The provincial government has pledged $300 million for the Region of Waterloo’s rapid transit system, causing hope for some and anger for others. The rapid transit system has been under consideration for several years, with a plan submitted to the provincial and federal governments for funding. The project is estimated at costing $790 million, now putting pressure on the federal government to match the funding pledge.
The proposed rapid transit system would be composed of electric trains between Fairview Park Mall in Kitchener and Conestoga Mall in Waterloo, with fast buses connecting to Cambridge. As a result of this imbalance the Mayor of Cambridge, Doug Craig, has objected to the project, proposing a system of rapid buses instead. The system was proposed to help promote housing and jobs in the downtown areas of the region, connecting the cities along 18 stations which could become the hubs of redirected Grand River Transit buses.
The public reaction of anger is a result of the difference between this pledge and the provincial government’s pledge in 2007 to pay up to two thirds of the project, approximately $512 million. If the federal government sticks to the one-third amount anticipated it would leave the municipality responsible for the $212 million difference.
Politicians have remained hopeful though, as this pledge will help keep the project moving forward towards construction and completion. Without the promise the project could easily have failed before it was even under consideration. Eyes are now on the federal government to see what they will pledge, and how much will be left to the Region.