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Impacts of a New Express Bus Service in Waterloo Region


The Urban Transportation Showcase Program (UTSP) is a Federal Government program with the goal of quantifying, through field deployments (showcases), the impacts that various transportation initiatives have on green house gas (GHG) emissions. The Regional Municipality of Waterloo proposed the implementation of an express bus service supported by various bus control and traveller information technologies (e.g. transit signal priority, web-based trip planner, automatic passenger counting system), community based marketing initiatives, and inter-modal integration measures. This proposal was selected as one of the showcase projects. • The express bus service (iXpress), which consists of 13 stations distributed over a route length of approximately 35km, commenced service at the beginning of September 2005. The supporting bus control and traveller information technologies have been deployed incrementally. Unconditional transit signal priority was implemented at key intersections along the route at the time service commenced. Real-time passenger information displays (i.e. next bus arrival times) were deployed in late summer 2007. On bus automatic vehicle location and control system (AVLC) and automatic passenger counting system (APCS) were deployed in mid-summer 2007. An interactive web-based trip planner is scheduled for deployment during the fall of 2007. The impact that the new service has had on travel behaviour in the Region has been monitored through the use of on-board intercept surveys, ridership tracking, and community surveys. Despite delays in technology implementation the iXpress has been successful in attracting riders with most recently available data showing that ridership is at 92% of forecasted levels and growing (34% increase during the period from November 2005 to November 2006). As expected, a large proportion (72%) of these riders have shifted from using local transit routes. However, the results also indicate a significant number of trips (14%) were previously made using auto. Furthermore, there is evidence that the iXpress service has provided increased mobility. The analysis presented here demonstrates that iXpress is currently responsible for the reduction of approximately 1.5 million kilometres of personal automobile trips per year, with an associated reduction of approximately 500 tonnes of GHG emissions. Further, we estimate that if predicted ridership levels are achieved, these reductions in personal auto use will result in an annual reduction of 625 tonnes of GHG at the time of technology deployment and as many as 750 tonnes/year of GHG one year later.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Transportation planning