GRT to consider public in changes

(Photo by Nick Lachance)

After many requests from the residents of Waterloo, Grand River Transit (GRT) will be implementing new service changes that will take place in September 2013.

Improvements that are being introduced include a new iXpress route along Erb Street West and University Avenue. This, in turn, will lengthen the existing 201 iXpress, which runs along Fischer-Hallman Road to Conestoga Mall and the employment area at University Avenue and Northfield Drive, and moderate local routes in Waterloo and Kitchener.

Other changes to the system will also include a “University” iXpress route along Erb Street and University Avenue. As well,  potential changes are expected along other bus routes, which will aim to offer more direct service and create connections to other locations within Waterloo.

“The business plan created a basic trademark and said they were going to make these particular changes to these particular bus routes and as part of that, we identified the cost for that,” said Blair Allen, the supervisor transit developer for  GRT.

“Our next step from that is that each year is to look at the funds and the criteria we need to improve in services and then we go and create a committee and a technical team that reviews it all.”

Daniel Berger, a resident of Waterloo for twenty years, takes  GRT on a daily basis and had grown unsatisfied with the transit services. Upon hearing the new improvements that will be implemented Berger claimed that these improvements have been a long time coming.

“I think that this desire for change has been calling for a while and I think its time we answer to it. I think that these improvements will certainly make riding the GRT better for everyone,” said Berger

The plans for these improvements have not yet been finalized, however. Allen explained that a series of public consultations still needs to take place. Allen emphasized that public input from two rounds of consultations will be considered when developing the final proposed 2013 Transit Service Improvement Plan.

“There are a series of consultations both internally and externally. Now what we’re doing is we’re going to the public and we’re presenting a series of options that we’ve got,” Allen said.

“In this case, we’re going to get the feedback that we’ve been getting from the bus operators and any other comments that come in online and we’ll review all those and develop from that … and come up with a final option that will meet the most needs and [provide the] best service.”

In late winter of next year, these plans will be outlined to the public and arrangements to apply these changes will be pushed forward. An official report will be made to the public, the works committee and the regional council detailing these new plans.

Allen stated that once these service changes are approved by the Regional Council budget agreement, the new transit service improvement plan would be implemented by Sept. 2, 2013.

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