URBAN MOBILITY FORUM / FORUM SUR LA MOBILITÉ URBAINE - WINTER / HIVER 2018 - 46
FEATURE | ARTICLE DE FOND
Light Rail Transforming Waterloo Region
By Teresa Chiavaroli, Region of Waterloo
A GROWING REGION needs innovative,
transformative public transit. Waterloo
Region, one of Ontario's largest communities, is experiencing significant change
and growth as the community prepares to
welcome ION light rail to its transit service.
development has taken place along the ION
route - that's in advance of service launch.
"Even in advance of service, it's very
gratifying to see how ION is transforming
the community in Waterloo Region,"
says Region of Waterloo Councillor Tom
Galloway, Chair of the Planning and Works
Committee to which the light rail project
When a rapid transit system was first
considered by the Region of Waterloo in
the 1970's, it was envisioned as a key tool
to move people and influence planning
and development within the region. It was
also recognized as a means to shape a
community that was about to experience
The current population of Waterloo
Region is approximately 575,000, having grown by 7 per cent since 2010,
with projections of a further increase by
nearly 200,000 new residents in the next
In 2011, Regional Council approved light
rail transit (LRT) in two stages. Stage 1
ION provides a light rail service from
Conestoga Station in Waterloo to Fairway
Station in Kitchener. A total of 19 stations
connect riders to key destinations, including urban cores, employment centres, and
Stage 1 also includes a rapid express bus
connection from Cambridge to Kitchener
with nine new ION branded buses. The
buses connect riders directly to light rail
offering free Wi-Fi and USB charging ports
along the way. Most significantly, they are
the first step towards LRT in Cambridge.
Stage 2 ION will see the ION bus service
replaced by ION LRT connecting the
core areas of the region's three cities -
Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo.
Capital costs for Stage 1 of the project
are $868 million, with the costs funded
by three levels of government: the
Government of Canada, the Government
of Ontario and the Region of Waterloo.
ION's influence on community development is already easy to see. In the years
since it was approved by Regional
Council, over $2 billion of investment and
PHOTO: TOMASZ ADAMSKI
SHAPING THE COMMUNITY
ION light rail train approaching Laurier-Waterloo Park Station.
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reports. "The transit element of the project
is one that everybody is familiar with, but
it's proven to be an extremely effective
planning tool here in our community.
Google Canada has located right beside
an ION station, and several office and residential developments have taken place. This
is all adding to the attractiveness