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GRT proposes expanding transit services significantly



While the TTC and Peterborough Transit recently considered decreasing service this year to balance their budgets, over in Waterloo Region, Grand River Transit’s taking the opposite tack.

When the Region of Waterloo’s budget committee meets tomorrow, Wednesday, February 2, it will be reviewing GRT’s proposal to increase transit services significantly — in 2011 and the next 20 years.

GRT wants Council to approve its plan to add $4.1 million to its budget in 2011 — and similar amounts every year for the next 19 years.

The GRT proposal helps it to achieve the goals of the regional transportation plan, which Regional Council approved, in principle, last year.

The regional transportation plan aims to increase spending on transportation infrastructure by $20 billion over the next 20 years — two-thirds for transit and one-third for roads.

This year, GRT wants to buy 19 more buses and hire 57 more staff, including 44 drivers.

With the extra vehicles and staff, GRT proposes to:

  • increase the frequency of service along the iXpress route. Buses would drop off and pick up passengers at each stop along the route every ten minutes, instead of every 15 minutes, Mondays to Fridays.
  • increase the number of hours that buses operate along the iXpress route. Buses would start operating after 7 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
  • introduce a new Fischer-Hallman iXPress route seven days a week. Buses would operate between University Avenue and King Street North in Waterloo and Forest Glen Terminal every 15 minutes Mondays to Fridays during rush hours and every 30 minutes at all other times of the week.
  • increase the frequency of service along the 52 Fairview Mall - Ainslie St. route. Buses would drop off and pick up passengers at each stop along the route every ten minutes, instead of every 15 minutes, Mondays to Fridays.
  • revise the 12 Conestoga Mall - Fairview Mall route. Buses would operate entirely along Westmount Road between University Avenue West and Block Line Road and no longer divert to Fischer-Hallman Road.
  • operate more buses to increase service along the Columbia Street branch of the 7 Mainline route Mondays to Fridays from about 9 a.m until 3 p.m. and after 7 p.m.
  • revise the 29 Keats Way route. Buses would operate in both directions along Ira Needles Boulevard Keats Way and University Avenue West between the Boardwalk and the University of Waterloo.
  • increase the frequency of service along the 29 Keats Way route. Buses would drop off and pick up passengers at each stop along the route every ten minutes, instead of every 15 minutes, Mondays to Fridays.
  • increase the hours of service along the 29 Keats Way route. Buses would start operating Saturdays.

GRT proposes to introduce these changes in two parts. It would increase the frequency and hours of service along the current iXpress route in June. It would make all the other changes in September.

The Region still intends to develop rapid transit through the region — although it won’t decide until June whether the rapid transit line would be light rail, rapid buses — or both.

To support the rapid transit line, GRT would also introduce several new express routes — the upcoming Fischer - Hallman iXpress is just the first of them — over the next few years.

Regional Council will consider the final GRT budget at its meeting on Wednesday, March 23.


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