Posts Tagged ‘York Region’

green light, go light

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

green light, go light

When it comes to traffic lights, there is a clear favourite: no one likes red, but everyone loves green. And those advanced green arrows are great, except that they never seem to last long enough. Seriously, traffic signals are one of those aspects of commuting that we all have strong feelings about. But what determines when a light changes from red to green, and how long that advanced green should last? Let’s try to shed some light on that…

There’s nothing random about the timing of traffic signal phases, and their design has only one goal: to move traffic and pedestrians as freely and safely as possible along our roadways. As with all aspects of civil and urban design, things are more complicated than they might seem, requiring clear priorities and tradeoffs to balance out everyone’s needs. Here are the basics.

In traffic engineering-speak, a signal phase refers to the operation for all approaches to an intersection [e.g., a red light will show for a side street at the same time as the main road has a green light]. A cycle is the entire combination of phases for an intersection [red, green, amber, advanced green etc.]. A cycle can range from 90 to 160 seconds [meaning if you miss a green light, that’s how long you could wait until the next one], although the timing depends on the intersection and the time of day.

Determining what phases are needed for the cycle, and how long each phase will last, reflects the needs of all users – including transit, pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. Some phases in the cycle length ensure that road users are not in conflict with one another [for example, drivers can’t exit a side street at the same time as drivers are going straight through on the main road]. Also, some users’ needs will be parallel within a phase – e.g., pedestrians, transit and drivers all travelling in the same direction.

Decisions about phases, and how long they last, take into account actual traffic volumes and how traffic patterns change throughout the day. Timing is designed to make the intersection work as efficiently as possible [meaning moving through the largest numbers of users], and minimize delays for all road users [although with many roads at or over capacity during rush hour, signal timing alone can’t solve congestion]. Signal priority is also provided to fire, ambulance and transit, where the signals change to provide priority right-of-way to emergency vehicles and some transit vehicles, without violating the pedestrian timings.

Timing for each phase is based on the minimum timings required by provincial standards. These include minimum timings for pedestrians, motorist and vehicle clearance [amber and red timings] based on several factors, including the width of the intersection, and traffic speed [posted and operating].

Proximity to other infrastructure also has an impact on priorities and the timing of phases. For example, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation may have jurisdictional control over the timing of lights at some intersections, depending on how close the intersection is to a provincial highway off-ramp or railway crossing.

Ultimately, any one cycle has only so many seconds, and no one wants to wait longer than they have to. So the design of traffic signals needs to balance everyone’s needs, while working out the best way to move traffic through an intersection and along a thoroughfare, and minimizing delay for all road users. York Region’s Traffic Signal Operations department continually reviews and assesses the performance of the region’s 848 signalized intersections, and adjusts signal timing to get people moving as freely as possible. Please contact traffic@york.ca if you have any traffic signal concerns.

Whether you’re crossing intersections on foot, bus, bike or car, traffic signals are there to move everyone along safely.

 

that’s entertainment

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

The towns and cities of York Region offer lots of fun, entertaining activities in the summer months. Whether you’re in the mood to catch a movie and play some games at the arcade, or you’re more drawn to live entertainment, there’s something for you!

Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts

Located in the heart of the historic downtown area, the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts [RHCPA] is a state-of-the-art performance space that seats over 600 people. Featuring a variety of performances from acclaimed, professional artists, RHCPA performances celebrate the wide range of cultures in York Region. Follow the link above for schedules and ticket information, and be sure to check out the list of free summer concerts.

Newmarket Music in the Park

Every Thursday and Sunday night throughout the summer months, the Newmarket residents gather by Fairy Lake to enjoy an evening of culture, music and fun. Music in the Park is a free event hosted by the Town of Newmarket. Featuring performances from local entertainers, it’s a convenient, low-key evening that the whole family is guaranteed to enjoy. Come on out and support your local performers – they may just be the next big star!

Vaughan Colossus

Is there any better way to spend a humid, rainy summer day than taking in a movie with your friends or family? At Vaughan’s Colossus Cineplex, located right off Highway 7, you can catch all the latest flicks with your nearest and dearest. Additionally, Colossus is decked out with an XSCAPE Entertainment Centre, so you can spend time before and after the movie winning tickets for prizes in this interactive arcade.

If you haven’t visited one of these, add it to your list this summer – maybe it’ll be your new favourite place to go. York Region has lots of entertainment, and whether it’s indoor or outdoor, live performances or movies on the big screen; it’s all just a short transit ride away.

 

- Sydney Grant, student Public Relations Coordinator

dive into summer

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

dive into summer

The towns and cities of York Region offer a wide range of indoor and outdoor athletic facilities which are open to the public throughout the summer months. Regardless of skill level, athletic prowess, or lack thereof, these destinations offer something fun and active for everyone. With easy access to our expanding Viva network, summer fun is right at your door.

Richmond Hill: The Wave Pool

York Region’s only indoor wave pool, The Wave Pool, is a destination with something to offer visitors of all ages. In addition to the central wave pool, this destination also features a twisting, 160-foot long water slide, a swirl pool and an on-deck sauna. If you’re looking for some family fun in a safe atmosphere, surf your way over to The Wave Pool.

Markham: Pan Am Centre

Built for the 2015 Pan Am games, the Pan Am Centre in Markham boasts an Olympic-sized pool with 10 lanes. A location suited for more experienced athletes, the Pan Am Centre hosts endurance lane swims throughout the week, on either a 25 metre or 50 metre course. However, if you consider yourself more of a spectator, the Pan Am Centre is home to a variety of competitions and events throughout the year.

Newmarket: Of Rock and Chalk

Located on Ontario Street, just off Davis Drive, Of Rock and Chalk is an indoor rock climbing facility in the heart of Newmarket. Decked out with over 46 different climbing routes, six different bouldering areas and a variety of other features, Of Rock and Chalk is guaranteed to be a fun time for the whole family. Additionally, Of Rock and Chalk offers a variety of courses and passes from a beginner’s course to individually booked climb time, making it an exciting challenge for people of all skill levels.

So whatever your activity while you’re out and about – chasing Pokémon, enjoying a community event or diving into your local pool – we at vivaNext are working hard on construction projects to add dedicated lanes for Viva to help you get there faster. We hope you’re enjoying this great summer!

- Sydney Grant, student Public Relations Coordinator

subway in the GTA: where & when to build

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

subway in the GTA: where & when to build

With the launch of the #YongeSubwayNow petition and campaign for full funding of the Yonge Subway Extension, there has been a lot of conversation around where subway should be built, and whether the Yonge Subway Extension or Downtown Relief Line should be built first.

At York Region Rapid Transit Corporation [vivaNext] we’ve been leading the design and engineering studies for the Yonge Subway Extension, so we have a few thoughts on these important topics.

 

considering the options

To some it might seem as if the Yonge Subway Extension is a new plan, but really it’s been in the works for many years, and it’s pretty far along. It was first included in York Region’s Official Plan over 20 years ago in 1994. The Environmental Assessment was completed and approved way back in 2009, and in 2012 the Conceptual Design Study was completed and approved by TTC and York Region.

This isn’t a blind push for a subway – we’ve looked carefully at the options. LRT and dedicated BRT lanes were considered, but due to factors such as narrow road space and high ridership, only a subway will work here.

 

building in parallel

Transit should not be a York vs. Toronto issue. Instead, the focus should be on what investments will contribute best to helping people get where they need to go conveniently and most cost-effectively. That’s why, for example, we think both the Yonge Subway Extension and the Downtown Relief Line need to be built. And we know the Province of Ontario agrees, because both projects are on Metrolinx’ list of top priority projects. In fact, a relief line that reaches all the way to Sheppard Subway would be particularly helpful to the Yonge Line, especially if a rapid transit connection can be added later to travel north from Sheppard.

Transit expansion benefits people on both sides of our municipal borders. Today, we see a significant number of travelers headed northbound in the AM period to a growing number of jobs in York Region. Cross-boundary transit reduces traffic congestion on GTA roads, and increases the pool of customers and skilled employees for Toronto businesses.

With the current state of transit in the GTA, transit projects that are as important as these shouldn’t be built consecutively. Projects like these typically take at least 10 years to design and build, so they should be built in parallel. We can’t wait for one to be complete before starting another.

A GTA transit network means expanding options and crossing borders. It means we have to move forward with as much transit as possible, in the places where it’s needed. And we can all benefit from that.

 

pick a park, any park …

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

pick a park, any park ...

The summer months are often a chaotic time of year when it comes to finding fun, convenient activities that the whole family will enjoy.  This summer, let us help you plan the perfect outing.

Summers in the towns and cities of York Region provide residents with perfect places to spend time outside. Whether it’s picnics, playgrounds, fishing, or just good old fresh air and sunshine, York Region’s parks are an outdoor oasis.

Newmarket’s Fairy Lake

Fairy Lake is a staple location for Newmarket fairs and festivals throughout the summer months. Located just south of Newmarket’s Historic Main Street, this park serves as an urban greenspace in the heart of the town. Featuring playgrounds, gazebos and easy access to the Farmer’s Market at the Newmarket Riverwalk Commons, there is something for everyone. The new Viva service drops you off right at the top of Main Street for easy access.

Vaughan’s Chancellor District Park

Located in Woodbridge, just off of Ansley Grove Road, Chancellor District Park is a go-to greenspace in the community. Outfitted with an outdoor splash pad as well as a playground, this park is an ideal place to take children of all ages to for a day of outdoor fun. On August 3, 2016, this park is hosting a Michael Jackson tribute concert as part of the City of Vaughan’s Concerts in the Park series. If you see our vivaNext booth at a Concert in the Park, be sure to drop by and chat with us!

Markham’s Milne Dam Conservation Park

Located just off of Highway 7 and Markham Road, coming in at 305 acres, Milne Dam Conservation Park is an idyllic place to hike and bike with your family. Featuring 2.3 kilometers of trails running through the forest, a beach area and picnic tables, Milne Dam Conservation Park is the perfect place to immerse yourself in on a sunny day.

Whether it’s the walk in the park after dinner or a concert in the park across town, there are pockets of nature all around the region for everyone to enjoy. So get out your bikes, your picnic blankets and Frisbees because there’s lots of summer left to enjoy and with convenient and fast Viva service ready to take you were you want to go – it couldn’t be easier! Enjoy!

- Sydney Grant, student Public Relations Coordinator

Happy Canada Day!

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Today, Canadians across the country are celebrating the 149th anniversary of confederation with a well-deserved sum-sum-summertime day off and long weekend.

At vivaNext, we’re happy and proud to be building rapid transit and creating jobs in wonderfully diverse and fast-growing York Region – the best place to live in Canada!

There’s a great selection of events to enjoy this weekend, including the public debut of the Pride of Canada Carousel. In place of the usual ponies, this incredible carousel includes 44 quintessentially Canadian characters, like a Mountie, a moose, a bumblebee and a beaver, to name a few. Check it out at the Markham Canada Day celebration, noon to 5:00 p.m., Friday July 1 at 162 Enterprise and Birchmount – Viva can drop you right at the door with fast, easy service.

Check out more local York Region Canada Day events in Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Markham, Newmarket and Aurora – and in the nation’s capital.

As you take part in these celebrations, we wish you a fun, safe long weekend enjoying all the things Canada has to offer. Make your commute more enjoyable and take transit as part of your holiday adventures this weekend.

 

Questions or comments? Comment below or email us at contactus@vivanext.com. To stay up-to-date on construction, sign up for email updates at vivanext.com/subscribe.

 

what’s in a sign?

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

What’s in a sign?

Even with the most careful planning, construction zones pretty much always result in some delays and congestion for commuters, and we know that our vivaNext rapidway projects are no exception. We are committed to doing whatever can be done to minimize the impact of construction and keep people informed.

One way of doing that is to let drivers know if there’s congestion along their route, and if so, how much of a delay they can expect. By giving real-time information, drivers can decide if they should take an alternate route.

That’s why we install variable message signs, or VMS, on the approaches to our construction zones, including along Yonge Street and on Highway 7 near the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre.

Using Bluetooth Traffic Monitoring [BTM] software, these signs show actual travel times, in real time, between specific locations. Roadside sensors collect Bluetooth data from passing cars, and the information is uploaded to a central location. The software then analyzes the data to determine current travel times, which is reflected on the signs. In addition to travel time, project managers can update other information on the signs, such as upcoming work or lane closures.

BTM is able to detect Bluetooth signals emitted from cell phones, tablets and other Bluetooth or Wi-Fi devices on-board, and convert this into accurate information, simply and inexpensively. Not all vehicles carry devices with Bluetooth turned on, but there is a high enough proportion of devices to provide effective information.

Cars emitting Bluetooth signals are randomly chosen as they pass into the defined area.  Multiple sensors placed along the route detect the unique identifier of each Bluetooth signal and track it as it travels through the area. In this way, the system measures in real time how quickly cars are moving, and reports actual travel times. The software has built-in algorithms to make sure it only tracks vehicles while ignoring Bluetooth signals emitted from pedestrians or other stray sources. The information is constantly uploaded to the VMS, telling drivers exactly what’s happening on the route ahead.

The technology to use Bluetooth data to analyze travel times has been around for some time.  But vivaNext was actually the first project in North America and possibly the world, to collect and convert this information for display on variable message signs.

What’s in a sign? We know that the signs on their own won’t reduce the disruptions caused by construction. But by providing drivers with accurate travel time information, they’ll know what to expect for their commute.

 

going where the action is

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

going where the action is

In York Region, there are over 120 bus routes travelled by Viva and YRT buses, and some are busier than others. Some of the busiest routes are on Yonge, Highway 7, Bathurst and Centre Streets, Bayview Avenue and Leslie Street. If you live or work in York Region, there’s a good chance that you travel one of these roads regularly, so it’s no surprise that other people want to go there too.

When building transit, planners have a few goals in mind: ensure most people have access to transportation; have transit where people want to get on and off; and be prepared for future growth and development.

Ensuring most people have access to transportation allows people to get where they want to go, even if they have a specific need or live in a less populated area. In York Region, Dial-a-Ride, community buses and seasonal services [like Canada’s Wonderland!] are examples of this. Community buses take people to places where there’s a special interest, like hospitals, plazas and schools.

The most popular transit routes go where people want to get on and off. People want to go where the action is, so routes are planned where shopping, services, jobs, and higher-density housing is already along the way. One example of this is the area around Bathurst and Centre Streets, where shops and amenities are walking distance to a transit terminal and multi-story condo buildings. Connections to other transit are a big draw too – so routes are planned near bus terminals, GO stations, and future subway stations.

In some cases, we’re preparing for future growth by building transit before development. Enterprise Boulevard in Markham is a planned downtown area near the Unionville GO Train Station that only seven years ago was mostly vacant fields. We opened the first segment of rapidway there in 2011, and since then condo buildings, a sports facility, shops, restaurants and entertainment have all been built, and hotels and a York University campus are on the way.

Whether development is already there or on the way, transit planning means making sure transit is easy to access, and goes where people want to go – an important element in building great communities.

 

Yonge at heart

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

Yonge at heart

At 220 years old, Yonge Street is one of the GTA’s oldest roads, and before it was a road it was likely a trail. Since the beginning, it’s been improved upon and extended. Transit has always been a component of the street, starting with horse-drawn stagecoaches, then streetcars, trains and buses. It’s always been a local road that people walk and bike along, as well as a commuting road for longer distances.

Today, Yonge Street is changing again. We’re building dedicated lanes for transit – rapidways – in Richmond Hill from Highway 7 to 19th/Gamble and in Newmarket from Savage Road/Sawmill Valley Drive to Davis Drive. It’s part of a big plan for a seamless transit system in York Region and the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. The Yonge Street rapidway will connect to the Highway 7 rapidways leading to Markham and Vaughan, and to the future Spadina Subway Extension and Yonge Subway Extension.

Once complete, Viva service along Yonge will have faster and more reliable travel times, and traffic congestion will be reduced. Modern transit will be on the doorsteps of people living and working along Yonge Street, and the tree-lined sidewalks and bike lanes will make Yonge an even more attractive, vibrant place to walk, shop and ride.  With people at all stages of life using this important street, transit continues to play a key role.

There is a lot of work happening in 2016, and we’re keeping everyone informed. You can find facts and maps on the project page on our website, and we’ll be at some local community events this summer. We’re also on Twitter and Facebook, and we have some project videos on YouTube. If you would like to contact us directly, our Community Liaisons are available to talk. If you sign up for email updates, we’ll let you know when work is happening and you’ll receive announcements, project newsletters, and an invitation to an open house we’ll be hosting later this year.

 

navigating the rapidways

Friday, June 10th, 2016

click here to see the video -- rapidway intersections: safe journeys

Safety on the rapidway is everyone’s responsibility, and at vivaNext, we take it seriously. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look at an important topic in a light hearted way. You’ll need to watch our latest safety video to fully understand what we mean, but one thing is certain: you’ll be able to relate to one of our four travellers as they navigate our roads with Viva rapidways.

Motorist Molly, for example, needs to get to her mid-block destination, but gets stuck waiting for a left turn signal. What could be causing the problem?

Cyclist Cedric also has a turning concern while on the move. When travelling on dedicated bike lanes, making a left turn can be tricky business. Must he merge into dangerous traffic to get to the left turn traffic lane? Or is there an easier way?

Pedestrian Percy and his grandfather need to be fully aware of their surroundings when crossing the street, whether it’s to the vivastation in the centre lanes, or continuing to the other side.

However you get around, it’s important to understand what everyone else is doing to make sure your journey is a safe one. Watch the video, get to know the new surroundings, and take care when you’re travelling. Davis Drive and Highway 7 now have new ways to navigate, and there’s more to come!