BY MATT LINSEMAN
With growth comes growing pains and this is true with the planned Light Rail Transit (LRT) in Waterloo Region. Despite the frustration felt by students who have to use public transit to get to Conestoga, the arrival of the LRT won’t help matters.
According to the LRT’s official website, stage one is expected to cost $818 million which includes construction, design, finance, operation, maintenance and insurance. This is only the cost for the first of three stages. It’s partly being funded by transit fare revenue and a 1.2 per cent property tax increase that started in 2012 and will go until 2018. Some funding is also being provided by the Ontario and Canadian governments.
The implementation of the LRT in the region won’t benefit Conestoga students because it will cost them in more than one way. It’s possible that an expensive fare rate could be put in place when the LRT starts running and/or an expensive multi-transit pass, usable on both the GRT and the LRT.
Students are already under a lot of stress with crippling student loans and huge workloads, not to mention the need for a part-time job along with that. They do not need to be burdened once more with more expensive transit.
Students from Conestoga College already pay more for a four-month bus pass ($227) than students at Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo, who pay $90 for the same service. Will things change when the LRT is completed and running?
Conestoga College is off the transit mainline and is an extra bus ride away from Fairview Park Mall. This makes it harder for students to get to the college and more costly as well for both them and the region. The LRT currently doesn’t have any plans to extend the rail service to the college.
Cambridge also won’t be receiving any LRT service, only express buses. Students who commute from Cambridge daily won’t majorly benefit from this either.
When planning improvements in transit, the region must keep Conestoga students in mind. The college population is growing in leaps and bounds, and we shouldn’t be treated as second-class citizens.
The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.