Rapid Transit in Waterloo
What are the benefits of rapid transit in
will move people, limit urban sprawl, protect farmland and shape our community.
Over the next 20 years, the Province of
Ontario expects 200,000 new residents to move to our community.
Rapid transit will
help manage this growth and safeguard our countryside by preventing urban
sprawl and promoting intensification in existing urban areas. This will help
protect the region's precious agricultural lands, natural beauty, heritage and
cultural characteristics that make this community unique.
ION will move
will offer residents a new transportation choice: light rail transit (LRT) in
with Grand River Transit (GRT), ION will create an efficient, integrated,
easy-to-use public transit system for all residents in Waterloo Region
ridership demands ION: transit ridership has more than doubled since GRT
was created in 2000. Annual ridership is now at 22 million rides per year, and
continues to grow
- Without ION, the Region would need to build 500
new land kilometres of roads over the next 20 years to accommodate expected
growth. These new roads - the equivalent of 25 Hespeler Roads - would cost
approximately $1.4 billion and would need to be built through existing
limit urban sprawl and protect farmland:
- Some of
the best farmland in Ontario lies just outside our urban areas. ION safeguards
the region's agricultural lands and preserves the community's natural beauty by
intensifying development in urban areas and limiting urban sprawl
- Most of
the region's water supply comes from the ground just outside the western edges
of Kitchener and Waterloo. By limiting sprawl, ION will help protect the
region's groundwater sources
maintains the unique rural/urban lifestyle we enjoy in Waterloo Region
protects the countryside, thereby helping to support local food production
ION will shape the community:
- ION is
inspiring new residential and business investments. Construction can already be
seen along the ION corridor, with new projects continuously being added
- ION is
encouraging better use of land and efficient use of existing services and
Why does Waterloo Region need rapid transit?
The Region of Waterloo continues to grow. With a current
population of 550,000, we are the fourth largest community in Ontario and the
tenth largest in Canada.
Over the next 20 years, growth will continue as we expect
200,000 new residents to move to our community. In fact, the Province has
increased its population projection for Waterloo Region, from 729,000 to
742,000 by 2031 (Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe).
These projections are on track as nearly 10,000 new
residents move to the region each year.
Where will these 200,000 people live and how will they
travel in and around our community?
Our traditional pattern of suburban sprawl and
single-occupancy car travel is not sustainable as we prepare to add the
equivalent of another Kitchener to the region. Waterloo Region recognizes the
need to look at new and improved ways to prepare for the future of our
The Region, together with the Province - through its
Places to Grow legislation - is encouraging development and growth within
existing urban areas. By focusing development and investment in the core,
Waterloo Region can build up, instead of out: limiting urban sprawl and
protecting the environment.
Moving people more efficiently in and around our
community, limiting urban sprawl and saving our farmland through the protection
and preservation of the environment are three of the fundamental goals of ION.
ION will help local businesses attract new talent to the
region, assist with job creation and stimulate new business growth. It will
also help traffic congestion and reduce the need for costly road improvements
in some areas.
Is this the right time to build
Implementing rapid transit now will help us address the transportation and land
use demands that will result as our economy grows and our population increases
from more than 550,000 today to 742,000 by 2031.
Why can't more roads solve the
Building new or
bigger roads won't ease traffic congestion - it just attracts more cars. Road
expansion is not a realistic or affordable option to manage future growth. We
need to make forward-thinking and creative land use and transportation policies
to promote public transit and reurbanization in the central transit corridor.
As traffic congestion increases, rapid transit on dedicated lanes will provide
more reliable travel times.
Why can't we just keep using
well now, but is already experiencing traffic delays from road congestion. As
ridership continues to grow, the capacity of iXpress will not be enough to meet
travel demand. LRT provides a better quality of service (more convenient and
comfortable) and will attract more riders than iXpress alone.
What is the total
cost of ION?
There are two components to the overall cost of ION:
capital costs, and operations and maintenance costs.
Capital costs are $818 million. These costs are funded
entirely by three levels of government: the Government of Ontario ($300
million), the Government of Canada ($265 million) and the Region of Waterloo
GrandLinq is the consortium responsible for designing,
building, financing, operating and maintaining ION. GrandLinq's total capital
cost is $593 million, including net HST. This includes $532 million funded from
the LRT project budget of $818 million and $61 million from intersecting Public
Infrastructure Works projects.
The intersecting projects are being completed as part of
delivering ION, but are being funded from sources other than ION. These
projects were planned and budgeted for and would have been implemented
regardless of ION.
Some of these projects include:
- King Street and Northfield Drive rehabilitation
- Underpass on King Street and the railway
crossing near Victoria;
- Rehabilitation and reconstruction of King Street
(Victoria Street to Union Street).
GrandLinq's annual operations and maintenance cost for 30
- Operations ($4 million, plus HST and inflation);
($4.5 million, plus HST and inflation);
- Lifecycle (average $8.7 million, plus HST and
- Financing ($11 million, plus HST);
($1.7 million, plus applicable taxes).
How are we funding
the building and operation of ION?
The capital costs of $818 - the costs dedicated to
building ION - are funded entirely by three levels of government: the Government
of Ontario ($300 million), the Government of Canada ($265 million) and the
Region of Waterloo ($253 million).
Operations and maintenance, financing, lifecycle and
Region costs (electricity, project office, etc.) will be funded by transit fare
revenue and the 1.2 per cent tax increase (2012-18) approved by Council in
This increase is reduced by other property tax
reductions, resulting in an annual net property tax increase for ION of 0.7 per
cent. For the average household, this is the equivalent of approximately $11
How do the costs
of ION compare with other Regional services?
Grand River Transit (GRT) annual operating costs are $105
million and the Region's 10-year Capital Roads Program is $860 million.
Yes, construction for ION is well underway. Construction
for both ION aBRT and ION LRT began in the summer of 2014. Building ION in
Waterloo Region is an enormous undertaking. To limit the impacts of
construction on any one area to a shorter period of time, construction is being
completed in stages. To find out the latest information on ION construction,
see our dedicated construction website www.rideION.ca
How can I find out
more about construction?
The Region has a website dedicated to ION construction.
It provides the most up-to-date information for residents and businesses on all
aspects of construction, such as detours, overall progress as well as the
opportunity to sign-up for regular construction updates. For more see www.rideION.ca
If you have any specific questions or need immediate
assistance, phone 1-888-625-1010.
construction impact me?
Building ION to support planned growth and to offer
another transit choice in Waterloo Region is an enormous undertaking. The
Region recognizes this and, together with GrandLinq, we are making every effort
to ensure community impacts are kept to a minimum.
Construction of Stage 1 ION will continue in select areas
across Kitchener and Waterloo until the new service is up and running in 2017.
Access to all businesses and residences will be maintained at all times
Construction of aBRT continues in Cambridge and will be
completed in December 2014.
The most up-to-date construction information is available
- our website dedicated to ION construction. You can also sign-up for regular
If you have a construction-related question that requires
an immediate answer, please phone 1-888-625-1010.
Who is GrandLinq?
In March 2014, GrandLinq was awarded the contract to
design, build, finance, operate and maintain ION LRT in Waterloo Region.
GrandLinq is a partnership of Plenary Group, Meridiam Infrastructure, Aecon,
Kiewit and Keolis.
The design and construction of ION is being carried out
by GrandLinq Contractors, a joint venture of Aecon and Kiewit under a
subcontract with GrandLinq.
To find out more, please visit http://www.rideion.ca/about-grandlinq.html
How were the proposals evaluated?
staff and consultants, including Infrastructure Ontario, Deloitte, Parsons
Brinckerhoff and Norton Rose carefully evaluated each of the three short-listed
proposals based on their financial and technical specifications.
Infrastructure Ontario and the Fairness Monitor (P1 Consulting) worked closely
with the Region to oversee the process, ensuring each proposal was evaluated in
a transparent, fair and consistent manner.
The team with the highest overall score was selected and has been recommended
to Council as the preferred team.
What are the main highlights of the
Some of the main
highlights of the GrandLinq proposal include:
capital cost of the proposal is consistent with the capital cost estimate, and
can be accommodated within the ION project capital budget of $818 million.
operating, maintenance, lifecycle and financing costs can all be accommodated
within the Region's approved funding strategy.
on the GrandLinq proposal, the rapid transit project remains on-time, on budget
and the costs remain affordable based on the Region's approved funding
What is the Project Agreement?
Agreement is an important document. It outlines the Region's expectations for
ION Stage 1 LRT as well as the responsibilities and obligations of both the
Region and the preferred team.
What is the Region responsible for in the
The Region will:
- Own the
ION LRT system, including all infrastructure and vehicles.
- Set fares
and the frequency of the service.
responsible for customer service and system-wide integration.
all fare revenue.
the performance of GrandLinq to ensure all service requirements are being
What is GrandLinq responsible
for in the Project Agreement?
ION Stage 1 LRT to final design
ION Stage 1 LRT
and maintain the ION LRT service between Kitchener and Waterloo, consistent
with the Region's performance requirements.
What is a P3?
P3 stands for
public private partnership. The partnership is based on a negotiated contract
between a public organization and a private company. They work together to
complete projects. The intent of a P3 is to build on the strengths of each
partner (public and private sector). Each project is different, therefore
public and private sector roles adjust to provide the best outcome.
What is a 'procurement and delivery' option?
Procurement is a
process used to buy a product or service. Delivery is how that product or
service is built and/or provided. Together, a 'procurement and delivery' option
is one way that a product or service can be completed. There can be many
different options for purchasing and providing a product or service. A
'procurement and delivery' option can include private sector involvement in any
combination of designing, building, financing, operating and maintaining of a
What is DBFOM and why is DBFOM
the Region's preliminary preferred 'procurement and delivery' option?
DBFOM is a P3
approach that is a partnership between the public and private sector.
= the private company would complete detailed design drawings and plans of the
- Build =
the private company would build the rapid transit system.
= the private company would have to obtain financing to pay its employees and
other costs in advance of the Region's instalment payments. The Region would
withhold part of the construction payment to the private company and pay it in
instalments when the contract requirements are met by the private company over
the term of the project.
= the private company would manage the day-to-day operations of the light rail
transit (LRT) system.
= the private company would look after the repairs and upkeep of the LRT
system, including tracks and vehicles.
the following benefits:
- Cost: LRT
design and construction can proceed at the same time, with significant time
savings, better coordination and more efficient construction. The private
company would have to deal with competitive pressure and answer to their
lenders, so they would be inclined to provide a better value and a lower total
project cost ensuring that the project is on time and on budget.
and qualifications: The private sector has more experience and
qualifications than the Region with designing and constructing an LRT system.
They also have more experience with operating and maintaining an LRT system at
start-up, and with providing trained and certified staff to operate the light
- Incentives: With
DBFOM, payments and penalties based on performance would provide incentive for
the private sector to complete the project on time and on budget. The payments
and penalties would also apply to performance standards for operating and
maintaining a high-quality LRT system over the long term. If the private sector
does not perform to the standards set in the contract, it does not get paid.
- Risks: With
DBFOM, the Region limits its risk by placing responsibility on the private
sector. The Region monitors the service and holds back payments if the private
sector does not meet the contract performance standards.
would provide better accountability where performance may be related to either
maintenance or operation because the same company is responsible for both.
DBFOM would also transfer lifecycle risks such as major vehicle and track
maintenance to the private sector. The Region would be responsible for those
risks that it is best able to manage, such as fare setting and ridership risk.
With DBFOM, who gets the money
from the fares?
The Region of
Waterloo will receive the fare revenue, which will offset the cost of the
Region's transit system.
With DBFOM, what happens after
years or the length of the project term, the contract with GrandLinq would end.
The Region of Waterloo could assume operations and maintenance, or extend the
agreement with GrandLinq, or find a new private company to operate and maintain
the LRT system.
With DBFOM, who would drive
the trains and buses?
supply the operators to drive the LRT trains, keeping to the Region's service
schedule. Grand River Transit operators would drive the buses. More bus drivers
will be needed because of the Region's approved plan to expand the transit
Has the Region contracted out
operations and maintenance to the private sector before?
The Region has
successfully contracted out operations and maintenance of garbage and recycling
collection, recycling sorting, and wastewater treatment plants. The Region
retains ownership of facilities, sets user rates, and is responsible for
customer service and addressing customer issues.
The ION service
Where will the route go?
ION Stage 1 includes a 19-kilometre LRT route from the
Conestoga Mall transit terminal in Waterloo to the Fairview Park Mall transit
terminal in Kitchener, with stops at 16 destinations including the University
of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier, UpTown Waterloo, Grand River Hospital,
King/Victoria transit hub and Downtown Kitchener.
Stage 1 also features a 17-kilometre route of aBRT from
the Ainslie Street transit terminal inCambridge to the Fairview Park Mall transit terminal in
To view route maps see this link: http://www.rapidtransit.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/projectinformation/system.asp
What is the projected ridership for rapid
transit? How was the ridership determined?
boardings on opening day are expected to be around 27,000. This is expected to
increase to about 56,000 by the year 2031. Ridership forecasts were developed
by the consultant teams of TSi and Halcrow Consulting using a ridership
forecasting model as part of the Environmental Assessment. The model was peer
reviewed by Dr. Eric Miller of the University of Toronto and Dr. Jeff Casello
of the University of Waterloo and was deemed to be a sound forecasting tool.
Details of the modelling process can be found in the Rapid Transit Environmental Assessment Phase 2 Summary
How much will it
cost to ride ION? How do I pay?
Transit fares for ION will be consistent across the
entire system regardless of transit mode (i.e. ION LRT or aBRT, GRT, iXpress,
etc.). A joint fare system between services ensures residents will easily
transfer between services at no additional cost.
ION LRT will operate on a proof of payment system.
Passengers will be required to show bylaw officers (when asked) proof of their
payment to travel on ION.
Passengers can purchase tickets from ticket vending
machines at ION stops.
How often will I be able to
schedules will be established before ION service begins, but generally speaking
ION LRT trains will run every eight
minutes during rush hours and every 10 to 15 minutes during the rest of the
Service for adapted
bus rapid transit (aBRT) will operate at a frequency of every 10 minutes during
morning and afternoon peak periods. Both LRT and aBRT will come every 15
minutes outside of peak periods.
What will happen to the
iXpress service after ION service begins?
The new rapid
transit system will essentially replace the current iXpress route, however new
express service like iXpress will be introduced on other routes.
Will riders outside of rapid
transit station areas have good transit service?
The future of
the Waterloo Region transit system is one that integrates GRT with LRT, GO
Transit and VIA Rail. The aim is to establish a cohesive inter-city network of
public transit, linking people with local businesses, sites and services. Shown
here are stages of LRT, the expansion of GRT routes, the Region of Waterloo
Transit Hub and connections with GO Transit. As our region grows and develops,
so too will our transit needs.
What will rapid transit travel
minutes from Conestoga Mall to Fairview Park Mall for light rail transit and
approximately 33 minutes from Fairview Park mall to Ainslie Street terminal
with adapted bus rapid transit.
ION in Waterloo Region
What will happen to the
businesses along the LRT route?
ION will bring
more people to the central transit corridor. Businesses will benefit from
expanded amenities and increased visibility due to rapid transit. It will
enable employees to access job opportunities and provide access by employers to
an expanded workforce.
Will ION affect emergency
transit team has worked with and will continue to work with emergency services
staff to ensure that access to all properties remains available.
What will happen to the street
events like Oktoberfest and Buskers once ION is built?
They will still
happen! A parade can still go down King Street. Regional staff will work with
organizing committees to accommodate parades along the LRT route.
LRT service can short-turn to leave the parade area clear, but still provide
LRT service to the crowds of people coming to the parade.
How will traffic operate
around the ION line?
U-turns will be provided at specific signalized intersections. In the downtowns
where there is a curbside rapid transit lane, traffic will be able to cross the
LRT to get in and out of driveways.
Are pedestrians going to be
able to cross the street with ION?
should use the same rules as always when crossing a street.
Will ION be able to operate in
conditions will not affect LRT operations. No de-icing or snow clearing will be
required on the rail tracks. Other LRT systems in Calgary, Edmonton and
Minneapolis, with similar or worse winter conditions, have not experienced any
What happens if a light rail
vehicle breaks down?
will be removed from the main track to side tracks with minimal disruption to
What happens if the power goes
A back-up power
system will be in place for short-term power disruptions. For more widespread
power disruptions, buses will be provided to ensure ION passengers reach their
How fast will ION vehicles
will travel at a speed appropriate to the environment in which they are
traveling. For example, LRT vehicles will travel at a slower speed (as slow as
20-25 km/h) in areas with a lot of pedestrian activity, such as downtown areas.
LRT vehicles operating within rail corridors, away from other traffic and
pedestrians will travel at higher speeds.
will the overhead wires required for ION affect the streetscape?
wires used to power new LRT systems fit well into the streetscape and are quite