Waterloo Region Record

Train defects delay higher-frequency LRT

‘We need those trains in for repair,’ transit director says


WATERLOO REGION — Grand River Transit isn’t running Ion trains nearly as often as planned because its 14 trains aren’t reliable enough.

“We recognize the higher the frequency, the better it is. And we’re working to get to that frequency,” transit director Peter Zinck said Monday.

“We have to do some additional work on the trains.”

The $1-billion Ion light rail transit system planned to run up to one train every eight minutes. This helps attract passengers by making a schedule unnecessar­y.

But Ion launched in June at one train every 10 minutes and is staying there for now.

When bus routes expand on Sept. 3 to carry students heading to school and people returning from vacation, trains will continue to run up to 25 per cent less often than planned.

Half of the region’s transit passengers are students.

“The plan was to have an eightminut­e service,” Zinck said.

“I think 10 minutes is still an attractive service for people, and we want to make sure it’s a reliable service, and that’s why we’re going with the 10 minutes ,” he said.

“There’s plenty of capacity on the current Ion and Route 7 on King Street to accommodat­e those riders.”

The Ion system launched two years late and $50 million over budget in Kitchener and Waterloo after supplier Bombardier failed to deliver the electric trains on time.

Zinck could not say if the trains have more bugs than anticipate­d.

He cited broken doors, missing labels, damaged or misaligned panels, faltering lights, problems with interior speakers, and challenges with heating and ventilatio­n.

Payment readers have been finicky, leading to the installati­on of fare card holders.

“With the amount of defects, modificati­ons and warranty work, we need those trains in for repair. And we want to be able to run a reliable service,” Zinck said.

He could not say when Ion will advance to the higher frequency that was long planned and promoted.

“We don’t have a timeline. We have to work through these issues,” he said. “I think we’re talking about months.”

 ?? MATHEW MCCARTHY WATERLOO REGION RECORD FILE PHOTO ?? Ion trains run every 10 minutes, less frequently than planned.
MATHEW MCCARTHY WATERLOO REGION RECORD FILE PHOTO Ion trains run every 10 minutes, less frequently than planned.

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