Sustainable and Active Transportation
What is the indicator and why measure it?
This indicator highlights Regional initiatives that encourage sustainable and active transportation. With an increasing population and changing demographics, Waterloo Region must ensure that growth is both sustainable and affordable. The Regional Transportation Master Plan (RTMP) sets the direction of our transportation system growth to ensure environmental, cultural, economical and social needs are balanced. Sustainable and active forms of transportation will help optimize land use, decrease traffic congestion, and reduce air emissions from local vehicular travel.
A. Grant River Transit
Transit ridership indicates the degree in which a local population utilizes available intra-regional transportation services such as buses and rapid transit systems. Ridership can also be correlated with population figures (within service areas) to calculate the number of transit trips per capita which is often used as a benchmark to compare effective transit utilization amongst different municipalities. Better utilization of transit systems can optimize land use, decrease traffic congestion and reduce air emissions from local vehicular travel.
Ridership statistics include the number of passenger boarding, excluding the use of transfers. Grand River Transit met its short term target of 19.7 million passengers in advance in 2011. Ridership continues to exceed each subsequent year. GRT's next target is 53.6 million in annual ridership by the year 2031. In 2013, GRT serviced 22 million passengers.
Success in GRT ridership can be attributed to the following:
Regional Council's decision to complete construction of the first phase of a rapid transit system by 2017, the largest single year service expansion (12%) in GRT history, including the next in a series of iXpress routes designed to integrate with Rapid Transit, and the introduction of GO Transit rail service were among the major advances in public transit. Other important initiatives this year included the launch of social media tools and a permanent commitment to GRT's first rural transit service. These successes are reflected in 2011's 9.2% increase in GRT ridership, totaling over 19.7 million annual rides.
New GRT service in 2012 included a new route in the Doon South area of Kitchener, improved service to the L.G. Lovell Industrial Park and residential areas in east Cambridge, and extended Sunday hours of operation in the Cambridge service area. These improvements helped to increase ridership by 7.5% in 2012 to approximately 21.2 million rides.
In September 2013, the 202 University iXpress, GRT's third express route, was introduced. The 202 iXpress is a cross-town service that provides faster, more convenient access to key destinations within the Region which has already surpassed ridership expectations.
The launch of more express routes continues with the introduction of the 203 Maple Grove iXpress in 2014 and the planned introduction of another iXpress in 2015.
B. Transportation Demand Management Initiatives
Transportation Demand Management (TDM) is critical to the success of our Regional transportation system because it aids in reducing the number of single occupancy vehicles on our roads. Transportation Demand Management measures focus on why, where, when and how we travel by aiming at influencing the travel behavior of individuals by encouragement, regulation, information sharing or pricing mechanisms. Through these measures TDM helps people make more trips by active and sustainable ways of getting around. TDM initiatives the Region is working on includes the Region's Transportation Management Association, TravelWise@Work, and residential TDM programs through TravelWise HomeBase.
Transportation Management Association
The TravelWise@Work Transportation Management Association (TMA) was officially launched in partnership with the three cities, local businesses and post secondary institutions in January of 2012. The TMA began with 14 member organizations in January 2012 and grew to 20 organizations by the end of 2013, exceeding expectations and reaching the pilot's membership limit. Regional Council has since continued the program and the TMA has grown to 26 organizations as of August 2014. Over 25000 employees of these organizations are eligible for TMA services such as the GRT corporate discount transit passes and emergency rides home. The success of TMA memberships, combined with the growing services it offers employees, is continuing to generate significant interest from additional organizations. Staff expect this interest to continue in 2015 and are prepared to grow the TMA's membership to 40 organizations, investigating how to double TMA membership without significantly adding resources.
C. Active Modes of Transportation
The Region of Waterloo's Active Transportation Master Plan, entitled "Walk Cycle Waterloo Region" is a part of the larger Region of Waterloo Transportation Master Plan, approved in 2010, which also includes substantial investment in transit and roads. Walk Cycle Waterloo Region is the Region's plan to make it easier for residents of and visitors to the Region of Waterloo to choose active transportation. Active transport is any form of human-powered transportation, which includes:
- People with mobility devices
- In-line skating
Our population is anticipated to reach 729,000 by 2031. The Region commits to ensuring our growth is both compact and largely concentrated in existing built-up areas. The Region also commits to ensuring that the health and social benefits of an active lifestyle direct transportation planning and design decisions. Getting around by active modes will be a large part of the transportation solution.
The Region's current rate of travel by walking and cycling during peak evening hour trips is 7.8%. The goal is to reach 12% by 2031. Broken down, this looks like an:
• Increase of walking to 9% of all trips during the peak evening hour by 2031 (goals vary by cities and townships); and an
• Increase of cycling to 3% of all trips during the peak evening hour by 2031 (goals vary by cities and townships).
It is important to acknowledge the progress made thus far in the community to make it easier to get around. For example, new cycling lanes are being built and new pedestrian safety and accessibility features are being installed on a regular basis. Regional roads now include over 300 kilometres of cycling facilities, with a goal to more than double that amount over the next ten years. Walk Cycle Waterloo Region will help us continue to build safe, comfortable, convenient and uninterrupted Region-wide travel systems.
Walk Cycle Waterloo Region was presented to Planning and Works Committee in February 2014. Council has directed staff to use the plan as a guiding document for Regional transportation infrastructure and construction. Meanwhile, Regional staff will work with area municipalities and other partners to develop network priorities and funding options for future consideration by Regional Council. The implementation plan will be presented to Council in 2015.
Review the Walk and Cycle Waterloo Region plan for more information.