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'Eye on the ION': Launch Day

It's here! June 21 and the much-anticipated launch of ION service in Waterloo Region
ion train
An ION train heads toward Mill station. Mark Pare/KitchenerToday

It's a historic day in Waterloo Region.

ION service will finally launch after initial discussions on the new transit system started all the way back in the year 2000.

All week long, we have been giving you the history, the controversies, the dollar figures, the meetings, and everything in between.

But now with passengers ready to board, there's some things you'll need to know first.

For drivers and pedestrians, ION trains have been operating in a simulated service as of late, so don't expect things to change on the roadways.

And even with four separate crashes involving an ION train since May 31 --- in which three passenger vehicle drivers were either charged or had charges pending against them --- Regional Police Constable Andre Johnson says police aren't too worried.

He says anyone having trouble navigating around trains just need to follow the signs and be observant of their surroundings.

"We want to encourage everyone to educate themselves on safety precautions surrounding the ION light-rail service," Johnson explains.

That includes not driving or parking on any ION tracks.

He says pedestrians have a role to play as well, including looking both ways before crossing --- and at designated crossings --- and treat an ION vehicle with the same precautions you would any other vehicle on the road.

If you are headed out to try the ION on launch day, or throughout the weekend for that matter, there's a couple other things of note.

Kevan Marshall, the Principal Planner for transit services with Grand River Transit, says to plan for the elements and expect lengthy lineups to start.

As well, ION trains will not allow any bikes on board for the first weekend, as they want to make room for the crowds of people expected.

He also encourages people to try out the service after the weekend, when the new transit schedules kick in to help better sync the ION with GRT bus service.

GRT officials will also be at stops along the ION route, to help answer questions and keep the lines moving.

If you have any ION-related questions, want to check out the routes, learn how to get a pass and anything else related to transit, you're encouraged to visit GRT.ca

Friday's opening ceremony takes place at 10:30 a.m. at Fairway station in Kitchener, with public service starting at noon.

The site will be open for the public to start lining up at 8:00 a.m.

For more details on opening day, CLICK HERE.

THIS IS IN ADDITION TO THE FIVE-PART SERIES, TITLED "EYE ON THE ION," TAKING A LOOK BACK AT THE HISTORY, THE DISCUSSIONS, THE MEETINGS AND ALL LEADING TO FRIDAY'S LAUNCH OF ION SERVICE IN WATERLOO REGION ON JUNE 21.

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PREVIOUS ARTICLES

PART 1: History Lesson

PART 2: June 15, 2011

PART 3: Criticism, delays, controversies

PART 4: Impacts, What Comes Next?

PART 4.5: 'Stop the LRT Thru Preston' campaign

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