Posts Tagged ‘York Region’

making our stations accessible for everyone

Friday, August 29th, 2014

making our stations accessible for everyone

The vivaNext commitment is to ensure everyone feels equally welcome on vivastation platforms and is able to board the Viva vehicles, whether they have mobility or other physical limitations, or are pushing a baby stroller, or for any other reasons feel uncomfortable accessing transit service. Over this holiday long weekend, we hope you get out and about using transit and take advantage of the system.

In addition to meeting all the accessibility requirements set out in Provincial and local regulatory frameworks, we’ve gone to great lengths to design the new platforms so all users have a comfortable and pleasant customer experience – and we obtained advice and input from the CNIB and York Region’s Accessibility Committee during the design process.

Here’s what we’ve built into the new stations to ensure all users feel safe and comfortable:

    • The pedestrian ramps to the platform have a shallow incline and handrails on either side, and there are no changes of grade or tripping hazards anywhere on the platform.   For people with impaired vision, the platform edge is clearly indicated through the use of domed tactile tiles in a contrasting colour. At the primary bus stop location there are directional tiles which provide directional grooves going toward the bus, which will be helpful for people using canes for guidance.
    • People using wheelchairs will have no difficulties getting in and out of the heated enclosures, which provide wheelchair-turning radius inside, and have doors at either end to simplify access. And the enclosures have barrier-free doors which have been designed to meet the highest accessibility standards including their button placement and operations such as door opening speed and how the door responds if it contacts an object. Even in construction zones, we try to maintain one accessible sidewalk at all times.
    • We’ve included benches inside the enclosure and outside, complete with grab bars for people who appreciate a little help getting up and down. And for anyone who dreads the chilly experience of sitting on a metal bench in a Canadian winter, we’ve planned for that too. The benches are constructed from durable Brazilian Ipe wood that will make sitting a little warmer in the cold weather; which is right around the corner!
    • The electronic ITS elements are all designed to ensure using the equipment is equally successful for all our customers. All the fare equipment is designed to be functional for people at wheelchair height or with other physical limitations, with angled screens, clear, bright graphics and large push-buttons. The VMS will provide clearly visible information about buses, routes and the time. We extensively researched and analyzed our PA system to make sure it’s clearly audible, and provides full coverage along the platform and in the enclosures. The notice holders for system updates are posted at the right height so they’re easily read whether you’re walking or in a wheelchair. And we’ve installed large map cases at each platform, illuminated to make it easy for everyone to navigate their route.

    Overall, our objective has been to provide a comfortable, safe and welcoming experience for all our transit riders with no barriers or restrictions. With back to school on everyone’s minds, safety and accessibility make a world of difference. Enjoy your holiday weekend!

     

    making your trip more comfortable across the YRT\Viva system

    Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

    making your trip more comfortable across the YRT\Viva system

    Many transit riders across York Region are YRT riders as well as Viva riders, and even though we’re building rapidways for Viva, YRT comfort is just as important.

    YRT is currently carrying out upgrades to all their curbside stops across the YRT system to add new amenities and freshen up existing ones. If you’ve been to the YRT stop at 16th Avenue and Warden you’ll already have seen the prototype that’s going to be installed everywhere.

    Each YRT stop will get a modern new shelter, which will provide superior protection from the elements. And for more comfort, each station will have new benches and garbage containers. More and more people are choosing to commute by bike but if biking part-way and then jumping on YRT\Viva suits you better, YRT is installing bike racks at each stop so you can leave your bike with confidence until your return.

    YRT is going to be working their way through the entire system across the Region to upgrade all the YRT stops, with the Highway 7 rapidway sections being the first to change over to the new curb-side YRT amenities this summer. With the rapidways on the way and YRT shelters being refreshed, York Region will have a refurbished look and feel that highlights its commitment to serving residents.

    These upgrades will bring a new level of comfort to YRT riders, and show the commitment YRT\Viva has to providing all its riders with a great customer experience, no matter what route they’re taking. We encourage you to come visit the area!

    Remember, where rapidways are in service, you now board Viva from the centre median, but continue to get on YRT at the curb-side shelters.

     

     

    using colour and shape to create welcoming pedestrian spaces

    Friday, August 22nd, 2014

    using colour and shape to create welcoming pedestrian spaces

    If you’ve walked along the new rapidway on Highway 7, you’ll have seen the vivaNext pavers we’ve installed on the boulevards. We know from the feedback we’ve received that people love the new look.

    Most sidewalks in York Region, like pretty much everywhere else, are made of concrete, and the most important consideration is functionality: they need to be safe, accessible, durable and easy to maintain. But beyond those goals, we also want our new boulevards – which are wider than the Region’s regular sidewalks – to reinforce the “complete street” concept – the guiding philosophy for our vivaNext streetscape design. With all the development coming to the Region’s centres and corridors, in the future there will be more pedestrians, whether they live, work, or commute along our rapidway routes. So we’ve made sure that our boulevard design is going to be visually appealing as well as functional.

    The boulevard is made up of the pedestrian zone and the furnishing zone. The pedestrian zone is typically a 2m-wide sidewalk which is fully paved with light-toned coloured pavers near intersections, and paved with concrete in the mid-block areas. The sidewalk is a continuous system even across driveways to alert motorists that pedestrians have priority.

    The furnishing zone is located next to the pedestrian zone. The furnishing zone is an area where pedestrian amenities and planters are located. It is paved in light coloured unit pavers which reinforce the identity of the vivaNext system.

    We’re using a combination of coloured pavers which not only look great but also add to wayfinding for pedestrians. The main field pavers are a light-coloured cool gray with contrasting coloured accent bands, which will increase in frequency as pedestrians approach the main intersections. The east-west accent bands are a red; the north-south accent bands are a dark charcoal gray.

    Immediately adjacent to the roadway and running along beside the pedestrian zone is a 610mm-wide “transition zone,” which provides an important comfort buffer from bicycle and vehicular traffic. In the winter months, it also provides an area for snow storage and protects the plantings nearby from salt spray. This zone will be paved in special “eco-pavers,” which allow water to seep through to the storm sewer system.

    A charcoal gray coloured textured warning strip will alert visually impaired pedestrians that they are approaching an intersection or driveway. At midblock where the pedestrian zone is paved in concrete, the warning strip will be grooved concrete. Both approaches will provide a tactile clue for visually impaired pedestrians of potential conflicts.

    We’ve given special attention to the boulevards near intersections to ensure they reinforce pedestrian priority and add to placemaking. These areas have been designed to function as urban plazas with unit paving and accent pavers. Soft landscaping will define the corners of the intersections and function as gateways to the adjacent areas.

     

    ITS – balancing the needs of all travellers

    Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

    Gridlock is an increasing problem everywhere across the GTHA and most other large cities.  But what can be done about it?  VivaNext is one part of the solution.  With the new vivaNext system comes improved ITS – which isn’t what you think…

    Some people may think ITS is connected to “Information Technology”, but in the vivaNext world ITS stands for “Intelligent Transportation Systems”. ITS is an international transportation-engineering discipline that is trying to improve the efficiency of travel, whether it involves the travelling public, commercial vehicles, or transit.  The basic assumptions behind ITS are that delays cost money, and more efficient travel saves money. This new technology is an absolutely critical component of the vivaNext program, although with low-visibility.

    ITS is used to ensure that traffic corridors are designed as one coordinated system – the physical roadway’s design, lane markings and signs, traffic signal design and timing, and the brains that connect all these pieces.  In a transit project, ITS has an additional layer which is concerned with how the transit system is integrated into that larger system.

    As high-tech as each of these components are, none can be effective unless it can communicate with the others.  Each one also needs to be connected to the overall transit system which keeps track of the schedule for each bus, and which determines when the traffic signal phasing requires a temporary adjustment to let a delayed bus get back on schedule by holding a light.

    The connection is provided through a fibre optics communications network that links all of the intersection and every vivastation to YRT’s transit operations and York Region’s traffic operations.

    This system is fully automated, with approaching vehicles alerting intersections that they are arriving, and each intersection sharing that information with the central traffic control system, which in turn compares that information with the transit schedule.  The system is continuously adjusted and fine-tuned to ensure the buses stay on schedule, while keeping the roads and intersections working well for everyone.

    To enhance passenger safety, each station is equipped with cameras to monitor the platforms, a public address system to provide announcements and an emergency call box for personal safety.  All of these systems operate reliably and seamlessly over the new fibre optic communications system.

    The future Highway 7 will be significantly more urbanized, with more people living and working along the corridor.  That means there will be more transit riders, pedestrians and cyclists whose travel requirements need to be considered, in addition to car and truck traffic.  Helping transit vehicles stay on schedule is also a priority, since rapid transit can’t be rapid if it’s stuck in traffic.

    These ITS strategies help balance everyone’s needs, to get everyone there as fast as possible!  It truly is a balancing act!

     

    countdown to handover

    Monday, August 11th, 2014

    countdown to handover

    Taking advantage of every sunny day to advance the work on the Highway 7 rapidway in Markham, our teams are working hard to finish all sorts of little details. With much of the construction complete, we’re now focused on the final stages of construction and testing, and then getting ready for handover, when the system is officially turned over to York Region and YRT, the system owners and operators.

    Handover means just what it says – it’s the moment in time when the transit system is handed over to the owner for care and custody. From that time forward, the system – which until then has been the responsibility of the Contractor/Design Builder – becomes the private property of the owner.

    Because the formal handover is such a significant development, especially on a major infrastructure project like the vivaNext rapidway, it’s important to ensure everything is in perfect working order. The various steps involved in commissioning, which is the testing period that takes place before handover, vary depending on what is being handed over. For example, with the fare equipment, we make sure the ticket vending machine [TVM] prints properly. With the traffic signals, once they’re programmed the permanent signals are turned on and each phase is 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; that the bases are level, and the power connections are all correct. The teams go out at night to actually turn on the lights, to ensure all the lamps come on and nothing is flickering. Lighting is an important safety feature for both pedestrians and vehicles.

    Every single detail 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.

    Once handover takes place, legal ownership and responsibility is transferred to the owner, and the Contractor/Design Builder’s warranty period begins, just the way it happens when a homebuyer takes possession of a new house.

    Handover in this case means some elements of the rapidway, like the rapidway, stations, boulevards and planters, are transferred to the Region. Others, like the sidewalks and streetlights are transferred to the local municipality to maintain.

    Ultimately, vivaNext wants to provide a reliable, efficient rapid transit system and beautiful streetscape. Because, at the end of the day, the ultimate owners are the public of York Region and with every new piece of rapidway delivered, it makes it a better system that we all can be proud of.

    testing, testing, testing

    Friday, August 8th, 2014

    testing, testing, testing

    As you will know from driving along Highway 7 East from Highway 404 to Warden, our rapidway construction is really coming along, and this summer another segment will be going into operation. We still have a bit more work ahead of us before service operation can begin, including some work which will be obvious, such as final paving, striping and landscaping. But in addition to that, we’re just getting underway on a less-obvious but highly important part of the job, which is testing – to ensure that all parts of the rapidway project are ready for active service.

    This stage – known in the construction world as commissioning – is critically important and planning for commissioning the new section of Highway 7 East rapidway has already been in progress.

    So what does commissioning involve, and how do we do it?

    First of all, the technical definition of commissioning is: the process of assuring that all systems and components of a system are designed, installed and tested according to the operational requirements that have been established.

    In the case of vivaNext, the most visible components of the project include the new roadways, passenger stations and amenities, and streetscape elements such as lighting, sidewalks and landscaping. Ongoing inspections are being done as construction progresses to ensure that these are being built to certain specifications, before they are handed over for use by Viva. Commissioning is a detailed focus on the key systems and components that together make up the overall network.

    These components include the fare collection equipment; the station information systems such as the variable message signs, clocks and Public Address systems; passenger security elements such as closed circuit TV systems and emergency call buttons; and the traffic signals at intersections. It also includes the sophisticated Transit Vehicle Detection system, which will provide information to the traffic signals when rapid transit vehicles are approaching intersections, as well as the overall communications system and fibre optic network that links all of these components.

    Testing starts at the factory, where the fabricator verifies that the equipment works as it was intended to, and then each component is tested again once it’s installed. Once all the components are installed and each one is confirmed to be working as designed, a series of additional tests are carried out to confirm that the entire system is integrated properly and working together. Don’t forget we have to connect up to the section already open and make sure everything continues to run smoothly.

    The final step involves testing the reliability and function of the extended system, including simulating actual operation using buses and staff acting as passengers. This gives the people who will be involved in the future operation, maintenance and service of the rapidway an opportunity to become familiar with the new section.

    So you can see that there’s still a lot of work behind the scenes to get to the day we’re all looking forward to – when the Viva bus extends its journey the length of the new rapidway from Bayview Avenue to South Town Centre Boulevard in late August.

    turning on the lights

    Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

    turning on the lights

    Street lights are one of those infrastructure elements that the public may not give a lot of thought to, but in truth their design contributes significantly to the overall streetscape. And because the vivaNext project is being used to transform Highway 7 East from a highway to an urban corridor, all the design components, including the street lights, have been given a lot of thought. But before design considerations can be focused on, safety is the first priority to be achieved with street lighting. VivaNext works with York Region, the local Municipality and the utility companies to develop lighting designs, coordinate and install the lights. Here’s an overview of the role lighting plays in the vivaNext vision, and the street lighting elements you will see installed on all the rapidway corridors.

    Designing street lighting, like all the major elements in the vivaNext project, focuses on achieving a combination of practical and design objectives. Lighting is first and foremost a public safety consideration. There are strict national and local standards on how street lighting is designed, including how much lighting is required for different conditions. For example, different measures are used to determine the lighting levels for roadways compared to intersections and sidewalks. Once the levels are known, lighting designers develop a design, which includes variables such as pole height, spacing and “lux,” which is the amount of light to be provided by the fixture.

    Once the lighting design is done, streetscape design objectives can come into play in order to marry the technical requirements with the architectural priorities needed to achieve the desired streetscape “look.” In the case of vivaNext, the streetscape objectives are for a modern, stylish and uncluttered look that will contribute to the corridors feeling like urban destinations, and make them distinctive from other Regional roadways.

    To achieve all these safety requirements and design objectives, we have selected a special street light pole and luminaire [the light head or fixture], and arm that holds the luminaire, to be used along the Highway 7 rapidway segments. The poles will be a little higher than the ones they’ve replaced [9.9 metres high versus 8.0 metres], and they’re made of metal with a dark grey powder-coat finish for long-wear and less maintenance. Unlike most poles which are octagonal shaped and tapered to the top, these are round and cylindrical for a sleeker, more modern look. And the lighting head or luminaire on top was chosen to complement the sleek, modern look of our canopies.

    The street lights also have a photo sensor to automatically turn on and off when it’s dark. And the bulbs – which are little larger than the light bulbs you have in your home – only need to be replaced every 4 years.

    So next time you’re sitting at a stop light or at a bus stop and you’re looking at the beautiful new streetscape, you’ll know more about all the decisions that were needed to turn on the lights! Enjoy!!

    bringing the vivaNext long-term plan for the future to life

    Monday, August 4th, 2014

    video - Highway 7 East: summer update 2014

    With crews working on the finishing touches on the eastern half of the Highway 7 rapidway, we’re getting closer to the completion of this rapid transit corridor. As much as we’re looking forward to celebrating this milestone, it’s only one [very exciting] step in a long path that started years ago.

    There’s a lot of media coverage these days, of transit needs all across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area [GTHA], and we’re proud that York Region is actively working to bring rapid transit to our region. In 2002, the Region produced the York Region Transportation Master Plan and the follow-up Rapid Transit Plan, committing the Region to a blueprint of multiple transportation initiatives to be built over the next 30 years.

    With approval to the Rapid Transit Plan, we got to work and in 2005 the Viva team launched “QuickStart,” the first phase of Viva service. Viva offered enhanced features that made transit more comfortable and convenient, and put the customer first. With ridership levels increasing steadily, Viva changed the way people in York Region thought of transit and there was appreciation for the higher level of services with enhanced features and frequencies.

    But while our new Viva service was a major success and an important first step in encouraging people to try transit, designing the vivaNext rapid transit system was the Region’s long-term vision. Ontario municipalities are mandated to plan sustainable, more intensive land-use as part of the provincial government policy, and rapid transit is a key component in achieving that goal. Anticipating this, the Transportation Master Plan directed that future growth in York Region would be concentrated in new downtowns in Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill and Vaughan. By building more intensively in these areas, there would be less pressure for growth in existing neighbourhoods.

    These urban centres would be connected by transportation “corridors,” making it easier for people to get around the region and providing transportation options, such as regular transit service. The vivaNext rapidways are being built along the corridors, providing these connections across York Region and into the rest of the GTHA.

    Much of the new development being built around vivastations is compact and mixed-use, providing housing, employment, retail, dining, services and recreation, all within walking distance of transit. Developments include more welcoming public spaces, attractive landscaping, and other amenities that contribute to the centres becoming more dynamic destinations.

    The plan is well and truly underway, and rapidways are being built on Highway 7 in both the east and west, as well as in Newmarket. The Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension is under construction, and the designs for rapidways on Yonge Street are being finalized. Great new developments are popping up all over the new urban centres across the Region.

    So when the next segment of rapidway on Highway 7 East starts service this summer, we can all celebrate the implementation of the first phase of our transportation and growth management blueprint, not to mention the end of construction! Check out the new video highlighting the Highway 7 East segment.

    check out the Keith Bridge progress

    Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

    video - Davis Drive: Keith Bridge progress

    It’s an exciting time for Newmarket as significant components of the Davis Drive rapidway project are beginning to take shape. Along with road widening and paving, construction of the first vivastation is underway at Parkside/Longford and Davis. As part of the vivaNext rapidway project on Davis Drive, the Keith Bridge is being completely reconstructed. Construction of the north side of the bridge is coming along and recently, the new bridge deck was poured with concrete. We’re excited to have captured part of the transformation!

    The deck pour was originally scheduled to be a lengthy 16 hour operation, but to speed up the process our diligent crews brought in additional machines and completed the job in 8 hours – half the time. The pour was completed overnight, with crews working quickly and efficiently to minimize disruption to residents. Over 70 truckloads of concrete were pumped steadily into the form work of the bridge [similar to a mold]. Using what’s called a screed machine, the concrete was leveled out and smoothed to create a flat surface. Because the screed machine didn’t reach the outer edges of the bridge, workers expertly finished off the edges with hand trowels. Finally burlap and tarps were used to cover the poured concrete as part of the curing process. They were removed once the concrete set.

    The bridge is on track to be completed by late 2014, and when finished it will include architectural features such as replica period light fixtures and poles, and decorative concrete railings that reflect Newmarket’s heritage. Check out the bridge pour video for yourself – after all, it’s not every day over 70 truckloads of concrete are poured in one continuous operation. Watch for more big moves as the transformation continues to unfold on Davis Drive!

     

    come say hello at the Newmarket Jazz Festival

    Thursday, July 31st, 2014

    come say hello at the Newmarket Jazz Festival

    Another long weekend is upon us and there’s no better way to spend it than with family and friends. If you’re still looking for last minute weekend plans, look no further than the 2014 Newmarket Jazz Festival!

    From Friday, August 1st to Monday, August 4th enjoy the sweet sounds of jazz at Riverwalk Commons, Newmarket’s Heritage Main Street & Fairy Lake [Map]. The Newmarket Jazz Festival proudly supports Herbert Carnegie’s Future Aces Organization – opening doors for creative youth in our Region.

    For $5 per day [kids under 12 are free], experience live musical entertainment, various art performers, fabulous foods, shopping, vendor exhibits, a creative kids zone and much more. With free shuttle buses running Saturday through Monday every 20 minutes from 404/Leslie and the Upper Canada Mall, getting to and from the event will be hassle free. For ticket information, daily schedules and details on featured entertainers, visit the festival’s main website.

    On August 2, 3 and 4 the vivaNext team will be on site at the festival to provide you with updates on all of our rapidway projects. The summer is our busiest season so we have lots to talk about. Stop by our booth to say hello, ask questions and try your luck on a summer scratch n’ win card – we’ve already had one winner so you could be next! Check out our summer contest page to find out about other ways to win.

    On behalf of the vivaNext team we wish you all a happy and safe long weekend!