UW student clubs seek return of night transit bus routes


On April 2, the UW NDP club, led by Damian Mikhail, co-hosted a question-and-answer session along with the Climate Justice Ecosystem club and Waterloo regional councilor Colleen James to discuss their motion for a return of night time bus transit routes.

Their plan calls for the reintroduction and introduction of the route 91 late night loop and route 92 university loop. These routes are to be run seven days a week at 20 minute intervals after regular service hours. In their plan, the last buses will leave terminals at 2:40 a.m., granting riders an additional two and a half hours to travel. The bus routes will be focused primarily around areas with large amounts of nighttime traffic. such as Uptown Waterloo and surrounding areas, where students live on and off campus. Their plan seeks to benefit students directly, “to ensure that students or those trying to get from place to place late at night have a reliable service that’s safe,” James said.

The motion was proposed due to increasing popular demand from students, who rely on Waterloo’s public transit systems to get to and from campus. The late night loop route, which operated back in 2019, was initiated because of a UW student referendum, but later canceled. The Region of Waterloo planned to extend service hours for additional routes, but this was canceled due to lack of usage and COVID-19 restrictions. In the motion, James cited the fact that ridership has reached above pre-COVID levels – up 48.3 per cent compared to 2022, and 20.1 per cent compared to 2019 – as evidence towards the necessity of the program’s return. 

James and Mikhail addressed issues that arise from the lack of reliable night time bus routes, making clear that they not only affect students but all Waterloo residents. Some of the problems they highlight are safety, convenience, and the cost of alternative methods of transport. “Getting those ways for low-income people who often work late night shifts, students who work late night shifts, students who want to go uptown, students who want to study late,” Mikhail said. “These are the main reasons we are doing this.” 

Mikhail referenced that an Uber ride from Waterloo Town Square to University of Waterloo Campus Housing on Friday at 2:30 a.m. would cost $37.20, an unfeasible price for students, especially in the long-term. Both James and Mikhail also highlighted the potential dangers of impaired and distracted driving at late night hours, which are related to decreased amounts of alternatives for transportation. The motion focused on resolving these issues and opening the door for a long-term and dependable solution.

“The numbers for our transit continue to go up, students need late night transit, so I don’t see an issue,” James said. “We need to have it. We should have it, there’s a demand for it. So why not reinstate it?”

The motion has been submitted for review to the Region of Waterloo and will be published publicly on April 18. The UW NDP club has also created a petition to advance public support for this motion which can be accessed at https://www.change.org/waterloo_night_transit.