BufferBox, the Waterloo Region hardware startup that solves the problem of missed package deliveries, launched at five GO Transit stations across southern Ontario today, signalling the arrival of North America’s first network of parcel pick-up stations.

In a contract with Metrolinx, the agency that oversees GO Transit’s commuter rail and bus network, 21 BufferBoxes will be installed in stations across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area by the end of this year, a total that will rise to 100 by the end of 2013.

A potentially vast market awaits the company beyond that, as North American consumers increasingly go online to shop – and as they confront the irritants that too often accompany home deliveries.

“We are determined to put an end to the frustration consumers experience when they return home after a long day at work or school to discover a failed delivery notice on their door – or worse – their valuable  package  left  in  plain  sight  on  their  doorstep,” BufferBox co-founder Mike McCauley said. “Our agreement with Metrolinx, the first of its kind in North America, brings BufferBox’s unique parcel pick-up service to commuters looking for a quick, secure, and convenient way to pick up their packages en route.”

Today’s announcement comes just two years after McCauley and two University of Waterloo classmates, Jay Shah and Aditya Bali, conceived BufferBox as a fourth-year design project in their mechatronics engineering program.

They worked on the project while fulfilling the demands of workplace internships, and continued developing BufferBox throughout the rest of their studies. A pair of awards convinced them to build a startup around the idea upon graduation, rather than join the conventional workforce.

This past summer, the co-founders successfully completed Y Combinator’s prestigious accelerator program in California, resulting in a flurry of media coverage from top tech and mainstream news outlets, along with strong interest from investors.

They then returned to Waterloo Region and set up shop in the VeloCity Garage at the Communitech Hub, where they have continued building the company, as three other Waterloo startups – VidYard, Pebble and Pair – have also done after their own stints at YC.

At the recent Demo Day at Communitech’s new Techtoberfest event, McCauley told Communitech that the trend of founders returning from Silicon Valley to grow their companies bodes well for Waterloo Region’s startup community.

He also had a chance to catch up with Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian – an early Y Combinator success who went on to become the accelerator’s East Coast ambassador based in New York – after Ohanian’s Techtoberfest talk at the Hub.