Public explores GRT service, rate changes

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Grand River Transit (GRT) will be undergoing significant service changes in the upcoming year. In light of these developments, the transit system has welcomed the voice of members of Waterloo Region, giving them an opportunity to share their concerns and questions over the proposed 2013 Transit Service Improvement Plan.

On March 18, GRT held the first in a series of public consultations at the University of Waterloo. The aim of the consultations is to provide the public with details concerning the proposed 2013 Transit Improvement Plan.  Students and locals alike gathered around a circuit of display boards, speaking with representatives of GRT who were eager to answer any questions and address concerns.

“I’m just curious about the bus routes,” said Fred Yuan, a student at UW.” I find some of the routes here redundant. Some of them are overlapping, like the 201 iXpress overlaps with the 7 and 8 and I didn’t know why it was needed.”

The proposed service improvements include a variety of modifications to existing routes, including increased and extended hours of service. An extension to the existing 201 iXpress route, the implementation of a new University iXpress route between The Boardwalk at Ira Needles Boulevard and Conestoga Mall, as well as various improvements to the service on routes 5 Erb West, 6 Bridgeport and 12 Conestoga Mall, are among the key amendments.

Erica Springate, principal planner at GRT spoke to The Cord about some of the upcoming services offered.

“Our iXpress routes have been really successful. We have a network of 7 iXpress routes planned and they’re designed to provide travel across cities, to bring people from the outer neighbourhoods into the planned rapid transit stations,” she explained. “This[new]  university iXpress will serve the Eastbridge neighbourhood and then out to RIM Park. It will also serve UW, Laurier and Conestoga College.”

Reid Fulton, a transit planner at GRT was enthusiastic at the prospect of the new University iXpress. “It will provide an opportunity for more direct travel options.It will be a faster, more convenient option compared to some of the options that are out there, because it will be more direct,” he said.

Springate also explained that there would be an across-the-board increase to the current bus fare, which will be effective as of July 2013.  “A 7  per cent increase was approved this year. It’s possible that we’ll see that similar increase likely every year for the next little while, to help balance the cost of doing these service improvements.”

Chantal de Sereville, a fourth-year English major at UW and frequent rider of GRT, was pleased by the efforts of the transit system to involve the community in their development process.

“I think it’s great that they’re doing this,” she commented. It really shows that they do have an interest in the opinions and concerns of their transit users, and that’s really comforting.”

In addition to new iXpress route and various route service developments, GRT has also introduced the Rapid Transit (RT) service which Fulton explained will be adopted in the central north-south corridor along with Light Rail Transit (LRT), which is scheduled to begin operations by 2017.

There will be three additional public consultations this week and next at various locations in Kitchener and Waterloo. Students and members of the community are encouraged to attend the consultations to review and provide feedback on the proposed 2013 Fare Options.

More information can be found at grt.ca.

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