Region releases preliminary rapid transit proposal
Following a staff review and public consultations, Waterloo Region has recommended a rapid transit system that is introduced in stages and includes both light rail and bus rapid transit.
The top recommended option is very similar to the option that was approved by Regional Council in June 2009, and the report says additional analysis and public input have "reinforced and confirmed that original choice."
Regional staff is recommending light rail transit (LRT) be implemented from Conestoga Mall to Fairview Park Mall and adapted bus rapid transit (aBRT) be implemented from Fairview Park Mall to the Ainslie Street Transit Terminal.
Nancy Button, director of rapid transit for Waterloo Region, says "Similar to the type of rapid transit that you see in York Region and Brampton, they would see express routes feeding into the rapid transit service and paralleling it, like along Fischer Hallman Road."
In addition, though an increase in conventional transit service is required, the report suggests it can be introduced gradually.
Implementing only 40 per cent of the proposed increase in regular transit service between 2012 and 2018 would reportedly make the plan more affordable for the region.
The cost to taxpayers for the new transit proposal is about a $25 increase per household each year for seven years, a 1.5 per cent annual property tax increase. That means by the seventh years, homeowners will be paying and additional $175 per year.
Regional staff has also suggested that LRT for the complete route from Conestoga Mall to the Ainslie Street Transit Terminal should be implemented as part of a long-term plan for the region.
That long-term planning is expected to include starting the environmental assessment process, planning for a multi-modal transit hub in Cambridge and going to upper levels of government seeking funding for an expanded system.
In public consultations held in February and March, most residents supported both rapid transit and the LRT plan, but were concerned about costs.
The region is planning to seek additional public input over the next two months, and a report for Council approval is expected to be submitted on June 15.