Archive for the ‘Stations’ Category

spring is in the air

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

John Steinbeck – “What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” Such words have never been truer than this past winter.  The Greater Toronto Area recorded the coldest winter in 20 years; there have been at least 10 days of temperature that dipped below -20 C, which hasn’t happened in seven years and this has been the longest winter on record in over 100 years! With the official arrival of spring, vivaNext is preparing to ramp up our construction and road work.

Last year, we had some great milestones with the opening of 3.9 kilometres of rapidway on Highway 7 from Bayview Avenue to Highway 404. The Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension [TYSSE] project celebrated a major milestone at the end of last year, with the tunnel boring machines [TBMs] “Yorkie” and “Torkie” finished their tunneling journey north to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] station. Ongoing utility relocation on Highway 7 West, as well as CN Bridge work.  On Davis Drive, nearly all retaining walls have been constructed, the eastern creek culvert has been replaced and extended, and the majority of hydro poles have been relocated. Road widening and base-layer paving has started, while reconstruction of Keith Bridge and the extension of the western creek bridge on the north side continue.

Building on the progress and advancing the BRT project, we’ll continue to relocate utilities, construct retaining walls, widen roads and pave along the different corridors, not to mention finishing the new viva stations on Highway 7 in Markham.  With the longer days and bright sunshine, comes a lot more activity in the construction zones so please drive carefully and be alert to workers in the area. We know construction can be daunting and we thank you for your patience and understanding. Please drive with care and give yourself extra time to get to your destination safely.

To find out what is happening this spring, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook. You can also sign up for email notices at vivanext.com to keep you updated on the construction underway in your area.

 

making our stations accessible

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Making public infrastructure, such as transit services, accessible is a priority, and the new vivaNext BRT design more than complies with all the requirements.   Formally, accessibility requirements are legally concerned with people with disabilities, but that’s actually only one component of how we’ve made the stations accessible.

The vivaNext commitment is to ensure everyone feels equally welcome on the station 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 they might feel uncomfortable accessing transit service.

In addition to meeting the accessibility requirements set out in Provincial and local regulatory frameworks, we’ve gone to great lengths to design the platforms so all users have a comfortable and pleasant customer experience, and 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 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 will 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.
  • 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 which will make sitting a little warmer in the cold weather.
  • The electronic ITS elements are designed to ensure using the equipment is equally successful for all our customers.   Our 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 on 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.

take a tour of the new rapidways on highway 7

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Rapidways are now open on Highway 7 and they’re beautiful, they’re functional, and they’re going to make a huge contribution to the transformation of our communities.  Anyone travelling along Highway 7 in Richmond Hill or Markham has seen them from the outside, but here’s a peek of what they’re like on the inside.

The first thing you’ll notice as you cross to a station is how big and airy the canopy is at 28m (92’) long and 5m (16’) high.  The curved glass above the platform also provides both weather protection and a sense of space at the same time and satisfies long-term needs as platforms accommodate two viva vehicles at once and LRT (Light Rail Transit) in the future.  The platform is approached by a gently sloped ramp with handrails on both sides, making it fully accessible to all, whether they’re walking, pushing a stroller, or in a wheelchair or scooter.  Passing by the familiar viva fin and planted planter boxes, you’ll next come to an illuminated wall map of the YRT\Viva system.

Next on the tour is a bank of fare equipment, including a Ticket Vending Machine (TVM), a Ticket Validator (TV), and two Presto machines. Once you’ve paid your fare, you’ll move to the Fare Paid Zone (FPZ), which is clearly shown by being paved with a different coloured tile on the ground, as well as by a curved sign above.  We need to show this area as distinct, as YRT fare rules require passengers to have paid their fare before moving into the FPZ.

Once you’ve paid your fare, you’re free to make yourself comfortable on the platform until the next bus arrives.  We’re making it easy for you to know how long you’ve got to wait, with a large VMS (Variable Message Sign) projected from the canopy.  The VMS scrolls through all the upcoming arrivals, telling you exactly when the next bus will arrive.  Because the VMS system is connected to the GPS in our actual vehicles as well as the central transit scheduling software, it can be constantly updated to provide accurate and real-time information.

But if you decide you want to sit down on a bench, or get comfy out of the elements, we’ve made that easy too.  The fully heated glass enclosure is well lit, and accessed by two push-button automatic doors.  The heaters – which won’t be needed anytime soon, but you’ll like them come later this year, they’re like the infrared heaters in a hockey arena – will automatically turn on if someone enters the enclosure, and if the temperature in the enclosure feels lower than 10 degrees Celsius.  Multiple benches and garbage disposal units will add to your comfort.

The entire platform will be well lit, with lighting inside the canopy as well as on the platform.  And to enhance your feelings of comfort and security, the back of the platform is protected from the Highway 7 traffic by a barrier wall topped with a guardrail, and there are multiple security features including cameras and an emergency call button.

Last but not least, to help you stay oriented, wayfinding signage will show you where the buses will stop, and other features including the way to the crosswalk.

It’s hard to do the stations justice by written descriptions, so we have created a virtual tour to entice you to come out and try viva.

we can hear you, loud and clear

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

As I wrote earlier this summer, our engineers have worked hard to design the optimal public address system for your new vivastations.  Here’s what the system will include, and how good it’s going to sound.

Most PA systems are pretty frustrating in the garbled sound quality they provide.  We knew we wanted to do much better.  There’s nothing worse than knowing something important is being said, but not being able to understand it.

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 our 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 to be used by 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 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.

The PA system will be used for recorded and live announcements from transit operations, such as emergency information or service changes, but will not announce bus arrivals although it does have that capability.

Although we’ve tested the system many times, we continue to monitor the sound levels now that operations have started.  We hope you have been out to test drive the first section of rapidways now open on Highway 7 and let us know if you can truly hear us, loud and clear.

 

introducing our new and improved fare equipment rolling out along Highway 7

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

When viva launched its Quickstart service in 2005, our new automated fare equipment used the latest technology. Customers loved the convenience of being able to purchase fares curbside, and drivers loved the way off-board ticket purchases speeded up service.  Well we all know how technology is constantly being improved, and transit fare equipment is no exception.  So as we designed the new rapidway stations, we worked with York Region and YRT to find ways to make our fare equipment even more efficient and user-friendly.

The first seven [7] new rapidway stations are now open on Highway 7 and here’s a virtual tour of the new and improved equipment that you’ll see and how it’s been updated.

The biggest changes are to the completely redesigned Ticket Vending Machine [TVM for short].

The existing equipment uses a touchscreen that works well but can be a bit hard to see when the sunlight is very bright, especially for people with impaired vision.  The new TVM is more like a bank machine, with push buttons rather than a touch screen.

The new machines use a state-of-the-art operating system that makes them faster, with a better printer, and a chip reader to process credit cards and debit cards.  Because our entire system is now connected to the internet through a new fibre optics communications network, credit card and bank transactions will be in real time for improved security. The new TVMs will also take coins for users who prefer to use cash (no change is provided though, so correct change is best).  We’ve also improved the Ticket Validator (TV) for customers who use YRT tickets and passes.

And each station will have two Presto machines to help things move faster.  Just tap and go.

We’re excited about these improvements to the fare equipment, which is all located together at the top of the ramp on the new platforms you can find on Highway 7.  Remember to make sure you have a valid fare before you enter the Fare Paid Zone – and visit YRT\viva and presto for more information.

 

this is just the beginning

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Over the next three years, the vivaNext system is really going to be taking shape, with rapidways on Highway 7 and Davis Drive opening for service, and the Toronto York Spadina Subway Extension [TYSSE] welcoming its first passengers.  But these new transit options are only the beginning of expanding vivaNext network that’s being built for York Region commuters over the next few years.

Funding for the next priority series of rapidways is already lined up, and we hope to be confirming funding soon for a number of other high priority projects.  Here’s the rundown on what’s planned, and how your transit choices are going to be widened over the next few years as vivaNext continues to expand.

Rapidway projects are being built in the order that will create the most connectivity for the greatest number of people and get you past the worst traffic congestion.  Check out the map to see how the phases are rolling out.

The segments that are coloured pink on the map are what we’re currently building and include the rapidway on the East part of Highway 7, from Yonge Street to Warden Avenue, and the rapidway in Newmarket along Davis Drive from Yonge Street to Highway 404.

In the pink project bundle, we’re in the preliminary construction stages for a 36 km stretch of rapidway on Highway 7 West including a station at the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC].  This station and rapidway will be opening in time to connect viva passengers to the Spadina Subway Extension when it opens for service in 2016.

The blue projects run north on Yonge Street. We’re currently in the procurement phase for the first stage of two rapidway segments between Richmond Hill and Newmarket.  One stretch will whisk passengers north from the Richmond Hill Centre up to 19th Ave / Gamble.  The other stretch starts at Mulock Drive in Newmarket, and will connect to the new rapidway along Davis Drive.  Construction of these rapidways is expected to be completed in 2017.

But that’s not all – look at the orange segments on the map.  These segments are also all designed and funding is committed, with planning well underway for construction to start in 2015.  Orange projects include two rapidway segments on Highway 7 West, which will extend on either side of the VMC rapidway. When it’s complete in 2018 this whole section will run over 15 km from Helen to Yonge Street. Another orange project will extend the Highway 7 East rapidway from the existing Warden Station on Enterprise Boulevard, to Unionville GO Station.

Other projects that will eventually create a full network across the Region and connecting to other transit systems are grey on the map. Since we don’t have funding secured for all of them yet we can’t confirm the actual timing.

Of these unfunded segments, two are the top priority.  The first priority is the Yonge North Subway Extension, which will provide a critical link for passengers transferring between the vivaNext system and the TTC.  Without this connection, vivaNext is missing a critical link that will really make our system a key part of the larger Greater Toronto transit network.

Another key priority is a rapidway along Major Mackenzie Drive, which would provide a major transit artery for all the growth taking place in that area.  The Major Mackenzie rapidway would provide passengers with connections to the TYSSE, GO lines in both the east and west, and the viva Highway 7 rapidway in both the east and west.

Imagine how this wonderful rapid transit network would make your life easier?  We are working hard to bring it to life, so that everyone in York Region will have the choice to leave their car at home and hop on board viva for a fast, reliable and comfortable ride, no matter where they want to go.

 

getting to where you want to go

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

The installation of the new dedicated rapidway along Highway 7 has resulted in some important changes to the way drivers will get to their destinations, and how the traffic signals work.  Some of these changes have already become familiar to drivers during the construction phase, but it’s worth going over them again now that the Rapidways are open from Bayview Avenue to East Beaver Creek.

  1. Watch for your signal.
  2. 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.

  3. Left turns only during the left turn arrow.
  4. 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.

  5. U-turns are allowed during the left turn arrow.
  6. 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.

  7. Transit green arrows are for buses only.
  8. 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.

  9. Be careful making right turns at red lights, watch for signs.
  10. There are some changes to right turns on Highway 7 from side-streets. At some intersections (East Beaver Creek, Chalmers and Valleymede), right turns on a red lights are no longer allowed. Drivers need to watch carefully for signage indicating that right turns on red, are no longer permitted. These signs are located on the traffic signal pole. 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.

take a tour of the new station – NOW OPEN ON HIGHWAY 7

Monday, August 19th, 2013

We’re really proud of the new vivastations in the median of the Highway 7 rapidway now open; they’re beautiful, they’re functional, and they’re going to make a huge contribution to the transformation of Highway 7 into a more urban corridor.  Anyone travelling along Highway 7 in Richmond Hill or Markham has seen them from the outside, but here’s a peek of what they’re like on the inside.

The first thing you’ll notice as you cross the crosswalk to a station, is how big and airy the canopy is.  At 28m (92’) long and 5m (16’) high, the curved glass soars above the platform, providing both protection and a sense of space at the same time. The platform is approached by a gently sloped ramp with handrails on both sides, making it fully accessible to all, whether they’re walking, pushing a stroller, or in a wheelchair or scooter.  Passing by the familiar viva fin and planted planter boxes, you’ll next come to an illuminated wall map of the YRT\Viva system.

Next on the tour is a bank of fare equipment, including a Ticket Vending Machine (TVM), a Ticket Validator (TV), and two Presto machines. Once you’ve paid your fare, you’ll move to the Fare Paid Zone (FPZ), which is clearly shown by being paved with a different coloured tile on the ground, as well as by a curved sign above.   We need to show this area as distinct, as YRT fare rules require passengers to have paid their fare before moving into the FPZ.

Once you’ve paid your fare, you’re free to make yourself comfortable on the platform until the next bus arrives.  We’re making it easy for you to know how long you’ve got to wait, with a large VMS (Variable Message Sign) projected from the canopy.  The VMS scrolls through all the upcoming arrivals, telling you exactly when the next bus will arrive.  Because the VMS system is connected to the GPS in our actual vehicles as well as the central transit scheduling software, it can be constantly updated to provide accurate and real-time information.

But if you decide you want to sit down on a bench, or get comfy out of the elements, we’ve made that easy too.  The fully heated glass enclosure is well lit, and accessed by two push-button automatic doors.  The heaters – which won’t be needed anytime soon, but you’ll like them come later this year, they’re like the infrared heaters in a hockey arena – will automatically turn on if someone enters the enclosure, and if the temperature in the enclosure feels lower than 10 degrees Celsius.  Multiple benches and garbage disposal units will add to your comfort.

The entire platform will be well lit, with lighting inside the canopy as well as on the platform.  And to enhance your feelings of comfort and security, the back of the platform is protected from the Highway 7 traffic by a barrier wall topped with a guardrail, and there are multiple security features including cameras and an emergency call button.

Last but not least, to help you stay oriented, wayfinding signage will show you where the buses will stop, and other features including the way to the crosswalk.

It’s hard to do our stations justice by written descriptions, so the best way to take a tour will be in person.  We’re looking forward to showing them to you, and will want to hear all your feedback!

 

the future of transit has arrived!

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

The launch of the first section of the rapidway along Highway 7 from Bayview Avenue to Highway 404 is this Sunday, August 18.

Riders can now board viva in the centre lane rapidway.  Vivastations are directly accessible from crosswalks at signalled intersections.  Pedestrian signals come with an audible tone and visual countdown.  During the first week of new service the YRT\Viva teams will be on the street to assist customers and answer any questions to help familiarize everyone with the new system.

Not only is this section of Highway 7 now more efficient for pedestrians, cyclists, riders and drivers, but the landscape has been transformed with new trees and other greenery. We welcome the wide pedestrian-friendly, tree-lined boulevards and sleek, modern, vivastations. The new vivastations will be open at Chalmers, Valleymede, West Beaver Creek, Leslie, and East Beaver Creek. Vivastations at Bayview will open in early September. An additional 3.9 kilometres of rapidway along Highway 7 from Highway 404 to Warden Avenue will open in 2014.

New dedicated centre lanes for viva vehicles will allow riders to enjoy faster and more consistent travel times.  Also drivers need to be aware of the changes to the street as they make turns onto Highway 7, red asphalt indicates a bus only lane.  Emergency vehicles are permitted to access the rapidways should they need to, but they will have their flashing lights on for safety.

The stations include arched glass canopies inspired by transportation architecture from historic and modern European examples. The 27-metre glass canopy offers protection from the elements, including a nine-metre enclosed and heated waiting area. The stations include all the existing viva technologies we love, including off-board fare collection, GPS navigation, real-time information, Presto, new card readers and traffic signal priority. Safety and accessibility features include textured surfaces near platform edges, level boarding from the platform to the bus, a public address system for updating riders and an emergency call button.

The York Viva BRT project received $1.4 billion from the province, and is an example of The Big Move in action – Metrolinx’s 25-year plan to implement a common vision for transportation in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

The transformation of this urban corridor will help support growth, and reduce congestion to help make York Region a more inviting place to live, work, shop and play.

Come take a ride on the new rapidway and check it out! Tweet and let us know what you think!

 

planting for beauty and longevity

Friday, August 16th, 2013

One of the wonderful new elements of the vivaNext streetscape is the number and variety of new plants that are being added, from the planters on the stations and in the median, to the trees and shrubs being planted along the boulevards and intersections.  The Landscape Architects, in conjunction with York Region’s Forestry Department, have worked long and hard on which plants will be included at each location.  Here’s what you’re going to be seeing planted along the rapidway corridor, and how they made their choices.

All the plant selections have been made with maximum survivability and sustainability in mind.  That means plants have to survive the urban conditions they’ll be surrounded by – with the main threat being the de-icing salt that needs to be used on the roads in winter.  Salt is toxic to many plants, so finding plants that can cope with having salt spray on their leaves and stems over the winter is a key consideration.  Plants also have to survive the wind and drought conditions that are part of being next to a roadway.  Another consideration for species selection concerns trees for planters under hydro lines.  In these locations, we need to find species with a maximum size and shape that will allow them to grow to their full potential, without needing to be pruned away from the lines.

Fortunately, York Region’s Forestry Department has had a lot of experience with the plants that thrive in the Region so coming up with lists of viable plants was straightforward.

Other considerations were related to the basic elements of design: shape, scale and colour.  We had clear overall design objectives to work with, consistent with the larger vivaNext aesthetic: the look was to be urban, stylized, and modular, similar to the look of our pavers.

Here are some images of our plants, including deciduous shrubs, evergreen shrubs for winter interest, hardy roses, ornamental grasses and perennials.

And to give them the best chance for survival, they will be planted in a special planting mix developed by the Region’s Forestry Department that will provide the optimum growing conditions.  Each tree will have a full 16 cubic metres of soil – that’s about the same amount as two dump truck-loads!

We’re looking forward to having people see the new landscaping, and we know it’s going to make a huge contribution to our goal of creating a more attractive, welcoming streetscape.  With the waving grasses and flowering plants, and shapely trees and shrubs, these public spaces will be more beautiful for years to come.