More than 1 million boardings on ION trains since launch: Report

Since Waterloo region launched the ION train in the summer summer, it has recorded nearly 1.3 million boardings, a new report going to regional councillors says.

Council report shows numbers across Grand River Transit system has increased compared to last year

People board an ION LRT train at the Fairway Station on Friday, June 21, 2019. This was the first day of service for the new transit system. (Carmen Ponciano/CBC)

Since Waterloo region launched the ION train last summer, it has recorded nearly 1.3 million boardings, a new report going before regional councillors says.

Grand River Transit's light rail service began operation on June 21. After offering free rides at first, it started charging fares on July 1. The boardings were recorded between July and September.

ION boarding numbers were included in a report set to go before regional councillors at Tuesday's planning and works committee meeting. The report shows a 14 per cent boost in boardings across the entire transit system, compared to the same period in 2018.

"We're very pleased with the numbers and it pretty well confirms what we thought — that there would be a bit of a surge in ridership or boardings after we reconfigured the whole GRT bus system," said Coun. Tom Galloway, who is also chair of the region's planning and works committee.

There's also been a 36 per cent increase in boardings along the Central Transit Corridor Service from Ainslie Street in Cambridge to Fairway station in Kitchener. The increase takes into account the routes the ION system has replaced.

"It tells us that there was some pent up demand for the the ION system and that the reconfigured conventional bus system seems to have been met with mostly approval," Galloway said.

Education to reduce collisions needed

The report also mentions collisions between ION trains and drivers. It says "the collisions have usually been caused by vehicle drivers failing to follow signage and/or failing to yield to the right of way."

There's been at least 15 collisions with ION trains, according to Galloway.

The report said city staff will continue to provide education to the public to improve safety and reduce the number of collisions

As for transit fares, revenues are exceeding expectations.

The report said Waterloo region staff are projecting system-wide revenues to surpass budget estimates by about $1.2-million by the end of the year.

"[That] would potentially translate into twice that much for a whole year ... so those numbers are certainly good," said Galloway.

ION by the numbers

  • 7,104,000: Boardings across the entire GRT transit system from July to Sept. 2019.
  • 1,281,000: Boardings on ION trains from July to Sept. 2019.
  • 515,000: Boardings on ION trains in September.
  • 804,000: Boardings in the Central Transit Corridor in September.