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Light Rail Transit in Waterloo Region

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My community, the Region of Waterloo (Ontario, Canada), will be building a LRT system starting in 2015 with a rapid bus service in Cambridge and light rail in Kitchener and Waterloo.

 

There have many problems such as some council members having a conflict of interest and not being able to vote. The mayor of Cambridge wants to find out how much it would cost to cancel the project as he does not his residents to pay for rail service for the other two cities.

 

Personal questions I have for rail system include whether the region can afford it and does the area really need it.

 

My main objection to this project is having rail lines in the center of main street (King St). I do not think it is wise to have the rail line run down this street and be a nightmare for other traffic as there are many sideroads as well as a hospital and a high school are on this street. Do other cities with light rail have rail tracks in the middle of roads? 

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Melbourne's network largely runs in the middle of roads I think. And there the system is still popular. I don't know much about Waterloo, Ontario. However I tend to be pro-rail in most instances. Having said that I am also pro-real money, and I'm not into loans and Keynesian economics. Unless you have a slavery based dictatorship it's best to only build what you can afford.

 

Okay I've Googled Waterloo-Cambridge. Waterloo has a VIA Rail Canada station in use. Cambridge and Kitchener have rail connections but don't appear to have stations marked on the map. At any rate I'd sugges utilising existing rail infrastructure as much as possible, like they did in Sydney with the Central to Lilyfield line

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cms13ca    0
  • Original Poster
  • Currently, the region has a train station in Kitchener (Weber and Victoria) for Via Rail, which cut service, and Go Train. Plans are to build a new station for LRT, busses and outside rail service nearby (King and Victoria). Parts of the rail line that connects from the main line will part of the LRT train route (Uptown Waterloo to Northfield Drive).

     

    Here is the Wikipedia article on the project and the map of the proposed routes for more info.

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    "In keeping with legislation, the Environmental Assessment also examined ten possible transport technologies, including monorails and subways."

     

    Nice. Fitting topic for this website I must say. It seems a good idea to me from what I've read. In Sydney they only have one light railway although there is a plan for a possible George Street route, but Sydney has a bad case of the sprawls. This Waterloo area seems ideally suited for this kind of project. If this were Simcity/CIM  I'd definitely approve of it.

     

    It is important to integrate modes. Cycling is poorly served by many public transport networks because of lack of cycle storage space on board vehicles. 280 standing room is all fine and dandy, but I'd rather lower overall passenger limit and include some cycle storage spaces. 7.5 minutes between services at peak hour sounds perfectly effective. Local rail/bus services where I live in Littlehampton in England (which is on a coastal plain with a conurbation stretching east to Brighton) are much less frequent. The local 700 bus (Portsmouth to Brighton/Chichester to Brighton and Arundel to Brighton) passing through Littlehampton is every ten minutes I think. Trains are more like half an hour.

     

    Back where I used to live in Wollongong (also on a coastal plain, thus with some similarity in distribution of commuters) the train services were even less frequent, and bus services I didn't use much, although we had a free bus in the city centre. However neither here nor there is much space allotted for cycle storage. This is a major issue that I feel needs to be addressed if we are to promote integrated travel.

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    Being from London, I am insanely jealous about Waterloo Region getting LRT. (Just like I am about your freeway network :P)

     

    I say go for it. Sure trains will run in roads for a good chunk of the first phase, but a region with just 500k people is getting LRT! That is almost unheard of in North America.

    -Cambridge will get a line as part of the second phase, sometime in the 2030's. I understand why they're against it right now because they are pretty much getting shelved for money but seeing nothing out of it. That's regional government for you... It is in the best interests of the region, not the city. 

    -Also a huge chunk of money is coming from higher levels of government.

     

    My brother is a planner for the Region of Waterloo. If you have any questions about the system PM me and I can ask him as he may know a thing or two.

     

     

    Here in London, we 'may' be getting limited BRT (bus rapid transit) by 2030 and a freeway by the mid-2070s.  :rofl:

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    I don't have any problems with light rail as long as it is efficient, increases passenger capacity of the area, decreases commute times, is safe, has reasonable costs for those maintaining it and those riding it, and does not impede emergency vehicles.

     

    The problem is that most projects rarely even get half of these right.

     

     

    --Ocram

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    <snip>

    The problem is that most projects rarely even get half of these right.

     

     

    --Ocram

    Amen to that. 

     

    Haljackey is right, buy the way.  If ever some kind of light rail/subway system was needed it is in London.  I live about 45 minutes north of London, and there isn't any transit of any sort up here except for an occasional (once a week) service.  Lots of rail freight, but to catch a Via rail passenger train I have to go to Stratford which is about 45 minutes in an orthogonal direction.  As an extension of a new fast transit system in London, it would be nice to have GO service up here to connect to it, and the whole surrounding area.

     

    For example, if I wanted to go anywhere by air, I have the choice of a hundred dollar taxi fare to London's airport or three hundred to Pearson international.  If I am flying via Pearson, the taxi ride to Pearson is cheaper than taxi + air fare to Pearson via London.

     

    No sympathy, please.  I doubt I will ever go anywhere by air again after the last horrible experience with Air Cattle Car.

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    In Europe, there's the so called Tram-effect: If a Bus line is replaced with Tram/ LRT, more people than expected will propably ride it, because Trams are more comfortable. I guess this applies to waterloo, too.

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    That would be the second street car system in Canada? I think Toronto is the only city in Canada with streetcars/trams. But I know some American cities have streetcars/trams phoenix getting one in 2008.

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    A lot of North American cities had streetcar networks in the early 20th century. Most were convinced by big automotive companies to dig them up and use buses as it would be cheaper and the crappier service would convince people to buy their cars. What a sad loss of existing infrastructure that would continue to work well in this day and age.

     

    Only San Francisco and Toronto kept their networks, with Philadelphia keeping a portion. My city (London) had a streetcar network as well. Wish we kept it.

    -Waterloo Region is getting LRT, not streetcars by the way. LRT can run in the road like streetcars however.

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    According to GoogleMaps, Moose, you live on a railway line but don't have a station. That is just downright stupid. If I was Ontario Governor I'd build a platform there and get an old tramcar or something running. Good heavens. What a waste of a railway line.

     

    Also yeah trams are way more comfortable than buses. I've travelled on the Glenelg-Adelaide and Yarra trams and one in San Francisco. I am all for trams. Mind you I hate the modern designs. I prefer the old style trams. I've only ridden on old style trams, not those 'Bombardier' ones. The trams I've ridden on are from like the 20s. Proper ones.

     

    Hmm according to Wikipedia Hensall had a railway station in 1876 built. Doesn't say when it was demolished though. 

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    I live quite close the the rail yards here.  No station, so it has either been boarded-up, moved or demolished.  There is a lot of freight around here but rail spurs and sidings are at the plants and the farming co-op.

     

    It is quite right that there were a lot of street cars in towns before the end of WW II.  I am from Niagara Falls, Ontario and it had street cars that ran out into the Townships and had a regular car that ran to St. Catherines, the next large town.  All gone now, and the tracks ripped up.  I used to ride the streetcar to school, and later to my summer job which was at the end of the line in a plant on the river.  So the street railway was still there in 1959.  The move to T.O. with its street cars didn't faze me one bit.  (The first Toronto subway was under construction and Yonge Street was an unholy mess.)

     

    Time goes on, and the automobile companies, who are principally responsible for the current consumerist society, have put us into Peter's Pretty Pass.  That is, we are now between a rock and a hard place because of things they did in the last century, and we are damned if we continue with them and damned if we don't.  Now their idea of planning is to have a "good looking" bottom line at the end of the current quarter.  There was a time when good companies planned for the next five or ten years.  *sigh*

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    I don't have any problems with light rail as long as it is efficient, increases passenger capacity of the area, decreases commute times, is safe, has reasonable costs for those maintaining it and those riding it, and does not impede emergency vehicles.

     

    The problem is that most projects rarely even get half of these right.

     

     

    --Ocram

    Actaully that's becuase not all the projects are finished at all, they're must keep growing in a planned way (along urbanization plans) and with constant maintenance. An unfinished project will not work at the 100%. Is like the line 1 of BRT in Guadalajara, it is not working as it should be because technically the BRT project is not finished and neither the light rail of the city. That is pretty particular, because the construction of the line 3 of light rail will start in 2014, and with similar problems as this one from Waterloo in Canada.

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    Kitchener and Waterloo will benefit while the rest of the region may not for quite a while.  If there is going to be a line along King St. it should also include a line from the foot to Weber street to the King Street junction in Waterloo.  This would produce a big triangle that basically surrounds the city, sort of.

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    A lot of North American cities had streetcar networks in the early 20th century. Most were convinced by big automotive companies to dig them up and use buses as it would be cheaper and the crappier service would convince people to buy their cars. What a sad loss of existing infrastructure that would continue to work well in this day and age.

     

    Interestingly, San Antonio, Texas, was in 1933 the first major U.S. city to discontinue it's 90-miles of streetcar service, but, now the city is slowly pushing forward with a plan to reinstall a modern streetcar system.  Tomorrow, our VIA Metropolitan Transit board is set to consider the 6-mile route layout recommended by its design staff, and barring any changes, move forward with the technical studies and designs.  The expanded recommended route, however, is $70 million more than the $210 million funding VIA has already pooled together, and they will have to consider phased construction schemes or pursuing Federal matching starter grants to make up the shortfall.  Assuming there are no serious obstructions, design work is expected to be finished in 2015, with the opening of the new system aimed for 2017.

     

    Of course, the potential serious obstacle is political, with local and state politicians trying to show their Tea Party credentials by boogeyman branding the project as Big Government Liberalism run amok with taxpayer's money being used to inflate the property wealth of politically connected downtown land holders.  Actually, embarrassingly, the issue has devolved from that:  because San Antonio voters previously voted down a more ambitious and expensive light rail proposal, the layman argument is that since streetcars still use rails, those streetcars are then just merely light rail in disguise trying to undermine the originally expressed will of the voters.  Worse, in following this foreign, European, effeminate mode of mass transit, we are stringing up overhead catenary webs of instant electrocution and putting into our congested streets rolling trams of crushing death threatening to turn our road traffic into a vicious carnage of twisted metal and gorily mangled and burned body parts--you know, like Stockholm!

     

    The western edge of this system would meet with what VIA calls the "West Side Multimodal Transit Center," a historical local rail station with landmark dome which I still would rather call the "International & Great Northern Depot" and which many still call "Cattleman Square."  The already initiated VIA Primo Bus Rapid Transit would connect together the downtown IG&N Station to the outer urban South Texas Medical Center and the University of Texas at San Antonio in the ring city.  Interestingly, the original heavy rail right-of-way for the old station still exists, and this right-of-way was to have been a major spine of the defeated light rail proposal.  It is no secret that VIA would eventually like to try again for light rail at a later date, and its current central streetcar plan could foreseeably be incorporated into a broader light rail network.  Amusingly, this possible rendering of the IG&N transit depot actually shows potential heavy passenger rail, perhaps part of the one day hoped-for Austin-San Antonio commuter rail.  Currently, heavy, cross-country passenger rail is handled east of downtown at the Amtrak Station near the historic Southern Pacific Sunset Depot and VIA's eastside transit center.  It was long assumed that any regional commuter rail or Texas high-speed rail network would similarly stop at the Sunset Station, but a case can be made to have them run to the International & Great Northern Station, where the right-of-ways and undeveloped land might be easier to rebuild.  The proposed streetcar system would run through downtown between and connecting the IG&N and Sunset stations.

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    Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose as my French friends would say.  Rail transit has always been a rather good idea, but only a few cities on this continent have managed to avoid the blandishments of the automotive industry.

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    I agree that automobile culture has been highly negative in its effects. Rail was always superior, and the illusion of freedom granted by individual car ownership think refuelling, costs of registration, necessity of upgrading models if you want to not pay a lot for parts etc) There is a place for vehicles off rails, such as removal trucks and local operations like moving haystacks from fields, but rail is superior for commuting and long distance transport.

     

    I just wish they'd use classic style trams instead of those ugly modern ones

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    Well, Mark, there you are in the hotbed of British Rail.  A great many people heaps are in close proximity, and some of them are quite small and actually enabled by rail.  Here we have wide open spaces that would be best served by rail, but we are doing our best to pave the whole thing.

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    San Francisco street cars are cable cars they are not electric they are pulled by engines that I think may be diesel. But San Francisco does have North America's largest electrical bus system, followed by Vancouver. But in general personal Automobiles with electric engines is overall I think the best option for the environment and consumer price inflation.

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