Grand River Transit recently ended its period of public feedback on its transit improvement plan. The plan outlined possible changes to the Region of Waterloo’s transit routes, including the elimination of the 7D/E bus routes. The public feedback period encouraged members of the public to reach out to GRT with thoughts about the improvement plan, either through a series of public meetings or by submitting comments through the organization’s website.
The announcement of the possible elimination of the 7D/E bus routes, which currently serve the area of Waterloo that houses the two universities, received much attention from students.
Many students were concerned about the plan’s possible effects on transit in the area.
This concern resulted in the creation of a petition to keep the 7D/E bus routes, signed and commented on by students from both the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University.
“At first, I just thought that the service would be reduced on University if 7D/E were eliminated, so I started a petition,” said Hongyu Zhang, a UW student and the creator of the petition.
“I didn’t expect that that many people would participate.”
The petition ended up garnering 1,604 supporters. In addition to signing the online petition, many also left personal messages reflecting upon why they support keeping the 7D/E routes.
One such supporter wrote that the routes were “the most convenient bus option” for them and losing the routes would add time to their daily commute.
Zhang said he simply circulated the petition on social media, where it gained traction as people shared it.
He also created a Facebook page, which allowed students to comment on the transit improvement plan’s proposed changes and offer their opinion on the matter.
“There were many valuable comments on the Facebook page,” Zhang continued.
The petition was submitted to GRT on Dec. 9. It was also forwarded to the Federation of Students at UW so they would have the chance to review it and possibly forward it to regional planners.
“Speaking with the Feds’ municipal affairs commissioner, he kind of convinced me that the improvement plan is not reducing the service along University Avenue,” said Zhang.
In a statement, Andrew Clubine, the municipal affairs commissioner at the Feds, said their concerns stem from the fact that it will “eliminate service to the west side of campus.” However, he acknowledged that the “spirit behind the proposal is a good one.”
“I’m not opposing anything, I’m not opposing their decisions, I just want to share my thoughts and get the other students’ thoughts, so they have a reference,” said Zhang. “Whether the petition is a success or not, at least people paid attention the issue and shared their thoughts.”
The transit improvement plan’s suggestions will ultimately be subject to the approval of Waterloo Region’s budget, which the regional council will vote upon on March 4. Until then, GRT and other regional planners will continue to evaluate the public feedback received at the end of last year.
The petition, as part of this feedback, has been received by GRT and forwarded to regional planners for further review.
More on this from our November 26th Issue: Bus Routes Reconsidered