LRT in Waterloo-Kitchener – growing region


PM announces improvements for tri-cities commuters – Prime Minister of Canada.

It’s not everyday that I take my blog fodder straight from the Prime Minister’s office.  Most of the time, I would say I disagree with most of what our current Prime Minister does.  This one of the few projects that I can say that the Federal Tories have gotten right.

Unfortunately, the press release from the PMO is short on details.  The project website’s press release is a little more forthcoming with numbers.

The Government of Canada will provide one-third of eligible costs, up to $265 million to support the construction of the Region’s rapid transit project. Prime Minister Stephen Harper came to Waterloo Region today to make the announcement.

In light of the Federal government’s funding commitment today and the Province of Ontario ’s commitment of $300 million, the Region can now move forward with the planning of the project’s scope, design details, cost and Regional funding options.

This kind of funding structure looks consistent with what we deal with here in BC when trying to get our projects moving. It’s the every level of government pay one-third for a transit project formula.

It’s exciting to see another Canadian region get rapid transit.  So Montreal and Toronto have had their subway systems for quite some time now.  Then Edmonton and Calgary both built LRT.  Vancouver got SkyTrain in 85/86.  Ottawa has their O-Train + Busway combo (now being converted to LRT).  So add Kitchener-Waterloo to the big leagues of Canadian transit.

With a regional population just around 500,000, it is definitely not a heavyweight in terms of population compared to all the other cities.  Even Mississauga has more people than the Waterloo region.  However, the Waterloo region is definitely growing in importance on the Canadian landscape.  The University of Waterloo has been a fixture in Waterloo for many, many years and is considered one of the top universities in the country.  I knew them first as the creators of the Canadian Mathematics Contests for Grades 8 – 12.  And I’m sure everyone knows somebody with a Blackberry.  Research In Motion hails from the Waterloo region and has taken advantage of the university population of the area.  Even Google has set up an office in town.  So no wonder even Stephen Harper has jumped on the transit bandwagon for the Waterloo region.

Route Map December 2009
Waterloo LRT map

The green portion is Phase 1 of the planned LRT.  It starts in the northern part of Waterloo at Conestoga Mall and makes it way southeast past the University of Waterloo, Uptown Waterloo, Downtown Kitchener, and ends at Fairview Mall.  Then a BRT line continues from Fairview Mall to serve the eastern parts of Kitchener and the city of Cambridge.  This latter BRT segment may be turned into LRT at a later time.

Now that funding is in place, chances of construction starting in 2012 as advertised is pretty good.  I would say that it is more likely that the Waterloo region LRT will be finished before the Evergreen Line gets its finances in order.  Although maybe Stephen Harper will feel more giving with rumours of a federal election in the air.

One thought on “LRT in Waterloo-Kitchener – growing region

  1. Looks promising. It will be interesting to see what affect the LRT combined with the u-pass has. When I was a student at Waterloo, most people didn’t leave the “university bubble”, and everyone lived within walking distance of campus. This could have a big impact on student housing and shopping within the region.

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