Tell Council “I support Light Rail”

Eleanor Grant writes:

Friends and Neighbours in Waterloo Region –

The winning bid to build the LRT in Kitchener-Waterloo was announced Friday, and it comes in under budget.

It will be voted on by Regional Councillors on March 4 in committee, and ratified on March 19. There should be shovels in the ground this spring.

The official announcement: Staff recommend GrandLinq as the preferred team for ION Stage 1 LRT

The winning consortium is GrandLinq. It is not the one with ties to SNC Lavalin, we can be relieved to hear! I’ve put links to all the media coverage on it at the end of this message.

Must see video

The TriTAG group (stands for Tri-cities Transport Action Group) has produced an excellent little video explaining the ION project in 90 seconds:

Please view it and pass it on to your friends πŸ™‚

As you know, our Councillors have been bombarded with negative messages, most of them based on pretty inaccurate information, from those who want to stop the project or tie it up in endless delays.

But I suspect that the silent majority of us see the benefits of LRT (that doesn’t mean it’s perfect), and we want to see it get started.

Councillors need to hear from us at this time.

On TriTAG‘s site please click on the link to “E-mail your Councillors”. Tell them briefly in your own words, why you think the light rail project should go ahead.

You can also register as a delegation at the meetings on 4 March 2014 at 3:00pm and 19 March 2014 at 6:00pm.

I have registered for 4 March. One thing I’ll be talking about is the confidence-building we need to do with our neighbours in Cambridge, so they can feel more reassured during the gap years between Stage 1 in KW and Stage 2 being built to Cambridge in the future.

I’ve learned some exciting facts about the project recently, that aren’t all on the web sites:

  • The next new iXpress (203) route is being introduced the end of April. It will travel from Sportsworld along Maple Grove (Loblaws warehouse and Toyota plant), into the core of Hespeler, then down Franklin Blvd and over to Cambridge Centre mall. A new terminal area for a dozen bus links is being built on Hespeler Rd near the front of the mall.
  • Starting in Sept this new iXpress will also go from Sportsworld to Conestoga College at peak hours.
  • Also starting in Sept, the original iXpress, the 200, will be stopping at Sportsworld (I wish they’d do this sooner).
  • The adapted bus rapid transit for Cambridge – aBRT – is now expected to start in early 2015. Tenders for this work should go out soon. It will assume the 200 route from Fairview on. Stops will be: Fairview; Sportsworld; Eagle/Pinebush; Cambridge Centre mall new terminal; Can-Amera (YMCA); the Delta (Babcock & Wilcox); and Ainslie St terminal. Ainslie terminal is also going to be spruced up.
  • Serious talks are underway to improve GO train service to Kitchener, and maybe even reopen the Milton rail corridor to Cambridge. It all takes time – no promises yet! But for the Province to invest in these improvements, they need to see a higher order rapid transit built here, such as LRT.

Three things must dovetail together: a good bus grid, a rapid transit “spine”, and inter-city links. That’s why it’s time for LRT now. Waterloo Region is getting out in front of the population growth mandated for our area. Failure to get ahead of the curve only leads to the wasteful gridlock we now see in the GTA.

Please go to TriTAG now and click on the link to “E-mail your Councillors”. Right now is when our Councillors need to know we’re with them, and that we appreciate their efforts to bring us this far.

Thanks All,

Eleanor

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Media coverage on LRT bid:

Kitchener Post: LRT: $593 million to build, $900 million to run

CTV (2 segments):
http://kitchener.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=299012
http://kitchener.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=299314

CBC News: LRT construction bid pegged at $532M

The Record: Top LRT bid comes in under budget

570 News: GrandLinq recommended group for LRT project

The Region has also released a nice brochure (26 pages long) explaining the Why and How of Rapid Transit: The story of rapid transit in Waterloo Region (6.0 MBytes, .PDF file)

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Eleanor Grant writes a semi-regular e-mail newsletter on social justice issues. You can contact Eleanor at eleanor7000@gmail.com