Posts Tagged ‘Bus Rapid Transit’

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.

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.

bridge expansion >> driving piles and pouring piers

Friday, August 25th, 2017

When you go under a bridge, what do you see? Huge concrete columns – piers – that support it. The five-metre expansion of the bridge on Highway 7 West over Highway 400 is becoming fully visible as the new piers are completed. In the photo above you can see the three completed piers and crews pouring the concrete cap for the fourth.

Each one of these piers is held up with a set of nine piles. Piles are long poles driven straight down, until they reach a surface solid enough to hold everything above. In this case, the piles are each nine metres long.

In the photo, the tall piece of equipment beside the west abutment wall is the pile driver, which is – as you’d expect – used to drive the piles into the ground.

On top of the pile-supported-piers, there will be bridge footings, girders, and a wider deck to make room for cars and trucks – as well as buses on new vivaNext dedicated rapidway lanes and a multi-use path for pedestrians and cyclists.

While it’s true that piers are just a part of the bridge, the bridge is part of a road, which is part of a rapid transit system, which connects people to where they need to go.

Next time you go under a bridge, look at the piers that support it, and the engineering and construction that went into them.

We’re building rapid transit, and along the way making infrastructure – built to last.

 

For information on ongoing vivaNext projects, be sure to subscribe to email updates, and follow us on Twitter. Questions or comments? Comment below or email us at contactus@vivanext.com.

 

#MyYongeStreet Selfie Contest

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

#MyYongeStreet Selfie Contest

Get your selfie stick ready, the #MyYongeStreet selfie contest launches on Monday, August 14!

We’ve partnered with the Town of Newmarket and the Newmarket Chamber of Commerce to bring the summer of selfies to Yonge Street. Enter for a chance to win weekly prizes or one of three grand prize shopping sprees. We’re proud to support the businesses that make Yonge Street a great place to stop, shop and dine.

here’s how it works

Take a selfie with your purchase from a business on Yonge in Newmarket, share the image on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #MyYongeStreet, and you’ll be automatically entered into weekly random draws for a chance to win one of three Yonge shopping sprees. You can also submit your image to contest@vivanext.com for a chance to win.

contest dates:

  • Monday, August 14 through to midnight on Sunday, September 3, 2017

it’s easy to enter:

  1. Visit a business within the Yonge Street rapidway construction area in Newmarket [between Savage Road/Sawmill Valley Drive and Davis Drive].
  2. Take a ‘selfie’ with your purchase in the business on Yonge.
  3. Post your selfie on Twitter or Instagram, or email to contest@vivanext.com, using the hashtag #MyYongeStreet.

prizes!

  • Each week, three lucky winners will receive $100 to be spent in the store where the winning selfie was taken.
  • There will be three grand prize draws for Yonge Street Shopping Sprees valued at $1000, $750 or $500.

To learn more about the contest, visit vivanext.com/selfiecontest.

what exactly is a ‘partial rapidway’ ?

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

what exactly is a ‘partial rapidway’ ?

Where there are dedicated rapidways in York Region, there are also transition areas to get buses in and out of mixed traffic – and something called “partial rapidways”. Here are some simple explanations of what will be happening with transit in these areas.

full dedicated rapidway

The typical rapidways are dedicated lanes in the centre of the road for buses serving specific Viva routes. Vivastations are located roughly every kilometre or so, with customers being able to access the stations via signals at intersection crosswalks. Rapidways will allow Viva vehicles to zip past regular traffic.

transition lanes

Transition lanes take the buses into and out of the centre-lane rapidway. A good example of this is on Davis Drive west of Yonge Street.

partial rapidway

For the purposes of the vivaNext projects, partial rapidway typically means dedicated bus lanes in one direction of a roadway only. For example, in the Bathurst & Centre area, there will be dedicated rapidway for the most part on Bathurst and Centre Streets, and partial rapidway in three locations:

  • On Centre Street between Highway 7 and Dufferin Street, there will be regular centre-lane rapidway going westbound, and partial rapidway eastbound (full rapidway starts part-way).
  • The rapidway on Bathurst Street over Highway 407 and Highway 7 will be one direction southbound. The northbound rapidway will end just north of Flamingo Road.
  • The rapidway on Highway 7 between Bathurst Street and Yonge Street will be one direction eastbound. The westbound Viva route will run in mixed traffic.

transit in mixed traffic

While a partial rapidway is still in the centre lane, when Viva bus routes run in regular mixed traffic, there are no designated lanes, meaning that buses will travel in lanes that are also used by other vehicles. This usually occurs along roadway areas that are more highway-like without a lot of residential or commercial development, and therefore not a lot of customers.

For example, on Highway 7 roughly between Bayview Avenue and Yonge Street, Viva buses exit the rapidway and rejoin regular mixed traffic. Also, in the short section along Highway 7 between the GO Barrie bridge underpass and Centre St., there is no road widening or improvements as the underpass is not being widened. Therefore, in this stretch, transit will be in mixed traffic.

curbside rapidway

The vivastation at Bayview Avenue is curb-side with two levels, to allow customers to transfer between east-west transit service on Highway 7 and north-south service above on Bayview Avenue.

Designing rapidways is complicated, but it takes into account the local area geography and the ridership levels, today and in the future. This ensures that vivaNext is building dedicated lanes in areas that will see the highest levels of improved travel times.

Any questions you have, we are happy to answer. And if you’d like to keep up on what’s happening in the construction areas where we’re building rapidways, subscribe to email updates at www.vivanext.com/subscribe.

 

 

as technology advances, every little step counts

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

as technology advances, every little step counts

We are always amazed to see examples of technology that depart from the norm. Like this driverless drone “sky taxi” that will begin flying customers in Dubai, United Arab Emirates this summer. If everyone had their own personal drone it would certainly change the daily commute!

Sometimes though, it’s smaller innovations that change transportation for the better for people. Bus rapid transit that rides in dedicated bus lanes is now part of the landscape in Markham, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Newmarket. At the end of this year in Vaughan, the Toronto-York Spadina Subway will change how many people commute.

Within a transit service there can also be improvements and innovations. YRT/Viva’s goal is to be emissions free by 2051, and their 2017 Annual Service Plan notes several pilot and trial programs underway, including:

  • Electric Bus Demonstration and Integration Trial
  • Alternative Fuel Study
  • Small bus strategy

Over time, these smaller changes can make a big difference. Just fifteen years ago, few people would have predicted that bus customers would be able to zip past congested traffic on Highway 7. And while subway extensions have been a priority for a long time, it’s pretty amazing that residents of Vaughan will soon be living so close to a subway line.

Dreaming about new innovations for the future is one thing; making it happen is definitely another. And in York Region we’ve made these changes together. The future looks bright with more innovation to come!

 

change that works

Friday, February 17th, 2017

change that works

Cities around the world are searching for safe, sustainable ways to provide mobility to residents across towns and cities. VivaNext, a leader in rapid transit, has risen to the challenge. We pride ourselves on designing a great transportation system that has social significance and measurable benefits.

VivaNext is proud to support the triple bottom line. This business principle holds that business activities should result in financial, social and environmental benefits. The benefits of rapidways are easy to see. For example, the dedicated bus lanes not only allow for fast, convenient service across the region, but they also help facilitate a safer road for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists alike. In addition, emergency service vehicles are able to access the rapidways and cross the median at designated intervals, which improves their response time and bypasses congestion.

What may not be immediately visible, however, are some of the positive economic and environmental impacts rapidways create for communities.

economic development & impact

  • Well thought-out and well-designed transit attracts sustainable, mixed-use development, including new businesses, jobs and a variety of housing options
  • Easy access to transit creates a more desirable mixed-use neighbourhood, and allows for money to be reinvested into the community (through businesses or reinvesting in local infrastructure)
  • Based on other rapid transit projects across North America, property values increase for land within walking distance to transit stations
  • As the Region’s urban transit corridors evolve and attract new retail and restaurants, other new employers wanting to be near transit will follow, continuing to support future economic and social growth

environmental responsibility

  • Every busload replaces approximately 70 vehicles on the road, which means a reduced carbon footprint
  • Rapid transit systems create a safer, more accessible and walkable city

With so many positive benefits of rapid transit, it’s no wonder York Region is a leader in transforming our communities by providing safe, convenient rapid transit. Join us and be moved.

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.

 

changing lights

Friday, January 6th, 2017

Most people look at traffic signals every day, but don’t notice how they’re configured, or why they’re installed the way they are. Traffic signals change quite a bit with our construction projects, and not just from green to yellow to red.

Once a project is underway, each intersection in the construction area receives a new, temporary traffic signal pole on each corner, set farther back from the road. Then temporary traffic signals are strung on wires across the intersection from these temporary poles.

Once the temporary poles are in place, the old poles and signals are removed, including any poles in the centre median in each direction.

Having the temporary poles farther back from the road allows access for relocating utilities and widening the road. As lanes are shifted and the road is widened, the temporary signals are adjusted along the wires to ensure they’re in the correct place for traffic and pedestrians.

Later in the project, new poles are installed in their final location, and permanent traffic signals are added, along with a dedicated left/U-turn signal.

Each time the traffic signals are changed, paid-duty police officers are on hand at each intersection for a few hours to ensure traffic flows safely through the intersection. If you’re on Yonge Street in Newmarket or Bathurst and Centre Streets in Vaughan, you’ve seen this firsthand recently.

For a peek at the final outcome, check out the sections of rapidway on Highway 7 East in Markham and Davis Drive in Newmarket.

Despite the cold weather, the vivaNext team continues to work out on the corridors and behind the scenes – making progress as seamlessly as possible.