Posts Tagged ‘Metrolinx’

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 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.

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.


Yonge Street >> the route to change

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

Yonge Street >> the route to change

Yonge Street has a long and storied past as a hub for shopping, entertainment and culture along its full length. There are many examples of change and transition as you follow its route from the shores of Lake Ontario all the way north to York Region.

You’ll start to see another transformation this year in Richmond Hill and Newmarket as we begin work on a rapidway – dedicated lanes for Viva – along key segments of Yonge Street.

But how did we arrive at this plan? How does it fit in with the existing network?

There are many layers of planning that have helped develop our approach to meeting the transit needs of York Region and ensuring we’re ready for the increasing demand that comes with population growth.

It all stems from The Big Move, a plan by Metrolinx [a provincial agency] that outlines a vision for a connected transportation network in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area [GTHA], one of the largest and fastest-growing urban regions in North America.

Following Metrolinx’s plans, York Region’s Transportation Master Plan lays out the blueprint for addressing transportation and mobility needs of those living and working in York Region over the next 25 years. It plans for region-wide infrastructure that is welcoming to everyone, including drivers, transit customers, cyclists and pedestrians.

Out of that blueprint comes York Region’s Centres and Corridors Program. This plan identifies the key urban centres and corridors in York Region where new growth and development will be focused. These key urban centres are located in Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Markham, and Newmarket – and each of these municipalities have a need for managed growth and a connected transportation network for the future.

That’s where vivaNext comes in. We’re where the rubber hits the road, connecting urban centres along key corridors with fast, efficient rapid transit. We’ve done all the ground work, completing the comprehensive environmental assessments, reaching out to the community for input on the design, coordinating with the utility companies to adjust their infrastructure, and awarding the contract to get the job done.

We’ve already opened 8.6 km of rapidways on Highway 7 and Davis Drive, and we’re looking forward to the future transformation of Yonge Street.

To learn more about the Yonge Street rapidway and the construction activities ahead, visit our project page and subscribe for email updates.



rolling out a new phase of rapid transit in Vaughan

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

rolling out a new phase of rapid transit in Vaughan

The next phase of Viva is extending both east and west in Vaughan and Richmond Hill. We were excited to announce this week that EDCO has been awarded the $333.2 million contract to design, build and finance the second phase of the Highway 7 West rapidway.

The first phase of rapidway is well underway in the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC], with the vivaNext rapidway between Jane Street and Bowes Road scheduled to open in Fall 2016, and the section west of Jane being coordinated with the opening of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension [TYSSE].

phase two

Phase two of the Highway 7 West rapidway will emerge from both sides of the current construction. It will extend west from the VMC, over Highway 400 all the way out to Helen Street, and it will expand east to Yonge Street along the existing Centre Street and Bathurst Street Viva route.

making connections

Extending the rapidway will connect riders from Woodbridge, Concord and Thornhill to the Spadina/University Subway line at the new VMC subway station, and will also connect riders to the rest of York Region via the Richmond Hill Terminal at Yonge Street.

The project involves widening Highway 7, Bathurst Street and Centre Street to add 12 kilometres of dedicated rapidway lanes for Viva rapid transit vehicles PLUS 10 new vivastations, PLUS new bike lanes PLUS pedestrian walkways and sidewalks.

partnering with contractors

As with our previous rapidway projects, this is a public-private partnership. One key difference is that along with the design and build requirements, the contractor is required to finance this project. YRRTC will be the project manager, controlling and approving the design and construction, financial management, and community relations. Metrolinx will own the assets of the rapidway infrastructure, and YRT/Viva will operate transit on the rapidways, and maintain the stations. On regional roads like Highway 7, Centre Street and Bathurst Street, York Region will maintain the road and rapidway.

more than a third of York Region’s rapidways

This project represents more than a third of the total 34 kilometres of rapidways being built, and with this contract awarded, all of our rapidway projects are on the way, except Highway 7 East, which is done!

To learn more about the Highway 7 West, phase two rapidway project, and to sign up for updates, visit


introducing our new board members

Friday, January 30th, 2015

introducing our new board members

For those of you who have been riding along with us on this transit journey, we are excited to update you on our award-winning rapid transit initiatives as we begin 2015 and new stages of construction. This is an exceptionally exciting time for transit in Ontario, and in York Region. Over the next five years, we will be completing $3.2 billion of infrastructure, including rapidways in Newmarket, Vaughan and Richmond Hill, a state-of-the-art Operations, Maintenance and Storage Facility and more. We remain dedicated to building transit options that complement the future of York Region, knowing that everyone shares the benefits of these successes.

How do we do it? Here’s a bit of information about the governance structure and make-up of York Region Rapid Transit Corporation [YRRTC] and how we operate to deliver vivaNext plans. First, YRRTC is a 100% share capital corporation owned by York Region. Our rapidway projects are funded by Metrolinx [an agency of the provincial government], and our facilities and terminals are funded from a combination of federal, provincial and regional government sources. Our governance structure is well established through formal documents and legal agreements between YRRTC, York Region, the provincial government, the federal government and Metrolinx. These legal documents set the framework for how we work together and list the conditions of our funding.

YRRTC reports monthly to a board of directors – seven Mayors and Regional Councillors from Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket and Vaughan. Once appointed, they elected a Board Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and CEO. We welcome the new and returning board members:

Chairman - Frank Scarpitti, Mayor of the City of Markham Chairman
Frank Scarpitti
Mayor of the City of Markham
Vice-Chairman - Maurizio Bevilacqua, Mayor of the City of Vaughan Vice-Chairman
Maurizio Bevilacqua
Mayor of the City of Vaughan
Director and YRRTC CEO - Wayne Emmerson, Chairman and CEO of The Regional Municipality of York Director and YRRTC CEO
Wayne Emmerson
Chairman and CEO of The Regional Municipality of York
Director - Dave Barrow, Mayor of the Town of Richmond Hill Director
Dave Barrow
Mayor of the Town of Richmond Hill
Director - Tony Van Bynen, Mayor of the Town of Newmarket Director
Tony Van Bynen
Mayor of the Town of Newmarket
Director - Jim Jones, City of Markham Regional Councillor Director
Jim Jones
Regional Councillor, City of Markham
Director - Vito Spatafora, City of Vaughan Regional Councillor/Deputy Mayor Director
Vito Spatafora
Regional Councillor/Deputy Mayor, Town of Richmond Hill


Through monthly reports and other regular reporting tools such as business plans and annual reports, we seek direction from the board and keep them informed of project progress. These documents can be found in our website Document Library.

It’s complex, with multiple levels of government and representatives from different municipalities, but it’s a clean mission to collectively deliver rapid transit. And together we can continue to deliver these beneficial infrastructure projects to your community and ensure all needs and issues are addressed quickly and openly.


wouldn’t you like an extra 32 minutes a day?

Friday, November 29th, 2013

Did you know that a recent American study showed that people, who live in areas with good access to transit, are more satisfied with their quality of life than people who don’t have easy access to transit?* This is one of the reasons cited by an intriguing new public awareness campaign, arguing that more and better access to transit is good for communities, families and individuals.

The new campaign – dubbed Your32 – is an initiative spearheaded by the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance, a not-for-profit advocacy organization that promotes the economic, social, and environmental benefits of building transit infrastructure across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.  The campaign is being done in partnership with a wide range of leaders representing key sectors across our communities and economy, including business, academia, labour and financial.

The big-picture benefits of transit are well known: it’s better for the environment; it will reduce the gridlock that’s choking our roads; and it will help our economy and productivity.  All of which are reason enough that we need more transit in the GTHA, and we need it now.

But ultimately we all live our lives at a personal level, and this is what the Your32 Campaign does that’s so interesting: it brings the benefits closer to home for each of us.  Your32 refers to the estimated 32 minutes per day that people would save on their commute once the Metrolinx transit plan for the GTHA (The Big Move) is fully funded and built.  32 minutes is the difference between the projected future average commute time if no comprehensive transit system is built, and the average future commute time with the big move.

32 minutes a day: that’s a lot of time over the course of a year – 8 full days – that you could be doing something better with.  And over the course of your life it adds up to about two years of found time.   There are a lot of ways most of us could imagine spending 2 extra years, beyond spending it sitting in gridlock.

The Your32 website has a lot of really interesting facts and figures about commuting and how better transit will benefit all of us, and its aim is to encourage people to become more knowledgeable about the issues and possible solutions.  The campaign is asking people to “pledge” their support for new funding sources that are “dedicated, efficient, transparent & accountable, regional, fair, and sustainable”.  And ultimately, its objective is to continue to build support from people and governments at all levels for more funding for transit in the GTHA.

We’re proud that vivaNext and York Region are already helping lead the move for more transit, and we’re pleased that such a useful campaign is underway to help reach more people and get out the true facts about transit.  I recommend this initiative to anyone interested in learning more, and to add their voice calling for senior levels of government to fund the transit we all need.


hard truths about transit

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

Transit is a top story in the news these days, in Toronto, across the GTHA, in fact all across the country.  And with good reason: the links between the availability of well-planned transit and our ability to sustain our quality of life are well documented.   But the discussion about transit is still confusing for many people, with so many different positions being put forward on how transit should be planned, the merits of different forms of transit, and how to pay for it all.   Meanwhile, gridlock across the GTHA is getting worse.  To ensure we don’t fall farther behind, important decisions have to be made soon about the future transit network in the GTHA.

Fortunately, a significant amount of new transit is already being built across the GTHA including our vivaNext BRT routes and the extension of the Spadina subway up to Highway 7.  But there are a large number of important transit projects, including parts of the vivaNext system such as the extension of the Yonge Subway, which remain unfunded.  Building a connected network across the GTHA, and completing the vivaNext parts of the system in York Region, needs to be a top priority for us all.

To help bring some clarity to the discussion, a newly-established advisory panel in Ontario has been set up to look at the future of transit in the GTHA.  The panel’s mandate is to help Ontario make the right decisions about what transit projects get funded in the GTHA, and how to pay for them.

Getting input from the community is a priority for the panel, and they will be providing a series of discussion papers to help people become better informed.  These papers will be well worth reading for anyone who has an interest in the future of transit across the GTHA.

Here’s a link to the new advisory panel’s site, which includes the first of several discussion papers.  Over the next few weeks, the panel is also going to be collecting input from the public, business and key stakeholders.  There are a number of ways that you can provide input to the panel.  You can mail, email, and provide input online or by attending one of the public meetings.  Four meetings will be held across the GTHA, including one in Vaughan.

The more people who participate in this discussion, the better: it affects us all, whether we live in suburban areas or downtown, and whether we’re transit users or drivers.  The decisions that need to be made soon about what transit will be built, and how it will be paid for, will shape the quality of life across the GTHA for generations.

VivaNext is proud of what we’re building in York Region, but ultimately the strength of our system depends on being part of a great regional network.  So please check out the panel’s website, read their papers, and have your say.


the future of transit has arrived!

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

The launch of the first section of the rapidway along Highway 7 from Bayview Avenue to Highway 404 is this Sunday, August 18.

Riders can now board viva in the centre lane rapidway.  Vivastations are directly accessible from crosswalks at signalled intersections.  Pedestrian signals come with an audible tone and visual countdown.  During the first week of new service the YRT\Viva teams will be on the street to assist customers and answer any questions to help familiarize everyone with the new system.

Not only is this section of Highway 7 now more efficient for pedestrians, cyclists, riders and drivers, but the landscape has been transformed with new trees and other greenery. We welcome the wide pedestrian-friendly, tree-lined boulevards and sleek, modern, vivastations. The new vivastations will be open at Chalmers, Valleymede, West Beaver Creek, Leslie, and East Beaver Creek. Vivastations at Bayview will open in early September. An additional 3.9 kilometres of rapidway along Highway 7 from Highway 404 to Warden Avenue will open in 2014.

New dedicated centre lanes for viva vehicles will allow riders to enjoy faster and more consistent travel times.  Also drivers need to be aware of the changes to the street as they make turns onto Highway 7, red asphalt indicates a bus only lane.  Emergency vehicles are permitted to access the rapidways should they need to, but they will have their flashing lights on for safety.

The stations include arched glass canopies inspired by transportation architecture from historic and modern European examples. The 27-metre glass canopy offers protection from the elements, including a nine-metre enclosed and heated waiting area. The stations include all the existing viva technologies we love, including off-board fare collection, GPS navigation, real-time information, Presto, new card readers and traffic signal priority. Safety and accessibility features include textured surfaces near platform edges, level boarding from the platform to the bus, a public address system for updating riders and an emergency call button.

The York Viva BRT project received $1.4 billion from the province, and is an example of The Big Move in action – Metrolinx’s 25-year plan to implement a common vision for transportation in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

The transformation of this urban corridor will help support growth, and reduce congestion to help make York Region a more inviting place to live, work, shop and play.

Come take a ride on the new rapidway and check it out! Tweet and let us know what you think!


bringing a long-term plan for the future to life, one step at a time

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

With crews working on the finishing touches on the western half of the Highway 7 rapidway, we’re getting closer to the day rapid transit finally becomes a reality for York Region.  As much as we’re looking forward to celebrating this milestone, it’s only one (very exciting) step in a long path that started years ago, and is going to take time to complete.

There’s a lot of media coverage these days on the general need for better transit all across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).  We’re proud that York Region has been actively working to bring rapid transit to our region.  In 2002 the Region produced the York Region Transportation Master Plan and the follow-up Rapid Transit Plan, committing the Region to a blueprint of multiple transportation initiatives to be built over the next 30 years.

With approval to the Rapid Transit Plan, we got to work quickly.  In 2005 the viva team – our formal name is York Region Rapid Transit Corporation – first launched “QuickStart”, the first phase of viva service.  Viva offered enhanced features that made transit more comfortable and convenient, and put the customer first in a way that was new for a transit service in the GTHA. With ridership levels that have increased steadily, viva changed the way people in York Region viewed transit.

But while our new viva service was a major success and an important first step in encouraging people to try transit, designing the vivaNext rapid transit system was our longer-term priority. Since 2005, Provincial government policy has required that Ontario municipalities plan for sustainable, more intensive land use, and rapid transit is a key component to achieve that goal.  Anticipating this, the 2002 Transportation Master Plan directed that future growth in York Region would be concentrated in new downtowns in Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill and Vaughan. By building more intensively in these areas, there would be less pressure for growth in existing neighbourhoods and a reduction in traffic congestion.

These urban centres would be connected by transportation “corridors”, making it easier for people to get around the region. The vivaNext rapidways will be built along the corridors, providing connections across York Region and into the rest of the GTHA.

Much of the new development built around vivastations will be compact and mixed-use, providing housing, employment, retail, dining, services and recreation, all within walking distance of transit. Developments will also include more welcoming public spaces, attractive landscaping, and other amenities that will contribute to the centres becoming more dynamic destinations.

Our plan is well and truly underway, and rapidways are being built on Highway 7 in both the east and west, as well as in Newmarket. The Toronto-York Spadina subway extension is under construction, and the design for rapidways on Yonge Street are being finalized.  Great new developments are popping up all over the new urban centres across the Region.

So when the first rapidway on Highway 7 starts service this year, we’re going to be celebrating the implementation of the first phase of our transportation and growth management blueprint.

We have many more phases to deliver, but with such a clear plan to follow, people in York Region can be assured it’s going to come true.  Check out our construction progress so far.


Getting the GTHA Moving

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Everyone is hearing a lot these days about the need for more transit in the GTHA, and how increasing traffic congestion is hurting our economy.  The Toronto Board of Trade puts a $6 billion a year price tag on the cost of congestion. But beyond the headlines, many people don’t really understand exactly how traffic congestion and the lack of transit hurts the economy, and why this issue matters to every one of us in this region – and even to the rest of the province and country.

To help connect the dots, I recommend a recent panel discussion held on TVO’s The Agenda, which covered the issue clearly and logically.  This discussion provides an excellent overview of the issue, in a non-partisan, objective way.  Click here to view the episode.

What I found most interesting about this discussion was how it was explained that the lack of transit hurts everyone, whether or not they’re transit users now, or even want to be transit users.  Even people living in small communities that aren’t experiencing traffic congestion  in fact are economically affected by it. The negative impacts of congestion  in the GTHA, given how important this region is to the economy of the entire country, truly do affect the entire country.  One large business that chooses to open up in the USA rather than in the GTHA due to concerns about congestion hurts all taxpayers in the pocketbook eventually.

Enjoy watching the show and let me know what you think.