Archive for the ‘Rapidways’ Category

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.

 

taming the wind

Friday, November 24th, 2017

One of the design considerations behind the new rapidway station at Vaughan Metropolitan Centre are the heavy traffic volumes on that stretch of Highway 7. It’s a busy area, and with all the exciting new development coming to the VMC, it’s only getting busier.

As we’ve talked about here, making people feel safe and secure while they wait in the vivastation in the middle of Highway 7 is one of our top priorities. But beyond providing a physically safe waiting place, we also want to provide a comfortable experience for transit users. So the new vivastation offers lots of options, whether people want to wait inside the glass enclosures, on the platform under the high roof, or on the outside platforms.

fresh air, no wind!

For those who prefer being out in the fresh air while they await their YRT/Viva bus, there will be planters of greenery and trees to enjoy, but with all that traffic whizzing by, some might have found it a bit blustery. That’s why we’ve installed special windscreens, on the north platform where the traffic comes closest.

windscreens as art

The seven windscreens are located just to the west of the station on the road-side edge of the north platform. At first glance, they appear to be art.  We certainly designed them to be attractive in their own right, although they are also capable of mounting outdoor art displays.  Curved like the sails on a boat, they’re framed in glass, with posts made of aluminum.

a peaceful wait

Although they look so decorative, they’re actually designed to be functional, and to make waiting on the outside platform a more peaceful experience.

So when you get a chance to visit the north YRT/Viva platform at the VMC, go stand near the windscreens, and see for yourself how we’ve been able to make standing outside a nicer experience, even in a breezy place like the middle of Highway 7.

 

safety in waiting

Monday, 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

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.

our plants are born survivors

Friday, 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)

Thursday, 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!

Friday, 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.

vivaNext made the Top 100 Urban Planning blog list!

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

The vivaNext blog has been called out by Feedspot as one of the Top 100 Urban Planning Blogs. We came in at #55 on this list, which includes notable think tanks and urban planning publications, such as CityLab, Planetizen, The Urbanist and Spacing.

We’re humbled, honoured – and very excited – to be in the company of such notables, and to be included in one of Feedspot’s ‘best of’ lists.

Our place on this list shows the vital connection between urban planning and transportation planning, and the importance of urban design when building transit systems. Our blog reflects that, ranging from updates on our rapid transit projects to the big picture of what it all means from a smart growth perspective.

The fact is, we’re not just building transit. We’re building connections that make communities work for the future, and attractive destinations for people living, working, and travelling in York Region. We’re always looking for new topics to write about – urban planning or otherwise – so if you have a suggestion for a blog topic, be sure to let us know!

designed to connect: the VMC rapidway station on Highway 7

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

designed to connect: the VMC rapidway station on Highway 7

If you’re a Viva customer, you know that vivastations generally follow the same design, with a curved glass canopy providing shelter from the elements, and extending over the concrete platform and enclosed glass waiting area.

easy on the eyes

Elegant curves and expanses of glass, warmed by wood. Open and airy while still welcoming, human-scaled and sheltering — these are the main themes in the vivaNext design language. A vivaNext structure, whether it’s a vivastation, the towers at Bayview Station, or the Operations, Maintenance and Storage Facility [OMSF] in Richmond Hill, contain those recognizable elements and marry functionality with beauty.

We believe that taking public transit should be a great experience. It should be convenient, comfortable and reliable, but also aesthetically pleasing.

the biggest vivastation yet

So in keeping with this overall design goal, we’re excited to report the progress on the new bus rapid transit [BRT] station taking shape on Highway 7 in the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] transit hub.

With the vivaNext curves as our visual starting point, we needed to tailor the design of the new station to its unique role: linking Viva passengers arriving via the BRT lanes in the middle of Highway 7 to the subway trains below and to the YRT bus terminal nearby.

connecting connections

Passengers connecting between the new Line 1 TTC subway and Viva literally don’t have to cross the road to get to the subway or the new SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal north of the subway station. Once in the station, stairways and escalators and elevators will make it easy to connect to the subway concourse level below, and to an underground pedestrian path connecting to SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal for YRT. For pedestrians and cyclists in the area, there’s also going to be street level crosswalks and a plaza on the north side of Highway 7 connecting to the subway station and YRT bus terminal.

Over the next several weeks, we’re going to be posting more information and descriptions of the wonderful new VMC BRT station, including its design and an introduction to its amenities. And then before you know it, we’re all going to be able to enjoy fully rapid transit connections between York Region and Toronto. That’s something to really celebrate!