why stop here?

March 20th, 2015

why stop here?

Some of the most successful investors will tell you that thinking long-term is the best way to make decisions. That’s also the route transit planners take, and a long-term increase in passengers is the goal for the investment.

Rapid transit routes are also planned with potential growth opportunities in mind. By looking at municipal zoning and ‘big picture’ plans, higher levels of government and planners can see where higher-density residential and commercial development will be located in the future. They look at the area around each proposed station to see if it seems likely to redevelop into higher-density residential and commercial destinations. Key pointers tend to be municipal zoning that allows for multi-story buildings, large lot sizes, and older buildings that are more likely to need rebuilding or refurbishing. Stations are especially considered at junctions where current or future transit lines intersect. The area may already have urban amenities and high population, or in some areas, empty land is zoned for a planned high-density community. It’s not necessarily about what’s there now, it’s about what could be there.

By studying the facts, transit planners can be confident about where transit stops should be placed, and know that as the community evolves in future years, new developments will naturally make it more compact, transit-oriented and pedestrian-friendly.

In York Region, the location of rapid transit routes is studied carefully to ensure that as our population continues to grow in the long-term, we’ve invested in a great transit system to support it. The Viva routes were planned with that in mind and now with ridership increasing steadily, rapid transit is moving to one dedicated lane in the centre of the road. With this comes a balanced community that provides vibrant urban centres, faster travel choices, and routes that have more connection points and better serve customers

 

transit benefits times three…

March 13th, 2015

transit benefits times three

It’s true that we’re building a key component of the transit infrastructure connecting the GTA, but beyond this we’re also creating measurable benefits. We support the “triple bottom line” business principle, which holds that business activities should result in financial, social and environmental benefits. Part of our vision is to have development and public transit planned together to shape communities, support a sustainable future and promote energy conservation.

More than 1,100 residential units were added during 2014 along the Highway 7 East rapidway. New zoning and municipal plans are ensuring that development is mixed-use – including places to live, work, shop, and green space to hang out. Mixed-use is a more sustainable, environmentally-responsible way of growing for the future. Once transit is in place and urban neighbourhoods are established, residential and commercial developers are attracted, as are new employers who want to be located near transit and a well-educated workforce.

More compact, transit-oriented and walkable areas mean less dependency on cars, and this is good for the health of transit users, bicyclers and walkers. Socio-economic benefits are there for those who find they can get around more affordably, and our carbon footprint is reduced, since each bus can replace up to 70 cars.

Each new rapidway includes tree-lined streets to help maintain our connection to nature and improve air quality. There is also documented evidence that green space results in higher property values, increased business outcomes and reduced energy costs.

As each rapidway project connects York Region, the benefits are three-fold for the environment, our quality of life, and our local economy.

 

our buses are blue but we think green

March 6th, 2015

our buses are blue but we think green

In York Region, we’re lucky to have nature around us. From the Oak Ridges Moraine to our woodlands, waterways and wildlife, life is better when we’re surrounded by it.

Rapidway projects are designed with future growth in mind – including supporting population growth and supporting a large variety of new trees and shrubs. Along with dedicated lanes for rapid transit, each project brings urban renewal with wider sidewalks, updated utilities and plenty of trees, shrubs and plants. Since these are construction projects that include widening the road, some of the existing roadside and median trees need to be removed.

We’re currently removing trees located in York Region’s right-of-way for the Yonge Street rapidway project in Richmond Hill and Newmarket. All trees marked for removal were carefully evaluated first, to see if any could be transplanted. Due to the health of the trees and the potential conflicts with overhead and underground utilities, relocation was not possible. Crews will remove the majority of the trees before bird nesting season begins in mid-April. Any trees that still need to be removed after that will first be assessed by a Certified Arborist. Remaining trees around the construction area will be fenced and protected.

Once complete, each rapidway will be a tree-lined street, with attractive landscaping and trees and shrubs chosen for hardiness, appearance and height [to fit under hydro lines once mature]. An urban setting can be tough on a tree, so we use soil cell technology – a rigid framework under the sidewalks in rapidway areas that holds much more planting soil – to protect roots and ensure soil and water stay in place [e.g., see the soil cells we used on Highway 7 East]. New plantings have a guarantee, so if we have especially harsh weather, any that don’t make it will be replaced.

It takes a lot of effort, patience and planning, and the construction itself isn’t pretty. But our communities are growing and the rapidways let us connect faster using transit while keeping our connection to nature and greening our corridors. After this long cold winter, we will all be happy to see a few buds on the trees this spring!

 

as days get longer…

February 25th, 2015

as days get longer

Days are getting longer, but for the next month or so we’re still travelling to and fro close to dawn and dusk, and right now there are snowbanks at every turn. So visibility isn’t great, but spring is on the way! Things are looking up, and it’s important that both drivers and pedestrians look up to see who’s on the other side of that snowbank, and to see that it’s safe to move forward. Let’s stay in step with those around us by keeping an eye out for one other and being as visible as possible.

On Highway 7 East in Markham and Richmond Hill, commuters might have more of a spring in their step, and it’s not just because they’re looking forward to better weather. Now that the rapidway is open, Highway 7 has many years of fast, convenient transit ahead, not to mention bike lanes and nice wide sidewalks. In some sections of Highway 7 it was truly a highway before construction with only traffic lanes and no sidewalks or bike lanes. Now, everyone has a choice in how they connect from A to B, and that’s something to look forward to.

To better weather, to more choices, and to safe travels throughout York Region!

For some tips on getting around on Viva, check out YRT/Viva’s video about dressing with safety in mind.

 

spending quality time with your loved ones – enjoy this Family Day weekend

February 13th, 2015

click here to play the game: http://www.vivanext.com/vgame

Happy Valentine’s Day, and we hope you enjoy February’s long holiday weekend! It’s nice to have a long weekend to spend some quality time with family and friends and get out for some fun in this winter weather. York Region has a lot of great sites and events that you can explore on YRT/Viva transit. From skating at the Markham Civic Centre outdoor rink and the Richmond Green Skate Trail in Richmond Hill, to the Winter Wonderland at the Riverwalk Commons in Newmarket.

Here at vivaNext, our staff is also taking this time to rest, relax and rejuvenate so that come spring construction season, we are ready to get the shovels back in the ground. Although the cold temperatures and snow certainly slow down construction, work does continue on utilities and behind-the-scenes work. Check out the progress in your community at vivanext.com.

If you choose to stay warm and spend your time indoors this weekend, we challenge you to try out our puzzle game, have a little fun and see – can you beat the best time? http://www.vivanext.com/vgame

 

rapidways in winter

February 7th, 2015

rapidways in winter - Town Centre Station on Highway 7 East

It’s definitely winter! Nobody knows that better than outdoor maintenance crews. When there is snow and ice, York Region’s crews are on duty on our new Highway 7 East rapidway, clearing the way for rapid transit. In Markham, the rapidway travels down South Town Centre Boulevard and Cedarland Drive. The glass canopies at vivastations shelter Viva customers from light flurries, but when heavy snow or ice make an appearance, the heated enclosure is where you want to be.  To remove the snow at the stations, a contractor from YRT/Viva operations shovels and salts the vivastation platforms so that they’re safe for everyone. Sidewalks are usually a municipal responsibility, so the new sidewalks along the Highway 7 West rapidway are cleared by the City of Markham and Town of Richmond Hill.

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Before the rapidway was built on Highway 7 East, sidewalks were few and far between, and there were smaller curb-side Viva stops. The street has now been transformed from a suburban freeway to a walkable urban street and transit route [with bike lanes!]. With the new facelift complete there are benefits for everyone and the same treatment is coming next year on Davis Drive!  Think spring!

introducing our new board members

January 30th, 2015

introducing our new board members

For those of you who have been riding along with us on this transit journey, we are excited to update you on our award-winning rapid transit initiatives as we begin 2015 and new stages of construction. This is an exceptionally exciting time for transit in Ontario, and in York Region. Over the next five years, we will be completing $3.2 billion of infrastructure, including rapidways in Newmarket, Vaughan and Richmond Hill, a state-of-the-art Operations, Maintenance and Storage Facility and more. We remain dedicated to building transit options that complement the future of York Region, knowing that everyone shares the benefits of these successes.

How do we do it? Here’s a bit of information about the governance structure and make-up of York Region Rapid Transit Corporation [YRRTC] and how we operate to deliver vivaNext plans. First, YRRTC is a 100% share capital corporation owned by York Region. Our rapidway projects are funded by Metrolinx [an agency of the provincial government], and our facilities and terminals are funded from a combination of federal, provincial and regional government sources. Our governance structure is well established through formal documents and legal agreements between YRRTC, York Region, the provincial government, the federal government and Metrolinx. These legal documents set the framework for how we work together and list the conditions of our funding.

YRRTC reports monthly to a board of directors – seven Mayors and Regional Councillors from Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket and Vaughan. Once appointed, they elected a Board Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and CEO. We welcome the new and returning board members:

Chairman - Frank Scarpitti, Mayor of the City of Markham Chairman
Frank Scarpitti
Mayor of the City of Markham
Vice-Chairman - Maurizio Bevilacqua, Mayor of the City of Vaughan Vice-Chairman
Maurizio Bevilacqua
Mayor of the City of Vaughan
Director and YRRTC CEO - Wayne Emmerson, Chairman and CEO of The Regional Municipality of York Director and YRRTC CEO
Wayne Emmerson
Chairman and CEO of The Regional Municipality of York
Director - Dave Barrow, Mayor of the Town of Richmond Hill Director
Dave Barrow
Mayor of the Town of Richmond Hill
Director - Tony Van Bynen, Mayor of the Town of Newmarket Director
Tony Van Bynen
Mayor of the Town of Newmarket
Director - Jim Jones, City of Markham Regional Councillor Director
Jim Jones
Regional Councillor, City of Markham
Director - Vito Spatafora, City of Vaughan Regional Councillor/Deputy Mayor Director
Vito Spatafora
Regional Councillor/Deputy Mayor, Town of Richmond Hill

 

Through monthly reports and other regular reporting tools such as business plans and annual reports, we seek direction from the board and keep them informed of project progress. These documents can be found in our website Document Library.

It’s complex, with multiple levels of government and representatives from different municipalities, but it’s a clean mission to collectively deliver rapid transit. And together we can continue to deliver these beneficial infrastructure projects to your community and ensure all needs and issues are addressed quickly and openly.

 

engineering for better traffic operations

January 22nd, 2015

engineering for better traffic operations

You may not know this, but the vivaNext segments already open or under construction involve much more than building a cutting-edge Bus Rapid transit [BRT] system. One of the goals is to support the improvement of York Region’s transportation network, so that it works better for all travellers whether they’re going by transit, foot, bike or car. But before improvements can be made, a lot of work needs to be done to identify the constraints and how they can be fixed. This is where the complex specialty known as “traffic engineering” comes in.

You might think all traffic problems stem from too many vehicles using not enough road space. In fact, it’s much more complicated than that. Effective transportation systems [including roads] have a direct impact on our quality of life and depend on a wide range of components to work well together so that people and goods can get around. Traffic can get bogged down when key pieces are outdated or poorly designed, whether they’re related to road layout, placement of intersections, speed, traffic signal timing, turning lanes or many other components.

Traffic engineering involves the analysis, design and planning of many of those technical components. As a discipline, it studies how traffic operates and flows, how roadways are designed and controlled, and how best to plan for future roadway networks and transportation systems to support future land use. This includes coordination of the many traffic lights and the length of time of each light.

The scope of components our vivaNext traffic engineers have analyzed, modelled and designed is very broad, and takes into account York Region’s future growth over the next many years. Well beyond the design of the rapidway, we’ve looked at many issues including the site, and users, of future developments; traffic speed and flow; parking; cycling facilities; impacts from the rapidway on right- and left-turning traffic; impacts on side-streets and neighbourhoods; safety for pedestrians and cyclists; traffic signs; signalized intersection design and equipment – to name a few. And all this analysis and modelling is done in conjunction with other work focused on transit priority measures and intelligent transportation systems.

There is a huge body of science behind the specialized discipline of traffic engineering which enables us to accurately model future impacts of design alternatives, allowing us to determine which approach will help traffic move best. With new technology, traffic controllers at York Region monitor major roads on an on-going basis using traffic cameras. And from time to time, they also go back to data collected from that very low-tech approach, of simply counting cars in order to keep everyone moving along smoothly!

At the end of the day, traffic engineers are key players in developing strategies that will improve the overall transportation network, and ensure that an ever-increasing number of users on foot, on a bus, riding a bike or driving a car – are able to get around as quickly and smoothly as possible.

 

introducing the newest vivastation in Markham

January 9th, 2015

introducing the newest vivastation in Markham

Introducing the newest vivastation in Markham…[drum roll please]…Cedarland Station! On Cedarland Drive just south of Highway 7, this new vivastation boasts all the comforts and conveniences of our previous stations, in an exciting up-and-coming location. Cedarland Station is located on the doorstep of condo developments underway, and within walking distance of major employers such as IBM, CDI, Hilton Hotel and City of Markham. One unique feature of this new station is that it’s on the south side of the road, instead of down the centre. This allows for a transition to Warden, and to the existing rapidway on the north side of Enterprise Drive. When making the turn onto Cedarland, drivers should be cautious that they are turning into the correct lane, as it is unusual.

Some finishing touches will be added in the summer to the rapidway near Cedarland Station, including a final top-coat of pavement, the sidewalk on the north side of Cedarland and trees and shrubs in the new planter boxes. With this section of rapidway connecting to the existing rapidway on Enterprise Drive, Viva customers can now travel over 35% faster, all the way from Bayview Avenue in Richmond Hill to the Downtown Markham development area.

Now that rapid transit has arrived in Markham and Richmond Hill, it will help shape communities and manage growth for generations. The urban areas along Highway 7 East are now connected and everyone has attractive, walkable places and more travel choices for healthy community living.

 

happy holidays from vivaNext

December 23rd, 2014

Click here to see our holiday card - from us to you!

Click here to see our holiday card – from us to you!

We hope your plans this season include fun and relaxation, and celebrating with friends and family. We have plenty to celebrate after a productive year on all our projects.

Ringing in the New Year usually comes with a look back at the previous year, and some resolutions for the coming year. Our 2015 resolutions are all lined up in the form of goals for each project, and we’re proud to say that our 2014 accomplishments will give us the boost we need to achieve our 2015 goals.

A little rest and relaxation will help us prepare to keep up the momentum in 2015. For just a few days from December 25 to January 4, our offices will be closed.

Season’s Greetings to all and a Happy New Year – see you in 2015!