Transit Info sessions

The MHBPNA Blog has faithfully announced the public information sessions regarding the transit plans. Your Blogster even attending the session in downtown Kitchener a couple of weeks back and was welcomed by the following sign:

There was a lot of information, most of which is available on the region’s website. Here is an example of their display:

They had a film playing and lots of large engineering diagrams of how the tracks would integrate with the various streets. Cookies and coffee were also present.

Here are some thoughts I had:

–The LRT looks nice and I’m one of its prime candidates. I currently use the iExpress when I travel from my home in downtown Kitchener to my job at the Research Park north of the U of Waterloo. I like the idea of the nice quite, comfortable train where I might be able to get a seat. Currently, the iExpress is often full of students and it is quite noisy.

–On the other hand, why don’t they just run more iExpress busses, or get articulated ones that could carry double the load? This simple solution was not addressed at all.

–The current plans for the LRT would drop off people at the edge of Conestoga Mall instead of right next to the door which the current busses do. None of the “planners” sounded like they had really thought about this. I can’t see this kind of a system appealing to anyone (except the very young) to leave their car at home when they go to the mall shopping.

–I like the idea of the LRT, but I also think the panic about how many more people we are going to get in our cities, and how they will overwhelm the roads, is a little hyperbolic. If you drive around, the only areas that are constantly crammed with cars are the roads in and out of the city, yet this transit does nothing for that congestion. Widening the road to the 401 helps which is what they are doing.

–I was surprised by how convincing the “planners” were about LRT, yet the actual figures of bus riders were not available.

–I hope everyone reads the material online, or at one of the presentations and lets our representatives know how you feel.

One thought on “Transit Info sessions

  1. I just want to briefly address a couple of the points.

    The most important thing to know is that this is about planning for growth on a very large scale, and of a very different kind than we've had historically. The provincial mandate is to direct a large proportion of new growth to built-up areas, mostly the downtown cores. That means a lot more projects like the Tannery, Kaufmann Lofts, Breithaupt Block, Bauer Lofts, Barrelyards, Red Condos, etc. Currently most trips even in the central transit corridor are by car. But no new roads are going to be built there, so when another 50,000-100,000 people move into the central transit corridor, a large proportion of new trips will have to be by transit.

    The upshot is that we need to be able to handle the growth in transit ridership in the central corridor, or else we'll be facing that growth-related traffic problem on every corridor, due to more dispersed growth. Adding more buses to iXpress is a good solution in the short-term — and they're already planning to go down to 10 minute headways this year. But with the new growth, the streets will become (are becoming) congested and buses won't be able to get through. So you need dedicated space, i.e. a rapidway. But with only one lane in each direction (the most we really can fit), you can't keep signal priority and reliability with vehicles coming more often than every 2 minutes. With this year's improvements, we'll already have buses on average every 4 minutes all day long (Route 7 and iXpress), and more often at peaks. That's not much room to handle new ridership. Articulated buses are a boost in capacity, but they're only 50% bigger than a regular bus.

    It's a really expensive problem to solve if you're already at capacity, so you have to plan ahead. In addition to its other benefits, LRT allows much higher capacity per vehicle (or two-car train). The capacity figures the Region cites are 115 for an articulated bus, and 450 for a two-car train.

    I believe the issue with Conestoga Mall (and Fairview Park Mall, for that matter) is that they are not interested in co-operating with the LRT plans. Too bad for them – the transfer hubs and lucrative transit-oriented development will occur on someone else's property.

    -Michael

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