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!