season’s greetings from vivaNext

December 21st, 2015

Click here to see our e-Card!

It’s the season for celebrating, and here at vivaNext we’re in the spirit.

Lots of progress has been made on our projects across York Region, and since we’re on a roll, we’re making a resolution to keep up the momentum in 2016! Our offices will be closed for a few days from December 25 to January 1, as we prepare to ring in the New Year with progress on our minds [see holiday hours for project info offices in Vaughan and Newmarket].

We hope you take the time to celebrate with family and friends, and have some fun. If you’re out celebrating, be sure to plan a way to get home. If you’re looking for a little challenge, try your skills with our online game.

Happy Holidays to everyone and a Happy New Year – see you in 2016!

 

subways? yes, our network will include subways

December 17th, 2015

subways? yes, our network will include subways

Rapid transit plans in York Region have always included subways, along with aboveground bus and rail. Each of these has different passenger capacities, construction costs, and impacts on surrounding communities, so plans include a combination of transit types, with a focus on having a seamless network.

As far as subway is concerned, we’ve been planning for the Yonge North Subway Extension [YNSE] from Finch Station to the Richmond Hill/Langstaff Urban Growth Centre at Highway 7. The YNSE is the missing link in terms of transit for the GTHA, because Yonge Street is the central transportation artery, and has been for generations.

Because it’s the missing link, we’ve been doing critical planning and engineering studies to ensure that we’re shovel-ready. The Environmental Project Report and Conceptual Design Study are complete, and in partnership with Metrolinx, TTC and City of Toronto, we completed a Yonge Relief Network Study [YRNS] to determine Yonge Subway capacity.

The YRNS concluded that the number of already committed/funded initiatives underway will increase the capacity of Yonge subway and divert existing and future riders to other corridors. These increases in capacity will accommodate growth until 2031, and offset the immediate need for the Downtown Relief Line until after 2031.

Metrolinx has recently recommended that we move ahead with completing 15% preliminary design for the Yonge Subway extension, so we’re working very hard on that. To advance the project even more, we’re advocating to the new federal government about their recent commitment to double infrastructure investments and transform transit and transportation systems ($60 billion in additional investments over 10 years).  With our shovel-ready projects in hand, we’re looking forward to the next wave of projects.

Combined with the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension, Regional Express Rail, new GO Train stations at Gormley and Bloomington and other transit projects, the YNSE will vastly improve the overall network for those who live, work and travel in York Region.

 

transit infrastructure >> on and off the roads

December 10th, 2015

transit infrastructure – on and off the roads

York Region’s transit operator, YRT/Viva, serves a huge region with a combination of conventional transit [the white buses traveling in and out of neighbourhoods], Mobility Plus, and Viva [the blue vehicles!]. The Viva fleet has grown to about 123 vehicles, stopping at over 100 curb-side stations and 15 rapidway vivastations.

With this type of growth, you can appreciate that there’s a need for some vehicle maintenance, storage and staff offices. You can also imagine that with the Viva Network Expansion Plans, set to expand service in York Region, there will be even more of a need to connect passengers with convenient terminals and park and ride lots.

When the Viva system was being planned, we saw the need for these facilities and terminals too, so we made sure our To Do list included an Operations, Maintenance and Storage Facility [OMSF] in Richmond Hill, passenger terminals in Markham and Vaughan, and a series of park and ride locations.

The OMSF opened for service in Richmond Hill in July, and we’re proud to say it was built to LEED Silver standards, with energy efficient and environmentally friendly features – a remarkable accomplishment for a 481,679 square-foot facility.

We also opened a park and ride facility at Davis Drive and Highway 404 in Newmarket along with the opening of the Davis Drive rapidway. The next park and ride location is planned in Markham near Warden and Highway 407.

A bus terminal in Vaughan Metropolitan Centre that will connect customers from TTC subway and bus rapid transit to YRT and GO bus service via an underground pedestrian walkway, is in the design phase

We’re also getting ready to award a design contract for a bus terminal near Cornell in Markham to help connect customers to transit and get to and from Markham-Stouffville Hospital easily.

Having facilities and terminals around the Region means our growing transit system will be well supported, and passengers will be well connected. These projects may not be on the roads, but they’re some of the most important parts of York Region’s transit infrastructure off the roads.

 

what’s behind the numbers on Highway 7 West

December 7th, 2015

click here to see the video: fun facts - vivaNext in Vaughan

It’s been a busy year along Highway 7 in Vaughan. We thought you’d like to see a glimpse at some of what’s been accomplished in 2015 and a few snapshots of what’s to come.

In this video, you can check out some of the stages of work behind road widening, vivastation canopy creation (in case you weren’t driving by while it was happening), the expansion of the CN MacMillan Bridge, a whole host of retaining walls – plus a whole lot of greenery to be planted in the spring.

There are “tonnes” of information and stories behind the fun facts on Highway 7 in Vaughan!

Click here to subscribe to email updates about the progress of the vivaNext project.

 

changes unfold along Davis Drive >> next is now!

December 3rd, 2015

changes unfold on Davis Drive >> next is now

It’s great to see everyone taking advantage of the new rapidway now open on Davis Drive [read the news release]. It is the time of year when people want to move quickly, making their way to the people and places that matter most and Viva yellow is the ticket!

Catching a ride on the new Viva yellow is easy because service runs every 15 minutes and the stations tell you when your next ride will arrive. There will be customer service representatives out all week along the corridor to answer your questions and help you navigate the new system safely.

Winter represents its own set of hazards, so no matter how you get around, it’s important to use caution and stay alert, especially when things are new along Davis Drive. The images that were “next” have become “now” as a reality.

drivers

The red asphalt on the rapidway is for Viva rapid transit vehicles only. If you’re driving, and you notice an empty lane beside you in traffic, take a quick look to make sure you’re not entering the rapidway.

Aside from Viva, you may see other vehicles on the rapidway, like fire and police vehicles and ambulances. That’s by design, because everyone wants emergency vehicles can get to their destinations as quickly as possible. Maintenance vehicles also have access to maintain the rapidway and ensure it’s operating at peak performance.

Also, drivers now have the use of left-turn and U-turn signals at each major intersection. The protected movement through the intersection makes it safe and efficient to get where you’re going quickly. Be sure to stop behind the stop line on the road to trigger the left-turn signal sensors under the pavement.

transit riders and pedestrians

Boarding Viva rapid transit at a vivastation means crossing to the dedicated centre lanes. Push the buttons at any corner to activate the pedestrian signals.

Now, it might be tempting to take a stroll down the rapidway, or cross mid-block to get to the other side, but it’s dangerous and also illegal. The signals at intersections are there for your safety and convenience.

No matter how you’re travelling Davis, we hope you enjoy your new surroundings this holiday season. We encourage you to come out, shop, dine, visit and enjoy. Construction crews are finishing up their work before snow starts to fly this winter. Next is now… come out and see the difference!

 

safe travels on Davis

December 1st, 2015

safe travels on Davis

Viva is rolling on Davis Drive and drivers are getting used to new traffic movements, so if you’re walking, it’s important to be aware of everything that’s happening when you cross the street.

The most important thing to do as a pedestrian on Davis Drive is to cross at the traffic signals. It may seem tempting to cross mid-block, or walk or stand in the rapidway lanes, but drivers aren’t expecting to see you there.

Getting to and from the hospital from across Davis has always been a challenge, so the intersection in front of Southlake provides an additional way to cross safely. Crossing near the hospital without using the crosswalk is particularly risky, because drivers coming over the hill may not be able to stop quickly.

The next important thing to remember is to press the walk button on the corner of the intersection – the walk signal only happens if you press the button. If you need a little extra time to cross, you can stop in the middle at Parkside/Longford, Main Street or Southlake and press the walk button again to cross the second half of the road.

With spacious, tree-lined sidewalks and tree planters acting as a buffer between traffic and pedestrians, the new sidewalks on Davis Drive are a safe and attractive place to be. It’s getting dark earlier this time of year though, and soon we’ll see snow falling on roads and sidewalks. It’s important to stay alert and make sure drivers see you as you cross the street on your commute, and as you shop and dine along Davis this season.

 

Viva has arrived on Davis!

November 29th, 2015

Viva has arrived on Davis!

Rapid transit is now a reality on Davis Drive! Known as the Viva yellow, buses are now running along the rapidway, picking up and dropping off passengers at Longford, Main and Southlake, before continuing in mixed traffic to make stops at Huron Heights, Leslie and the Highway 404 park and ride facility.

The introduction of the rapidway on Davis will transform the way people get around and revitalize the corridor. Sidewalks, dedicated left-turn signals, and upgraded infrastructure will serve the needs of pedestrians, transit riders, businesses and drivers for generations to come.

Opening the rapidway marks a significant step forward in connecting our urban growth centres and being prepared for the future. The rapidway supports York Region’s growth plan by encouraging the development of attractive and pedestrian-friendly places for people to live, work, shop and play. We know construction was long and disruptive, and we thank you for your support and patience during this journey together.

the Davis Drive rapidway opens this Sunday!

November 27th, 2015

The Davis Drive rapidway opens this Sunday!

The rapidway along Davis Drive from Yonge Street to the 404 opens for service Sunday.  Viva yellow will start rolling down Davis Drive at 6:52 am, starting at the 404 park and ride lot and travelling westbound, and then every 15 minutes after that!

We excited to launch the service as well as all the amenities that go with it – the wide, pedestrian-friendly, tree-lined boulevards and sleek, modern vivastations, as well as the dedicated centre lanes that will allow riders to enjoy faster and more consistent travel.  New vivastations will open at Parkside/Longford, Main Street, and South Lake Hospital.

Vivastations will be directly accessible from crosswalks at signalled intersections. Pedestrian signals come with an audible tone and visual countdown as additional safety features.

The stations will include arched glass canopies inspired by transportation architecture from historic and modern European examples. The 27-metre glass canopy will offer passengers protection from the elements, and include a nine-metre enclosed and heated waiting area. At the stations, you can enjoy all the existing Viva technologies you love: off-board fare collection, real-time arrivals information, Presto payment and new card readers. 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, security cameras and an emergency call button.

Once the rapidway opens on Sunday, drivers need to be aware of how the street has changed as they make turns on Davis Drive. Red asphalt indicates a bus only lane, so drive with care. Emergency vehicles are permitted to access the rapidways should they need to, but they will have their flashing lights on for safety.

In just a few short days the wait will be over, and we can all celebrate the end of construction and the beginning of rapid transit in Newmarket!

countdown to handover

November 24th, 2015

countdown to handover

Taking advantage of every sunny day in Newmarket to advance the work on the Davis Drive rapidway, our teams are working hard to finish all sorts of little details. With much of the construction complete, we’re now focused on testing and adding final touches, to get ready for Viva service, which we call “handover”.

Handover means just what it says – it’s the moment in time when the transit system is handed over to its owner for care and custody, which of course is YRT/Viva. Before handover, the system is the responsibility of the Contractor/Design Builder. Once handover takes place, legal ownership and responsibility is transferred to the owner, and the system becomes the owner’s private property. At this time, the Contractor/Design Builder’s warranty period begins, just the way it happens when a homebuyer takes possession of a new house.

In the case of vivaNext, some elements of the Davis Drive project, like the rapidway, vivastations, sidewalks and planters, will be transferred to the Region. Others, like the sidewalks and streetlights will be transferred to the Town of Newmarket to maintain.

Because the formal handover is such a significant development, especially on a major infrastructure project like the vivaNext rapidway, it’s important to ensure that everything is in perfect working order. The various steps involved in opening for service vary. Here are some examples:

  • Fare equipment is tested to ensure the ticket vending machine [TVM] prints properly.
  • Traffic signals are programmed and permanent signals are turned on. Each phase is then tested individually, and all the push buttons are tested to make sure they work.
  • Streetlights are inspected to ensure all the wiring is according to the drawings, the bases are level and the power connections are all correct. The teams go out at night and actually turn on the lights to ensure that all the lamps come on and nothing is flickering. Lighting is an important safety feature for both pedestrians and vehicles.

During testing every single detail of the rapidway is inspected through a visual walk-down. Then a list of the things that still need to be finished or perfected is created with items graded from most serious to least serious. These items will be fixed either prior to the system opening or post opening under the warranty.

Although we are officially handing over the Davis Drive rapidway to York Region, YRT, and the Town of Newmarket, in many ways we are handing it over to you – at the end of the day, the ultimate owners of the rapidways are the public of York Region. VivaNext wants to provide a reliable, efficient rapid transit system and beautiful streetscape for our valuable transit customers. With every new piece of rapidway delivered, we are building a better system that we can all be proud of.

accessible stations >> everyone is welcome

November 19th, 2015

accessible stations >> everyone is welcome

With the Davis Drive rapidway opening for service soon, we want everyone to feel welcome, and to find it an easy, convenient experience. Whether they have mobility issues or other physical limitations, are pushing a baby stroller, bringing their bike, or pulling a shopping buggy, we want everyone to feel that this transit service is for them.

We consulted with the CNIB and York Region’s Accessibility Committee during the design process, so our vivastations meet local and Provincial accessibility requirements. We also took into consideration our aging population, who appreciate being able to get around easily without a car. So we designed stations for everyone to use, and included these features:

  • Heated, enclosed areas in the centre of the vivastation with doors on each end and a wheelchair-turning radius inside. Radiant heaters are temperature and motion-activated.
  • Benches in the heated enclosure and outside under the glass canopy. Benches are wood, which doesn’t get as cold as metal in the winter, and they have grab bars for those who would like a little support getting up and down.
  • Fare payment machines that are easy to use, with screens that are angled for people of different heights, and have clear, bright graphics and large buttons.
  • Informative digital screens [Variable Message Sign or VMS] installed overhead in the centre of each canopy showing when the next bus will arrive, and arrival times are ‘real-time’ which means they’re updated constantly, based on the location of each bus.
  • Even platforms without trip hazards or changes to grade, and handrails and shallow inclines on the pedestrian ramps approaching platforms.
  • Tactile surfaces on station platforms, including textured tiles in a contrasting colour at the platform edge and directional tiles where the bus stops – helpful for those with impaired vision.
  • Public Address system that can be heard clearly from one end of the station to the other.
  • Illuminated map boards to make it easy for everyone to plan their route.

Vivastations are designed for all transit riders – including those who just haven’t used Viva before. Since this is the first east-west Viva route in Newmarket, it might be unfamiliar to some, but rest assured that it will be easy and comfortable to get onboard Viva on Davis Drive. In the first few weeks, Viva staff will be there in person to answer questions, and after that the YRT.ca website and their call centre [toll free: 1-866-668-3978] will help everyone make their connections. From one end of Newmarket to the other, and to other transit like Viva, YRT and GO Transit – it’s about connections, made with comfort and convenience.