Archive for the ‘Subways’ Category

sneak peek >> what’s to come

Friday, May 26th, 2017

sneak peek >> what’s to come

Have you ever walked past those construction sites surrounded by wood walls, and wanted a peek inside to see what’s being built? Curiosity is good – it helps us to move forward and to try new things. In York Region right now, we have a chance to sneak a peek at what’s to come.

In some cases, it’s right out there in the middle of the road. Communities with rapidway construction underway can see how their street will look once it’s done, by looking at Highway 7 East in Markham and Richmond Hill or Davis Drive in Newmarket. It’s more than bus lanes – it’s new utilities and infrastructure like bridges, tree-lined sidewalks and where possible, bike lanes.

In Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC], we can see the transit hub on the way in the next year that will include a super-sized vivastation in the centre of Highway 7, linking to a YRT bus terminal via an underground pathway and above ground plaza, and connecting directly to the new subway platform below via escalator and elevator.

We can even get a peek at the new subway stations that are part of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension project. TTC is hosting a Doors Open Toronto event this Saturday only, at the new Downsview Park Station and York University Station, set to open for service at the end of 2017. Information about the event is available on the project website, and if you can’t go, be sure to take a look at the photos posted by project staff on their Flickr site. And check out this TTC video of the future subway ride from Downsview Park to VMC, recorded last year to celebrate the final tracks being laid.

So if you’re curious about the subway, be sure to visit Downsview or York University Stations this Saturday. And if you’re curious about transit in York Region, feel free to ask us a question or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

matching the heights

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

matching the heights

With the extraordinary maneuvering required to install the roof sections of the VMC BRT station in its location in the centre of Highway 7, you might think the most challenging part of this project has been its incredible glass and steel canopy.

It’s true that installing the canopy of the station required a lot of planning and meticulous engineering. But actually, the coordination of the underground subway station with the BRT station above has been – and still is – a much more complex logistical challenge.

the mechanics of it all

Building the actual physical connections between the two structures was involved but not unduly complicated, similar to any building that has a framed structure on top of a concrete slab. Because the top of the station is wider than the lower part and overhangs at the edges, we couldn’t use rebar dowels, which are the most common construction method. Instead, we used mechanical couplings that enabled us to essentially bolt the top to the bottom.

working together

What makes the project more challenging is that the subway station is being built by the TTC, while the above ground BRT station is being built by vivaNext. With two different owners, and two different contractors, the project demands an intensive degree of coordination and planning.

Joint planning work began long ago, starting with establishing the specific requirements for how the project needed to be built, both below and above ground, and inside and outside the subway station. With the TTC building the subway station up to the surface, and vivaNext building the BRT station from the ground up, the heights of floors and ceilings had to line up perfectly.

top to bottom, inside and out

The vertical elements between the lower and upper floors – including the stairs, escalators and elevators – had to be installed early, with no margin for error. Escalators are very rigid, designed to fit perfectly between floors. And because the rapidway runs right through the station, the top of the escalator, stairs and elevator also had to align precisely with the existing level of Highway 7 outside.

At the same time as the TTC was building the lower levels of the subway station, we were outside building the civil works – the roadway, curbs and gutters – that surround the BRT station. Again, because the rapidway runs through the station, the heights of the underground parts of these elements had to fit with the height of the subway box below.

The BRT station is well on its way and is already a head-turner. In the not-too-distant future, all of this engineering and coordination will make it possible for you to step off the escalator at VMC subway station and easily make your way to the BRT station on Highway 7 and beyond.

See an artist’s rendering of the VMC BRT station once complete.


subway in the GTA: where & when to build

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

subway in the GTA: where & when to build

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

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


considering the options

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

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


building in parallel

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

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

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

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


in continuous motion

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

in continuous motion

At this point in building York Region’s rapid transit system, we can officially say there are projects at every stage. A few rapidway projects and transit facilities are open for service, some are well underway and some are just getting started.

Having projects at different stages can be beneficial. We learn from every project and fine-tune important processes like procurement, financial management and construction scheduling. Special attention is paid to tailoring detailed designs to ensure quality, and scheduling construction to keep impacts to a minimum. Project management is what we do, and to get everything done, we stack the deck with technical knowledge and lots of experience.

Bus Rapid Transit

With 34.6 kilometres of dedicated lanes for Bus Rapid Transit [rapidways] completed or underway we have lots on the go, but there is also much more to do. The remaining half of rapidway projects – 34.2 kilometres – have Environmental Assessments completed and are ready to move forward once funding is in place. This includes completing Highway 7 rapidways in eastern Markham and western Vaughan, and Yonge Street rapidways between Richmond Hill and Newmarket, and north of Davis Drive.

Yonge North Subway Extension

York Region’s highest priority, the Yonge North Subway Extension, is ready to move to full engineering and construction. This 7.4-kilometre extension from Finch subway station to Highway 7 in Richmond Hill will include five stations and will complete a missing link in the GTA transit system. The Yonge Subway Extension has been identified by Metrolinx as a priority project, and the Environmental Assessments and some important studies are complete, so once Provincial funding is confirmed for preliminary engineering this project will be moving forward to this important next step.

As with any great transit system, our projects are in continuous motion. Our experience allows us to think ahead, in planning for each project, and in building a connected transit system for those who live, work or commute in York Region. To help plan the transit system in the GTA, Metrolinx is hosting a series of public meetings in York Region and Toronto in the next five weeks. We’ll be there too, so be sure to drop by our booth.


subways? yes, our network will include subways

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

subways? yes, our network will include subways

Rapid transit plans in York Region have always included subways, along with aboveground bus and rail. Each of these has different passenger capacities, construction costs, and impacts on surrounding communities, so plans include a combination of transit types, with a focus on having a seamless network.

As far as subway is concerned, we’ve been planning for the Yonge North Subway Extension [YNSE] from Finch Station to the Richmond Hill/Langstaff Urban Growth Centre at Highway 7. The YNSE is the missing link in terms of transit for the GTHA, because Yonge Street is the central transportation artery, and has been for generations.

Because it’s the missing link, we’ve been doing critical planning and engineering studies to ensure that we’re shovel-ready. The Environmental Project Report and Conceptual Design Study are complete, and in partnership with Metrolinx, TTC and City of Toronto, we completed a Yonge Relief Network Study [YRNS] to determine Yonge Subway capacity.

The YRNS concluded that the number of already committed/funded initiatives underway will increase the capacity of Yonge subway and divert existing and future riders to other corridors. These increases in capacity will accommodate growth until 2031, and offset the immediate need for the Downtown Relief Line until after 2031.

Metrolinx has recently recommended that we move ahead with completing 15% preliminary design for the Yonge Subway extension, so we’re working very hard on that. To advance the project even more, we’re advocating to the new federal government about their recent commitment to double infrastructure investments and transform transit and transportation systems ($60 billion in additional investments over 10 years).  With our shovel-ready projects in hand, we’re looking forward to the next wave of projects.

Combined with the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension, Regional Express Rail, new GO Train stations at Gormley and Bloomington and other transit projects, the YNSE will vastly improve the overall network for those who live, work and travel in York Region.


Exploring Vaughan with vivaNext

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

With the early stages of rapid transit developments underway along Highway 7 West in Vaughan, now is the perfect time to reflect on everything this great city has to offer. Already an attractive destination for residents, businesses and visitors, Vaughan is a perfect location to integrate Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) rapidways and cultivate a thriving transit system.

Vaughan is comprised of six communities including Maple, Woodbridge, Kleinburg, Concord, Thornhill and Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC]. With a growth rate of 80.2%, it was the fastest growing municipality in Canada from 1996-2006, and this diverse city shows no signs of slowing down.  The nation’s largest amusement park, Canada’s Wonderland, averages approximately 3.5 million visitors per season and the Kortright Centre for Conservation hosts around 135,000 visitors annually.

Vaughan is also home to many social, historical and cultural hotspots that maintain its reputation as a vibrant place to live, work, shop and eat. Residents and visitors can browse over 200 retail stores at Vaughan Mills, the 15th largest mall in Canada, or view an extensive collection of paintings by Tom Thomson, the Group of Seven and their contemporaries at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg. Before hopping on a viva bus home, stop by Reptilia Zoo and visit “The King” – the largest venomous Cobra snake at any zoo in Canada, or tour the Thoreau MacDonald House – home of the Group of Seven painter J.E.H MacDonald from 1914 to 1974. Other various parks, theatres, recreation centres and educational institutions leave no shortage of things to do and explore.

The future rapidway vivastation at VMC will make travelling to and from your favourite places in Vaughan easier and more efficient. In the VMC, mixed-use transit-oriented development is proposed along a tree-lined main street, including businesses, residences, entertainment and cultural facilities, as well as pedestrian shopping areas. With connections to both the new TTC subway station and an inter-regional bus terminal, VMC will be one of the most ambitious development projects in the area’s history. It will be a convenient transportation hub unique to the city, and yet another main attraction that Vaughan can call its own.

Check out some more fast facts about Vaughan below:

  • Non-official languages include:
    Italian – 15.2% | Russian – 6.7% | Spanish – 2.7% | Tagalog (Filipino) – 1.9% | Punjabi – 1.8%
  • Twin city: Lanciano, Italy (2002)
  • Folklore associates the name “Maple” with the numerous Maple trees once found along Keele St.
  • The name “Woodbridge” derived from a wooden bridge that crossed the Humber River as an entry point into the town
  • A direct German translation of “Kleinburg” is small town

Follow the progress of the Highway 7 West rapidway in Vaughan by signing up for construction updates.

Think you know Vaughan? Test your knowledge with our interactive quiz! Play now.

York Region is ready to Presto

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

PRESTO card and fare machine

In London, it’s an Oyster. In Hong Kong, they call it an Octopus. Boston has its Charlie Card, and Atlanta loves its Breeze. And now York Region – along with other GTHA and Ottawa municipalities – is moving into the ranks of cities with smartcard technology for their transit system.

I’m talking of course about the launch of PRESTO this week in York Region on YRT\Viva services. PRESTO was developed through a partnership with the Province of Ontario, GO Transit and nine municipal transit partners in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area and in Ottawa, and will allow customers to ride on any participating transit system without pre-purchasing printed tickets or tokens.

Having access to PRESTO is great news for transit riders in York Region. Because PRESTO uses “stored-value” fare payments, customers can reload their card on the PRESTO website or at designated locations, and never have to worry about having a printed ticket or the right change. All you have to do is tap your card either on the PRESTO card reader at a vivastation before you board Viva, or on the on-board PRESTO machine on a YRT bus, and the system will automatically deduct the fare from your card’s balance (GO Transit riders also tap off at the end of their trip).

Smartcards are the way of the future for all great transit systems, and with good reason. These cards speed up the process of buying transit fares, they eliminate the paper waste associated with tickets, and they mean you’ll never need to rummage through your pockets for bus fare again.

One of the most important, long-term benefits is that, because smartcards often involve multiple transit services, they make it easier for passengers to travel across municipal boundaries. Instead of needing to purchase individual tickets for separate transit services, PRESTO is the only ticket riders will need to use on any participating system, including YRT\Viva, GO Transit (selected rail stations), Brampton Transit (ZÜM), Burlington Transit, Hamilton Street Railway, Mississauga Transit (MiWay), Oakville Transit, OC Transpo (Ottawa) and at select  TTC subway stations. And more stations and transit agencies are joining PRESTO throughout 2011 and 2012.

The PRESTO website and call centre (1-8-PRESTO-123) have all the information you’ll need to learn more about how PRESTO works in general, and where it can take you.

To introduce riders to PRESTO, YRT\Viva has representatives showing riders how to use PRESTO, helping them register online, and distributing up to 5,000 specially-priced cards. To get your new PRESTO card, check out the YRT\Viva website for distribution locations and hours.

Launch of a connected region

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Photo of Holey, the tunnel boring machine for the Spadina subway extension

Friday was a momentous day for anyone who dreams of when it will be easier to get around the GTA. On Friday, we took the first concrete step towards a true regional transit system. This was the day when “Holey”, the massive tunnel boring machine, was officially launched to build a subway connection between Toronto and York Region. On Friday the clock started ticking to the day in 2015, when, without needing to transfer, we’ll be able to buy one ticket, sit in comfort, and travel in and around the GTA to anywhere the subway goes. A momentous day, indeed.

I’m talking of course about the official start of tunnelling for the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension. This new service, when it’s finished in late 2015, will extend the Spadina Subway by 8.5 kilometres from Downsview Station, via six new stations, to a new terminus at the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre development area on Highway 7. Vaughan’s new subway station will also link to the Viva rapidways along Highway 7, up Yonge Street and across Davis Drive in Newmarket.

It’s impossible to overstate the important role subway extensions play in connecting GTA regions, and how this first of two north-south subway extensions will change the way people take transit in the GTA. Until now, each municipality or Region has had its own separate rapid transit system, divided by geographic boundaries. In an area like the GTA, where so many people live in one municipality and work in another, having one connected rapid transit system will make life more convenient, more predictable, and much, much easier.

So Friday’s launch was a very big deal.

The subway, which is going to cost about $2.6 billion, is being paid for by the federal government, the provincial government through Metrolinx, The Regional Municipality of York, and the City of Toronto. A joint Toronto-York project team is collaborating to complete the project, and the engineering logistics of how the subway will actually connect to the Viva rapidways in Vaughan is a whole story unto itself, which I’ll write about soon.

We know from research that people love the idea of being able to commute by public transit, if they’re offered a fast, convenient and reliable alternative to driving. So extending subway lines will make a lot of people very happy.

“Holey” will soon be joined by her tunnel boring machine partner “Moley” to tunnel northwest from the Sheppard West launch site toward the Finch West site at Keele. Their twin cousins “Yorkie” and “Torkie”, will soon begin tunnelling southeast from their Steeles West launch site toward York University. We’ll be cheering them on, and judging by the excitement of the onlookers and circling helicopters at Friday’s launch, we know people all across the GTA will be cheering too.

Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension project: 
Subways in York Region: 
The Missing Link – business case describing why a Yonge Subway extension should be considered a top priority:

Spadina Subway: it’s about connections

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Map of the extension to the Spadina Subway extension. Inset: future design of Vaughan Metropolitan Centre

Is it possible to live or work in northwest Toronto, western York Region or east side of Peel, and not know about the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension? Although you might know that a subway extension is planned, you might not know the details about this huge subway development project.

The extension to the University-Spadina TTC subway line from the current Downsview Station north to Highway 7 in Vaughan will be big news to anyone living or working along its route. A connection from Downsview Station to the Wilson Yard TTC storage and maintenance facility has already been built, and four Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) have been manufactured in Canada for this project. Each TBM took several months to build, and three weeks – 21 truckloads of parts – to deliver to its launch location. This spring the parts of the four TBMs will be lowered into their launch shafts at Sheppard West Station and Steeles West Station, and assembled in launch position. In the first of several tunnel drives, the TBMs at Sheppard West will bore northward to Finch West Station, and the TBMs at Steeles West will bore southward to York University Station. Each machine will bore at a rate of about 15 metres per day, and they’re multi-talented machines, excavating in front and placing tunnel reinforcements behind them. When they reach their destinations they’ll be removed from the ground and relocated to new launch locations for the next tunnel drive. The tunnelling is expected to take about two years, with the entire project, including stations, scheduled to be complete and in service by late 2015.

Highway 407 Station and the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre will be the first subway stations in York Region. Vaughan Metropolitan Centre will be built at Millway Avenue along the Highway 7 West rapidways, and will feature retail space, a domed roof with skylights positioned to reflect light to platform level, and pedestrian and transit-oriented development.

We talk about rapidways all the time, but really we’re developing a rapid transit network – a system to move people within our region and connect us to neighbouring transit networks. Subway extensions create a vital connection in the GTHA transit network, and will bring new life to communities near subway stations, as people gather in these areas to live, work, shop and play.

If you’re interested in more details about subway extensions, be sure to visit some of these links:

Dale’s summer update

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Dale's Summer Update

Whew! What a busy few months we’ve had here at the vivaNext headquarters!  No doubt a lot of people have been enjoying this great summer weather and taking a bit of a break… but for those of us here, it’s been full steam ahead.  Since we announced the news this past May that Metrolinx approved a revised capital funding schedule for the vivaNext rapidways, our office has been a hive of activity! Okay, I took a week off as well to enjoy this summer weather.

But here’s an exclusive peek behind the scenes of what’s happening with vivaNext projects.

Although it’s not a typical rapidway station, our new stop currently under construction at Enterprise and Warden in Markham will be the first place you’ll be able to try out our new, comfortably designed vivastation.  The concrete foundations are currently being put in for the station, and sometime in early fall we expect to receive the glass canopy from the fabricators.  After all the work that went into designing it, we can’t wait to see the vivastation in person!  We’ll keep you updated on the delivery dates and let you know more about how you can see it too!

Our crews are out and about along Davis Drive in Newmarket, with most work presently focused on pre-construction activities in preparation for the road widening.  We’ve been taking down some existing buildings, and working closely with Habitat for Humanity York Region and other organizations to ensure that every last piece of building material that can be reused or recycled is diverted from landfill.  At least 85% of materials will be diverted – we are really proud of that. Even shrubs, plants and trees have been transplanted to new locations within Newmarket, including some churches and a public school.

Our engineers, architects and other experts are working hard on the preliminary engineering for the rapidways up Yonge Street and along Highway 7. Preliminary engineering is the early design stage of an infrastructure project, and it involves numerous hours of discussion and planning for options on things you may never think about when you drive down a street; things like median width, lightpole design and surface treatments.  Every step of their work is carried out in conjunction with a number of other partners, including The Regional Municipality of York and each of the municipalities, as well as other local groups. The amount of painstaking, detailed work that goes into designing a rapidway is just incredible – in a separate blog, I’ll tell you more about the processes, the challenges and introduce you to some of our experts.

We are also spending a lot of time working with our colleagues at the TTC on plans to connect the Spadina Subway extension to the vivaNext transit hub at Highway 7 in the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre.  Construction of a six-lane bridge, access roads, traffic signals, utility relocation and the realignment of a portion of Black Creek is now underway so that construction can start on the Highway 407 Station. This work is anticipated to be complete by spring 2011. Public open houses in July showcased the station design finishes and public artwork for the Sheppard West and Highway 407 Stations. More open houses will soon be held, so that the public can view the four remaining station designs. I hope to tell you more exciting details about the design ideas we’re working on in the near future.

Another key task that represents a huge amount of our efforts is the ongoing Environmental Assessment process – and rightly so: ensuring that our projects don’t negatively affect the environment, either natural or human, is a critical priority for this project.  Each rapidway segment has its own process and requirements – in fact, there’s so much to describe, I’m going to save it for another time!

During the summer we also participated in some fundraising events for United Way, attended several community events and participated in some local industry workshops.

So that was a brief summary of what we’ve been up to! We hope you’re enjoying the summer sunshine, and all of the great things there are to do in York Region!