Posts Tagged ‘transit’

a connected transit terminal

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

a connected transit terminal

This morning, we marked the beginning of construction for a new YRT bus terminal in Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC]. The news release gives the basic project information, but doesn’t delve into how this terminal will connect in the GTA transit network:

bus

Well, it is a bus terminal. YRT buses will use this terminal, taking customers in and out of York Region’s neighbourhoods and to places farther away like Brampton and northern Toronto. Customers will also be able to walk to the VMC vivastation in the middle of Highway 7, where Viva will take them away on dedicated bus rapid transit lanes. They’ll walk about two minutes above ground, or when the weather is frightful they’ll take the underground path and escalator, elevator and stairs to reach the vivastation.

subway

Customers will take the underground path or walk along landscaped paths outside to the VMC Subway Station entrance just south of the terminal, to access the underground concourse for the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension. The subway concourse is actually under the vivastation on Highway 7 – stay tuned for a future blog about this.

walking and cycling

The VMC area is planned as a walkable area with tree-lined sidewalks and places to live, work, shop and take transit. The terminal will meet accessibility standards, and customers will be able to walk or cycle there from any direction.

driving

The terminal is near the intersection of Highway 400 ad Highway 407, so a passenger pick-up and drop off [aka. “kiss ‘n ride”] will be included, encouraging carpooling.

 

So it’s not your typical bus terminal and it’s more than a place to wait for the bus. It’s about connections, and where they’ll take you from here.

 

the last mile is the hardest

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

the last mile is the hardest

The “last mile” has a reputation. It’s been known as the hardest and the greatest, the final step in getting somewhere, regardless of what that involves [or how far it actually is].

Earlier this month, Ryerson City Building Institute released a video trailer in advance of a Last Mile Meetup event they hosted. The video and meetup invited conversation about the #LastMile, and was the basis for a Toronto Star article. The GTA includes lots of suburban cities and towns. And where there are suburbs, there is that last mile challenge – the beginning and end of a commute to work or school. While most of the commute might be easily done with rapid transit, the last mile usually relies on driving, cycling, walking or taking local transit.

Driving that last mile to a commuter transit station might mean parking in a massive, overcrowded parking lot. Walking or cycling are natural choices as long as there are safe, accessible places to and from the station – this of course depends on weather and the distance travelled. Transit is a good option, but we understand that bus schedules don’t always fit in with the always-in-a-hurry commuter and routes may not get riders close enough to their final destination.

This last leg of the journey can make or break the commute. It’s often the deciding factor on whether the entire commute will be done by car or by transit. Everyone’s trip is unique, and might involve extra stops along the way, like picking up kids from a babysitter or stopping for groceries. So there need to be options, and each option needs to be flexible. To arrive at the right solutions for the last mile, most agree that new ideas need to be piloted, such as the dial-a-ride service in York Region, carpooling, ride-sharing, and safe and secure places for walking and cycling.

It comes down to mobility and quality of life. Mobility is about being able to get to and from where you live easily. Your daily quality of life may depend on how you travel that last leg of the journey – is your last mile the hardest… or the greatest?

 

learning outside the classroom

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

learning outside the classroom

While your kids may lament the early mornings and long days that come with being back in school, there’s no denying the amount of pride they feel when they learn something new.  This fall, embrace learning by visiting York Region’s centres of culture and education.

Markham: Flato Markham Theatre

Located just off of Highway 7 at Warden Avenue, Flato Markham Theatre is a cultural destination for everyone, regardless of their tastes or interests.  This season, Flato Markham Theatre is housing a wide variety of showcases.  From concerts, to tributes, to dance shows, to local theatrical productions, there’s something for everyone, and with it’s convenient location at Highway 7 and Warden, everyone can get there with Viva.

Vaughan: Ansley Grove Library

Ansley Grove Library is attached to Chancellor Community Centre just north of Highway 7 in Woodbridge, and is home to a variety of books, magazines and multimedia materials in many languages including English, French and Italian.  The library also features a children’s room, where events for little ones are put on throughout the year. When you’re done, take an easy walk to Highway 7, where transit will get you home.

Newmarket: Elman W. Campbell Museum

Located on Historical Main Street in the heart of Newmarket, the Elman W. Campbell Museum serves as an educational connection to Newmarket’s history.  The museum is a non-profit educational centre created to preserve and display local artifacts. The Elman W. Campbell Museum also hosts events, including Culture Days open houses and family Halloween parties. This destination is a “can’t miss” for those looking for a compelling, educational outing, just a short walk from Viva Yellow.

These are just a few – every town or city has places to learn and experience culture and history. YRT and Viva will get you to and from the theatre, the library and museum, and since you don’t have to do the driving, bring some reading material and learn on the road! Wondering what your transit options are? Try downloading the YRT/Viva app!

 

– Sydney Grant, student Public Relations Coordinator

 

green light, go light

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

green light, go light

When it comes to traffic lights, there is a clear favourite: no one likes red, but everyone loves green. And those advanced green arrows are great, except that they never seem to last long enough. Seriously, traffic signals are one of those aspects of commuting that we all have strong feelings about. But what determines when a light changes from red to green, and how long that advanced green should last? Let’s try to shed some light on that…

There’s nothing random about the timing of traffic signal phases, and their design has only one goal: to move traffic and pedestrians as freely and safely as possible along our roadways. As with all aspects of civil and urban design, things are more complicated than they might seem, requiring clear priorities and tradeoffs to balance out everyone’s needs. Here are the basics.

In traffic engineering-speak, a signal phase refers to the operation for all approaches to an intersection [e.g., a red light will show for a side street at the same time as the main road has a green light]. A cycle is the entire combination of phases for an intersection [red, green, amber, advanced green etc.]. A cycle can range from 90 to 160 seconds [meaning if you miss a green light, that’s how long you could wait until the next one], although the timing depends on the intersection and the time of day.

Determining what phases are needed for the cycle, and how long each phase will last, reflects the needs of all users – including transit, pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. Some phases in the cycle length ensure that road users are not in conflict with one another [for example, drivers can’t exit a side street at the same time as drivers are going straight through on the main road]. Also, some users’ needs will be parallel within a phase – e.g., pedestrians, transit and drivers all travelling in the same direction.

Decisions about phases, and how long they last, take into account actual traffic volumes and how traffic patterns change throughout the day. Timing is designed to make the intersection work as efficiently as possible [meaning moving through the largest numbers of users], and minimize delays for all road users [although with many roads at or over capacity during rush hour, signal timing alone can’t solve congestion]. Signal priority is also provided to fire, ambulance and transit, where the signals change to provide priority right-of-way to emergency vehicles and some transit vehicles, without violating the pedestrian timings.

Timing for each phase is based on the minimum timings required by provincial standards. These include minimum timings for pedestrians, motorist and vehicle clearance [amber and red timings] based on several factors, including the width of the intersection, and traffic speed [posted and operating].

Proximity to other infrastructure also has an impact on priorities and the timing of phases. For example, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation may have jurisdictional control over the timing of lights at some intersections, depending on how close the intersection is to a provincial highway off-ramp or railway crossing.

Ultimately, any one cycle has only so many seconds, and no one wants to wait longer than they have to. So the design of traffic signals needs to balance everyone’s needs, while working out the best way to move traffic through an intersection and along a thoroughfare, and minimizing delay for all road users. York Region’s Traffic Signal Operations department continually reviews and assesses the performance of the region’s 848 signalized intersections, and adjusts signal timing to get people moving as freely as possible. Please contact traffic@york.ca if you have any traffic signal concerns.

Whether you’re crossing intersections on foot, bus, bike or car, traffic signals are there to move everyone along safely.

 

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.

 

automated vehicles >> will transit drive itself?

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

automated vehicles >> will transit drive itself?

Lately there’s been a lot of news on the topic of automated vehicles. In February, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the US officially stated that an artificial intelligence system [computer] in an automated vehicle can officially be considered a driver. And in at least five global cities, there are driverless buses already on the streets. In aviation, pilots have been relying on auto-pilot for decades when landing and taking off in low visibility, and many people-mover rail systems [such as airport monorails] are automated.

Studies show that, statistically speaking, computers are safer than humans at driving. However, we know that getting from here to there is about more than arriving safely. Comfort is important of course, along with convenience and efficiency or speed. For some, a travel choice is a personal statement – to cycle or walk, to make use of transit, or to drive a certain style of car. Many vehicles already have “driver assistance systems,” with features that brake when an obstacle is detected, and alert the driver when the car in front has moved forward or when the vehicle has left its traffic lane.

So the technology is there, and it’s already being used. The question isn’t whether it will happen, it’s how it will affect how we travel. It will depend on how they’re used – if every individual uses their own automated vehicle, traffic congestion and parking issues will likely remain the same. But if we share vehicles and take transit…our cities and roads could become safer and more efficient.  Interesting topics for discussion and consideration and we continue to follow them with interest.

At vivaNext we’re for mobility – whether this means subway, bus rapid transit, or automated transit in the future, we’re thinking about how York Region’s roads can be prepared and always looking for new and innovative ideas to make improvements.

 

a touch of nature…

Friday, March 18th, 2016

a touch of nature…

…makes the whole world kin. At least that’s what Shakespeare wrote. Everyone wants to help out the environment, even just a little. And the key to making that happen is to weave it into what you do. At vivaNext, we do what we can to help out by incorporating environmental and sustainable standards into what we do.

saving…

When we built a transit facility in Richmond Hill, more than 95% of construction waste was diverted from landfills by recycling. This equals about 582 tonnes, or enough to fill 32 city buses. The facility was built to LEED Silver standards, and includes a rainwater recycling system for the bus wash, which saves about 5.5 million litres each year. When we build rapidways, the old asphalt is taken to local recycling centres, saving valuable construction material for re-use.

planting…

Every rapidway project includes tree-lined sidewalks with special under-sidewalk root systems and tree and shrub species chosen to best suit their location. Including greenery in our communities has important side benefits, including improved health for residents, increased property values, better business outcomes, and reduced energy costs. Each project is unique, and where there are creeks and culverts, our work includes natural restoration, which creates better conditions for wildlife and aquatic species. For a peek at how we connect with nature, check out our video.

building!

And don’t forget the most important thing we’re doing – building rapid transit! Adding sustainable travel choices to our landscape is the most important thing we can do to help our communities thrive. Each bus can replace up to 70 cars and during peak hours along rapidway routes, can be up to 42% faster and certainly reduces emissions. Having fast, reliable transit within walking distance helps support the growth coming to our downtowns in Markham, Newmarket, Vaughan and Richmond Hill – and this central growth helps prevent suburban sprawl.

We’re doing what we can to help the environment and making it part of what we do. Earth Hour is 8:30-9:30pm this Saturday, and we’ll do that little bit extra by powering down and we hope you will too.

 

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.

 

shifting how we think about transportation

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

shifting how we think about transportation

One of the great things about huge events like the Pan Am and ParaPan Am Games is seeing how people adjust to the changes the event brings. Leading up to the Toronto 2015 Games, there were some concerns that the Games would cause severe traffic congestion. But thanks to some extra emphasis put on transit and carpooling across the GTA, people have been exploring other choices in how to get around. This, in turn, has likely helped reduce traffic congestion. Whether it’s taking transit, bicycling or carpooling to make use of HOV lanes, every little bit helps.

It’s a shift that takes some getting used to, adjusting to a new routine using a new mode of transit. And it’s this “modal shift” that is so important when developing transit for a growing community.

Most days of the week, many of our roads and intersections are at capacity or beyond. They’re not going to get any less congested as our cities and regions continue to grow, and since there’s limited space in the GTA for roads, there are really only two ways to address congestion.

The first way involves road design, traffic signals and traffic detection systems – known as Intelligent Transportation Systems or ITS, York Region uses this approach to make our existing roads better.

The other approach, which is known to traffic engineers as transportation modal shift but to everyone else as reducing our reliance on cars, is probably the best long-term strategy to reduce traffic congestion. Modal shift means cutting down on the number of trips made by one form of transportation by shifting to other forms of transportation, including transit, cycling or walking.

Modal shift may sound a little technical, or maybe it’s hard to imagine – as if people would get out of their cars all at once and climb onto buses and trains. But really it’s just a matter of small changes in behaviour: taking the bus to the GO station or subway every now and then; carpooling with your co-worker; walking to the convenience store instead of driving; helping the kids bike to school instead of giving them a ride.  All great ideas that the people at Smart Commute and Pembina Institute advocate for.

For successful modal shift, major infrastructure and land use decisions need to be in place, followed-up by investments.  Transit needs to be convenient and reliable; shops and schools need to be within reasonable walking distance; there need to be bike lanes; and jobs need to be located near housing.

Fortunately, all of the long-term decisions and investments that will eventually encourage and enable more people to reduce their reliance on cars are already underway in York Region.  Modal shift away from cars will be able to happen because people will be offered easier, more convenient and reliable ways to get around.

A gradual shift toward other modes of transportation will reduce congestion on our roads. It’s a long-term process, requiring patience, careful planning, and commitment.  It’s also a big part of the vivaNext vision, and with every rapid transit project we build more transportation choices, and the vision becomes an exciting reality.

 

when transit is the star, good things happen

Friday, July 17th, 2015

more riders transit legacy

One of the most valuable legacies of the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games is the reliance on transit. In fact, the first vivaNext rapidway on Highway 7 East in Markham and Richmond Hill is actively being used during the Pan Am Games.

And it turns out there’s more to the story.

In an article in this morning’s Globe and Mail, urban transportation reporter Oliver Moore points out that the experience of all these Pan Am transit riders is painting a picture of how great having effective efficient mass transit can be when transit systems are in place, and when transit is actively supported and promoted.

For example:
• The transit agencies across the GTHA are working together more
• People are changing their habits as drivers become riders
• Buses on HOV lanes maintain schedules or are often ahead of schedule

“For riders, it is a glimpse of how fast and reliable surface transportation can be – offering a real alternative – if it does not have to compete with other traffic,” notes Moore.

Now’s that’s a legacy we @vivaNext can get excited about!

Click to read the article.

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