The Region of Waterloo is a regional municipality in Southwestern Ontario. It was created in 1973 in a reorganization of the local governments of the area. It consists of seven municipalities: three cities, Cambridge, Kitchener, and Waterloo, and four townships, North Dumfries Township, Wilmot Township, Woolwich Township, and Wellesley Township.
Ontario's main east-west expressway, the 401, runs through Waterloo Region, separating the cities of Kitchener and Cambridge. Highway 8 runs from the 401 into Kitchener, highway 7 runs from Guelph to Stratford, straight through Kitchener, also serving the towns to the east and west of Kitchener, the Conestoga Parkway runs from highway 8, through Kitchener and Waterloo to the towns to the north. Hespeler Road (also known as highway 24) runs from the 401 through Cambridge.
- Main article: Kitchener#Kitchener Railway Station
Kitchener Railway Station, near Downtown Kitchener, hosts VIA Rail and GO Transit trains. Via Rail trains run to Toronto in the east and London and Sarnia in the west. GO Transit trains run to Toronto but only during rush hours in the peak direction. The railway station lies 650 metres east of ION Central Station, where one can take the ION light rail line through Kitchener and Waterloo, or south to ION Fairway Station to catch the ION bus route 302 to Cambridge.
By intercity busEdit
The Charles Street Transit Terminal (Kitchener Bus Terminal) in downtown Kitchener is the main intercity bus terminal within Waterloo Region. It hosts Greyhound, GO Transit and Megabus (Coach Canada) intercity buses. From there, you can catch a ION light rail train to Waterloo or south to ION Fairway Station to catch ION bus 302 to Cambridge.
Some Greyhound and GO Transit buses terminate in Waterloo at the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University.
There are few stops serving intercity buses in Cambridge.
Waterloo Region is generally a car-centric community, and it's usually straightforward to drive from one point to another. Parking is usually free and abundant, except around the University of Waterloo and at some special events.
By public transportationEdit
Grand River Transit. Grand River Transit is the public transit authority in Waterloo Region operating light rail, express buses and local buses. Fares are $3.25 cash, $2.76 with an EasyGO fare card, children 4 and under free. Day passes ($8) are available via an EasyGO fare card for a single adult on weekdays or for families (up to 5 people, maximum 2 adults) on weekends and holidays. An EasyGO fare card costs $5, to which either a day pass is attached or a minimum $10 balance is uploaded.
ION Light rail (route 301) serves major destinations, such as Downtown Kitchener, Uptown Waterloo, Conestoga and Fairway malls (northern and southern termini for ION light rail) and the two universities. This is the primary public transit service for visitors traveling within the twin cities of Kitchener and Waterloo. The ION light rail line has 19 stations along the route; however, four stations in Downtown Kitchener and two in Uptown Waterloo serve only one direction each as in these areas the line splits by direction to run along separate parallel streets. ION trains run at least every 10 minutes weekdays during the day, and every 15 minutes evenings, weekends and holidays.
ION bus (route 302, formerly route 200) connects with ION light rail at ION Fairway station and runs express to the Ainslie Street Transit Terminal in Cambridge. ION bus runs every 10 minutes weekdays during the day, every 15-30 minutes on weekday evenings, and every 30 minutes on weekends and holidays.
iXpress is the brand name for several express bus routes for longer distance travel within the region. iXpress buses are numbered as routes 201-205.
There are about 45 local bus routes serving various areas of Cambridge, Kitchener, and Waterloo. Buses usually operate on 30-minute schedules, but service may be more frequent during rush hour, or less frequent during off-peak hours or weekends (many routes have no Sunday service). So, schedules are useful; online schedules are available. Printed schedules can be obtained at the bus terminals and at the universities, or acquired piecemeal on buses. Each bus stop sign also lists a phone number that can be called to get an automated message giving the next arrival times. A detailed map of all routes in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge can be purchased at a variety of locations for $2 or downloaded for free from Grand River Transit.
Every ION light rail station has two fare vending machines selling single ride tickets and EasyGO fare cards; they accept cash and debit/credit cards. EasyGO cards must be tapped on a post on the platform or inside a bus entrance. As of July 2019, single-ride tickets have a printed expiry time of 90 minutes after the time of purchase; thus, do not purchase extra tickets for later use. Eventually (perhaps later in 2019), single-ride tickets will need to be activated by passing its bar code on the vending machine's scanner before boarding. (As of July 2019, platform scanners were not operational.)
Buses have a fare box that acts like a vending machine and accepts coins; after paying by coins, you should request a transfer from the machine. The fare box also has a scanner to read bar-coded transfers from other routes. A transfer allows you to complete a trip using multiple vehicles (bus or ION light rail) within 90 minutes of paying your fare. If you transfer to ION light rail train, pass the bar-coded transfer over the scanner on the platform card reader (on a short post on the platform) before boarding the train.
Students of University of Waterloo and/or Wilfrid Laurier University do not need to pay individual fares if they have a student card with a valid U-Pass. These students have already paid for bus services through non-refundable fees on their fees statement.
- 1 Castle Kilbride, 60 Snyder's Road West, Baden, ☏ , toll-free: . The 1877 home of "Flax King" James Livingston, the castle has been restored as a museum. Of particular note are the ceiling and wall murals, painted using the trompe-l'oeil technique.
- Prime Ministers Path (in a park next to Castle Kilbride). The path is lined with 22 bronze statues of Canadian prime ministers, often depicted in rather casual poses.
- 2 West Montrose Covered Bridge (Kissing Bridge), Covered Bridge Drive, West Montrose (south of Line 86 in West Montrose). Built in 1880–1881, the West Montrose Covered Bridge (also known as the Kissing Bridge), is Ontario's only covered bridge (excluding recent construction such as the timberframe pedestrian covered bridge in Guelph).
- The Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, annually in early April, attracts 60,000 visitors, and is the largest one-day maple syrup festival in the world.
- The Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival, annually in late September, attracts 40,000 visitors, and is the largest one-day Apple Butter and Cheese festival in Canada.
Safety is definitely not a problem in the Waterloo Region. Certain areas may be avoidable at nights due to muggings and weapons, but they are a rare occurrence and generally not dangerous to residents, never mind travellers. A lot of the student housing in Waterloo is known to have parties, and fights can break out and escalate. Downtown - as opposed to the Uptown in Waterloo or River Front in Cambridge - can be worrisome at night, as the majority of crime takes place in this area. Crack and heroin is often sold on the streets, prostitution is common in certain areas, and fights can break out. Typical city smarts are recommended. Overall, the Waterloo Region has a very low crime rate for the area, and in all of Canada.