Safety in waiting

November 20th, 2017

Bus rapid transit (BRT) systems like viva use a variety of design features to make travel faster, but the primary feature is dedicated transit lanes that allow buses to bypass regular traffic. BRT systems around the world take different approaches as to where those lanes go. Some use separate lanes beside the roadway. Here in York Region, the vivaNext system uses median rapidways that run down the centre of the road.

median benefits

A major benefit of median rapidways is how they minimize conflicts with driveways and business access. However, this design requires passengers to wait for their buses in the middle of high-volume thoroughfares – such as Highway 7 West at the new Vaughan Metropolitan Centre rapidway station. Utmost consideration was given to design strategies that ensure the safety of passengers while they wait for their buses.

crash-load strength

The VMC Station’s most crucial safety protection are the white concrete barrier walls which run the length of the station on both sides, separating the waiting area from traffic lanes. With the wall’s white architectural concrete finish, curves that echo those on the station roof and tapering design that flows into the planters and ramps near the crosswalk, this wall is a key aesthetic feature of the new station. But don’t be fooled by its good looks: this wall is a brute.

It’s designed to withstand crash loads, the potential forces involved in a traffic collision. Crash-proof walls have to meet strict criteria on factors such as design, materials and construction. These specifications are set by Ontario Provincial Standards, and before we received approval to begin construction, every element of the design was scrutinized to ensure it met or exceeded those requirements.

standard scrutiny

Design standards dictate things like the height and thickness of the wall, how much rebar – steel reinforcements – is incorporated, how much it will weigh, and how the wall will be fixed to the base. Standards apply to the type of materials used for the concrete wall, the aggregate used to mix the concrete, the steel used in the rebar, even the coatings on the steel. Likewise, standards dictate the construction itself, ranging from how the concrete is cured to how edges are finished.

Although safety comes first, we made sure it looks good, too.

So now you know all the thought that went into protecting you while you wait for your yrt/viva bus, we hope you admire the design of the station, relax, and enjoy this impressive new addition to the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre.

be ready… 30 days to subway

November 17th, 2017

The countdown is on, and we can hardly wait! The first subway in York Region will arrive in just 30 days. The TTC Line 1 subway extension is a game-changer for transit in Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC], York Region, and beyond.

Changes of this magnitude are fueled by the power of collaboration and funding partnerships. Today, vivaNext participated in a media event to kick off the countdown in earnest, along with the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto and the TTC.

Read the news release

mega-connections at VMC

The TTC Line 1 extension isn’t the only connection coming your way. Everything’s changing, and that makes for better, faster transit service.

  • The Highway 7 West rapidway between Edgeley Boulevard and Jane Street, including Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station in the centre of Highway 7, will open for service.
  • SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal will begin hosting YRT/Viva soon after.

Imagine, hopping on Line 1 at VMC Station and arriving downtown in just 45 minutes. Or from the subway, connecting directly to our Highway 7 West rapidway, or walking two minutes to the SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal, where YRT/Viva routes branch out across York Region. Soon you won’t have to imagine!

Today’s event was a warm-up for the big celebration on December 17, and you’re invited to share the celebration. Check vivanext.com/VMCopening for links to detailed information.

award-winning design

In other news, our rapidway in Vaughan is already getting noticed, for the quality of the design and also for the collaboration behind the scenes that makes it all come together.

Earlier this week, we were honoured to receive an Award of Merit from the Vaughan Urban Design Awards for the first phase of our Highway 7 West rapidway. The awards celebrate excellence in architecture, urban design, landscape architecture and environmental stewardship.

The rapidway, running from Jane Street to Bowes Road, was unanimously praised by the jury as “A great example of collaboration and investment between multiple levels of government to demonstrate significance on a city-wide scale.”

The jury also called the rapidway “a catalyst to knit communities together”, noting that the project “presents public transit as a ‘cool and hip’ mode of transportation” and “makes the everyday experience of transit a beautiful one.”

We hope you agree. Riding transit can be a beautiful experience.

a modern take on the ancient dome

November 15th, 2017

Here’s a question: what do some of the most impressive structures in the world, including many of the great cathedrals of Europe and the Pantheon in Rome, have in common with our new bus rapid transit station at the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre?

The answer: they’ve all followed the same basic construction technique for building a dome, which has been around for at least 2,000 years.

Domes have traditionally been reserved for a select number of important buildings which need to be impressively open and dramatic. Another reason there aren’t a lot of domes is because they’re more difficult to build compared to standard rectangular buildings. We loved the idea of creating an open and airy space for the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre rapidway station, making it big enough for viva buses to drive right through. We also wanted it to be special, and symbolic of Vaughan’s new downtown.

Although building materials may have evolved over the past 2,000 years, the general approach for building domes hasn’t really changed. First, strong, deep foundations are constructed to take on the full weight of the dome. Then, a temporary support structure is built. Gradually the permanent exterior shape is created up around the support structure until the dome is closed at the top. Once the dome is complete and able to support itself, the temporary support structure is removed, piece by piece.

Ancient domes would have had wooden temporary support structures, with the outer dome made of stones added one at a time. Although the materials we used are modern, we followed the same classical construction technique. First we built a steel temporary structure. Over that we installed the station’s outer dome, a steel frame welded together one segment at a time.

With the outer steel structure fully installed and all the structural welding complete, we carefully removed the temporary support structure one piece at a time, which took a couple of weeks. After this process was complete, construction inside the station began.

All the weight of the station is supported by the subway structure underneath the station, and 25 metre-deep piles or caissons which extend underground to the same level as the subway.

With its glass and steel shell exterior and high-tech comfort and amenities inside, we know you’re going to love using our new station for its modern look and functionality. But you can be proud of the fact that, from an architectural standpoint, it’s joining a pretty special group of buildings that have been built to stand the test of time.

rain, rain, go away

November 13th, 2017

Our new rapidway station at Vaughan Metropolitan Centre is ready for the rain, innately designed to handle a downpour and keep those pesky puddles off the road.

Large structures like the new bus rapid transit station shed a lot of rain during storms. With the size of the station’s roof, the volume of water collecting from even light rain storms would be enough to create some pretty major puddles.

Water management has been a key design consideration for the station since day 1. Letting runoff drain freely onto the roads isn’t an option since the station is right in the middle of Highway 7. Here’s the rundown on how we’re managing runoff.

Water management strategy includes features built into the station’s design, and the design of the road and storm water management systems around the station.

Gutters run along the curved station roof between the skylight and the roof panels, designed to collect and funnel water to the ends of the station. At that point, brow gutters – shaped like eye-brows – will drain the water into downspouts on the sides of the station, which then drain safely into underground catchbasins connected to the storm water management system.

But that’s not all! Water from the middle portion of the roof, below the roof gutters, will drain off the roof onto the road. Generally at our vivastations, the road design ensures water doesn’t become puddles.  A very gradual slope away from the station to the curb lane directs the water into a series of curbside storm sewers and catch basins.

However, the VMC station is so much larger than the other stations, there’s simply too much water to direct across the road. Instead, we drain the water closer to the station.

We’ve built up the road surface so that its highest point is 1.2 metres away from the station.  Water draining off the station will be naturally directed back towards the station, running along the curb into a series of catchbasins and into the storm sewers.

We know that rain gutters and catchbasins aren’t the most glamourous features of the new station, but on a rainy day, we’ll all be glad they’re there.

a place to connect

November 11th, 2017

In Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC], there are many ways to connect – to work, shopping, to nature, and to transit. One place that was designed with connections in mind is the SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal. An aerial view of the terminal shows the many pedestrian paths leading to it, and the nine bus bays for York Region Transit buses.

But wait, there’s more. Surrounding the terminal there will be amazing things to connect to – a community centre and public library, new condo developments, retail and restaurants, TTC subway and Viva rapid transit. Pedestrians and transit customers will be able to connect to all of these, either above ground through an attractive plaza, or underground via a pedestrian path that leads to the subway concourse of VMC Station. Directly upstairs from the subway is the Viva rapidway station on Highway 7.

Near the bus bays, heated enclosures will help keep customers warm, and the laminated wood roof above will lend warmth to the design.

Why is it named SmartCentres? It’s part of an agreement with SmartCentres, who contributed to the costs of the pedestrian tunnel. Aside from SmartCentres, it’s funded in large part by York Region and the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension [TYSSE or Line 1 extension].

SmartCentres Place will begin providing full bus service in December, but the terminal will only be partially open, as final work continues into early 2018.

With connections like these, York Region’s transit will have everyone on the move.

our plants are born survivors

November 10th, 2017

City living in York Region provides lots of advantages, from all the great places to shop, eat and live, to entertainment options, and of course the increasing number of employers choosing to locate here. But one advantage country living usually has over city life is the abundance of green, natural spaces.

Fortunately, we’ve all come to understand and appreciate the value of trees and landscaping in our urban spaces. More greenery is good for our air quality, increases property values, and can lower energy costs. It makes our urban spaces feel more welcoming and human-scaled. Plus, it just looks good.

Greenery a vivaNext priority

For all those reasons, introducing more greenery and landscaping to the communities where we build our projects has always been a vivaNext priority. Plants are chosen largely for their practicality. Median and boulevard planters filled with lovely, healthy blooms and foliage look gorgeous. Median planters filled with sad, struggling plants? Not so much.

Roadside plantings face tough ride

The challenge in getting more of the former and less of the latter, is finding plants that can cope with the often-inhospitable environment associated with roadside plantings. Roadside plantings have to cope with heavy doses of wind, pollution, and winter road salt spray. We’ve made an incredible effort to give our plantings every possible advantage, from the design of the planters, to the amount and type of soil, to the actual choices of trees and plants.

Some of the plants selected for our first projects didn’t thrive as well as we hoped, so we redesigned our plant selections for the rapidways. Now we’re using an even tougher group of plants with a built-in advantage: they already grow wild in this area. Many of the new plants are those you’ll find in rural York Region, growing happily along roadsides and around old farmhouses.

Going wild at the VMC

Some, like sumacs, grasses and Kentucky Coffee trees [which isn’t really a coffee tree, but has pods with seeds inside that early settlers used to make a coffee-like drink], are native to parts of Ontario. Others, such as rugosa roses and daylilies, might have been planted many years ago by humans, but they’re so tough, they don’t need any help once they get established and are happy growing wild.

The new flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees, including those we’ve planted in Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, will add a beautiful green note to the Viva rapidways and stations. And because we’ve chosen these natural-born survivors, they should be green and blooming for years to come.

World-class transit a lure for big business (like Amazon)

November 9th, 2017

The hunt for Amazon’s second headquarters is on, and two sites in York Region – the new Vaughan Metropolitan Centre and Markham Centre – are vying for the coveted prize.

World-class transit systems could be their ticket to success in this competitive bid process. Cities and regions all over North America are competing for the golden opportunity worth a US$5 billion investment and up to 50,000 jobs.

One of the top considerations for Amazon is simply logistics. With an influx of up to 50,000 potential employees at HQ2, the question becomes: how is that going work? The RFP noted a core preference for the new site to have direct access to mass transit: rail, train, subway, bus.

“In weeks of speculation and showdowns, a lack of transit connectivity has been one of the great presumed disqualifiers [for the Amazon bid],” writes CityLab’s Laura Bliss in her article Amazon’s HQ2 Hunt is a Transit Reckoning.

Here in York Region, we’ve been busy planning a strong rapid transit system, but the plan was never just about transit connections. The rationale behind vivaNext’s bus rapid transit network has always been that the rapidways are just part of the puzzle; an investment in long-term prosperity that helps attract businesses and foster economic vitality in communities.

We’re building it, so they can come.

In the Toronto Region RFP response, maps showcase transit connections for each proposed location. For Markham Centre and Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, the picture looks good. We’re beginning to forge the kind of transit connections that count when it comes time to move the masses.

The first subway is coming to our Region later this year with the TTC Line 1 extension serving Vaughan Metropolitan Centre. Three rapidways are up and running, including one serving the tech corridor in Markham Centre and a segment on Highway 7 East in Vaughan. Combine that with yrt/viva buses and GO Transit, and we have great transit connections that are ready to serve the likes of Amazon, and other big businesses on the move.

So Amazon, if you want to come, our rapidways are ready for you! And take note, better transit systems ultimately translate into better quality of life. Employees spend less time getting where they need to be, and more time being where they want to be.

Whether at home or at work, that’s time well spent.

Read more about the Canadian bids for Amazon:

Premier backs bids for Amazon HQ

Amazon HQ2 would ‘fundamentally alter’ potential Canadian city candidates

changes are coming to Vaughan!

November 3rd, 2017

changes are coming to Vaughan!

As of December 17, there will be new ways to get around in Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC]. The TTC Line 1 extension will open, Viva will start using the brand new vivastation and rapidway on Highway 7 west of Jane, and YRT buses will begin servicing the new SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal.

How will it all connect? Check out our latest video, showing a cross-section of how subway meets bus rapid transit in the VMC.

The countdown is on and it’s an exciting time for Vaughan and the Greater Toronto Area. With so many new developments, new ways to get around and more destinations to explore, it’s a good thing it’s all connected.

Be sure to sign up for email updates, follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

trick or treat on transit

October 31st, 2017

Ghosts and ghouls large and small, Wonder Woman and Mighty Toys – on Halloween, they all take transit! And for good reason – not only does transit take you there with ease, and allow you and your little ones to stay safe on the creepiest night of the year, transit also provides spook-tacular opportunity for people watching. There’s no better place to get the full spectrum of Halloween frivolity than transit.

Now as far as we know, there are no haunted buses in York Region, but there may be haunted houses, and you can visit them by transit.

One example is the Sharon Temple in the village of Sharon, a National Historic Site with a haunted reputation. Perhaps if you listen, you may hear the sounds of a great feast being prepared, music and footsteps, as others have reported. You can visit it on transit. From the Newmarket GO Bus Terminal, you take the yrt/viva Route 50 bus.

Another reportedly ghostly haunt is Thornhill’s Heintzman House (circa 1817). Author John Robert Colombo writes in Mysteries of Ontario that it’s haunted by the angry-looking ghost of Colonel Cruikshank. But the haunting generally doesn’t interfere with weddings and events hosted at the venue. It’s served by yrt/viva Route 3, though generally not open to the public.

How about Halloween in a real haunted house? Newmarket’s Henry Harrison House, home to the Grey Goat Pub, writes on the pub blog that sudden door slamming, strange noises from the basement and seeing the outline of an old lady while in the basement are just a few of the ghostly experiences staff has reported. Located on Main Street in Newmarket, you could use the Davis Drive rapidway to connect with Viva buses on Main Street, and enjoy the “spirits” at the pub.

However you celebrate Halloween, we hope you have fun and stay safe!

your sneak peek >> three new subway stations

October 25th, 2017

your sneak peek >> three new subway stations

This Saturday, October 28, you have a chance to get a sneak peek at the three most northerly subway stations on the TTC Line 1 subway extension. Drop by Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC – pictured above], Highway 407 or Pioneer Village stations from 1 to 5pm and take a self-guided tour where you’ll learn about how the stations were built and how they’ll operate. You’ll also be able to talk to staff and others involved in the project.

VivaNext staff will be there to chat, and YRT/Viva customer service staff will be on hand to talk about route changes on the way for the VMC.

The stations open on December 17 – bring your friends and family to get a good look around, at three new subway stations in York Region! Get there by transit or by driving – shuttle buses will get you from station to station. For details about locations and how to get there, visit spadina.ttc.ca, and for information on the vivaNext projects opening December 17 in the VMC, check out the pages for the VMC rapidway station on Highway 7, and for SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal. See you at the open house!


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