Posts Tagged ‘rapid transit’

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.

 

bringing a rapid transit plan to life

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

bringing a rapid transit plan to life

Crews are finishing up paving on Davis Drive, which means we’re getting closer to opening the rapidway. As much as we’re looking forward to celebrating this milestone, it’s important to know that this is only one [very exciting] step in a plan for a connected transit system.

Over the past few years there’s been a lot of media coverage of transit needs across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area [GTHA]. We’re proud that York Region is actively working to meet those needs by bringing 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 the Rapid Transit Plan approved, we got to work. In 2005 the Viva team launched “QuickStart,” the first phase of Viva service, offering enhanced features that made transit more comfortable and convenient, and put the customer first. With this service upgrade, Viva changed the way people in York Region thought of transit. The public appreciated the enhanced features and frequencies, and it wasn’t long before ridership began increasing steadily.

But while “QuickStart” was a major success and an important first step in encouraging people to try transit, designing the vivaNext rapid transit system was the Region’s long-term vision. Ontario municipalities are mandated to plan sustainable, more intensive land-use as part of the provincial government policy, and rapid transit is a key component in achieving that goal.  Anticipating this, the York Region Transportation Master Plan directed that future growth in York Region would be concentrated in new downtown urban centres in Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill and Vaughan. By building more intensively in these areas there would be less pressure for growth in other neighbourhoods.

The urban centres would be connected by transportation “corridors,” making it easier for people to get around the region, and providing transportation options with regular transit service. The vivaNext rapidways are currently being built along these corridors, creating connections across York Region and into the rest of the GTHA.

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

Our vision for the future is well on its way to becoming reality: a rapidway has been built on Highway 7 East; Davis Drive is opening soon; the first section of rapidway in Vaughan will open on Highway 7 West in 2016; the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension is under construction; utility work is underway for the Yonge Street rapidway north of Highway 7, and design work continues for the planned Yonge Subway Extension.

So when the rapidway on Davis Drive opens for service this winter, we can celebrate the progress of transit infrastructure in York Region, not to mention the end of major construction!

 

signs of progress: staff and operator training has begun

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

signs of progress: staff and operator training has begun

We’re really counting down the days to the opening of the vivaNext rapidway service on Davis Drive from Yonge Street to Roxborough, and we bet you are too! You’ll know we’re in the final stages of construction once you see Viva buses out on the new rapidway.

Starting today, we will be doing systems testing on the new Davis Drive rapidway, in the Town of Newmarket, followed by driver training in November.

Training will be provided not only for Viva bus operators, but also for everyone who will need to be familiar with the rapidways, the stations and the equipment. Viva vehicles will be out on Davis Drive, taking customer service staff and other YRT/Viva staff along the rapidways to test and familiarize them with the new setup. Regular YRT transit service will continue to pick up passengers at curbside stops until testing and training is completed, and paving is fully finished. Signs directing passengers will be posted at the curbside stops.

Operator training will run from 7am to as late as 9pm on some nights, seven days per week.  During this time you can expect to see Viva buses driving up and down the rapidway, stopping at the vivastations. The training will focus on entering and exiting the rapidway, with an emphasis on safely merging back into mixed traffic past Yonge Street and Roxborough.

Operator training will also focus on the new transit signals at intersections, which will display a single green arrow for Viva buses. This signal will be clearly marked as transit only, but Viva operators will be trained to be cautious and on the lookout to make sure members of the driving public are following the signals correctly and not turning into the rapidway lanes.

The trainees are all experienced Viva operators, so they know the route and the vehicle. They’re really excited to get going!

 

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 vivanext.com/subscribe.

 

connecting the dots

Friday, May 1st, 2015

connecting the dots

If you’ve seen the video we posted yesterday, you’ve seen how excited some people can get over great transit. Ok, so it’s a little over the top. It has been exciting though, to see our vision, planning and designs turn into rapidway reality on Highway 7 East in Markham.

Next, rapidways will open on Davis Drive in Newmarket and Highway 7 West in Vaughan, and a rapidway along Yonge Street will help connect the dots [see our project map]. Each project is at a different stage, and together they’ll provide more travel choices and help support our growing population.

If you haven’t been to our website lately, check out the new photo album showing the progress of the Highway 7 East project from beginning to end. And be sure to sign up for updates about our construction projects. They’re great sources of construction information, and you’ll also receive important project announcements, newsletters and open house invitations.

 

seeing the transformation unfold on highway 7 west

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

click here to see the video of 2014 Vaughan rapidway construction

we’ve been busy this year

Construction is well underway for the first phase of vivaNext rapidways in the City of Vaughan, and the transformation can be seen along Highway 7 West. Check out our latest video for an up-close look at the milestones we’ve accomplished this year. Although construction will continue throughout the winter months from Edgeley Boulevard to Bowes Road, here’s an update on the progress made in 2014:

  • Traffic has been shifted east of Jane Street to its final configuration, so that work in the centre of the road [including platforms and canopies] can begin in 2015.
  • As part of the 8-metre expansion of the Canadian National Railway [CN] MacMillan Bridge, we poured over 800 tonnes of concrete to create new columns and bridge pier caps.
  • Underground infrastructure revitalization continues – utility, telecommunications and storm sewer relocation is approximately 80% completed.
  • Road widening is completed and base-layer paving is 90% finished between Jane Street and the CN Bridge. Paving activities will continue in 2015.
  • In order to preserve the existing Black Creek and Hillside Culverts, retaining walls were built. In total, five retaining walls have been completed along the corridor with a few more set to get started in 2015.
  • Important traffic and pedestrian changes can be seen at several intersections. Motorists are benefiting from new turning movements and pedestrians now have two-stage crossings.

We know construction can be messy and disruptive at times, and we thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue the transformation. For up-to-date information on construction progress and activities, visit http://www.vivanext.com/hwy7progress.

 

building great cities

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

Building Great Cities

York Region’s Centres and Corridors strategy is how our Region is making sure there will be room for our growing population to live, work and play, while also protecting our sensitive lands and green zones. As our Region grows, new homes, workplaces, retail and recreational facilities are being established all along the corridors, and clustered in higher density centres in Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Markham and Newmarket.  And to make it easier for people to get where they want to go, without always needing to get in their car, rapid transit corridors featuring Viva’s comfortable Bus Rapid Transit service will link those centres.

Centres and Corridors has been a key component of Regional Council’s strategic priorities, and the amount of development actively underway in all the centres shows that great progress is already being made. But what are the steps required behind the scenes, to create the kinds of communities that are taking shape in the centres?

The first step, and one that was approved long ago, is that Regional Council provided strategic direction confirming the Centres and Corridors plan as the foundation for the Region’s Official Plan.  The Provincial Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe reinforces the principles of increased intensification and city-building, and specifically identifies the four centres as “urban growth centres.”

Included in the Provincial Growth Plan are targets for the number of people and jobs to be supported per hectare. The Region’s Official Plan includes these targets, and also establishes policies to encourage transit, pedestrian-friendly street designs, and mixed-use development.

Building on the Region’s policies, each municipality then has to review their own official plan to make sure it conforms and supports the Region’s plan. Municipalities then develop secondary plans, which set out specific land use rules and targets for defined areas including the centres.  Secondary plans shape future development, providing guidance on minimum densities, building heights, streetscaping and other strategies to encourage welcoming, pedestrian-friendly development.

Once the general rules for land use have been developed, municipalities and the Region then actively work to attract new employers and development investments.  Economic Development experts work with their Planning Department colleagues and with potential investors, to create new or expanded work opportunities.  A key driver for many of the new employment opportunities that have already been announced in York Region is the proximity to rapid transit, and the availability of a strong, educated workforce.

And the last component of our multi-pronged approach is to ensure that new housing options are available all along the corridors and in the centres.  We know that people want to live relatively near to where they work, with a short commute being highly valued.  The new housing developments that are springing up near our vivaNext routes are already providing very attractive options for people wanting an urban home, with great access to transit and work.

City-building isn’t a short-term process, but with all these components working together, bit by bit our centres and corridors are being transformed into exciting, urban places, while protecting and respecting existing developments and our natural environment.  For everyone, that means more options, more choices, and linking it all together, more Viva.

 

yonge street rapidway – a key connection

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

video: Yonge St rapidway is on the way

Check out the newest vivaNext video featuring the Yonge Street rapidway project! This rapidway is a key part of York Region’s transit network, and will connect with the Richmond Hill Centre/Langstaff Urban Gateway at Highway 7 – a key Regional Centre with a variety of transit services and transportation options.

Now that the contract has been awarded to RapidLINK, our next step will be to work closely with the contractor to finalize the design of the rapidway on Yonge Street and develop a construction schedule. Over the summer and through the fall and winter months, crews continue working along the Yonge Street corridor to prepare for construction.

During this pre-construction phase, these teams will more accurately document existing conditions above and below the ground. This work is mainly conducted during off-peak driving hours and sometimes requires lane closures.

Building a roadway is a process that follows clearly defined steps and uses modern technology, equipment and materials. Although we have access to some of the best, most experienced construction contractors, building the rapidway down the middle of some of the Region’s busiest roads is a complicated undertaking. That said, we have an experienced team of dedicated staff and constructors who are on board and up for the challenge.

During construction, we realize that it’s important to minimize the impact on businesses and people using the road by keeping travel lanes open whenever possible and safe to do so. For more information on the project and construction information, visit vivanext.com/yonge-street-richmond-hill.

 

take a tour of the new rapidway on highway 7

Monday, September 15th, 2014

video: Highway 7 East rapidway - Now Open - 2014

This morning, The Honourable Steven Del Duca, Ontario Minister of Transportation, announced the opening of the section of rapidway from Highway 404 to South Town Centre on Highway 7 East. He was joined by: The Honourable Michael Chan, MPP, Markham; Bill Fisch, Chairman and CEO, The Regional Municipality of York; Bruce McCuaig, President and CEO of Metrolinx; Frank Scarpitti, Mayor of the City of Markham.

Travelling along Highway 7, it’s hard to miss the beautiful and functional vivastations in the centre median. These stations are making a huge contribution to the transformation of our community in Richmond Hill and Markham, so let us take you on the same guided tour as our dignitaries took this morning for an inside look at the benefits and attributes of these stations.

The first thing you’ll notice as you cross to a station is how big and airy the canopy is at 28m [92’] long and 5m [16’] high. The curved glass above the platform provides both weather protection and a sense of space at the same time and satisfies long-term needs as platforms accommodate two Viva vehicles at once and in future will be able to accommodate Light Rail Transit [LRT]. The platform is approached by a gently sloped ramp with handrails on both sides, making it fully accessible to all, whether they’re walking, pushing a stroller, or in a wheelchair or scooter. Passing by the familiar Viva fin and planter boxes with greenery, you’ll next come to an illuminated wall map of the YRT\Viva system.

Next on the tour is a bank of fare equipment, including a Ticket Vending Machine [TVM], a Ticket Validator [TV], and two PRESTO machines. Once you’ve paid your fare, you’ll move to the Fare Paid Zone [FPZ], which is clearly shown by being paved with a different coloured tile on the ground, as well as by a curved sign above. This area needs to show as distinct, because YRT fare rules require passengers to have paid their fare before moving into the FPZ.

Once you’ve paid your fare, you’re free to make yourself comfortable on the platform until the next bus arrives. We’re making it easy for you to know how long you’ve got to wait, with a large Variable Message Sign [VMS] projected from the canopy. The VMS scrolls through the upcoming Viva arrivals, telling you exactly when the next bus will arrive. Because the VMS system is connected to the GPS technology in our Viva vehicles as well as to the central transit scheduling software, it’s constantly updated to provide accurate and real-time information.

If you decide to sit on a bench or get comfy out of the elements, the shelters have been designed with passenger comfort as a priority. The heated glass enclosure is well lit, and accessed by two push-button automatic doors. The heaters – which will be appreciated later this year – automatically turn on if someone enters the enclosure, and if the temperature in the enclosure feels lower than 10 degrees Celsius. Recycling and garbage disposal units on the platforms make it easy to keep these lovely stations clean.

The entire platform will be well lit, with lighting inside the canopy as well as on the platform.  And to enhance your feelings of comfort and security, the back of the platform is protected from Highway 7 traffic by a barrier wall topped with a guardrail, and there are multiple security features including cameras and an emergency call button.

Last but not least, to help you stay oriented, wayfinding signage will show you where the buses will stop, and other features including the way to the crosswalk.

It’s hard to do the stations, and the rapidway justice with written descriptions, so here’s a video showing you some of the action involved in completing this section of the rapidway. One of the regular passengers tweeted that “it has cut my travel time in half, way to go!”