LRT for Dummies

You may or may not know that Snapsort is a small software startup based in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.  Think of Waterloo as a tiny Silicon Valley up here in the Great White North (koo loo koo koo koo koo koo koo).  Although what you see currently is largely a camera site, we have a little secret: we want to be the first choice for users making any purchasing decision, from real estate and travel to stocks and hot yoga studios.

You see, our business requires a lot of complex and exciting engineering work (P.S. we’re hiring), which means we need to hire world class coders.  The city we live in is a big part of that. Waterloo is a fantabulous region.  Seriously: it’s awesome.  Like other big tech centres that went before us, someone, on some council, in a place called city hall made a decision for or against a rail system.  Well, it’s now our turn to make that decision.

Since Snapsort is all about helping people make better decisions we thought we’d create a super ginormous infographic on all the talking points.  We hope the techies, students, and Waterloo Region lovers will read this, and share it with their friends. (YES, PLEASE POST, TWEET AND SHARE – embed code below the infographic.)

Waterloo Region has undergone explosive growth — it’s a legitimate success story — largely because we have three universities/colleges and a whole lot of talented techies doing cool stuff.  Tech is now our economic heart: manufacturing has left, and Blackberries, Open Text, Desire2Learn, Kik, and hundreds of other have moved in.  There is a small and vocal minority who don’t want a large, super fantastic and dominant urban tech centre, and who think rail systems are silly.   We don’t really agree with this segment although we love that they have an opinion.  What’s your opinion?

Christopher Reid, Snapsort co-founder

Sources in comments

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<a href=""><img width="650" height="8660" src="" title="LRT for Dummies" alt="Waterloo Region rapid transit options"/></a><br /> <a href="">Snapsort</a>'s <a href="">LRT for Dummies</a> Infographic

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65 Responses to “LRT for Dummies”

  1. Snapsort May 11, 2011 at 12:27 pm #


  2. Erich Nolan Bertussi Davies May 11, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

    Doug Craig is not against LRT he like many from Cambridge is against regional in-equality & demands a full system at completion.

    Cambridge with 3 city cores that can contribute to regional sprawl curbing has only one of it’s 3 cores included in even the long term vision.

    The entirety of Waterloo Region needs to start recognising that Cambridge is a City of 3 towns and not a sprawl of one downtown formerly known as Galt.

    LRT’s must include Hespeler & Preston, not just Galt, and they must include them from the get go.

    Hespeler is the greatest growth site in Waterloo region due to proximity to Toronto, Yes Waterloo people want to commute to Toronto from here.

    Further logic to support LRT to Galt include the fact that the Train station in Galt by Galt Collegiate Institute is also the GO transit systems first hit when coming to Waterloo Region as much as we desire regional transport liquidity we also need work force mobility to and from Toronto this is paramount.

    The envisaged “Soper Tech Park” adjacent to Galt Train station would be coupled with proper 5 core city LRT the only short term proper inclusive way to go.

    Until Doug Craig and the city of Cambridge see regional Equality you will see a Mayor fighting for his 3 Towns in order to ensure that they are not marginalised.

    Pre fabricated bridges that are AIR LIFTED into place using the Bombadier sky crane could cut in the bridge costs for the LRT of which there should be more than ONE CROSSING OF THE 401 to ensure Hespeler and Preston also have LRTs going to their cores to ensure we can fight back sprawl and not just in Waterloo.

    The LRT plan is as is currently un-holistic and continues to marginalise Cambridge. The greatest growth opportunities lie in Cambridge, supplanted it to a second though mostly south of the 401 is poor decision making and at best simple bias.

    Doug Craig grew up on LRT’s in Toronto, he knows full well how important they are, yet and more over he is vexed with ensuring that his community is fairly enabled when it comes to Regional Infrastructure.

    Doug Craig again as many other Cambridge residents is not opposed to LRT he is opposed to Regional In-Equality when it comes to infrastructure planing.

    If Waterloo and Kitchener residents continue to be ill informed and seek to be monopolistic with the utilisation of regional funds for transit you will see little support for an LRT that serves no souls in Cambridge for up to if not longer than an extra half a decade.

    Again Cambridge has THREE 3 ~ ! cores not just one and all 3 cores need to be included in an LRT master plan.

    It’s not just about what is fair it is about long term primary goal of building UP NOT OUT, we can ill afford to squander the opportunity to flourish the 3 Villages of Galt, Preston and Hespeler too..

    Politics polarises so if you can’t get included you bash the plan to keep it easy for ‘dummies’ to Grok dat shizat kids..

    Yet truly at the end of the day what the actual problem is here at the table is a plan that omits inclusion of THREE Primary Core areas from the get go, over what? Lack of ridership? figure out why Cambridge has the fewest bus shelters per population and tell me how you can sustain riders in the winter if there are no shelters to protect them from winter weather and snow etc.. tell me why Cambridge in terms of transit has so much not given to encourage it.

    Not only should all 5 Cores be united, THE MALLS should NOT BE INCLUDED. as well our ultimate goal should be FREE FARE transit as well as FAIR equality for all citizens in this amazing Region perhaps Ontario’s best chance at setting the global standard for sustainable honest fair inclusive way of living. The true north strong and free setting the example again for all to see.


    • Editor May 11, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

      Good points here. Cambridge is included in the long term vision for LRT in Waterloo Region, I am not sure it would be possible to bring the LRT to all 3 Cambridge cores, but it will connect those cores through express buses.
      Cambridge will help pay for the LRT in Kitchener Waterloo, but when we start building LRT in Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo will help pay for it. There is no LRT system in North America that was built in one go, they have been built in sections. This is the only way we will be able to connect all our cores and bring our communities together.

  3. Michael May 11, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    Great infographic! Yes, unapologetically pro-LRT.

    The best Cambridge gets out of the deal is a ‘proposed’ extension? No thanks. Spend that money a build a high-speed line between Guelph and WR via 7 highway.

    • Erich Nolan Bertussi Davies May 11, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

      oui oui ( i Neglected to raise props as you have MR. D. )

      That infographic is magically delicious..
      Love that style..
      so much eye candy..



    • Editor May 11, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

      Cambridge will be connected to the LRT, just not right away. There is no LRT system in North America that was built in one go, they have been built in sections.

    • Ted February 28, 2013 at 9:19 am #

      “The best Cambridge gets out of the deal is a ‘proposed’ extension?” Well the thing is, Michael, Cambridge doesn’t have the ridership yet. You cannot invest in permanent stations when you have less than 30% ridership of the rest of the route. And I don’t think anyone is going to build LRT into all three Cambridge cores as Erich suggests. You cannot actually have everything all at once.

  4. Scott May 11, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    What about the townships?

    The current fact is Waterloo Region is built on Urban Sprawl. Almost all the growth in the Region has been outwards, taking up farm land, wetlands, and unused area that are within the boundaries of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge. Some growth has been in the outlying towns but not as much as in the Cities. What has been omitted from information on LRT and other rapid transit solutions is how are they going to help growth in the downtown areas?

    It is one thing to say that it helps move people around, introducing them to more places and helping out the economy in the Cities but what seems to be missing is how they are going to get there. People who live in the outer communities, that is the area’s that have been built at the edge of the City at the time of that areas development, are far more likely to use cars and other vehicles to get around because their access to businesses and services is spread out. How does LRT solve this? Where the purposed route goes is in the major “core” areas. Not the outlying areas where the majority of the people are. A problem with every transit system is getting people to use it, and how to get them to it. With conventional buses they walk to their local bus stop and get on and ride. It may take forever to get somewhere but some are willing to do it. Others, who have arbitrary errands to do can simply hop in their car, drive to the places they need and be home much quicker than if they tried to do the same thing via bus.

    Here is an example from Ottawa. It is mentioned that Ottawa has been implementing a LRT system. They have since halted that project because it cost far more than they had planned. The O-Train currently visits only 5 stops that go across the city. If you are going from the South Keys area at Greenboro to Bayview Station just west of downtown and want to get their quickly then the O-Train is feasible. It also stops at Carlton University. However, it is generally quicker to get across town via their Transitway RBT (Rapid Bus Transit) system than the O-Train if you are going to the downtown area. Their RBT system stops in major parts of the Metropolitan Ottawa suburbs and smaller routes take people to the areas around the stations. The LRT here neglects the people in the outlying areas.

    Looking at the question purposed at the beginning, what about the townships? As Erich Davies points out about Cambridge, they have issues with only Galt being a stop. There is more to the Region of Waterloo than just Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge. There are also Townships that surround the Cities. The residents here are part of the region but have no access to the LRT system. Yet, because they are part of the region, they are subsiding something they have little, to no access too. This is a big problem. The Region loves to play with numbers, eg. Every university student is a rider of GRT because they pay for a bus pass as part of their tuition, yet this is quite untrue. With LRT the region is including the rural residents in their tax base to fund the transit system, when they will not use it.

    The Conestoga Parkway is being sighted as something that was great foresight into the future back in the 1960’s, yet it is a different medium all together. Everyone with a vehicle, buses included, can access it. It runs up into Elmira and over to New Hamburg and through Kitchener. Since I live in New Dundee I can get to Elmira by avoiding the City roads all together and get there in decent time. I am not, however, going to drive to a parking lot in KW, pay some ridiculous fee and take a train to run my errands. It is faster, easier and more time efficient to drive around to what I need to do.

    If the region is going to tax the rural residents then it should think of ways of compensating them 100% for the extra taxes they have to pay. There is a lot of information that is being overlooked here, and people are being given the entire picture. As for Urban Sprawl, folks there are as well off as their country neighbours, they are left in the dark while the region gets to create a make work project built on flimsy numbers, misrepresentation, and City self-centredness.

    That’s my two cents,


    • Editor May 11, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

      Hey Scott
      We need to start somewhere. The LRT system is meant to be built in sections, and then express buses will connect outlining areas to the LRT. It is not perfect but it is a start, if we don’t built this now our city cores will be full of congestion.
      It will cost a lot today but the future benefits out weigh the current costs.

    • Drew May 13, 2011 at 11:24 pm #

      I completely agree with you Scott. I think it’s insane that the majority of people in KW live nowhere close to the LRT line but will have to pay even more tax to support it. Sure it’s only going to cost $818 million but that will end up being more like 8.18 billion by the time the project is actually done. No government project gets done on time or within the initial budget. Instead we will have to look at 15 workers standing around with shovels making $50 an hour while one person is actually doing a little bit of work.

      Has no thought been put into a subway system? This is something that people would actually use if it actually links where people live with where people work instead of linking the few people that live in downtown areas with other downtown areas (not many businesses). I guess that idea doesn’t have enough corporate backing to make it happen? How many world class cities can you think of that don’t have an underground system?

    • Marcy May 18, 2011 at 9:27 am #

      I think if you take into account the David Suzuki quote you’ll see why the LRT is not going out to the other communities. The whole POINT is to encourage people to move our population in and up to prevent urban sprawl. It’s not city self-centredness, it’s a plan based on other successful LRT cities.

      • shepd June 16, 2011 at 12:06 am #

        And who will be buying the houses that people who live far away from the LRT put all of their blood, sweat and tears into? The ones whose taxes went up to pay for the LRT?

        Nobody, because nobody will want a house away from the LRT. That means property values will decrease and all those people will be poor.

        Is that not absolutely the most unfair thing in the world? Talk about abuse! It seems if the city wants to devalue our property they should at least not be expecting us to work harder for the privilege.

  5. Erich Nolan Bertussi Davies May 11, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    Hey Scott,

    Per inclusion of townships, and sprawl.

    Rural transport will continue to be automobile oriented there is not cost effective mode of public transit to serve rural area’s.

    Sprawl was/is/remains auto centric, and as Jane jacobs would remind us if she was still alive perhaps the greatest error in human judgment/greed manifested our species has ever seen.

    Quite simply sprawl must go if we are to survive on this planet as a species, many feel we have out grown and out paced our ability to stop sprawl and the waste culture/engineered obsolete/consumer culture that raises stock prices artificially coupled with fractional reserve and high interest loan practices.

    You know all the “normal” stuff of anti collaborative pro competitive eat or be eaten capitalism. How’s it working out for us? Not so good we might be the first large group of planetary species to make it self go extinct.

    So to wrap it up after going philosophical, no we don’t need to serve sprawl and rural area’s with transit until their corridors are urban intensified. We need to all grow up and get used to living in population dense communities and stop feeling we are entitled to a front lawn a backyard and a place to hide our cars or hording habits with garages.

    Less is more, less is more for all of us, and we as Canadians who are a nation today for we halped historically our neighbours surive long harsh winters need not neglect remembering our social obligations to think of our neighbours as well as our selves living life wholeheatedly with generosity as our theme.

    Inclusivness and fairness is important yet not at the cost of our entire planet. Sprawl was a mistake, we really F#*!ed up and we need to correct the trend post haste…

    Maybe this internet will help us become more social and encourage us to gather as we once did as a tribe sharing ideas daily and ensuring we can sustain together fully and well.. 🙂 🙂

    • Kristina May 11, 2011 at 10:44 pm #

      Erich, I don’t think it’s completely unreasonable to suggest that decisions be made regarding rapid transit with the townships included. For example, one proposal at one time for the Kitchener GO train extension included a turnaround/storage yard in Baden on Nafziger Road, but somehow the idea of an actual station in Baden was a non-starter. Why? Granted, Baden’s population is tiny compared to the rest of the region, but is that extra cost of adding a station really worth keeping people who live there from being able to use public transit? I know the turnaround yard is no longer slated for Baden, but my point is — why wasn’t a Baden station even on the table, when they were considering having the trains out there anyway?

      • Erich Nolan Bertussi Davies May 18, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

        very good assertion and question Kristina, I too vote for as much interconnectedness with Toronto and would think and will always think Transit should be fare free and paid for by advertisers…
        we can slide scale the advertising so that local small bix is subsidised by national and internationality brands and buys…

        eventually forcing global nationals to broker more through local independents rather than do “flagship” corporate stores in malls…

        we have socially engineered this planet to a poor state Transit is a key to reforming our social fabrics…

        Baden should have a turn and station…


  6. Steve Hanov May 12, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    I’m not sure where you got your figures from. Actually, the Waterloo Record found all the options would cause a tax increase of $25 per year, which accumulates, so at the end of year 6 we would be paying around $525 extra per year.

    • Editor May 12, 2011 at 10:05 am #

      Hey Steve
      All our information is fully sourced:
      As it says in the infographic the tax increase is based on a tax increase per person, the average household in Waterloo Region has 2.6 people living in it.
      Thanks for your comments.

  7. Steve Hanov May 12, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    Also, I was under the impression that LRT supporters were a small and vocal minority anyway.

  8. Graham Moogk-Soulis May 12, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    I am a young professional living in Uptown Waterloo. I am also a lifelong resident of Waterloo who loves both his city and region and has no intention to ever leave. I look at our cities and I am proud of what they have become. I am, I must say, concerned about the proposed implementation of the Rapid Transit in our region. I agree there are many potential positive benefits for our cities, but I see a proposed plan that puts glitz over thought to the detriment of Uptown Waterloo and Waterloo Park.

    There are many controversial matters that surround the proposed Waterloo Region Rapid Transit. As I said, I acknowledge that there are both positive and negative aspects to the project. The two questions I cannot help but ask with a wry smile are: “Yes, the LRT will shave off nine minutes from the iXpress, but what percentage people really ride the system from one end to the other? Is not the time saved for average riders actually much smaller?” That is just me thinking things through. My concerns, however, are greater then how much time I will save.

    My largest concern in the whole matter is that Waterloo, like Cambridge, is getting the short end of the stick. Cambridge not only has two of its three downtown centers neglected, but it gets actual rail transit last. When the project goes over budget, Cambridge no doubt will lose out with later or minimized implementation of rail transit. People who say the project will not go over budget are naive and I challenge them to name a large-scale project that was finished on time or on budget. Was not RIM Park budgeting enough of an embarrassment?

    My largest concern about the Waterloo end of the project is that little effort has been made to fully bypass Waterloo’s Uptown section of King Street, just as it was done for Kitchener’s Downtown. Sure, a myriad of excuses can be made for why it is best to eliminate Uptown parking, driving lanes, and save the expense of a full diversion. Here’s the thing, no such excuses were made for Kitchener, and the full diversion was made without question. The potential damage to the Downtown core was for Kitchener but not Waterloo. There is also the fact the rails, wires, barriers, and regular trains will also run straight through Waterloo Park. No effort was made to avoid this. Is it sad that two of Waterloo’s best features, Uptown and Waterloo Park, will have trains run through them—trains that were, without question, unacceptable to run through Kitchener’s Downtown core.

    This is, fundamentally, a matter of fairness. If nothing is done, Waterloo and Cambridge will receive a raw deal with the proposed Rapid Transit routs. Waterloo Region is more than Kitchener, and Waterloo and Cambridge are more then extensions of Kitchener.

    Please, think this part through.

  9. erich nolan bertussi davies May 12, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    Just to ensure we don’t forget that we don’t forget 😉

    Word is Bombardier ‘may’ be outsourced to run it…?

    Without knowing if this paid by tax dollars system is going to go the way of the 407 and end up making some one money to run, how can we in good conscience support a system that should in time fully and actually be fare free and give us a fair chance to escape this auto culture..

  10. A May 12, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

    I am involved with one of the cool technology things in Waterloo that try to do world class cutting-edge work. I can say that making Waterloo look as much as possible like a world class city is something very important if Waterloo wants to actually bring the world class talent that makes that kind of work possible.

    • Editor May 12, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

      Waterloo Region’s future rests in its high tech sector. A LRT system will not be the only reason skilled workers and companies choose to set up shop locally, but it will play a role.

  11. Jane Mitchell May 14, 2011 at 9:51 am #

    Interesting graph and graphics. Two notes: The proposed Light Rail will be finished in 2017.Shovels in the ground in 2014.

    Also, the townships are NOT paying for Rapid Transit. Transit is area rated and the townships do not have transit. The bus to Elmira if it continues will be all Woolwich pays for, not LRT.

    However, intensification does help the townships by stopping sprawl. And regular transit will be improved to the suburbs as part of the rapid transit. Part of the proposed tax increase will be going to regular transit with full build out around 2018. That is what the most recent set of public meetings are asking. How fast do you want the regular transit improved?

    • Editor May 18, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

      Thanks for your comments Councillor Mitchell. I was not aware that the townships are not paying for Rapid Transit, the region should make sure people know that.
      We are in favor of moving fast on Rapid Transit, implementing more express buses will only help improve ridership.

      • Scott May 18, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

        Thanks Councillor Mitchell for the information. I have heard many people from the country who are concerned that LRT will raise their taxes, yet again, for a service they don’t have direct access too. I will be sure to let others know of this as it isn’t spelled out anywhere in a clear manor.

        On a side note, is LRT and BRT the only types of transit that was investigated? What about elevated rail or subway trains?



        • Marcy May 18, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

          I was under the impression that a subway system wasn’t feasible for our region, esp. given the location of the Grand? Am I wrong?

        • Erich Nolan Bertussi Davies May 18, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

          RE Elevated Rail,

          infrastructure borders create ghettoisation and social physical separation, Toronto needs to bury the Gardiner for good reasons.

          Hydro through ways, high speed above/on ground rail, high ways and over passes, grade separations of the unnatural human manifested kind are not for the humans but those who make pretty drawings looking from above at statistical data and not animal/mammal environment optimisation human scale.


  12. Todd May 15, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    For the most part, an interesting graphic, however the implication that Ottawa’s Transitway system (BRT) is or was a failure is hardly accurate. The Transitway was designed for eventual conversion to rail once capacity hit certain levels. For 25 years it served its purpose well, and now that the high end capacity is being reached, plans are underway for conversion to rail. There are also plans for all kinds of extensions to the Transitway system – and that simply wouldn’t be the case if the original system was deemed to be a failure.

    The graphic later implies that Ottawa currently has 40 km of LRT in place. That is way off base. The currently proposed Transitway conversion is only for 12 km, and won’t be opening before 2017.

    Don’t misunderstand me, I think an LRT investment in Waterloo would be money well spent, but the case should be able to be made without the need to misrepresent facts from Ottawa’s experience.

  13. Jaimie B. May 17, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    Great outline. But I still have great fears about under-estimations of the cost of construction, tax increases and over-estimations of ridership.

    • Editor May 17, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

      If we wait 10-20 years the cost will only go up. We need to bite the bullet today or we will be paying for it tomorrow (in more than one way). We also need to trust in our elected officials to keep this project on a tight leash budget wise.

      • Jaimie B. May 17, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

        The cost is going to go up no matter what – no project with this magnitude is kept on budget. That means higher than predicted taxes.

        On top of that, if ridership isn’t as glamorous as assumed, taxes will have to make up for the loss of revenue, and possible capital losses.

        I think we will end up having to pay for this for ever.

  14. Jim Payton May 17, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

    Interesting graphic, but it’s actually the discussion I like. The graphic is obviously highly biased in favour of LRT, and honestly, many of the forward-looking ‘Facts’ are essentially just opinions and wishes. Maybe they should have been called that.

    I’m glad to see some non-LRT opinions expressed (I applaud you for being open to including them), and I think many of the opinions raise valid concerns.

    I think for me, there are essentially two big factors against LRT: the overall cost per resident of the Region (based on $818M and about 550K residents, that is approaching $1,500 per resident – and that’s asssuming no cost cost overrun, and not factoring in operating costs). Whether the money comes from Federal, Provincial or Regional sources, it comes out of our wallets in some way.

    The other point I’d like to raise is that the majority of the Region’s population does not live within walking distance of the proposed LRT stations. So for some of those people who want to take the bus, they would generally have to drive to a station (perhaps located at a mall) and park their car in order to take a train, with the potential to require other transport at the other end to get to their final destination! That being the case, wouldn’t the Region be better served by a comprehensive network of buses? A web of buses could better service the many suburban areas where public transport is not currently an option. And the network could be expanded over time, when the Region has funding to support it.

    Two final thoughts:
    – One of posts said that Regional homeowners should get used to living in a more densely populated, urban error and that’s frankly naive. People bought homes because they could afford them at the time and because land was made available (partly due to the Region’s/Cities’ un-ending desire to ‘grow’). Those homeowners (quite a few I’m sure doing quite well from the Region’s tech sector) will not be in any hurry to leave suburbia unless they have a HUGE incentive.
    – I actually think a comprehensive public transit system is essential for creating a stable, safe community, and in general I support the idea of considering better public transit options. But has anyone yet suggested that if we want to get people out of their cars and using public transit, perhaps we should make it incredibly expensive to drive a car in the city??? If downtown parking were to cost three or four times as much as it currently does, would people not think twice about driving? If public transport cost $3.50 but parking was a minimum of $15, would you not then start to consider transit as a viable option? My understanding is that (not part of the budgeted cost of LRT), there are plans to widen certain roads to accommodate traffic displaced by the proposed LRT. If we don’t want people to drive, why give them any incentive?

    Finally, my last comment – we have a Provincial election this Fall, and it provides a great opportunity to provide a referendum on this topic to the populace of the entire Region. Let’s lay this matter to rest by letting the majority speak. Supporters and detractors would have ample opportunity to marshal support, and then no one could say they didn’t get a chance to be heard.


    Jim Payton

    BTW – According to Communitech’s survey about 70% of respondents said LRT would benefit the Region, but less than 50% said they felt well-informed. So much for an informed opinion.

    • Scott May 17, 2011 at 11:10 pm #

      Jim, with regards to your comment on parking fees being used as an incentive for forcing people to use public transit. This only helps those who live in the city, who want to visit downtown and have access to usable public transport. If you are from the country and/or have no access to public transport then rasing parking prices to an unreasonable level is detramental to the downtown businesses. Since these folks have no choice but to drive, why would they want to shop downtown when they can visit malls and plazas that offer free parking?


      • Jim Payton May 18, 2011 at 10:35 am #

        Hey Scott,

        Good point about rural residents visiting the city. I’m not sure there’s a easy answer, but I think that if we’re trying to persuade people to use public transit, the best way is to dissuade them from using cars. And what better method than (for lack of a better phrase) a consumption tax. London, England currently has a 10 pound toll for any vehicles driven into certain parts of the city per day – in addition to the cost of parking, etc.


    • Marcy May 18, 2011 at 9:38 am #

      I think it’s not to make present homeowners to move into the city, but to encourage all the new people coming to the city to live in the core. If we’re growing that quickly with our tech booming so much, we want to encourage NEW people to move inwards, not outwards.

      It’s a horrible case of not being able to please everybody, but we have to go with what’s best in the long run, and catering to the sprawl would be a mistake.

    • Editor May 18, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

      Hey Jim
      The GRT is planning to implement new express bus routes, we included them in the transit map on the infographic. I am sure that will connect more people to the LRT, making it within walking distance for a lot more people.

  15. erich nolan bertussi davies May 17, 2011 at 11:02 pm #

    Huge incentive? Huge incentive to put an end to sprawl?

    How about having a planet to live on, local food to eat, and automotive free culture which is richly saturated.

    Greed or entitlement to land is not a family value nor human right.

    We gots to grow the funk up kiddies..

    Time is ticking, mother earth is moaning… 😉


    • Drew May 17, 2011 at 11:08 pm #

      How is this going to help the earth? People who currently drive won’t be using it… SOME of the people who currently use the bus might use because it’s more comfortable. Everyone who drives will still drive because the lines are nowhere near where most people live or work. Build a subway that links the city if we are going to dish out billions for PUBLIC transit, nuff said.

    • Jim Payton May 17, 2011 at 11:11 pm #

      Hi Eric,

      I’m not saying it’s right to have amassive home that wastes space and devours agricultural land in suburbia; I’m just saying people who live there were not given any disincentive by the Region or Cities when they bought them, because they were increasing the tax base. You will not be able to get people to move easily. They will continue to think of sprawl as OPP – Other People’s Problems.

      BTW – I live in a100 year old home near downtown Kitchener. I could take the bus/train. 🙂


  16. eerich nolan bertussi davies May 18, 2011 at 10:46 am #

    Simple formula,

    You have a captive audience, TV is dead, print is dead, charge advertisers 10X or more what current Transit rates are get them to pay for the system so it can be fare free.

    Free transit will have droves of people saying aufweidersehn to their cars…

    It works.
    Other countries are doing it, let us be a global leader and do it in Waterloo Region too!


  17. lrt May 22, 2011 at 7:44 pm #

    The only deficiency in the glaring comparison with the world class cities in the graphic is so basic: Each of these populations has a “BIG THING” on the corridor – you forgot Vancouver … a National pro sports franchise. When we get that, then that is the time. Until then, connecting hi-tech campuses and 2 malls with trains is pathetically self-serving. You need an exciting venue to go along with this. Buffalo has failed at this BTW.

  18. Ted P. May 25, 2011 at 9:44 am #

    “There is a small and vocal minority who don’t want a large, super fantastic and dominant urban tech centre, and who think rail systems are silly. ” I know several people who oppose LRT but that description doesn’t match any of them. Your rhetoric is insulting and undermines the seriousness of the topic. We have one flawed proposal for rapid buses and 11 proposals for LRT. NO proposals for “innovative bus routes and articulated buses”.

    Let us look at Ottawa which you present as a “failure”. They had over 20 years of great bus service (I know several people who live there and love the buses). Now they have to expand. BTW, they are talking about a “subway” and not just an LRT.

    Your graphic shows how many more people a train can carry versus a bus. If it were honest, it would include an articulated bus. I bet if at least half the iExpress buses were articulated and ran every 10 minutes (as they will soon) our desire for LRT would disappear. It is that simple!

  19. Ezra May 30, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    I’m not sure how the other ones stack up, but you got your San Francisco comparison all wrong. The light rail length is 59.2 km. All other rail in SF is street cars or BART (commuter rail). Additionally most of the companies you listed are actually based in Santa Clara County (the largest city being San Jose, you know that small city with 945,942 people, which is larger than San Francisco and 10th largest in the United States, where the Sharks play). The only way for these companies to get to SF is drive an hour in a car or a 1 1/2 hour trip on Caltrain (it’s called commuter rail, but they use heavy full sized diesel trains) But, surprise surprise, Santa Clara county has it’s own light rail system (google: Santa Clara VTA light rail). It has 67.9 km of track and was opened in 1987.

    And for the record, I don’t live in San Jose (or Bay Area at all). I just think comparing to the VTA light rail would be more accurate.

  20. Buzz Marshall June 2, 2011 at 11:45 am #

    all of this stuff is great and people can debate both sides till we are all black and blue but in the end success is going to depend on one simple thing… will people use it?

    obviously people without a car or other motor vehicle will but what about the hundreds of thousands that have cars…

    look at the mess the 401 is with its huge over abundance of vehicles and commercial trucks, its a major nightmare and not much has ever succeded with any of the ideas to reduce its traffic and why?…

    we live in a economy here in Ontario that was once driven by the manufacturing sector where jobs were plenty-full and the government had no problems collecting its required taxes without gouging us all… thats all changed under this new atmosphere of canada dosn’t need to be a manufacturing country anymore which has left the auto industry and the insurance industry’s as one of the last few areas to get taxes from people to try and make up for all the taxes lost from people lossing their jobs…

    i dont know many people that would stop driving their cars in which they have heavily invested so much of their disposable income into as well lets not forget all those outrageous insurance fees we have to pay to legally drive here in Ontario…

    sofar no ones been able to even convince people to change their driving habits and support the busses or trains to Toronto by making use of them rather then drive that nightmare we call the 401 which leaves us with a barely functioning train to Toronto…

    the overall idea is a great idea and long overdue but until the goverment finds a way to create jobs and put people back to work and stop leveraging against the auto and insurance industries as one of the last bastions to gouge people for tax dollars and figure out how to lower taxes then people might be easier to sway into thinking about driving less and looking at the alternatives… and lets not forget all the money the goverment collects from gas as well…

    as much as i’d like to see this all happen i’m fearful that inlight of prior and ongoing questionable by the powers to be here in waterloo this will just turn into another money pit the tax payers dump their hard earned money into and get very little for in return…

    and for anyone thinking that the goverment is more concerned about us then its self and getting taxes… keep in mind that if that was really true then why haven’t they just banned smoking and drinking and the rest of our bad social habits rather then spending billions on just trying to warn people while they continue to collect the associated taxes… and yes i drink and smoke so this isnt a anti-smoker comment just a observation about the reality of who’s interest the government lies with…

    anyway thats my 2 cents…

    • valkraider June 8, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

      People like trains more than busses. It is a strange psychological thing. People will ride a train who would never be caught dead on a bus – even a very nice bus.

      The Portland system has a high percentage of “choice” riders, people who use trains instead of drive. Personally, I own two new autos and two motorcycles, and I still use the train because it is pleasant and easy – and I can sleep or read or play games or whatever I want since I am not driving, and I don’t have to pay parking downtown or worry about finding a spot during crowded events.

    • Ted February 28, 2013 at 9:31 am #

      We are already seeing positive developer reaction to the LRT which will drive usage. #1 Victoria will be a huge development as will the Transit Hub. The people living in those buildings will use it. I use iExpress now and I’ll use LRT so we only have to own one car. As more gets built along the corridor, those people will use LRT.

      As to whether others will jump on board, that depends on how well the feeder express buses work.

  21. Neil Anderson June 8, 2011 at 7:01 am #

    Warmest greetings from Wales!

    LRT is the ONLY was to go.

    Great infographic, but what do I do for a printed copy? Ideally in 4 – 5 pages A4.

    For a significant cost reduction, Waterloo should look at TramPower’s LR55 track – may be laid at 200 – 500m overnight in a road, with almost no requirement to relocate services. Their LRVs use one-quarter of the energy.

    TramPower are clients – more information from or from

    Neil Anderson
    Head of Capital Transportation Planning

  22. valkraider June 8, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    Your Portland numbers are odd (in the”Waterloo wants to be a tech powerhouse” chart in the middle of your graphic). Or at least the population and cost numbers.

    You list the Portland population in 1980 – but don’t mention the populations of the other communities that the original MAX line served (Such as Gresham or unincorporated parts of Multnomah county). The original line went from downtown Portland eastward to the center of the suburb of Gresham. Gresham had 33,000 people in 1980 and 68,000 people in 1990. Adding the few other areas served, the 1980 population served should be more like 450,000.

    (All dollar amounts below are in US dollars)

    The original MAX light rail line length was 24km but it only cost $214 million (adjusted for inflation is around $419 million in 2010 dollars).

    The total MAX system now is 84km but did _not_ cost $6 billion. The total MAX system (adjusting for inflation to 2010 dollars) cost roughly just under $2.9 billion.

    Without adjusting for inflation is tough to describe because different segments were built in different years, so it breaks down like this (using the year the lines opened): $214 million in 1986, $963 million in 1998, $125 million in 2001, $350 million in 2004, and $575 million in 2009.

    I think you got the $6 billion amount from this statement on the TriMet website”More than $6 billion in development has occurred along MAX lines since the decision to build in 1978″ ( ) That $6 billion in development is not the cost to build the light rail lines, but the amount of private development which has occurred along light rail lines and is attributed to having the light rail line there – or put another way, the light rail lines have encouraged $6 billion in private development along the lines. This is a very subjective statement, because it can be argued that some portion of that development may have happened with or without light rail. However, it is in no means the cost to build the light rail system.

    I strongly support light-rail (and rail transit in general) but it is important to have the facts correct because those who are anti-transit will use every error to their advantage.

    • valkraider June 8, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

      I am responding sort of to my previous comment. Your cost for Waterloo is $818 million for 19km. Even if that is Canadian, right now the Canadian and US dollar are about equal. In 2010 they were about equal as well – and my adjusted for inflation US dollars above were in 2010 dollars so I think it is a pretty close assumption that we can toss out concerns about Canadian vs. US dollars.

      So for comparison:

      So the initial Waterloo light rail system will be $818 million for 19km, or roughly $43 million per kilometer. Using your 535,000 population number, that is roughly $36 per person per kilometer.

      The initial Portland system was $419 million in 2010 US dollars for 24km, or roughly $17.5 million per kilometer. Using 450,000 people as the 1980 Portland/Gresham population served: that is about $38 2010 dollars per person per km – and in 1980 dollars it would be about $20 per person per km.

      The Waterloo system looks like it will be just a touch cheaper per person but slightly more expensive per km – based on all this “back of the napkin” calculation here.


  23. Ben Patience June 8, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    As a professional transportation planner who on a personal level is also a big fan of light rail, I found this ad claiming LRT to be superior to BRT very misleading. Yes even though I usually favor rail over buses, sometimes buses are the more feasible option. I’ve never been to Waterloo, but my guess is for a city that size a comprehensive BRT network would be a better choice than a limited LRT network. This ad looks like it was created by someone who knows very little about public transportation.

    • Neil Anderson June 12, 2011 at 8:20 am #

      With respect Ben, the difficulty with BRT and bus is that it cannot capture any signifcant modal share from car.

      In small OECD cities, bus takes a 6 – 8% modal share, in larger cities 12 – 15% – and that’s it.

      Light Rail has been shown to achieve 25 – 45% modal share along corridors in even small cities. This can make well-planned Lines profitable, and attractive to private investors – provided that the technology used is affordable. Sensitivity tests using various cost scenarios should be utilised to identify commercial routes and priorities. Vanity projects or ones primarily aimed at regeneration are almost certain to require subsidy.

      There is a place for bus/BRT – in developing countries certainly, and low-density North American cities.

      Without doing the analysis, I cannot say whether LRT (at any price) would be viable in Waterloo-Kitchener. However, if powered by renewable electricity, it would be sustainable, and would provide many other benefits in addition to traffic decongestion.

      I have previously written to city councillors proposing such an analysis.


      Neil Anderson
      Head of Capital Transportation Planning

  24. Rhianne Jory June 14, 2011 at 6:48 pm #


    I am wondering whether anyone could advise me on where I can get a printable version of the graphic. I tried to print it separately from the text but was unsuccessful.

    Help please!

    Thank you.


  25. giełda February 28, 2013 at 8:40 am #

    ciekawy wpis, dzięki tego szukałem 🙂


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