working hand-in-hand

June 17th, 2015

working hand-in-hand

Sometimes the best way to get through big, complex tasks is to split the workload – divide and conquer. This is especially true with York Region’s transit network, so we work alongside the Transportation Services Department.

With strategic plans in place, the Transportation Services Department plans the overall transportation network, including roads, transit and cycling. They create a Transportation Master Plan, which takes into account many factors, including ideas from residents, population growth and other statistics, provincial mandates like Places to Grow, and environmental protection measures like the Greenbelt and Oak Ridges Moraine. They also build and maintain roads, and through YRT/Viva, operate conventional YRT transit, Mobility Plus and Viva rapid transit.

At vivaNext [York Region Rapid Transit Corporation], we put the rapid transit part of the Transportation Master Plan in place. We work with all levels of government to acquire funding for each new project, whether it’s Bus Rapid Transit rapidways, subways, or transit facilities. We design and build these projects – including details like station locations and designs, sidewalks and lighting.

As the project manager, we set timelines and manage construction contracts. The rapidways are major infrastructure projects requiring careful scheduling and seamless handovers when each project goes into service. At this end point, the operations are handed over to YRT/Viva, and the maintenance is done by either York Region or the local municipality, depending on who owns the road.

At vivaNext we have some projects in place already, more scheduled for the next four years, and a few projects yet to be funded. Along with York Region’s growing population, there’s a growing need for transit. So there’s a lot to do, and we’re working hand-in-hand to get everything done.

If you’re looking for a few videos, you can get a glimpse of the transformation of York Region, see what York Region’s Transportation Services does, or just catch a little excitement.


private time on public transit

June 12th, 2015

private time on public transit

The Toronto Star recently ran a piece on how the TTC has become an extension of “home” for its users. While he remarked that some people do things not normally considered polite for public spaces, Urban Affairs writer Christopher Hume also noted that even with less privacy, riders have more freedom.

“Even in a moving subway,” he wrote, “it’s easier to put on lipstick than it is driving on Highway 401. It’s also easier to eat, drink, read and tend to one’s appearance.”

People who use transit regularly use the time in a variety of ways that are either impossible or risky when driving a car. They read books, work on laptops, watch TV, talk to other riders, snooze – and yes, put on makeup or simply stare into space at the end of a busy day.

They don’t worry about being cut off in traffic or being stuck behind a sander during a snowstorm. Parking and finding a gas station are also non-issues, and riders save thousands of dollars a year in car depreciation, gas and insurance. And let’s not forget that they also get tax credits for transit passes like the Viva Monthly Pass.

If you trade your car keys for a transit seat, you might just find yourself with time on your hands!


engaging the community – and listening to you

June 9th, 2015

engaging the community – and listening to you

One of the best things about springtime is how much more we all get outside – and that especially includes the many events in the communities in York Region. From festivals to farmers markets, home shows and other events, it’s important that we’re out and about, talking and listening to you.

In April, many of you visited us at our booth at the Aurora Home Show, where we were able to chat with several hundred people. People were very interested in making sure the Heritage Area along Yonge Street is properly protected – we were able to reassure you of the plans for Viva to continue to drive in mixed traffic through the Heritage blocks, rather than widening the road as in other areas. We also attended the Newmarket Home Show in March to make ourselves available to the community to answer questions and talk about the Rapidway and the construction along Davis Drive. We had some good conversations – this community remains very engaged in the plans and are looking forward to the end of construction!

In May, we were at the Richmond Hill Home Show talking about the Highway 7 East and Yonge Street rapidways, and we shared in the fun at York Region’s Family Fun Day in East Gwillimbury.

Throughout the summer, you’ll continue to see us at festivals and events. And throughout the year, we’ll be talking to business owners, property owners and local communities to ensure everyone is aware of ongoing and upcoming construction activities, and to help you plan ways of dealing with temporary road diversions and lane closures. Because we’re building where you live, shop, work and play, you’ll be seeing Community Liaisons and other vivaNext people at different events and festivals to help keep everyone informed.

Want more information on where you’ll find the vivaNext team? Check out our Community Events page.


working in harmony with the weather

May 28th, 2015

working in harmony with the weather

As Canadians, we tend to be a little bit obsessed with the weather, and no wonder. With such extreme fluctuations, our climate affects everything we do: our commutes, our weekend plans and our way of life. Watching the Weather Network is one of our national pastimes, right up there with hockey.

At vivaNext, our crews work in all kinds of weather to build a rapid transit system for York Region.

When the sun shines, crews push forward to get the job done. But when the forecast is for thunderstorms, extreme heat or cold, heavy rain or snow, our crew leaders have to assess the situation and decide whether or not to work. Then they make a call, for the safety of their people and the success of the project.

extreme heat

At this time of year, extreme heat poses a major weather hazard. Paving when it’s 35°C can be dangerous for the health of our crews, and plain miserable as well. However, a worker in a trench below ground may find it cool enough to work in extreme heat.


Lightning and thunder are a no-go from a safety perspective. But as we all know, the weather report is a changeable beast. When the forecast is thunderstorms, contractors building vivaNext rapidways have to make tough decisions. They can bring their crews out and then find it’s too stormy to work. Or they can call off work for the day, only to find the storm never comes and a perfectly good working day is lost. The decision comes down to safety.


Crews can pave in light rain for one or two days, but eventually wetness takes a toll. A tarp or cover can be used when pouring concrete in the rain, while waiting for it to cure. The safety of the men and women working on vivaNext projects is a top priority. Rain can make construction sites slippery, muddy and dangerous, and pose undue hazards.

underground weather

The weather underground is another factor. While it may be sunny and warm where we are, temperatures drop below ground.  Digging frozen ground can be a challenge and can damage equipment.

the bottom line

When our crew leaders decide not to work in bad weather, they’re thinking of the safety of the men and women they lead, and the success of the project.

Crews take advantage of Mother Nature by capitalizing on the good weather to drive vivaNext rapidway construction forward and we are happy to report we have had a great start to the construction season this year!

The result will be a transit network York Region will be proud to call its own, a legacy that keeps our communities moving forward into the future.


paving season is always a good news story

May 25th, 2015

click here to see the paving video!

If it’s spring, it must be paving season! [see the video]

It’s not unusual for us at vivaNext to get very excited about paving season because it is always a good news story. The fact is construction can be dusty and disruptive – but, just like seeing the leaves open up on the trees in spring – the surest sign that the heavy construction is nearing its end is when the paving crews arrive.

Currently, as platform construction continues for the future vivastations along Highway 7 in Vaughan, the next segments of base-layer paving have begun between Edgeley Blvd./Interchange Way to Keele St. This paving will be completed in sections over the next two months and will include closures and detours.

One question you may be asking is why do crews revisit a section once it’s paved? The process happens layer by layer, which is why the crews will come back to the same location more than once. Because Highway 7 has to bear the load of regular traffic and heavy vehicles, we need to start with a solid base layer to make sure the road holds up over time.

To create the red pavement on the rapidways, we use a special pigment that is carefully mixed to achieve the right balance of rich red and rugged durability.

Each step needs to be done in sequence, and takes a certain amount of time. While the paving itself doesn’t take more than a few hours, fresh pavement can’t handle traffic right away. Also, we plan the work outside of busy business traffic times of the week, and the day – for example, crews typically work overnight and on weekends – weather permitting.

To stay informed about the paving activities along Highway 7 in Vaughan this spring and summer, check out our paving page at On you can also find Davis Drive paving and construction info, and sign up for construction updates.


time for some family fun…

May 22nd, 2015

time for some family fun...

York Region’s Public Works and Emergency Medical Services [EMS] departments are hosting a Family Fun Day this weekend, and we’ll be there too to help recognize the importance of these services, and to have some fun!

We hope you can drop by our booth while you’re there, and be sure you take part in some of the activities, including:

  • Give transit a try and ride Viva through the bus wash facility in Newmarket [we especially recommend this activity!]
  • Tour the facilities at 80 and 90 Bales Drive, and see interesting equipment and vehicles
  • Watch or take part in the bike rodeo and bike helmet demonstrations
  • Food and refreshments at a charity BBQ [11:30 – 2pm]
  • Free garden mulch with a donation, and contests and prizes
  • Meet Pylon Pete, Barkley the Tree and Parry the Paramedic

So let’s enjoy the nice weather, spend quality time with family, and come see some of York Region’s services. We’ll see you there!

For detailed information about York Region’s Family Fun Day, visit


greenery all around us

May 13th, 2015

greenery all around us

Most people see the environmental benefits of having greenery around us. Trees and shrubs help to filter the air and water, and provide shade and habitat for animals and birds. But when you look at a tree, shrub or plant, it doesn’t bring to mind the economy. Last year, a report from TD Economics calculated that in Toronto, a single tree returns from $1.35 to $3.20 per every dollar spent on maintaining the “urban forest,” and the returns for Halifax and Vancouver were even higher. It also noted the higher value of real estate in neighbourhoods with mature tree canopies.

There are environmental benefits and economic value, and then there’s the intangible – the way we feel when we’re on a tree-lined street and the satisfaction we get from watching the seasons change. We may not look forward to snow, but you can’t deny it looks nice on tree branches.

If you’ve ever planted a garden, you know that every plant isn’t always successful, especially after a harsh winter. Along the new Highway 7 East rapidway in Markham and Richmond Hill, we’ve planted almost 300 trees and thousands of perennials and grasses. We use soil cell technology to ensure trees have the best chance at survival, and the types of trees and shrubs are selected carefully. Even so, sometimes a few don’t make it through the winter, in which case we replace them under the two-year warranty we have for all of our trees, shrubs and plants.

In the next couple of weeks, our landscaping crews will be out on Highway 7 to help the new greenery on Highway 7 East thrive for many years to come. Whether you’re walking through a forest or travelling Highway 7 East, we hope you connect with nature now that spring is finally, [finally!] here.


bringing rapid transit to your doorstep… a behind the scenes look at building a vivastation

May 5th, 2015

Bringing rapid transit to your doorstep… a behind the scenes look at building a vivastation

Throughout the fall and winter, crews have endured every kind of weather Mother Nature has thrown their way, while installing the vivastation at Longford/Parkside and Davis. There are many detailed steps to constructing a vivastation, and as we shared with you last year, it takes careful planning and precision throughout those stages of the construction.

We’ve captured components of the delivery, installation and construction for the west and eastbound platforms at Longford and Davis on video to provide you with a behind-the-scenes look and better understanding of what it takes to build a vivastation. All of the vivastations that are built as part of the vivaNext bus rapidway project are an important component of the top-notch transit system in York Region. When the Davis rapidway is in service this December 2015, transit users will enjoy the convenience of the new-technology and innovative features that each Viva vehicle and vivastation offers.

As you can see in the video, the vivastation was constructed piece-by-piece, like a puzzle, and crews will continue braving the elements to add the finishing touches to the west and eastbound platforms at Longford/Davis throughout the year. The vivastations at Main and Southlake Regional Health Centre are also progressing right on schedule and will give transit riders all the same conveniences.

By the end of the year, Viva will be running on Davis Drive from Yonge Street to Highway 404 and residents and visitors to the area will begin to experience the benefits of having rapid transit at their doorsteps. We know living through construction hasn’t been easy and we’re grateful for everyone’s patience as we work as quickly as possible to complete this large undertaking.


how transit and city planning work together

May 4th, 2015

how transit and city planning work together

An exciting new urban planning report — Make Way for Mid-Rise: How to build more homes in walkable, transit-connected neighbourhoods proposes actions that would help increase density along transit lines in the Greater Toronto Area. The report was released by the Pembina Institute and the Ontario Home Builders’ Association on Monday, May 4.

The nugget of this report is that the range of affordable housing choices for families would increase by building mid-rise, mixed-use buildings along transit lines. The report argues that mid-rise development supports “healthy lifestyles and local economies, since it can help increase walkability and put more people close to transit, while also supporting local business.”

So, should our communities “make way for mid-rise”? If we want our cities to have a better chance of developing the type of population density that supports a healthy neighbourhood with street life, walkability, and good transit, then, yes!

As the populations of York Region and the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area increase, it’s the job of government, urban planners, and developers to ensure that the community infrastructure is properly accommodated, and resources like farmland and clean water are protected.

The Make Way for Mid-Rise report presents five ways to support increased density:

  1. Require minimum densities along rapid transit lines
  2. Eliminate minimum parking requirements
  3. Pre-approve mid-rise development along avenues and transit corridors
  4. Require retail planning before mid-rise is built
  5. Make parkland dedication rules more equitable

When transit planning and urban planning work together, the result can be what vivaNext is all about: great cities and great transit, hand in hand.

Take a few moments to check out the report, Make Way for Mid-Rise, and read more about the proposals in the Toronto Star.