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Rapid Transit as a Catalyst for Reurbanization in Waterloo Region


Waterloo Region is one of the fastest growing communities in Canada with a population today of over a half million people and with forecast growth of almost 50 percent within the next 25 years. The Region is facing many of the same challenges experienced by other rapidly growing communities throughout North America including increasing traffic congestion, outward pressure on urban boundaries, public health concerns and downtowns desperately in need of revitalization. Many of these impacts are directly related to society’s dependence on the automobile. Rapid transit is an integral component of Waterloo Region’s Regional Growth Management Strategy (RGMS), approved by Regional Council in 2003. Rapid Transit will act as a catalyst for reurbanization bringing together land use planning and transportation infrastructure in an innovative approach to community building. It is being considered within the Central Transit Corridor (CTC), which links the major urban centres of the City of Cambridge, City of Kitchener and City of Waterloo. Higher order transit is also identified in the Province’s Places to Grow Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. In 2004, the Federal government contributed funding for Technical Studies for the Region’s Rapid Transit Initiative. The studies have revealed positive results. Analysis of development potential within the CTC demonstrates it has the market strength and physical capacity to attract and accommodate significant economic growth. Ridership forecasts indicated substantial ridership growth in the CTC attributed to rapid transit and a benefit-cost economic analysis showed that both LRT and BRT are economically viable rapid transit alternatives in our community. The Region is currently undertaking an Individual Environmental Assessment in accordance with Provincial and Federal guidelines that will examine the need for a rapid transit system, technology choices, routes and stations and system design. It is scheduled for completion in the spring, 2008. Some of the benefits of rapid transit discussed in this paper include increased modal share brought on by ridership growth with added development around rapid transit stations, reduced urban sprawl and pressure on the urban boundaries, mitigating congestion with policies and resources to control increased traffic in the downtown cores, connections with inter-city transit, minimizing the impact of growth (development and traffic) on climate change and heightening public safety through station area design principles and enhanced security for pedestrians and residents living around stations.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Durant, D
Willoughby, W.D
Transportation planning