Ride Grand River Transit for free
Some very exciting news about getting the auditorium has been announced. Everyone going to Rangers games at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium can ride Grand River Transit for free to go back and forth from the games! I’ve been pushing this as a significant contribution to the over demand and under supply of parking at the expanded Auditorium for a year so I’m extremely pleased.
GRT Route 8 takes you right to the Aud but I’m not sure how often it runs prior to game time so you might be better to rely on the iXpress which stops on Charles St. at Ottawa. It’s about a 750 metre walk but not much different than what many people driving experience. Just go straight down Ottawa, cross at Weber and take East Ave or MacKenzie to the entrance. Or you can take Charles to Borden and then go straight up Borden.
Taking the iXpress comes with some benefits as you can stop for a drink or a bite to eat at the Corner Pub or the new Lino’s Bar & Grill in Eastwood Square. You can also grab a great meal at King Fish & Chips (at King E. & Borden) or stop at one of two Tim Hortons, a Subway and a Dairy Queen. If more people take the iXpress (and later the LRT), I expect you’ll start to find more options for interesting ways to make an evening of your trip to a hockey game with before or after game activities in the area. Perhaps it could even help make King & Ottawa the new King & Victoria.
I understand that one bus is waiting to pick up people after the game. I presume it is a normal route 8 bus but headed to the terminal. I hope that more buses are added for this purpose if one bus can not meet the demand.
Room for improvement
While the free bus ride is a major move in the right direction, it is more complicated than what I had envisioned. I expected fans would just need to show their ticket to get on the bus. Here’s what they need to do:
- Get special GRT bus tickets
- They can be picked up only at the Auditorium
- A Rangers ticket must be presented for each game that you want transportation
- But you can get tickets for as many games/people as needed IF you have their tickets up until January 1.
- I’m afraid that this process involves too many steps and while some will take advantage of it, I’m sure many more would use the free ride if it was much easier. Such as:
- Having multiple locations to pick up the special tickets to ride free to Rangers games
- Having special arrangements for season ticket holders to get the full season all at once (perhaps done online)
- Give the tickets automatically to everyone who buys single game tickets (online or in person)
Shuttle still needed
I also think that people would find GRT more convenient if there was a dedicated shuttle service between the downtown bus terminal that made a stop at the iXpress station at Charles/Ottawa. I understand this isn’t currently planned because their is a Rangers Express from Kitchener City Hall that is available. But I think that is just far enough away to act as a disincentive to someone considering taking the bus from home and it doesn’t help change behaviours to prepare people to use the LRT to get to the Auditorium.
Where is info online?
The Rangers announcement and flyer to subscribers refers people to the GRT website for additional information. If any information exists about how GRT makes it easier to get to Rangers games, I have not been able to find it today or over the last month.
More good news
- The Rangers Express has proven to be popular. So popular that extra buses have been added at the Montana’s locations in both Kitchener and Waterloo and Moose Winooski’s.
I still see downtown Kitchener as having huge potential if the Kitchener Downtown Business Improvement Area effectively promotes it and its members seize the opportunity. In the Wonderful Waterloo forum, participants suggested the Rangers Express have locations in uptown Waterloo and New Hamburg.
- The car pool lot has been a great success since opening night.
- I believe the new paid parking lot is well used.
The ANA and I have suggested last winter/spring that the car pool minimum occupancy be 4 people per vehicle. We also suggested a larger car pool lot. I’d suggest that at least one is needed for this initiative to make an impact on reducing the need for parking. Right now it just gives better parking to people who probably already had 3 or more people in their vehicle. We had also suggested using a larger lot when the 100 more on site parking spaces weren’t possible for this season. I now think that a larger car pool lot is a must.
People are making a donation to pay to park at St. Anne’s Church. I’m not sure how much is suggested but it shows that people are willing to pay for parking. That tells me that there could be game day paid parking at the Auditorium too.
Unfortunately, I understand that there are currently no recommendations to enhance the car pool initiative nor to consider additional paid parking.
- If you live in the area and want to report illegal parking (519-741-2330) such as on the grass and ball diamond behind Shepard School / Knollwood Park, you can now report multiple vehicles without being required to have every license plate!
Frederick Street Mall
I think that Frederick Street Mall has great potential as a parking space for people who need to drive. Brunswick Bowl could definitely figure out some kind of promotion to attract people before and/or after the game and allow them to park in its lot during the game. Maybe the Frederick movie theatre or mall merchants could come up with something too. People are already parking on Chapel near the mall and on Melrose and Chapel steps away from the mall.
Will this be enough?
I hope so but I’m pessimistic that these positive moves are not enough to compensate for the extra demand created by the addition. Revising the GRT program so that it is set up for success can over the long term make that difference. On the other hand, I don’t think we have the luxury of allowing change to occur slowly. In January at least 66 cars now parked on Borden and Melrose will need to find new spots due to winter parking restrictions–a number that I expect to increase once residents on streets like Randerson, Glendale, Pandora and Melrose between Krug and Chapel call for winter parking restrictions so that fire trucks can reach their homes on streets narrowed by snow storms.