Saturday, February 23, 2013

Waterloo GRT improvements

Attention: Details of this post are now out of date. Please see the updated details here.

The latest regional council Planning & Works agenda contain details of GRT's proposed service improvements for later this year. I wrote about this previously when multiple options were being presented to the public. They've taken in the feedback, and are now coming back with a single proposal for public consultation.

And, it is good. Very, very good.

(You'll probably need to click through to see it legibly.)

Grand River Transit has taken feedback to heart, especially from those of us who encourage them to look for opportunities to move our transit routing strategy away from hub-and-spoke and towards grids. Here's how they have done so:

  • Route 35 provides very direct north-south service along Bridge and Lancaster, with time-wasting loops cut out.
  • Route 6 trades its Downtown Kitchener destination for Uptown Waterloo, and interlined with the 5, it provides a solid east-west gridline.
  • Route 31 runs virtually all of Columbia/Lexington right across town: it no longer enters U of W campus.
Of course, there is also the major addition of the University Avenue express, which doesn't quite stick to University Ave in the west end but still cuts an easily understood path across town. 201 iXpress is also extended, to cover the densest portions of Columbia before turning towards Conestoga Mall and Northfield. This route is a little ideosyncratic but may improve the usefulness of this route that currently looped back at the universities.

And crucially, each will cross the LRT line, though some work must be done to provide a sensible transfer at U of W campus.

Overall, this is a solid set of improvements. But like all route changes, it will inconvenience some who may have located themselves to benefit from the existing route structure. Still, many of them will still have access to transit, and new alternatives available. And many more will be in a position to take advantage of transit. For instance, one coworker of mine has already happily observed that his home near Columbia/Westmount now has transit options to our workplace near Bridge/Northfield.

(These improvements are extremely good news for Bridge/Northfield, especially in light of plans to develop a multi-use node at this location. Large portions of the surrounding area will have transit access to this point, though it remains to be seen if people will take advantage of it in this very car-oriented suburban part of Waterloo.)

Good job GRT!

If you want to read more, TriTAG has a writeup on the proposal here. Also, here is the list of proposed stop locations for both iXpress routes, mostly sticking to their 400m stop placement minimum: