Archive for the ‘Stations’ Category

why stop here?

Friday, March 20th, 2015

why stop here?

Some of the most successful investors will tell you that thinking long-term is the best way to make decisions. That’s also the route transit planners take, and a long-term increase in passengers is the goal for the investment.

Rapid transit routes are also planned with potential growth opportunities in mind. By looking at municipal zoning and ‘big picture’ plans, higher levels of government and planners can see where higher-density residential and commercial development will be located in the future. They look at the area around each proposed station to see if it seems likely to redevelop into higher-density residential and commercial destinations. Key pointers tend to be municipal zoning that allows for multi-story buildings, large lot sizes, and older buildings that are more likely to need rebuilding or refurbishing. Stations are especially considered at junctions where current or future transit lines intersect. The area may already have urban amenities and high population, or in some areas, empty land is zoned for a planned high-density community. It’s not necessarily about what’s there now, it’s about what could be there.

By studying the facts, transit planners can be confident about where transit stops should be placed, and know that as the community evolves in future years, new developments will naturally make it more compact, transit-oriented and pedestrian-friendly.

In York Region, the location of rapid transit routes is studied carefully to ensure that as our population continues to grow in the long-term, we’ve invested in a great transit system to support it. The Viva routes were planned with that in mind and now with ridership increasing steadily, rapid transit is moving to one dedicated lane in the centre of the road. With this comes a balanced community that provides vibrant urban centres, faster travel choices, and routes that have more connection points and better serve customers

 

rapidways in winter

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

rapidways in winter - Town Centre Station on Highway 7 East

It’s definitely winter! Nobody knows that better than outdoor maintenance crews. When there is snow and ice, York Region’s crews are on duty on our new Highway 7 East rapidway, clearing the way for rapid transit. In Markham, the rapidway travels down South Town Centre Boulevard and Cedarland Drive. The glass canopies at vivastations shelter Viva customers from light flurries, but when heavy snow or ice make an appearance, the heated enclosure is where you want to be.  To remove the snow at the stations, a contractor from YRT/Viva operations shovels and salts the vivastation platforms so that they’re safe for everyone. Sidewalks are usually a municipal responsibility, so the new sidewalks along the Highway 7 West rapidway are cleared by the City of Markham and Town of Richmond Hill.

.
Before the rapidway was built on Highway 7 East, sidewalks were few and far between, and there were smaller curb-side Viva stops. The street has now been transformed from a suburban freeway to a walkable urban street and transit route [with bike lanes!]. With the new facelift complete there are benefits for everyone and the same treatment is coming next year on Davis Drive!  Think spring!

introducing the newest vivastation in Markham

Friday, January 9th, 2015

introducing the newest vivastation in Markham

Introducing the newest vivastation in Markham…[drum roll please]…Cedarland Station! On Cedarland Drive just south of Highway 7, this new vivastation boasts all the comforts and conveniences of our previous stations, in an exciting up-and-coming location. Cedarland Station is located on the doorstep of condo developments underway, and within walking distance of major employers such as IBM, CDI, Hilton Hotel and City of Markham. One unique feature of this new station is that it’s on the south side of the road, instead of down the centre. This allows for a transition to Warden, and to the existing rapidway on the north side of Enterprise Drive. When making the turn onto Cedarland, drivers should be cautious that they are turning into the correct lane, as it is unusual.

Some finishing touches will be added in the summer to the rapidway near Cedarland Station, including a final top-coat of pavement, the sidewalk on the north side of Cedarland and trees and shrubs in the new planter boxes. With this section of rapidway connecting to the existing rapidway on Enterprise Drive, Viva customers can now travel over 35% faster, all the way from Bayview Avenue in Richmond Hill to the Downtown Markham development area.

Now that rapid transit has arrived in Markham and Richmond Hill, it will help shape communities and manage growth for generations. The urban areas along Highway 7 East are now connected and everyone has attractive, walkable places and more travel choices for healthy community living.

 

making our stations accessible for everyone

Friday, August 29th, 2014

making our stations accessible for everyone

The vivaNext commitment is to ensure everyone feels equally welcome on vivastation platforms and is able to board the Viva vehicles, whether they have mobility or other physical limitations, or are pushing a baby stroller, or for any other reasons feel uncomfortable accessing transit service. Over this holiday long weekend, we hope you get out and about using transit and take advantage of the system.

In addition to meeting all the accessibility requirements set out in Provincial and local regulatory frameworks, we’ve gone to great lengths to design the new platforms so all users have a comfortable and pleasant customer experience – and we obtained advice and input from the CNIB and York Region’s Accessibility Committee during the design process.

Here’s what we’ve built into the new stations to ensure all users feel safe and comfortable:

    • The pedestrian ramps to the platform have a shallow incline and handrails on either side, and there are no changes of grade or tripping hazards anywhere on the platform.   For people with impaired vision, the platform edge is clearly indicated through the use of domed tactile tiles in a contrasting colour. At the primary bus stop location there are directional tiles which provide directional grooves going toward the bus, which will be helpful for people using canes for guidance.
    • People using wheelchairs will have no difficulties getting in and out of the heated enclosures, which provide wheelchair-turning radius inside, and have doors at either end to simplify access. And the enclosures have barrier-free doors which have been designed to meet the highest accessibility standards including their button placement and operations such as door opening speed and how the door responds if it contacts an object. Even in construction zones, we try to maintain one accessible sidewalk at all times.
    • We’ve included benches inside the enclosure and outside, complete with grab bars for people who appreciate a little help getting up and down. And for anyone who dreads the chilly experience of sitting on a metal bench in a Canadian winter, we’ve planned for that too. The benches are constructed from durable Brazilian Ipe wood that will make sitting a little warmer in the cold weather; which is right around the corner!
    • The electronic ITS elements are all designed to ensure using the equipment is equally successful for all our customers. All the fare equipment is designed to be functional for people at wheelchair height or with other physical limitations, with angled screens, clear, bright graphics and large push-buttons. The VMS will provide clearly visible information about buses, routes and the time. We extensively researched and analyzed our PA system to make sure it’s clearly audible, and provides full coverage along the platform and in the enclosures. The notice holders for system updates are posted at the right height so they’re easily read whether you’re walking or in a wheelchair. And we’ve installed large map cases at each platform, illuminated to make it easy for everyone to navigate their route.

    Overall, our objective has been to provide a comfortable, safe and welcoming experience for all our transit riders with no barriers or restrictions. With back to school on everyone’s minds, safety and accessibility make a world of difference. Enjoy your holiday weekend!

     

    getting to where you want to go

    Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

    The continuation of dedicated rapidway along Highway 7 East – from Bayview to Town Centre Boulevard – has resulted in some important changes to the way drivers get to their destinations, and how the traffic signals work.  Some of these changes have already become familiar to drivers on the west leg of the rapidway and during the construction phase of the east end, but it’s worth going over them again -

      1.Watch for your signal. 

      There are several different signal phases now operating along Highway 7, and drivers need to be extra alert to pay attention.  The left turn arrow, transit arrow and through traffic signals all work together to keep traffic moving safely.  Pay careful attention to the signal for your lane and the movement you want to make. Watch for pedestrians in the middle if you are making left hand turns or U-turns.

      2. Left turns only during the left turn arrow.

      With the rapidway down the middle of the roadway, drivers cannot make left turns mid-block.  Left turns are only allowed from the left turn lane at intersections, on a dedicated left-turn green arrow.  White lines clearly show the left lane turn.  No left turns are allowed on the through green light phase, or the transit green arrow.  Special detectors in the pavement will help the light know how many cars are waiting to turn left, but depending on the length of the queue you may need to wait more than one cycle to make your turn.  If there are no cars detected at a specific time, there will not be a left-turn arrow in that cycle.

      3. U-turns are allowed during the left turn arrow.

      If you want to get to a destination on the other side of the road, you can make a u-turn at the intersection when the left turn arrow is lit.  It is important to make sure you turn into the main traffic lanes going in the other direction rather than into the rapidway.  To make it obvious, rapidways are tinted red and have special bus-only markings on them.  U-turns, like left-turns, cannot be made on a through green light, or when the transit arrow is green.

      4. Transit green arrows are for buses only.

      The vehicles using the rapidway have their own signal, which is located directly in front of the rapidway.  This signal is only for buses, and depending on the circumstances, it may or may not coincide with the through green light for traffic.   The transit signal has a special hood over it so it can only be seen by transit drivers.  But whether or not a transit vehicle begins to move through an intersection, other drivers must wait for their own green light before proceeding.

      5. Be careful making right turns, watch for signs.

      There some changes to right turns on Highway 7 from side-streets.  At some intersections, right turns are no longer allowed; drivers need to watch carefully for signage on the traffic lights.  Drivers turning right need to be especially alert watching for bikes using the new bike lanes and bike boxes, and when making right turns past YRT buses stopped at curb-side stops.

    Highway 7 is a busy street and safety for everyone using it is a top priority.  All these changes work together to get everyone where they want to go safely and in good time.   Stay tuned for the new section opening this August!

    safety first!

    Monday, August 18th, 2014

    Taking steps to ensure our passengers feel secure and safe using the new Viva stations is a top priority for YRT/Viva.  Every detail of our new passenger stations on the Highway 7 rapidway has been designed with a view to make riders feel comfortable, well protected from the elements and adjacent traffic, as well as able to access help in an emergency.

    With our median platforms located in the middle of a busy roadway, one of our top priorities has been to make the stations feel like a safe haven.  Stations will provide a secure waiting place for passengers with a concrete barrier wall running all along the traffic side, and a glass guardrail beyond the canopy.

    To access the new stations in the median, pedestrians must use the crosswalks and cross with the signal.  When crossing the road to or from the new station, you must remember to push your pedestrian button to get the signal indicating when you can cross safely.  Also, because this is new for everyone, it is important that pedestrians watch for traffic before stepping out to cross the road – there could be cars making left-hand and u-turns.  Whenever there are changes, it is important to be aware of all the users to the roadway to ensure your safety at all times.

    The new Viva stations reflect the CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) principles of transparency and good lighting, enabling people to see and be seen. We’ve paid careful attention to lighting levels, including along the platform and in the glass enclosure, which is fully visible to the platform and has doors at either end.

    Each platform is well equipped with electronic security devices, overseen 24/7 by YRT/Viva staff at transit headquarters.  Stations are monitored constantly by three CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) cameras.  In addition to providing good coverage of the platform at all times, transit staff can maneuver the cameras manually as needed.

    To add to passenger’s sense of security, a clearly marked Emergency Call Button (ECB) is located inside the glass enclosure, and its speaker provides immediate two-way contact between the caller and YRT operators.  The audio of the call is recorded and time-stamped, as is the video that is automatically captured by the closest camera when the button is pushed. When the ECB is pushed, blue strobe lights on the VMS and on the ECB will be triggered to indicate to passing emergency services that assistance is needed, and transit staff will dispatch emergency services if required.

    Also adding to these new features is the PA system that will be used to provide live and recorded public announcements from transit operations, which we talked about in a previous blog.

    These new features are probably things that most people will never need to think about.  All the same, knowing that we’ve gone to great lengths to maximize our passengers’ sense of safety, and that our transit staff are on duty 24/7 behind the cameras, should give all our riders total peace of mind.  Be safe!

    we can hear you, loud and clear

    Friday, August 15th, 2014

    Most PA systems are pretty frustrating in the garbled sound quality they provide. But at vivaNext the engineers have worked hard to design the optimal public address system for your new vivastations.    There’s nothing worse than knowing something important is being said, but not being able to understand it or hear it properly.

    To make sure the new PA system is always audible, we started with an acoustic analysis study using special “Enhanced Acoustic Simulator for Engineers” (EASE) software. This study analyzed the two elements most critical to sound: Sound Pressure Level (SPL) and Speech Transmission Index (STI). The SPL, measured in decibels (dB), is concerned with sound magnitude and takes into account ambient noise levels – it is the relative “loudness” of a sound.  STI predicts how the equipment being used and the surrounding environment will affect the quality of the sound, and therefore how intelligible it is for you as you hear it.

    First, the acoustic engineers needed to determine what effects our curved canopies and the beams and angles inside the station would have on the way sound is going to move around.  Secondly, the reflection of sound by the concrete wall, floor and glass was modeled. This analysis helped predict how clear the final sound will be on the platform and in the enclosure, and also helped determine the number and placement of speakers that will be most effective in achieving clear sounds.

    Following this sophisticated modeling the engineers determined that the optimal number of speakers to achieve these goals would be 12 speakers located outside of the passenger enclosure, and another 3 speakers inside.

    The next challenge was to work on the volume of the speakers.  The problem with PA systems in noisy places is that the ambient noise can overwhelm the volume of the PA system, making it impossible to hear what’s being said.  Our solution is to use a speaker volume system that automatically adjusts when its sensors detect that the ambient noise has increased or decreased.

    There are two sensors on each new Viva platform to measure noise level. This way, announcements should be audible whether there’s a bus idling in the station and trucks are moving past, or it’s nighttime and quiet. Volume control and environmental sensitivity helps determine the right sound levels without disturbing those who don’t need to hear the message.

    The PA system will be used for recorded and live announcements from transit operations, such as emergency information or service changes.  It will not announce bus arrivals at this time, although it does have that capability should we want to turn on that function.

    Although we’ve tested the system many times, we continue to monitor the sound levels, so let us know if you can truly hear us, loud and clear.

     

    ITS – balancing the needs of all travellers

    Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

    Gridlock is an increasing problem everywhere across the GTHA and most other large cities.  But what can be done about it?  VivaNext is one part of the solution.  With the new vivaNext system comes improved ITS – which isn’t what you think…

    Some people may think ITS is connected to “Information Technology”, but in the vivaNext world ITS stands for “Intelligent Transportation Systems”. ITS is an international transportation-engineering discipline that is trying to improve the efficiency of travel, whether it involves the travelling public, commercial vehicles, or transit.  The basic assumptions behind ITS are that delays cost money, and more efficient travel saves money. This new technology is an absolutely critical component of the vivaNext program, although with low-visibility.

    ITS is used to ensure that traffic corridors are designed as one coordinated system – the physical roadway’s design, lane markings and signs, traffic signal design and timing, and the brains that connect all these pieces.  In a transit project, ITS has an additional layer which is concerned with how the transit system is integrated into that larger system.

    As high-tech as each of these components are, none can be effective unless it can communicate with the others.  Each one also needs to be connected to the overall transit system which keeps track of the schedule for each bus, and which determines when the traffic signal phasing requires a temporary adjustment to let a delayed bus get back on schedule by holding a light.

    The connection is provided through a fibre optics communications network that links all of the intersection and every vivastation to YRT’s transit operations and York Region’s traffic operations.

    This system is fully automated, with approaching vehicles alerting intersections that they are arriving, and each intersection sharing that information with the central traffic control system, which in turn compares that information with the transit schedule.  The system is continuously adjusted and fine-tuned to ensure the buses stay on schedule, while keeping the roads and intersections working well for everyone.

    To enhance passenger safety, each station is equipped with cameras to monitor the platforms, a public address system to provide announcements and an emergency call box for personal safety.  All of these systems operate reliably and seamlessly over the new fibre optic communications system.

    The future Highway 7 will be significantly more urbanized, with more people living and working along the corridor.  That means there will be more transit riders, pedestrians and cyclists whose travel requirements need to be considered, in addition to car and truck traffic.  Helping transit vehicles stay on schedule is also a priority, since rapid transit can’t be rapid if it’s stuck in traffic.

    These ITS strategies help balance everyone’s needs, to get everyone there as fast as possible!  It truly is a balancing act!

     

    building for the future: here comes the first Davis Drive vivastation

    Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

    vivastation with blue glass canopy

     

    If you’ve been travelling along Davis Drive recently, you’ll notice an exciting development taking shape on the vivaNext rapidway construction project: the installation of the first of three vivastations is being installed at the intersection of Parkside and Longford!

    Here’s a quick overview of the vivastations, and how they’ll be installed.

    Similar to the vivastations on Highway 7, the vivastations along Davis are going to be aesthetically pleasing and very functional. The curved Viva blue glass that makes up the canopy is surprisingly rugged – this glass is curved, tempered and laminated for strength, which prevents it from breaking into sharp pieces if it is cracked or broken. Reliability was our first priority in sourcing the manufacturer: our glass panels are actually being made by the company that makes nearly half of the world’s windshield glass.

    Although the canopy is made up of nearly 100 individual panes of glass, each will be connected to its neighbour by small fasteners, referred to as “spiders” – so visually, the glass will look like it’s all one piece.

    Supporting the glass underneath is a three-piece structure made of Canadian-fabricated steel, constructed just outside of Paris, Ontario. With durability in mind, the steel will be finished with a high-quality automotive-grade paint to minimize long-term maintenance costs.

    Before the station components are delivered, a concrete platform is poured and set, and the connections built into the platform are prepared. Then the canopy’s three steel structural sections are brought in on a wide-load tractor trailer [it’s quite the sight to see them delivered!]. When installed they’re lifted into place. It takes about a week to align the sections perfectly and do some other prep work, in advance of the glass being delivered and installed. Lessons learned from Highway 7 have helped us find ways to modify the work to make the canopies easier and more efficient to install.

    Because minimizing traffic impacts as much as we can is so important, our team has focused on finding strategies to install these huge canopies in a very small space with minimal lane closures.

    Beyond providing rapid transit users with a comfortable and convenient experience, our vivastations are going to add a unique look and feel to Davis Drive which helps set the stage for future development. We look forward to celebrating this and other milestones as the work progresses!

     

    signs, signs, everywhere a sign

    Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

    It seems anywhere and everywhere you go these days there’s a sign of some type that catches your eye. Whether it’s an advertising, traffic or directional sign, it’s meant to grab your attention. The purpose of all the signs out there is for people to watch and read them every day as they pass by, so that you know what is going on in their neighbourhoods.

    With the large number of signs out there you may become desensitized, but the signs in construction zones are there for your safety. A busy season of road work is underway on several vivaNext projects, so we hope drivers and pedestrians pay close attention to construction markers and signs as they may change daily depending on the work.

    For pedestrians, crossing between intersections is tempting. But during construction, it’s especially important to cross at crosswalks – lane closures can change frequently and although construction areas are well marked, drivers may not see a pedestrian crossing unexpectedly.  When large equipment and trucks are working in an area, it is especially confusing if workers are not expecting people in their work zones, so please make sure you are in a safe area, which will be well marked with a sign, of course.

    We understand the frustration of being a driver stuck in traffic too, and we’re using large digital signs on the street, to let you know ahead of time about lane closures and detours, as well as providing current travel times.   We hope these signs help you plan your route accordingly and help you manage your travel times.  To receive regular updates about our construction projects, subscribe to our email notices. And for on-the-go traffic alerts about our construction, follow us on Twitter.

    Whether you’re biking, walking or driving this summer, we hope you’re enjoying the weather, staying alert and following the signs that keep you safe.