Tag Archives: Ion

Vanier/Traynor Informal Pedestrian Crossing.

Here is the text of an e-mail sent to Regional Councillors concerning the Vanier/Traynor Crossing .

As part of constructing the ION system, a fence was installed along the Hydro Corridor, which has restricted previous informal pedestrian access between this neighbourhood and the properties on Fairway Road. This area is now an active part of the ION system, with trains testing along the corridor.

The Region and the City of Kitchener are continuing to work on the provision of a permanent pedestrian access point (with gates and bells) across the LRT tracks, including the identification of a suitable location. The properties on both sides of the LRT tracks are privately owned. Once a the location and property requirements have been finalized, the Region will finalize the design and start construction (funding for construction still needs to be finalized).  The City of Kitchener is responsible for acquiring the property and constructing a formal public access to the ION crossing.

The Region has retained a consultant for the design of the pedestrian crossing. This work is ongoing.  Once the design and property acquisition work is complete construction can start. The Region is also committed to applying to the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund to receive funding for the project and if this is not possible staff are reviewing alternative funding which may require Council approvals.

The City is working on completing the work to select the appropriate location for sidewalks to connect to the ION crossing and the associated land acquisition.  Region staff have agreed to assist the City should expropriation be required.  Region and City staff will coordinate timing of land acquisition and construction to ensure that there is public access to the  ION crossing when it is complete.

Given the current status of design and land acquisition it is unlikely that the pedestrian crossing will be open before ION service starts. The earliest that it could be open is likely spring 2019 (a full schedule is not complete as the design is not complete).  A preliminary design and cost estimate of the walkway and rail crossing is now being developed, which will allow us to move forward with approvals and seek funding.

We are also aware that pedestrians are crossing the LRT tracks and damaging fences in this location. As a result, the Region has placed signage in this area advising that this is an unsafe activity.

In terms of the permanent crossing, the next steps include:

  • Complete the design work and identify the budget
  • Finalize location of the crossing
  • Work with the City to complete their feasibility study
  • Request funding
  • Acquire the necessary land
  • Construct the crossing

which has restricted previous informal pedestrian access between this neighbourhood and the properties on Fairway Road. This area is now an active part of the ION system, with trains testing along the corridor.

People have asked me why there is a crossing at Old Albert in Waterloo and not at Traynor.  Frankly, I use the Albert crossing and kept after staff for a pedestrian crossing from the very beginning of LRT. Unfortunately due to the informal nature of the Traynor /Vanier crossings, no one picked up this need for a pedestrian crossing. It is not uncommon for the needs of pedestrians to be ignored as shown by the many beaten down paths along roads without sidewalks and is something that we must continue working on changing.


Transportation: The LRT/ION. Part 1 of The Fourth of my Five Priorities for the Next Term of Council

 My Pledge: I will continue to make sure that the LRT/ION is on budget and on time.

Why did I vote for the LRT?

I have a Master Library and Information Science. Before I made my decision on the LRT, I did my research. I looked at information for light rail and information for bus rapid transit, both pro and con.

In 2010, I said I wouldn’t accept LRT in its present form with respect to cost. The province had said they would give 500 million to the light rail project. They came in with 300 million. So changes needed to be made to the financing of LRT before I could find it acceptable.

Staff found efficiencies and savings and we went to a Public Private Partnership which brought the burden on the taxpayer down to 11 dollars per year per household. If the estimated cost of fares is included, the amount is .5  increase per year until 2018. When weighing the increase against the 20,900 jobs LRT will create, the benefits to intensification and reduced gridlock, the benefits outweighed the costs.

Also Grandlinq is very experienced in building and running light rail. The Region still owns the ION and will control fares.

During the last election, I promised to support looking again at rapid buses. Once again I did my research. I found BRT wanting.

For my research, I studied the light rail of a number of cities, both southern and northern cities like Edmonton and Calgary. The city I looked at in particular was Portland Oregon.

This is what a traveller had to say about Portland in 1970,

Scattered bomb-site look of downtown parking lots.

Compare this to today where the downtown is according to the Lonely Planet,

Portland positively rocks. It’s a city with a vibrant downtown, pretty residential neighborhoods

Why? Portland turned away from parking lots to intensification, light rail and transit. Waterloo Region is doing the same to save our farmland, stop sprawl, cut gridlock and create great vibrant downtowns. Downtowns that a few years before the hope of this project were dying.

The provincial and federal governments supported Waterloo Region’s light rail because it is a job generator. 16,900 jobs will be created around the ION stations. This does not include direct jobs such as ION drivers, construction workers and engineers building the line.

Waterloo is the city that will benefit most from the ION. 70,000 university students already jam the Ixpress and crowding is one of the issues the Feds talked to me about when we met. Imagine the gridlock if students got off the buses and drove again. The Universities and their high tech spinoffs are Waterloo’s bread and butter.

Traffic congestion can be solved by transit or by expanding roads. If we do not have the ION, we will have to build 300 to 400 new and expanded roads at a cost similar to the ION. Westmount at Glasgow will have to be 6 lanes as will Fischer Hallman and Victoria St.

The LRT is being built as you read this. Caroline St. is already dug up, the rail cars are ordered, contacts are signed. To stop it would cost hundreds of millions of dollars for nothing. Look to Ottawa where the LRT was cancelled then restarted when the buses ended up in a gridlock conga line at rush hour. If Bus Rapid Transit, with its slightly lesser cost upfront but more costs later to replace buses, were put in, it would end up costing more than the LRT because the millions wasted by the cancellation would still be on your tax bill.

That being said,  I will continue to make sure that the LRT/ION is on budget (Inflation has been built into the 818 million cost) and on time.

Transportation, Roads  Part 2

Transportation, Cycling and Walking Part 3

Transportation, Transit, Part 4

Light Rail in Turkey: Ideas for Waterloo Region. by guest blogger, Kevin Thomason

 I want to

LRT in Istanbul

LRT in Istanbul, Turkey

continue with another of the ongoing series of e-mails I have sent from my travels of what we can learn from LRT systems around the world.

It is astounding the systems being built in rapidly developing countries and I would like to focus this time on the Istanbul, Turkey Light Rapid Transit network – an LRT that almost bridges two continents – Europe and Asia.  With one of the highest passenger loads in the world, the Istanbul LRT lines move hundreds of thousands of people every day as part of a larger integrated system of Bus, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Light Rail Transit (LRT), and Subways.
Istanbul has two older LRT lines built in the 1970’s very similar to Calgary’s C Train with high platform heights, dated rolling stock, and challenging stations.  They also have two newer LRT lines built just a few years ago using modern low-floor trains much more comparable to what we are planning for here in Waterloo Region.
The capacity of people moved daily on their LRT is astounding.  The new T1 route is 18km long with more than 100 Bombardier and Alstom LRT trains moving up to 320,000 people per day through a narrow, congested part of Istanbul that is over 2,000 years old.
Our construction challenges are nothing compared to the archaeological and engineering issues facing Istanbul.  This line travels within metres of the 1,600 year old Hagia Sofia – one of the grandest churches in the world and for almost 1,000 years the world’s largest cathedral, as well as within a few hundred meters of the famous 500 year old Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque).  Knox Presbyterian Church in Waterloo has nothing to worry about when one sees how the LRT in Istanbul navigates so close to these ancient world heritage sites.
The Istanbul LRT trains are often attached together in dual trains to double the length and capacity.  A peak times there is often as little as one or two minutes between trains as tens of thousands of people per hour move along this scenic line.  It is amazing to see how so many trains intermingle with thousands of tourists and pedestrians in the ancient core of the bustling city with few incidents or problems.
The system uses double-headed trains that can be driven from driver cabs at either end so there is no need to turn them around and similar to what is being planned for Waterloo they use fast, efficient paid station areas and proof of purchase ticketing so passengers can board at any door of the LRT.
The Istanbul system incorporates a lot of landscaping and greenery wherever possible – often creatively using trees, planters, and living fences to help guide traffic and pedestrians.  It reinforces the need for us to include as much greenery here in Waterloo as possible.
Below are a number of photos I took of their LRT system and ideas the Region should consider.
Istanbul LRT

Typical Istanbul LRT station

LRT side by side

LRT’s pass each other in a busy residential and shopping district of Istanbul.

Tickets for Istanbul LRT

The automatic ticketing machines used by the transit network that take a variety of currencies and utilize a variety of different languages.

Park LRT

LRT passes the entrance to a park

LRT kiosk

LRT passengers using their transit pass or token to go through the gates to gain access to the LRT station platform to catch the next train.

LRT platform in Istanbul

A station platform as two LRTs (one in each direction) simultaneously arrive.

LRT and ambulance

A Red Crescent Ambulance using the LRT track right of way for emergency access in Istanbul.

Crowds and LRT tracks

Huge tourist crowds not impeded by the LRT tracks in any way.


A double LRT train passing alongside t entrance to the 1,600 year old Hagia Sofia Cathedral/Mosque.

Crowds by the LRT

Crowds by the LRT. Nobody run over!


What I said in response to Mayor Halloran about the City of Waterloo’s Support for LRT

I am so tired of Mayor Halloran and some people saying that the City of Waterloo does not support LRT. I grew up in Waterloo and often my kids say to me “Do you know everybody, Mom?”

At least four of the delegations tonight who are for the LRT are from the City of Waterloo. The universities, including urban planning and engineering professors support the LRT. Of course the University students support LRT. Sitting in the audience tonight are representatives of the B.I.A. which supports LRT. Most of the City councillors support the LRT.

I have letters from high tech Waterloo companies who support the LRT. Communitech supports the LRT. I have had many letters and comments from my constituents that they support the LRT. Yes, even when I went door to door in 2010, I met people who supported the LRT.

My City of Waterloo includes the people who support the LRT.

Public Engagement and Publicity around the Ion

When we were in China, our guide proudly told us that subway extensions are built in one year. The land is expropriated and the people moved and that’s it. No public input. Quite different here, where it has taken 10 years to get to the point of building the LRT.

Some people have said that the Region isn’t doing enough to publicize or engage the public over the building of the LRT. Please remember, we’ve been publicizing this issue for 10 years, three election cycles.

This is just what has been done  in 2011 and 2013 and doesn’t include all the public meetings, newsletters, etc, etc before the 2010 election.


In 2011, prior to Council¡s decision on the preferred approach to rapid transit ( remember, council had already approved the LRT once, before the 2010 election, this was the relook), the Region held a variety of community relations activities and events, including:
25 public consultation/information centres (2,650 participants);
20 consultations with local businesses and agencies (550 participants);
two formal public input meetings at Council (101 participants);
a live webcast (139 participants);
1,760 written comments from the community. (On top of this, I got 1000 individual emails in support of the Ion, the most emails on any topic ever and way more than the anti-emails which were around 100)


Appendix A ¡V Complete list of ION presentations
City of Cambridge Economic Development Committee ¡V January 9, 2013
City of Cambridge Revitalization Advisory Committee ¡V January 9, 2013
Tri-TAG Meeting  January 17, 2013
Grand River Accessibility Advisory Committee ¡V January 24, 2013
LPGA Organizers ¡V January 28, 2013
Downtown Kitchener BIA Networking Event ¡V January 30, 2013
City of Waterloo/BIA Update Meeting ¡V February 13, 2013
Preston BIA AGM ¡V February 20, 2013
UpTown Waterloo BIA Update ¡V February 21, 2013
Galt BIA Update ¡V March 8, 2013
Public Art Advisory Committee ¡V March 11, 2013
Reurbanization Community Advisory Panel ¡V March 25, 2013
University of Waterloo Employee Lunch & Learn ¡V March 27, 2013
Downtown Kitchener BIA Networking Event ¡V March 27, 2013
Wonders of Winter Meeting ¡V April 2, 2013
UpTown Waterloo BIA Networking Event ¡V April 4, 2013
University of Waterloo School of Architecture ¡V April 10, 2013
Galt BIA AGM ¡V April 23, 2013
UpTown Waterloo BIA AGM ¡V April 24, 2013
Downtown Kitchener Action and Advisory Committee ¡V April 25, 2013
Waterloo Wellington Museums and Art Galleries Network Meeting ¡V May 6, 2013
City of Waterloo Fire and Rescue ¡V May 6, 2013
Reurbanization Community Advisory Panel ¡V May 6, 2013
City of Waterloo Fire and Rescue ¡V May 7, 2013
Kitchener Economic Development Advisory Committee ¡V May 22, 2013
Waterloo Rotary Club ¡V May 23, 2013
Alliance for a Grand Community ¡V May 25, 2013
Building Downtown Kitchener 2020 Vision Event ¡V May 29, 2013
Downtown Kitchener BIA Networking Event ¡V May 29, 2013
Belmont BIA Annual General Meeting ¡V June 12, 2013
Tri-TAG Update ¡V June 13, 2013
Terrance on the Square ¡V June 14, 2013
UpTown West Waterloo Neighbourhood Association ¡V June 17, 2013
City of Kitchener Arts and Culture Advisory Committee ¡V June 18, 2013
Public Art Advisory Committee ¡V June 21, 2013
UpTown Waterloo BIA Walking Tour ¡V June 21, 2013
King & Northfield Business Owners ¡V June 25, 2013
Downtown Kitchener BIA Networking Event ¡V June 26, 2013
Grand River Accessibility Advisory Committee ¡V August 22, 2013
Cambridge Rotary Club ¡V August 23, 2013
Wilfrid Laurier University Get Involved Fair ¡V September 4, 2013
UpTown Waterloo BIA Walking Tour ¡V September 9, 2013
Oktoberfest Meeting September 9, 2013
UpTown Waterloo BIA Networking Event  September 9, 2013
City of Waterloo All Staff Lunch and Learn  September 11, 2013
Waterloo Park Advisory Committee  September 11, 2013
City of Kitchener All Staff Lunch and Learn  September 12, 2013
Region of Waterloo All Staff Lunch and Learn  September 13, 2013
City of Waterloo/BIA Update Meeting  September 18, 2013
Public Art Advisory Committee  September 26, 2013
Central Frederick Neighbourhood Association  September 28, 2013
Grand River Accessibility Advisory Committee October 10, 2013
UpTown Waterloo BIA AGM  November 6, 2013
Mary Ellen Neighbourhood Association  November 7, 2013
City of Waterloo Economic Development Committee November 14, 2013
Grand River Building Manager¡s Association  November 19, 2013
Tri-TAG Meeting  November 28, 2013
Reurbanization Community Advisory Panel ¡V December, 2013
Public Works Association  December 9, 2013
UpTown West Taskforce Committee  December 18, 2013
Community Building Strategy
Waterloo (Knox Church)  February 20, 2013
Kitchener (The Tannery)  February 21, 2013
Cambridge (Cambridge City Hall)  February 25, 2013
Rapid Transit Brand Name
Cambridge (United Kingdom Club)  January 10, 2013
Waterloo (Knox Church)  January 14, 2013
Kitchener (School of Pharmacy)  January 15, 2013
Grand River Hospital  Entrance and Intersection Modification
Waterloo (Knox Church)March 20, 2013
ION Stop Design Concepts
Kitchener (Regional Headquarters)  June 19, 2013
Cambridge (Chamber of Commerce)  June 20, 2013
Waterloo (Knox Church)  June 25, 2013
Northfield Drive at Highway 85  Intersection Modification
Waterloo (Albert McCormick Arena) June 27, 2013
City of Waterloo Transportation Summit
Waterloo Recreation Complex  October 30, 2013
UpTown Waterloo Streetscape
Waterloo Recreation Complex  November 13, 2013
Ottawa & Mill Street  Intersection Modification
Concordia Club  December 4, 2013

This does not include the Regional newsletter that goes to every household in the region, the monthly Ion newsletter, the LRT website, social media, the visit of the train mock up, etc. etc.

Here are some of the events for 2014

While ION staff continue to refine the community relations and communications
initiatives planned for 2014, a series of major activities and events have already been
indentified. They include:
Funding agreement signing with the Province (Winter/Spring)
To highlight Ontario¡¦s investment in ION
Start of Hydro One construction (Winter)
Along the hydro corridor near Fairview Park Mall
Neighbourhood Advisory Panel (Spring)
Nominations to be collected in the spring; meetings to begin in the fall
Focus on providing information to residents, overall updates, input, etc.
Name the ION stops contest (Spring)
To collect feedback in order to finalize the name of each ION stop

Funding agreement event with the federal government (Spring/Summer)
To highlight Canada¦s investment in ION
Stage 1 LRT contract signing (Spring)
Celebrate the signing of the Project Agreement with the team selected to
design, build, finance, operate and maintain Stage 1 LRT in Waterloo
Start of LRT construction (Summer)
Groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of ION LRT construction
 Stage 2 LRT consultation (Summer) (That’s the Cambridge LRT Cambridge Mayor Doug Craig says will never exist. Hmmm)
Public engagement begins on the route, stops and alignment for Stage 2
LRT (Cambridge to Kitchener), in advance of the Environmental
Start of ION aBRT construction (Summer)
Groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of aBRT construction
ION aBRT service launch (Fall/early-2015)
To celebrate the start of aBRT service in Waterloo Region