and other streets. It is obvious that public input and nimbyism has pushed the LRT to go around many areas and obstacles. Its not like it follows one road that is windy.
 

smallspy

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I do believe the ION goes beyond the fact that the streets in Kitchener are not a grid. It jumps back and forth between many rights of ways and other streets. It is obvious that public input and nimbyism has pushed the LRT to go around many areas and obstacles. Its not like it follows one road that is windy.
It doesn't have that much to do with nimbyism. The fact of the matter is that the most important ridership generators, especially at the north end, are not in a straight line from each other.

Dan
 

MidtownKW

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I think there's also a big distinction between the old downtown street system which was planned in a radial continental European style, and the later suburban arterial roads planned in the 50s and 60s. The former are distinctly car unfriendly and great for pedestrians, the latter are a pedestrian nightmare as the high speeds and gradual curves make it harder to cross safely, as trees, bushes, and noise barriers often obstruct drivers' vision. The old streets, in contrast, are basically always straight, but have frequent angled intersections, which are dangerous with cars around, but less prone to high speed collisions that kill people.

Another interesting though almost disappeared feature is the tendency for older commercial blocks to have a laneway running through them to access a central courtyard. Many older residential blocks have this as well. The City of Kitchener has been slowly working to pedestrianize a few of these, with decent results, where there are now a few laneway businesses (like a small grocery store downtown) that are effectively only pedestrian-accessible...
I'm sorry to tell you that the grocery store in question (J&B) closed back in the summer. But I think your description of things and what is happening downtown is very apt.

I do believe the ION goes beyond the fact that the streets in Kitchener are not a grid. It jumps back and forth between many rights of ways and other streets. It is obvious that public input and nimbyism has pushed the LRT to go around many areas and obstacles. Its not like it follows one road that is windy.
There are a few places where this is true, in particular downtown where the line splits to avoid taking King. Generally, though, the way it is routed has more to do with the paucity of big trip generators, and the desire to take advantage of existing rights-of-way. It doesn't follow one road not because some NIMBYs on that road resisted it, but because it would miss relatively big destinations.
 

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