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Following the public consultations held in November 2014 and April 2015, the 2015 Transit Service Improvement Plan was refined with your input. The approved plan expands the iXpress bus network, providing more direct transit service to major destinations throughout the region, and integrates Grand River Transit (GRT) bus routes with ION light rail.
The final plan was presented to the Planning & Works Committee on May 26, 2015 and recommended for approval to Regional Council on June 3, 2015. The approved plan will be implemented effective September 7, 2015.
Note: Routing alignments of GRT service through Downtown Kitchener and along the ION corridor is affected by construction detours leading up to implementation of ION service.
The implementation of ION and an expanded bus network, will provide more transportation choice for people and help create a more vibrant and liveable community. ION will travel along the Central Transit Corridor (CTC) through the core areas of Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge. ION light rail is scheduled to begin operating in 2017 between Conestoga Mall and Fairview Park Mall.
ION Bus Rapid Transit begins operating September 7, 2015. It provides an enhanced iXpress service between Fairview Park Mall and Ainslie Street Terminal in Cambridge. Enhancements include stations with larger, modern-styled shelters and real-time passenger information displays, a more direct alignment using Hespeler Road, and traffic by-pass lanes at several intersections and along Highway 8.
ION light rail will provide the opportunity for service to be consolidated and streamlined on Route 7 Mainline and Route 8 University/Fairview in the CTC. The proposed 2015 Transit Service Improvement Plan that was presented in November 2014 provided various options to change these routes. After assessing the impact on these routes (and their customers) from ION construction detours, it is now approved to streamline only the Route 7B branch, to provide more direct service on Weber Street East. Other Route 7 branches, including those travelling to the University of Waterloo that would travel the same corridor as ION light rail, would be reviewed for changes in 2017 after ION construction and the associated route detours are complete. The only change planned for Route 8 in 2015 would be to operate the Franklin branch via Weber Street East at all times. Further changes to Route 8 would also be considered in 2017, at the same time as Route 7 is re-evaluated.
A network of limited-stop iXpress routes that integrate with ION continue to be implemented. The approved 2015 Transit Service Improvement Plan includes a new east-west iXpress corridor in Kitchener along the Highland Road West and Victoria Street North corridors, along with streamlining of local routes.
In the service improvement options presented in November 2014, one option also included introducing Stage 1 of an iXpress route along Ottawa Street. The implementation of this service would now be deferred until 2017, when the iXpress route could be implemented in its entirety between Fischer-Hallman Road and Lackner Boulevard. Road reconstruction on the eastern portion of Ottawa Street would also be completed, and Route 8 could be modified to reduce duplication of service with the proposed Ottawa iXpress.
The Regional Municipality of Waterloo approved the following transit service improvements to be implemented effective Monday September 7, 2015:
New weekend service on 203 iXpress on the section of route between Cambridge Centre and Sportsworld Terminal. Saturday service operates every 30 minutes from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and then every 60 minutes until 10 p.m. Sunday service operates every 60 minutes from 8:40 a.m. to 10 p.m.