Cambridge is Playing Catchup on Transit.

Last Tuesday during the debate on accepting the LRT consortium, Councillor (and retired mayor) Jane Brewer said the following in response to remarks that transit in Cambridge is not as good as in the rest of the Region.

She stated that in the 1990s,when Greg Durocher (present head of Cambridge Chamber of Commerce), Doug Craig (present Mayor) and herself were on a Cambridge city council that ran transit, the council always dipped into the funding for Cambridge transit to fund other city needs. I thank her for saying that. It was very brave to admit the truth.

I knew this because I know people who live in Cambridge. My best friend has said many times how much better transit is now in Cambridge since the Region has taken it over. The bus that went by near her house used to only go one way. To get downtown, she would have to go all the way around the the route,even though she could walk to downtown Galt in a half-hour.

Recently her son attended the University of Waterloo. In his first year, he was able to live at home. He took the bus that now went both ways to the Ainslie terminal and took the Ixpress to the University. He loves his Upass and will be sad to give it up when he graduates.

Here are the statistics from when the Region took over transit in Cambridge:

1.      Annual ridership in Cambridge has increased from 1.11 million in 1999 (GRT was established in January 2000) to 3.66 million in 2013, a 229% increase. During the same time period, total GRT ridership increased from 9.47 million to 22 million, a 132% increase.
Correspondingly, the amount of service provided in Cambridge increased from 59,300  to 143,900 annual service hours, a 141% increase. In comparison, annual service hours on GRT increased from 336,100 to 631,800, an 88% increase.
2.      Also, please find attached a table that details the 2014 service reductions in Cambridge and the new Maple Grove iXpress. In total, we are adding more service (4,458 annual service hours) and project an increase of 17,659 rides annually in Cambridge.
There is also a million dollars a year going to Cambridge to improve transit. The aBRT will be starting in late 2014 or 2015. It is an Ixpress with priority signals and priority lanes during busy times. It is laying the groundwork for the LRT extension to Cambridge.
The cost to build the LRT from Fairway Kitchener to Ainslie Terminal in Cambridge is the same as building phase one from King St. Conestoga Mall to Fairway Mall. As noted above, Kitchener and Waterloo have more ridership than Cambridge due to the catchup Cambridge  transit has had to make since the Region took it over.
Staff are presently meeting with residents from two seniors’ homes who are having problems with the Cambridge route cuts. The Region always does this. Hopefully we can do some rejigging for the seniors.
The route changes in Cambridge (There are also cuts in Kitchener) are listed below:


Day Type

Effective Date

Service Change Description

Annual Service Hours Change

Forecasted Annual Ridership Change

57 Blair Road


Apr 28 2014

From 30 minute to no midday service



58 Elmwood


May 3 2014

From 30 to 60 minute service



61 Conestoga College


Apr 28 2014

From 30 to 60 minute service during midday in spring only




Jun 23 2014

From 30 to 60 minute service during midday in summer only



62 Woodside


May 3 2014

From 30 to 60 minute service



66 Winston


Apr 28 2014

Route discontinued and replaced with modified Route 71 Melran



203 Maple Grove iXpress



Apr 28 2014

Introduce new route from the Cambridge Centre to Sportsworld via Franklin Boulevard and Maple Grove Road, operating every 30 minutes from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily




Sep 2 2014

Extend service during peak periods to Conestoga College Doon and Cambridge Campuses





8 responses to “Cambridge is Playing Catchup on Transit.

  1. Since 2000, it made lots of improvement GRT in Cambridge what I still visit there.

    I do not think so that Doug Craig should support LRT because Waterloo Region Councillors were involved in 7-10 years ago and agreed. It cannot delete old timeline in the past but they follow up their present time.

  2. As a Cambridge taxpayer, I recognize the improvement in service since the elimination of Cambridge Transit and Kitchener Transit to form GRT. I support transit improvements although I’m dissatisfied with the staging of LRT as it could turn out to be another one of those many false promises to Cambridge if it doesn’t happen. The best way to ensure that it’s reality is to not area rate. I hope most of regional council defeats Mayor Craig’s Motion as Cambridge will need the LRT and also the decades long awaited GO Train.

  3. Wow! It never ceases to amaze me how this whole issue has blossomed into he said, she said.
    I was a kid in Toronto in the 50’s when they began building the subway, (Young St. line) when the city population was under 500,000. In London England this past year, they celebrated the 150th Anniversary of the 1st leg of the underground. At that time (1868) greater London had a population of under 400.000. Talk about vision!
    So here we are, “beginning” to build transit for the future. Hopefully this system will not only spur integration through the Region, but also with transit throughout the whole GTA/Golden Horseshoe. It better, because I can’t imagine what the population growth will be like over the next 30 years. Regardless of that, somehow the notion of not getting LRT into Cambridge for another 30 years has slipped into the conversation. It could be true, although I hope not because there’s nowhere to build roads now, let alone then.
    One thing is for sure though, if everyone from Cambridge (including those Cambridge members on “future” Regional Councils) continue to tout that “30 year” (we don’t want it/we won’t pay for it) notion, it will most certainly become self fulfilling.
    Funny thing is, if the 1st leg of the LRT were to run from Ainslie St. to Fairway Road, we’d not be having ANY of this conversation.

  4. When I moved to Cambridge from Brampton (Bramalea) in 1989, I didn’t have my license. The bus service in Brampton was excellent and although the Bramalea part of Brampton was relatively new, you could easily travel anywhere in the city as well as link quickly to Mississauga. I was shocked when I arrived in Cambridge to find that a license was an absolute necessity as the bus service was abysmal. Although amalgamation had happened more than 10 years earlier, there seemed to be a bizarre and purposeful attempt at keeping the three cities apart. There was also an odd push to refuse any updating of the John Galt Mall. One of the first things my neighbors told me was that we shop in Brantford as that was the quickest “real” mall. Depending on where you lived, the mall you used was in Kitchener, Brantford or Guelph and you certainly couldn’t get a bus there as there was no city link through Cambridge transit.

    There was zero real improvement in Cambridge transit until it was taken over by the region and then the changes were dizzying. Almost immediately, there was a link-up and more routes. The changes to the Ainslie St. Terminal were also hugely positive once transit changed to the region. Our council didn’t make transit a priority but the region did and they also seemed determined to catch us up to transit in Kitchener and Waterloo. For many years, Cambridge has actually received more tax dollars than we put into the region and I suspect that was largely because of the transit improvements.

    I-Express was another huge step forward for anyone working in Kitchener or travelling to Waterloo. The busses are frequent and the routes are accessible. It means it’s now possible for those living in Cambridge to live at home while attending U of W or WLU….something Cambridge council had never made a priority.

    This citizen of Cambridge is happy to pay my fair share of the ION as I trust that even though our mayor & council has fought against the improvement of regional services, the regional council will ensure that eventually, we will be connected to the LRT…they certainly have a wonderful track record in making Cambridge improvements a priority!

  5. From Peter Thurley on Facebook:
    THIS is precisely what infuriates me about the Cambridge position and makes it really hard for me to sympathize with their legitimate concerns about Cambridge paying for a service it doesn’t (yet) receive: “Why not fight for LRT for Cambridge instead of the continuing false claim that the region is against Cambridge” – Jane Grey Mitchell

  6. From Michael Druker on Facebook:
    If Cambridge weren’t paying in, KW would be paying more but not _that_ much more (40%). Meanwhile, if KW weren’t paying in for the Cambridge extension, Cambridge would be paying something like 4-5 times more. The Cambridge half is just as expensive as the KW half, while having way less current ridership and current population.

    If the region is to remain whole and functional and is to have LRT to Cambridge, the only way for that to happen is without the divisive politics of “I’ll pay for my part and you pay for yours” for things that have region-wide impact and significance. (In this case the main impact, of course, is on the reduced costs of roadway expansion in the business-as-usual scenario.)
    21 minutes ago · Like

    I have to say – GRT more than tripling the transit ridership in Cambridge over 13 years is amazing.

  7. I didn’t point out that Cambridge uses the most services because I’m not voting for Doug’s motion and Doug well knows it won’t pass. Why not fight for LRT for Cambridge instead of the continuing false claim that the region is against Cambridge

  8. From Greg Durocher on Facebook:
    Thank you for posting this as I didn’t catch Councillor Mitchell’s post. I would absolutely echo Councillor Brewer’s comments reciting the service level now comparative to 14 years ago. I think however Councillor Mitchell neglected to point out that #1 that is 14 yrs ago, #2 why the Region was conveyed the service AND the Assessment for it and finally #3 the explanation of service differences in the region 14 yrs ago. For #1 I can only say that the population has increased and that alone will produce more ridership, but the real reason for it being a better service is the explanation for #2. Councillor Galloway and I had a connection of students. Preston High School in Cambridge had 50% of it’s students from Doon (South Kitchener) and the only transport they had was school buses, so if they couldn’t get a ride from a Parent or other Student, participating in extracurricular programs was impossible. However the Province had an agreement with Grey Hound to service Niagara to Kitchener through Cambridge and blocked the ability for city bus service to cross municipal boundaries, in fact neither Cambridge Transit or Kitchener Transit were licenced outside the municipal boundary. The ONLY solution was a sort of blackmail, if we took the service regional, the Province would recognize it as a service under the Waterloo Region Act and Grey Hound had no way to block it. So we merged to a Regional model. #3 The City of Waterloo already purchased service from Kitchener Transit, so ultimately a larger tax base gives way to better service, as well Kitchener and Waterloo were more grid fashioned municipalities, Cambridge however was formed by a force amalgamation of three former urban centres who were grid based (except Hespeler) but the challenge was transit services in three pods and connecting them. The GRT will tell you this still poses problems in Cambridge to provide adequate service. But the real difference is this. It is and always has been so easy for the Region to spend money. I was still on Council in 2000 when the GRT came to being. On January 9th (I believe) the buses weren’t even painted yet, the service didn’t change at all as IXpress wasn’t invented yet, and the Region put a posting out for I believe 11 new positions for the new GRT. All the equipment, property, buildings, personnel were transferred over but the Region still needed 11 more people? It was explained to me at the time they needed more people to process payroll, 11? But has led people to say it’s better is IXpress, which by the way disappears when the LRT comes. I know personally lots of IXpress users who are very disappointed the service will take them to Fairview, drop them off so they can hop on the LRT. There is a determined 30 minute longer trip as a result, so they already aren’t too happy. All that said, Councillor Brewer was correct, but circumstances and time would always change things. No one can answer what transit would look like in Kitchener or Cambridge if it was never conveyed to the Region. But the issue isn’t with GRT, it’s a good program and totally separate from the LRT debate. you see, Cambridge won’t have LRT and LRT might just be what the Doctor Orders for Kitchener and Waterloo, I’m sure it will work great to inspire development in Kitchener. But what Councillor’s fail to understand is all that goodness is 1/3rd on the backs of Cambridge taxpayers when for all accounts by most if not all public transportation consultants, say that for Cambridge to meet the requirements and for funding opportunities to be available to see the LRT come, is not remotely likely within the 30 year current Stage. So why doesn’t Regional Council see the unfairness in that? Why doesn’t Regional Council treat Cambridge the way they’ve treated the Townships, “you don’t get it, so you don’t pay”, it seems reasonable, fair and to make all the KW Regional Councillor’s happy, you take Cambridge’s voice out of the debate. You want it, knock yourself out. When it is Cambridge’s turn in 50 years or so, Cambridge will be well prepared to pay the outstanding share of covering the costs from it’s municipal border. Right now, Kitchener and Waterloo taxpayers are getting it, and sharing the cost, why is it that Cambridge is paying too? We all know why, because if you didn’t have the assessment base in Cambridge to spread the cost over you would never get any support in KW from taxpayers. 1/3rd the cost is being covered by taxpayers who will never see the benefit. Don’t bring in area rating for roads and other services, those are areas of responsibility for the Region and by the way service 100% of the population not 5% like public transit does. The expressway argument is fruitless, that serves 100% of the population EVEN the public transit users as buses use the expressway as well. The LRT at the very most will serve between 7 and 5% of the Regions population, and probably not even that much because it is only in Kitchener and Waterloo so remembering that 33% of the population is in the Townships or Cambridge, it won’t meet that target. Staff and a few long time Councillors have wanted this for 30 years, they’ve finally figured a way to wiggle the numbers so it looks like it works, but just like the Kitchener GO Service numbers originally proposed, lets see how the proposed LRT ridership turns out. Area Rate Cambridge out, and I’m sure you’ll get resounding support to build it now, at least from Cambridge.

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