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What is ION?

A little girl holds a model ION LRT vehicle.

Set to begin service in 2018, ION is a visionary plan that will shape the community for the future by bringing Light Rail Transit (LRT) to Waterloo Region in two stages.


Stage 1 is a 36-kilometre corridor that includes 19 kilometres of LRT from the Conestoga Mall transit terminal in Waterloo to the Fairview Park Mall transit terminal in Kitchener. It also features 17 kilometres of adapted Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) from the Ainslie Street transit terminal in Cambridge to the Fairview Park Mall transit terminal. Stage 2 will see BRT converted to LRT, creating a 37 kilometre route of LRT across the three urban centres.


ION will provide a frequent, reliable and convenient way to travel throughout the region. With 200,000 new residents expected to move to Waterloo Region in the next 20 years, ION will reduce traffic congestion, limit costly road expansions, limit sprawl and attract new employers.
It will protect environmentally sensitive areas of our region and safeguard our surrounding farmland.


With 16 stops, ION makes it easy for residents to travel between neighbourhoods, schools, employment areas, events and shopping districts.


ION is part of a Region-wide transit system that will connect rapid transit with a network of Grand River Transit (GRT) iXpress and local bus routes. ION and GRT will operate with one fare for all services and free transfers between both systems. ION will link to GO Transit, VIA Rail services as well as walking and cycling trails to help provide sustainable transportation choices.


All three levels of government are funding ION Stage 1 LRT, including $300 million from the Province, one-third of eligible costs up to $265 million from the federal government and $253 million from the Region of Waterloo.


GrandLinq, the Region’s public-private partner on ION Stage 1 LRT, will design, build, finance, operate and maintain ION over the next 30 years.

LRT Vehicle Model


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