Hockey season is back! Time for an updated look at how to get to the Aud.

Over the past year, a couple of hundred people or more have looked to this blog for information on parking and transportation alternatives for the Aud so I figure I should present the most current information available. Folks are finding this site because I’ve written on the topic a number of times as I try to help nearby residents who have concerns–which continued to be expressed in May at the Auditorium Neighbourhood Association Annual General Meeting.

Here’s how you can get to the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium to take in Rangers games, concerts and other events:

  • Rangers Express – I’m told an impressive 11,500 people last year rode a special bus from area restaurants to and from the Auditorium. This year there are 10 participating locations including one in New Hamburg. This program has been a huge success and much quicker than I anticipated. (Rangers games only).
  • Free GRT rides – The free bus ride program started last October is back and in place for the first game. Get your ticket at the Aud’s box office.
  • Car pool – The car pool lot was an instant success last year. But even the lot is full, car pooling is still a great way to get to the Auditorium.
  • Reserved Paid parking – Season’s passes for preferred parking are available from the Rangers.
  • Free parking – The Auditorium has several large free parking lots but when the building is at capacity you need to arrive early if you want a space and avoid searching for a space on local residential streets–possibly risking a parking infraction. Thirty-five new spaces have been identified off site which I believe Rangers and Aud staff are using.

Starting to add up!

I’m pleased that the sum of these efforts is starting to add up.

With 968 seats added last year, I figure that meant potentially 372 more vehicles if I update the original consultant’s estimate based on 1000 new seats. The good news is that there are not that many new vehicles.

Here’s why:

  • 11,500 rides on the Rangers Express for 34 home games and 5 playoff games is an average of 295 per game. Divided by the consultant’s finding of 2.3 people per vehicle, that saves 128 spots per game.
  • The car pool lot reduced parking needs by at least 92 spots.
  • On site parking for fans has increased by 35 spots due to the use by staff of off site parking.
  • The free GRT rides were considered successful but it’s not clear how many were used.

So the new parking and transportation options mean that 255 or more vehicles have been diverted from parking on residential streets. Coincidentally that’s almost exactly the number I estimated based upon the plan presented to City Council in March 2012–albeit with a different mix.

I like to give credit where credit is due. The city and the Rangers have delivered. Congratulations to the both organizations for that significant achievement. I recognize it required a concerted effort and plenty of work.

Now let’s build upon that success.

Let’s take it over the top!

By my calculation, there’s still about 117 more vehicles parked on residential streets than before the latest expansion. I had hoped to see more changes this year so that we’d be back at 2012 demand for on street parking–and ideally reduce it further.

Here’s what I’d like to see:

  • More dedicated car pool parking spaces with an increase in the minimum occupancy from 3 to 4.
  • Have paid parking on all the onsite lots for a modest $5 or $10 (with funds split between charities and subsidizing/promoting transportation alternatives).
    • Instead of having car pool lots, let vehicles with 4 or more people park for free.
  • Have at least one downtown KItchener restaurant or bar participate in the Rangers Express program
  • Make it easier for people to use the free GRT rides for fans who attend the occasional game.
  • A shuttle from/to the downtown Kitchener bus terminal with a stop at Ottawa/Charles for iXpress transfers

I’d suggest these ideas are doable and most are still possible to implement this season. If the first and/or second suggestion were implemented and one or more of the others, I think we’d be over the top in diverting the increased demand created–and likely see an overall decrease.

How to respond to parking problems

Since folks are continually being creative in finding a parking spot especially if it helps them be close to the Aud, residents living on neighbouring streets should know what to do.

If you live in the area and want to report parking problems especially those requiring immediate attention, call bylaw enforcement at 519-741-2330. 

If it’s a regular problem, I recommend calling Paul Pickard, Manager of the Aud: 519-741-2200 x 5262

Go Rangers Go!

Best wishes on a successful season under your new coach!

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