It’s been a long, long time coming, but the ION has officially launched.

Hundreds of people turned out to see history unfold on Friday morning.

First conceived back in 2002, the multi-million dollar project had its share of hiccups. Now, though, with zero passengers carried, the ION has already garnered $3.282 billion in economic development. You can see the full timeline here.

Regional Coun. Tom Galloway also said that there are billions more in planning along the ION corridor.

“Pinch me, someone, please,” Galloway said at Friday’s ceremony. He has often referred to himself as the “whipping boy” for the LRT.

He wrapped up his address with three words: “Onward to Cambridge.”

MORE: See our full coverage of Friday's launch

Regional Chair Karen Redman took to the podium a couple of times.

In her second trip to the microphone, she noted that it was Canada’s first new rail system since the 1980s.

People travelled from all over to attend the launch, including Gary Grahl, who is visiting Kitchener from New York City.

“It looks very impressive, very professional,” he said. “I rode the last streetcar in NYC, it would be nice to ride the first of something.”

The first dignitaries got on the ceremonial trains after the ceremony, and the first ION to ever carry passengers left its station at 11:40 a.m.

The rest of the system began with a shotgun start at noon. You can see where they control the system here.