Using the local transit system

The Grand River Transit (GRT) system connects the Tri-Cities (Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo) together. GRT operates seven days a week with more than 50 routes. It consists of a regular and express bus service as well as the ION rapid transit system.

ION light rail travels between Conestoga Mall in Waterloo (Conestoga Station) and Fairview Park Mall in Kitchener (Fairway Station) with 19 stops. It's the most convenient and consistent way to travel across Kitchener-Waterloo. Trains stop at each ION station every 10-15 minutes, and each station connects to a GRT bus route. ION light rail and GRT bus routes #13, #19, #29, or #202 on University Avenue go straight to the main campus and connect with other routes in the region.

Undergraduate students taking at least one on-campus course, all full-time graduate students registered in on campus courses and exchange students can access the local transit system by using their WatCard (student identity card). The cost is included in your incidental fees under UPass. 

How to use the local bus system

1. Plan your route 

Use Google Maps to see your transit options (Google Maps is synched with GRT arrival times) or use of the GRT recommended mobile apps to plan your route on your mobile device. The Turnkey Desk has free paper copies of GRT schedules, which are also available on the GRT website

2. Locate the bus stop or ION station

Find the closest bus stop or ION station to your starting point. Regular bus stops are indicated by a signpost with a GRT logo and route number. Make sure that you're on the correct side of the road for the direction of your trip!

3. Get on the bus or train

On GRT buses: Board the bus and tap your WatCard on the farebox next to the driver. Without your WatCard, you’ll need to pay the cash fare of $3.25 (exact change only). Make sure to take a transfer ticket if you plan to transfer to another bus or train. When the bus is full at peak riding times, move to stand at the back of the bus to allow room for other riders along the route to board.  

On ION trains: To ride the ION train, tap your WatCard on the card reader at either end of the station platform before you board. Without your WatCard, you can pay for a single trip by purchasing a ticket/transfer from the fare vending machine located at the station. Scan your ticket's barcode on the fare vending machine or the platform card reader. Wait behind the yellow platform edge for the train to come to a complete stop. Allow other riders to exit before boarding. To open the doors, press the red button on the door when the light turns green.

Note: Single trip tickets purchased at the ION stop can be used for both the ION and GRT services. Reloadable cards are also available for purchase at the ION stations.

4. Request a stop

On GRT buses: If you’d like to get off the bus, you must either pull the yellow cable hanging near the top of the windows or press one of the red 'STOP' buttons. This alerts the driver to stop the bus at the next scheduled stop. To exit the bus, wait for the light above the back door to turn green, then wave your hand in front of the green circle on the door. On older buses, you may need to touch the yellow strips on the doors instead of waving when the light turns green.

On ION trains: ION trains will stop at each station along the route, so there is no need to signal your stop. To exit the train, press the red button on the door when the light turns green.