Archive for the ‘General’ Category

great transit knows no borders

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

The vivaNext mandate is to build a strong bus rapid transit network in York Region, but our responsibility doesn’t end at our Region’s borders. We’re forging transit connections that help people get wherever they want to go, in our Region and beyond. That’s why we partner with organizations like Metrolinx, and engage in big-picture thinking about how people use transit and what customers want. We don’t live our lives constrained by regional borders, why should our transit systems?

crossing borders

A key feature of the Metrolinx Draft 2041 Regional Transportation Plan for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area [GTHA] is that it calls for historic levels of transit investment to deliver more – and more frequent – transit service across the region that crosses regional borders more simply and efficiently. Another key strategy is optimizing the system, so we make the most of what we have.

getting ready to meet RER

For example, over the next 10 years, the Metrolinx Regional Express Rail program plans to transform the GO rail network – the backbone of regional rapid transit in the GTHA – providing two-way all day service north-south, east and west. This doesn’t happen in isolation. We’re preparing to offer integrated services with YRT/Viva networks, to serve passengers riding the trains.

one fare system

We’re not there yet, but that’s the direction we’re headed. From a passenger perspective, a transit system with one simplified fare system that transcends regional boundaries across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area could make a lot of sense. We’re on our way with the PRESTO card, which you can use to pay for transit at 11 different transit agencies in the GTHA. As digital apps improve and new technology comes on board, we look forward to what comes next.

TTC subway, now running in York Region

The regional transit system took a giant leap forward with the first TTC subway to cross regional borders, connecting with the Viva bus rapid transit network. Now we’re seeing what one subway [and bus rapid transit] connection has done for Vaughan, with all the ground-breaking residential, office and entertainment development at the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre. The next top priority transit project for York Region is the Yonge Subway Extension, which will elevate regional subway connections to an entirely new level.

These are just some of the ways we’re involved in strengthening regional transit connections, a task that comes with challenges and opportunities.

To understand more about the challenges in our region and beyond, the Ryerson City Building Institute hosted Breaking Transit Governance Gridlock, an all-star panel on regional transit governance. Read their blog about the event.

StatsCan commuting data highlights need for transit investment

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

The latest Statistics Canada census numbers on commuting confirm what many of us already know, experiencing it firsthand as we head to work each day. The commute is only getting busier. There are more commuters in Canada than ever, 15.9 million, up 30% from 1996. Not only that, but the journey is taking longer. The average commute now lasts 26.2 minutes, up from 25.4 minutes in 2011.

room to grow

These long-term trends shine a spotlight on why continued investment in bus rapid transit and subway projects is so important. We know growth will continue, and we should do our best to be ready. Here in York Region, we’re expected to have 300,000 more jobs and 590,000 more residents by 2041. Imagine the toll that could take on our already busy roads.

transit commuting on the rise

Over 20 years, transit commuting in Canada increased at a higher rate than driving to work – up 60% compared to a 28% increase. However, before people can ride transit, someone has to build it.

While StatsCan found transit commutes were taking longer as of 2016, the beauty of our rapidway system is that commutes generally won’t get longer. As traffic increases with our Region’s growing population, the buses can bypass congestion in the dedicated rapidway lanes and continue to provide consistent travel times.

the suburban work shift

The Toronto CMA alone, which includes York Region, added 191,450 more commuters over 20 years. As of 2016, a greater proportion of these commuters were working in the municipalities surrounding the City of Toronto. Statistics Canada says this indicates a slow shift of workplace locations from Toronto to outlying communities. Markham with its booming tech sector, and Vaughan with its new developments, are prime examples

With the suburbs attracting more businesses and jobs, investing in transit infrastructure now is the ticket to keeping our economies moving well into the future.

 

amazing team, extraordinary results

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

What a week it has been! The launch of the TTC Line 1 subway extension with the Highway 7 West rapidway and vivastation on Sunday in Vaughan is one of those lifetime moments. We’re going to remember this day for the rest of our lives. This is the day everything became a little closer, and a lot faster for York Region and the City of Vaughan.

unwavering dedication

For everyone involved, including us at York Region Rapid Transit Corporation, it was an exhilarating and emotional weekend, the culmination of years of incredible challenges and unwavering dedication, everything we’ve been working toward for a very long time! Many of us shouted and cheered as the first train pulled into the new subway station.

Then, seeing that Viva bus roll down the red asphalt rapidway into the open, airy Vaughan Metropolitan Centre vivastation and pick up actual passengers who came up the stairs from the subway – well, it’s hard to describe the feeling, except to say that more than a few grew a little misty-eyed! So many people came out to mark this milestone day for transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, we know how much these new transit connections matter and we thank you for your patience during the long construction period.

#AnEngineerWasHere

Kudos goes out to the engineers, planners and project team, whose tireless drive moved the VMC station and rapidway project forward every step of the way: from the environmental assessments to the design to breaking ground, from utility relocations to storm sewer work and road widening. Along with the many contractors, they pushed though good and bad weather, scalding heat, freezing cold and everything in between. They worked through paving and bridge reconstructions, to timelines off schedule and on again, to the construction of our vivastations and our landmark Vaughan Metropolitan Centre vivastation. Experts from many agencies, cities and private companies all came together to make this day happen.

Now we have incredible, tangible results with the first subway-BRT connection, a legacy that will keep our Region moving for years to come. Just goes to prove anything is possible with extraordinary teamwork, unwavering dedication and an eye to the future. Again, thank you for supporting this project and we hope you get out and try the new system!

proof of performance

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

The days are counting down and the excitement is growing. The launch of our extraordinary new vivastation at Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, along with the ground-breaking TTC Line 1 subway extension and our rapidway, is only four days away. Now we have one last crucial task to complete before our gorgeous new station joins the transit mega-hub at the VMC: we need to carry out commissioning.

testing, one, two, three

Commissioning of the new bus rapid transit station is similar to the process we do for all our new stations, rapidways and facilities. Very simply, it means confirming everything we installed, from the heaters and automatic doors in the passenger enclosures, to the cameras, speakers and variable message signs [VMS] on the platforms, works the way it’s supposed to.

Before their work is done, our builders have to test every single device and piece of equipment to demonstrate they met all their obligations. The station has complex equipment for fares and security, and all the general building components like lights, plumbing, and electrical connections. Systems connect to the central York Region control room, enabling them to see the platforms, hear the speakers, run messages on the VMS and communicate through emergency call buttons. During commissioning, every light switch, outlet and connection is tested. Our builder also works with the new station owners, YRT/Viva, to help them assume operation.

smart systems

The new station is part of a highly sophisticated system which includes the broader rapidway network and its whole range of intelligent transportation system [ITS] features. ITS is really the reason Viva is able to operate as a rapid transit service, keeping our system running on time with supervision from YRT/Viva’s central control room.

trial run

A critical part of commissioning is testing the newly finished components in the new VMC station and the surrounding rapidway, to make sure they’re all connected properly to the control room and the rest of the system. Testing for full integration requires that we run buses through the new rapidway for a day. During that process, we’ll make sure that all the traffic-related components are communicating properly to the buses and to the general system, and ensure the traffic signal timing is set for optimal travel times.

This station has one more layer of complexity beyond the other stations we’ve built, because of its connections to the TTC. We need to check every interface with the TTC system, which includes electrical connections running between our station and their panels below.

Commissioning is the final step, and you can see why it’s so important to do it carefully and methodically. Because of that complexity, some work will continue on the station in 2018. But once it’s finished, get ready to celebrate and enjoy faster transit with us!

Transit gets epic in Vaughan this Sunday

Monday, December 11th, 2017

Get ready for the game-changer. Transit is about to get epic at the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC], and you’re invited. On Sunday, December 17, this public launch event is set to change the face of transit forever in York Region.

The public opening of the TTC Line 1 Subway Extension will make history, as the first subway ever in York Region brings transit customers up to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre.

Today was another great day for integrated transit connections in the York Region and the GTHA – as we celebrated the official opening of the newest bus rapid transit [BRT] rapidway segment and Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] Station on Highway 7 West. This new vivastation will be fully connected to the new VMC subway station.

Bus rapid transit meets subway for the first time!

you’ll be moved!

The new rapidway section runs west of Jane Street to Edgeley Boulevard, with dedicated centre lanes that will whisk riders to the VMC with faster and more consistent travel times. Including the previously completed section, the rapidway will run the full 3.6 kilometres from Bowes Road to Edgeley, the bus-only lanes clearly marked for drivers with red asphalt.

Coming in 2018, SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal will complete the transit powerhouse at VMC, as YRT buses begin providing services from this stunning new bus terminal.

an extraordinary station

Along with the rapidway comes an extraordinary vivastation for a new downtown destination – the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre rapidway station. The design supersized our traditional vivastation arched glass canopies, inspired by historic and modern European transportation architecture. The open, airy, domed glass canopy shelters the road and station.

the future is now

It’s only 43 minutes via subway to downtown from the VMC, but there’s no need to go anywhere. If you’re at Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, you’ve already arrived!

Welcome to the brilliant future of transit-oriented development, right here, right now in York Region. The VMC shows what it’s all been about: rapid transit connections that fuel livable, walkable, desirable communities, spur jobs and economic growth, creating places where we all want to live, work and play.

 

the concrete choice

Monday, December 4th, 2017

If you’ve ever renovated your home, you know about the endless options for flooring: tile, wood, carpet, stone. Once you select your material, you have to make more choices about colour, finish, how it should be arranged, even the kind and colour of grout. So many decisions! Of course, as with all design questions, your choices are shaped first and foremost by the space and its function: wet or dry? Formal or casual? How much wear will it get?

the floor dilemma

Our design teams faced similar quandaries when working out the details for the rapidway platform floor of the new Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station [Viva bus rapid transit].

All of our other open air vivastations have tiled platform floors, so the obvious choice would be to use that in the new VMC Station. But this station faced an additional level of complexity, being built above the subway extension.

The top of the subway station extends to just under the vivastation foundation, providing limited depth to work with. Installing the tiles with concrete underneath as required would use up space needed for essential power and communications cables. A concrete floor became the ideal alternative.

durable by nature

Concrete flooring for the platform works better in the space we have, and the durability means less maintenance is required, saving money down the road. The VMC Station floor will be getting a lot of use in a relatively small space. We know concrete will perform.

But, we also want great aesthetics. Fortunately, concrete is also versatile.

Outside the station along the sidewalks of Highway 7 are paver stones laid in a distinctive pattern. Inside the station, we’re re-creating that look with concrete. First, we built the concrete molds to match the sidewalk, then poured each section with matching colours of concrete.

functions like concrete, looks like tile

Because the platform floor continues beyond the shelter of the vivastation canopy, we needed to ensure it’s not slippery. Before the concrete set, every concrete slab was given a hand-applied swirl finish to provide a measure of slip-resistance. We have also done decorative work on each section to create the appearance of tile.

Just like you’d want for your own home, the final result will meet design goals in every way: strong, durable, easy-to-maintain, and functional. And nice to look at, too.

 

home, safe, home in York Region

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

If you want to live in a safe place, come to York Region. York Region is one of the safer places in Canada to call home, according to Maclean’s magazine list of Canada’s most dangerous places to live.

low crime rates

The Region is well down the list at #201, making it the 30th safest area to live in.

The rankings come from a crime severity index, calculated by the type and frequency of crime: violence, drugs, theft/property and youth crime. York Region falls below the national average on every front, often far below.

See the rankings

strong communities by design

Low crime is just one of the many reasons our region is a great place to live, along with the Region’s thriving economy, impressive job growth and strong sense of community. In the future, we hope our Region will also be known for the strength of its rapid transit network.

At vivaNext, we’re fortifying the future of our communities with rapidways. Having a transit network in place is the ticket for transit-oriented development — smart growth designed with the new urbanism in mind. The vision is one of compact, walkable communities served by transit, where people want to live.

We know we need to be ready for our Region’s future population – we’re expected to reach 1.79 million residents by 2041, up from today’s 1.2 million. But we also want to preserve the essence of our communities that made them desirable in the first place.

streets for everyone

VivaNext rapidways come with streets for everyone: pedestrians, cyclists, drivers and transit riders. Attractive streetscapes and landscaping enhance the allure. The rapid transit projects foster mixed-use land development, increasing population density while reducing urban sprawl. These are the kind of communities that go the distance, designed to be strong, caring and safe for the long-haul.

 

a vent shaft becomes a thing of beauty

Monday, November 27th, 2017

Building transit infrastructure comes with some mandatory requirements, and not all of them are pretty, at least not to start. Take a vent shaft, an absolute necessity for the subway to vent air and for fire safety. One of these vent shafts had to be located right in the middle of our new SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal.

design becomes experience

Who says vent shafts have to be ugly? At vivaNext, we know that the design of a place becomes the experience. SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal is a new breed of bus terminal – beautiful, airy and open, not at all like the stereotypical bus terminal of yesteryear.

In the middle of this, the eyesore of a square, unattractive vent shaft simply would not do. Since the vent shaft was already the centrepoint, we transformed it into the centerpiece, designing it as an artistic element of the bus station.

catching the light

The vent shaft will still be there, masked by a far more elegant exterior. Flat, stainless steel metal panels punched through with a flower pattern were fastened together to create a curved shape, almost diamond-like in appearance.

In the sunshine, it will catch the light. At night, it will be lit up from the inside. Through it all, the air from the subway will vent, serving its purpose, and proving that, yes, vent shafts can be beautiful.

be ready… 30 days to subway

Friday, 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

Wednesday, 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.