Waterloo LRT Update

Jessica Keung - 4N Civil
Posted on: September 23, 2017

By: Jessica Keung
Almost everyone at the University of Waterloo has been inconvenienced in some way by Waterloo LRT construction, also known as the ION. Now that track construction is nearly complete, everyone in the Region of Waterloo is excited to use the LRT. But where are the trains? The GRT is currently facing issues stemming from the delayed production and delivery of vehicles. Bombardier has delayed the delivery of light rail vehicles (LRVs) and has only delivered one train. The one Bombardier train that was delivered has been sent back because of problems with the core operating software. Originally set to start running in late 2017, the trains are further delayed to next spring. This software problem could delay the delivery further. Bombardier says all trains should be delivered by the end of the year. Bombardier representatives and Regional officials expect the second vehicle to be shipped by September 25th, 2017 and a vehicle on the test track in the middle of October. Jason Valiquette, the manager of ION’s central control facility, hopes that the LRT system will be ready sometime in 2018.

The ION project is currently in Stage 1, where the rapid transit system will consist of the LRT and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) between Fairview Park mall in Kitchener and Ainselie Street Terminal in Cambridge, with 22 stops along the 17 kilometer transit corridor. Stage 2 of the ION project will replace the BRT between Kitchener and Cambridge with an LRT which will create a continuous LRT system that connects the region’s three urban centres.

Once the Stage 1 testing is complete and the ION LRT is fully functional, students and the people of the Region of Waterloo will enjoy:

14 LRVs running on a 19-kilometre route in their own separate lane,

Barrier-free and accessible LRVs that can comfortably hold 200 passengers,

19 stops from Conestoga Mall transit terminal in Waterloo to Fairview Park Mall transit terminal in Kitchener,

Trains that will run every 8 minutes during peak hours,

Ticket vending machines, bike racks, and digital displays that will provide real time updates of the ION trains and

Pedestrian accessible stop platforms.

The ION promises to form the backbone of the GRT’s transit system, providing a frequent, reliable and convenient way of travelling throughout the region. The ION will connect Conestoga Mall, Waterloo Corporate Campus, David Johnston Research & Technology Park, the University of Waterloo, Wilfred Laurier University, Waterloo Park, Uptown Waterloo, Grand River Hospital, Midtown, Downtown Kitchener, and Fairview Park Mall.

The ION fares will be the same as other GRT services and riders will be able to easily transfer between buses and trains. To meet the needs of the new ION electronic fare system, the University of Waterloo has begun phasing out the old, magnetic stripe WatCards and introduced contact-less, smart-chip technology. The transition from old to new WatCard technology for students and staff is expected to be completed by the end of Winter 2018. All current cards will remain active until the new card is issued.