School’s done – summertime fun begins

July 3rd, 2014

School's done - summer time fun begins

Summer is an exciting and fun time for us on the vivaNext project. Warmer temperatures and longer days allow construction of our rapidway projects to get in high gear so they can be completed as quickly as possible. The official start of summer also means the end of the school year.

After the long cold winter that we had, the end of the school year is a chance for kids to get out and play by trading in their school bags and notebooks for swim suits, bikes and camping gear.

Warmer weather and no school mean kids and families are spending more time outside and on our streets. With that in mind, we would like to remind motorists to drive more carefully and with extra caution. It is up to us as drivers to make sure our kids stay safe and remember that kids often run out into the street without looking.

VivaNext wants you and your families to stay safe. We’ve all seen or maybe even done it – whether it’s rushing through a red light or a stop sign to save few extra minutes, forgetting to use traffic signals, overlooking construction detours and speed signs, or not using a hands-free cell phone device. With the heat, hustle and bustle of our busy schedules or fatigue, it’s often easy for drivers to forget or ignore the rules of the road.

During summer when school’s out, it’s even more important to re-think our habits behind the wheel. So, please slow down through construction zones and remember to be a careful driver by looking out for little ones, or better yet, leave the driving to our bus drivers and hop on viva for a more relaxed travel experience.

From our vivaNext family to yours, we wish you a safe and happy summer!


summer – time fun!

July 1st, 2014

summer - time for fun and games


Happy Canada Day everyone!

It’s summer, and most people are looking forward to enjoying the warm weather, taking time to make new memories, and maybe doing some travelling. A picture is just a moment frozen in time, but can tell a great story. If you’re travelling on YRT\Viva this summer, we’d like you to share your picture-stories with us by posting snapshots on Instagram of you and your friends enjoying a YRT\Viva moment in time around York Region. There are great shops and destinations around town and we know many of you are using transit to get there, so we encourage you to share those moments with us. We will be running a photo contest from July 1 to September 1, after which we’ll award a “Best Photo” prize – see the photo contest details.

As part of our summer moments in time contest, we wanted to also offer you a break for fun too. So if you like puzzles and games, try out your skills with our website game, and compete for the highest score in each level to win a prize!

We know everyone isn’t a photographer or a gamer, but if you enter your contact details in the photo contest or the website game, we’ll also add your name to a random draw on September 3, just for participating and sharing a moment of your time with us!

And last but certainly not least, be sure to find the vivaNext team in the community this summer, so you can talk to us about what’s happening with the projects. The construction along the corridors is in full swing; but it is nice to take a break for a moment in time…happy summer everyone, get out and enjoy.


Transit focused Markham Centre picked for York U expansion

June 26th, 2014

Transit focused Markham Centre picked for York U expansion

York University, a globally recognized research centre, recently announced that it had chosen Markham Centre as the preferred location in its bid to build a new satellite campus in York Region. York Region is one of Ontario’s fastest-growing major urban areas, and with a current population of more than 1.1 million, is the only municipality of its size in North America with no university campus.

The City of Markham was selected based on its ability to demonstrate alignment with 10 core principals including, having a campus within an urban centre, easily accessible across the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area, transit oriented development, use of public infrastructure and strong local partners.

This achievement shows how York Region’s Centres and Corridors strategy, of which vivaNext is a key part, is already resulting in important economic development benefits for our region. It’s more proof that its long term, visionary planning framework will channel new jobs, housing and shopping within the newly urbanized centre in Markham.

As Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti said in their news release, one of the reasons the Markham Centre location was chosen, in addition to all its “incredible amenities,” is that Markham has a reputation for having bold initiatives. The Mayor also pointed to the city’s efforts in attracting major businesses such as Enbridge, Honda and Aviva as well as attracting the Pan Am games to the city.

The timing of York University’s announcement could not have been better. Transit, parkland and local secondary plans are currently underway. The city can fully integrate a university within the new downtown urban fabric.

York Region’s vivaNext rapidway project along Highway 7 is in the last final stages with bus lanes set to open by the end of the year. Additional Bus Rapid Transit is planned for Markham Centre along Enterprise Drive to Unionville Go Terminal, scheduled to be completed in 2019, making this area truly the model of live, work, shop, play and now get educated!


a big thank you

June 24th, 2014

June 21 Davis Drive construction tours

This past Saturday, June 21st, vivaNext held construction tours and updates on the progress of the bus rapidway project in Newmarket. A combined 200 people came out between our 130 Davis Drive location and Main Street & Davis location for the day’s activities. “Construction Guy” and “Explorer Girl” welcomed families and residents as they engaged in interactive walking tours, received project updates, and enjoyed free ice cream.

Congratulations to the lucky winners of our ShopDavis prize packs, which featured goodies and services purchased from the businesses and restaurants along the corridor. The prize packs cover themes from Food & Drink  to Tech & Spa and really highlight the diversity of businesses that Davis Drive has to offer. Thank you for continuing to stop, shop and dine on Davis during the busy construction season. A complete list of winners and the businesses featured in the prize packs can be found on our website.

If you weren’t able to attend the event, all of the materials that were shared are available on our Past Meetings page, so you can read up on the latest information that you may have missed. You can also subscribe to project updates.

We’d like to extend a special thank you to everyone who attended the event. We couldn’t have asked for a better day, and we appreciate everyone’s support and interest. Our goal is to continue to keep you informed about the transformation of Davis Drive. It was great to speak with residents about the future of the rapidway project, and we hope to see you at similar events in the future!



long, cold winter leading to plant woes

June 19th, 2014

long, cold winter leading to plant woes

This past winter’s sub-zero temperatures, heavy snowfalls, driving winds and ice storm will go down as one of the longest and harshest on record. The effects of the ice storm are still being felt here in York Region, as we start to take stock of our plants, trees and shrubbery this spring.

In one of our earlier blogs, we talked about the trees, perennials and grasses that we’ll be installing in the planters in medians and boulevards along the Highway 7 rapidway between East Beaver Creek and South Town Centre Boulevard. Like you, we have noticed that some of the perennials and grasses have not come back this spring.

All the trees, perennials and shrubbery on Highway 7 are under a two year warranty and we are monitoring their growth to see if they need to be replaced or will come back throughout the spring and summer months.

We are hopeful that the chilly winter will result in better soil, leading to healthier gardens. Soil science shows that the cold weather creates pores in the soil, which naturally aerates plants. The colder it gets, the deeper frost penetrates. When the frost melts, it leaves pockets in the soil. Winter damage is always factored into gardening in Canada, as we assess our plants every spring and replace the ones that didn’t survive.

With all this in mind, vivaNext is committed to maintaining our new landscaping which will make Highway 7 much more attractive, pleasant and welcoming for everyone.



Join us for a construction tour!

June 17th, 2014

Join Us!

Looking for something to do this weekend? Join vivaNext this Saturday, June 21st in Newmarket for construction tours and updates on the progress of the bus rapidway project! From 11am – 2pm, activities for all ages will be taking place at two locations: the vivaNext Project Information Centre [130 Davis Drive] and the corner of Main Street and Davis Drive.

Interested in how retaining walls are built, or curious about the preservation of heritage buildings? Sign up for guided walking tours at Main and Davis, taking place at 11am and 1pm, to get a behind the scenes look at the construction happening along the corridor. Kids receive free construction hats and can follow along with an interactive map. At the vivaNext Project Information Centre, view detailed maps and schedules of the project, and specialists will be on hand to answer any of your questions.

Throughout the day, kids can meet “Construction Guy” and “Explorer Girl” and everyone can cool off with complimentary ice cream. There are also plenty of opportunities to win prizes – enter for a chance to win a ShopDavis prize pack or pick up a scratch ‘n’ win card for additional giveaways.

We know construction is messy. For everyone who has continued to support our shops and businesses on Davis Drive, we truly appreciate it – continue to stop, eat and shop Davis. We‘re excited to meet you all and provide updates on what’s happening in your community. Hope to see you Saturday!



everything at your doorstep

June 12th, 2014

everything at your doorstep

Imagine everything you needed was nearby: shopping within walking distance, doctor’s office right around the corner and a park just up the street. Your work is an easy trip on transit, and there are even places on your street for dinner and entertainment. It can happen, and it’s not just in the big city.

A well-planned community combines residential, commercial and recreational uses in the same area, and this is what planners call “mixed-use.” Transit is a key part of a mixed-use community, because it gets people where they need to go without a car. It also connects us to other areas within the Region. Over time, mixed-use development naturally favours pedestrians and transit riders. This is a style of development that city planners and builders design so that people can have everything close to sidewalks and transit stations, instead of across giant parking lots or wide highways. This type of development creates a more dynamic, people-friendly style of living which had not been available in York Region’s suburban style design of the past. Providing options for living is important, from suburban to urban, because when you can find it all mixed together in one community it allows generations to transition without having to move too far.

In York Region, some of our core areas are now evolving into mixed-use communities, so we’re supporting that change by building a fast, convenient rapid transit system. As part of the Centres and Corridors initiative, York Region has a vision and best practices for new mixed-use development to make sure that is gets built in areas which are supported by higher levels of transit. Markham, Vaughan, Newmarket and Richmond Hill also have their own specific plans for key centres in each municipality. You can see the work taking place by looking for the cranes on the horizon, not a sight you would have seen here a decade ago.

As these areas evolve, buildings will be closer to the road, and closer to shops, restaurants, services, recreation, work and transit. So, it’s really nice to have everything at your doorstep if that is a lifestyle you are looking for – you can now find it being built right here in York Region.



signs, signs, everywhere a sign

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.

moving the masses

June 5th, 2014

moving the masses

Hosting an event on a global scale is no small feat. Preparing to accommodate an influx of tourists and visitors expected in any host city can be a challenge, especially when it comes to how they’ll get around. This is why developments and improvements to public transportation are a major component in staging a world event. From the Olympic Games to the World Cup, public transportation has proven to quickly and efficiently move the masses to and from sports stadiums, and all around the host cities.

Think back to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games held in Vancouver. The city saw the record use of mass transit both during and after the Games, which has changed commuting habits. Mass transit ridership increased by more than 50 percent during the Games and remains well above previous- year levels according to an official Olympic facts and figures report. The city launched a transportation expansion plan which included 48 new SkyTrain cars, a new SeaBus, and 180 diesel-electric hybrid buses, which have lower fuel consumption and fewer emissions, to accommodate visitors.

The UK also saw the success of its $673 million dollar public transportation improvements during the 2012 Olympics in London, where nearly one million people used the system. 900,000 people, almost half of the overall 2 million people who visited Olympic Park, used public transit including shuttles, bikes routes and special light rail. London is already known for its advanced underground Tube system, yet the improvements were part of an over-arching initiative to make the games “greener” and were also implemented as a long-term infrastructural investment.

It comes as no surprise then, that Brazil invested $700 million dollars into bus infrastructure development to be ready ahead of the June 12th start of this year’s FIFA World Cup hosted in Rio de Janeiro. The Transcarioca, a 39 km BRT line with dedicated lanes for buses, officially opened on June 1st and is expected to carry 320,000 passengers daily during the tournament.

Next year, it’s Toronto’s turn in the spotlight as host of the 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games. There are already plans for transit development and improvement in place to combat traffic congestion and poor air quality. York Region and The City of Markham are pleased to be hosting a sporting event during these games, right on the viva system.

Providing quick and efficient transportation during any large world event ensures that the focus remains on the thousands of people who come together to compete, volunteer, or cheer on – people like you and I. Great transit is just the link that connects us all.

BRT around the world

June 3rd, 2014

BRT around the world

The buzz surrounding Bus Rapid transit [BRT] systems that emerged in the early 2000s has not died down. Cities around the world are continuing to invest in rapid transit projects as an affordable and reliable way of connecting people to job opportunities and leisure activities. As of October 1st, 2013, the transit experts at EMBARQ have reported a total of over 300 bus corridors around the world, spreading to 163 cities across 38 countries.

I’ve discussed BRT systems around the world before, focusing on Curitiba, Brazil and South America’s leading role in rapid transit development. Now, cities in places from Indonesia to South Africa have bus corridors in operation that are positively impacting their growing urban landscapes. Check out some fast-facts on diverse cities who have embraced BRT and view images on our Pinterest board:

Johannesburg, South Africa [Rea Vaya]

  • Hit the road August 30, 2009
  • Rea Vaya means “we are going”
  • 48 stations and 10 median key stations are currently operational on 59 km of trunk routes
  • Commuters stand to save an estimated 73 million hours by shifting to BRT between 2007-2026. The travel time saved is equivalent to over 9 million 8-hour workdays [Embarq].

Brisbane, Australia [Brisbane Busways]

  • Hit the road September 13, 2000
  • A 25 km network of busways, including the South East, Northern and Eastern Busways

Jakarta, India [TransJakarta]

  • Hit the road January 25, 2004
  • First BRT system in Southern and Southeast Asia
  • 12 corridors in operation with over 200 stations along the closed trunk system
  • Carries more than 350,000 passengers daily

Mexico City, Mexico [Metrobús]

  • Hit the road June 19, 2005
  • Transports over 850,000 passengers daily
  • 2,000 days of lost work due to illness were prevented by reducing local air pollution and emission on the Metrobús Line 3 [Embarq]

Istanbul, Turkey [Metrobüs]

  • Hit the road September 17, 2007
  • Approximately 50 km in length and has 45 stations
  • Used by a number of Metrobüs lines
  • Carries around 800,000 people daily
  • In Istanbul, the average passenger on Metrobüs saved 28 workdays per year in reduced travel times [Embarq]