To inform students, faculty, staff, and members in the community about the new transit station coming to UW in late 2017, Grand River Transit (GRT) organized a public information centre in the Davis Centre on Nov. 16.

The new transit station is planned to occupy the road running between parking lot B and parking lot Q (within the former RIM buildings), which intersects Ring Road near the Davis Centre and Phillip Street near East Campus Hall. According to Reid Fulton, the Region of Waterloo’s project manager for transit network integration, the transit station is currently designed to have 15 bus bays, but that number may change depending on the needs that are identified during the official detailed design phase.

“There are a couple of bays for GO transit, Greyhound and Megabus, so they would take some of the spaces over closer to Phillip Street, and the GRT buses would be in between the out-of-town and the light rail. Having them in close proximity to each other is really key for productivity between them, and we think we’ll create a real mobility hub for transit,” Fulton said.

The reasoning behind the transit station could be attributed to several points, but Fulton described three major reasons why UW needed this new structure.

One of the ideas behind the station is to concentrate all the bus stops at a single location, so there’s a simpler understanding as to where one can catch their bus.

“All the routes that would come on campus would basically go through there, so there would only be one location on campus to catch all the different bus routes for GRT, GO, light rail, or Greyhound. So, there’s the idea of coordinating everything,” Fulton added.

Another purpose for the terminal would be to give the buses crossing town on either Columbia Street or University Avenue an opportunity to connect to the ION light rail station.

“Since the light rail is going to be in the centre of the campus, those routes would need to deviate into the centre of campus to connect to it,” Fulton said.

The third reason, which incorporates the university’s interests, is to try to improve pedestrian safety on Ring Road.

“We think that by relocating the bus stops in front of the Davis Centre onto this new transit station road, it’ll focus where pedestrians will be crossing the Ring Road so they’d only be coming to and from that main intersection beside where the signalized rail crossing would be. So, there would be fewer places where pedestrians would randomly cross Ring Road, which would make it more predictable for vehicle drivers where pedestrians could be, and it should be safer,” Fulton explained.

GRT plans to move routes 9, 13, 31, 200, and 201 in the fall of 2017 to connect them to the light rail station. These buses will be re-routed through Ring Road, the new transit station road, and Phillip Street.

Even though construction of the ION light rail station will be coming down early next year, Fulton believes construction for the transit station will only be ramping up. “We hope to make final decisions on what the new roadway will look like early in the year and a construction tender to build the road will go out in March or April of next year. Construction will begin in May of next year, and we think it will be done by the fall.”

Fulton was delighted by the “very strong turnout” and “hearing lots of interest” when asked about the student response received at the public information centre. There were many suggestions from students regarding the design of the transit station, and changes to the bus routes, which Fulton believes will be very beneficial when they have to review and adjust their plans.

“We’re excited to get the feedback, and it’s really important for us to get it because it’s what validates our plans. When we get positive feedback, it shows that we are going in the right direction,” said Fulton.

Along with the news of a transit station on campus, the public information centre highlighted other plans GRT has for the near future such as bus route changes, and the introduction of a new electronic payment system using their EasyGO fare cards.

Going forward, Fulton mentioned that another public information centre could be in the works for the University of Waterloo next year.

“The next one might be more heavily focused on the bus route changes, and less focused on the transit station, because by the time we have it, the transit station might be under construction,” said Fulton.

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