Posts Tagged ‘vivaNext’

having your own wheels, in your pocket

Sunday, March 11th, 2018

having your own wheels, in your pocket

For most of us old enough to have our drivers’ license, our approach to transportation has taken a pretty linear path. First, we got driven around by our parents. Then, we got a bit of independence when we could bike to our friends’. The bike in turn was ditched on that much-anticipated and magical day when we could get our own “wheels.” Throughout, as a fallback, there was always the bus. For most of us, how we got around reflected where we lived and what our budget was. But what wasn’t an option, was the thought that at any given time there could be multiple good choices for how we could get around. Or even, that there might be something more convenient or desirable than owning our own car.

All that is changing, and fast.

As this compelling report from consulting firm Deloitte describes, mobility – i.e., how we get around, is quickly becoming something people are approaching as consumers, like any other service or goods they shop for. People want choice, they want flexibility, and they want convenience. And they want it now.

Mobility as a service – MaaS for short – is poised to change how we get around, in the same way that Netflix forever changed how we access entertainment. Remember that not-so-long-ago day, when watching a movie meant lining up at the movie theatre to buy a paper ticket? Now, to catch the latest, you still might want to go out to the theatre, or you might want to call it up on your smart TV at home. Or maybe you want to watch on your phone while you’re enjoying a latte at the coffee shop. Instantaneous options, to suit your mood, at a given moment. Oh, and you don’t need to pay for that movie with cash, since that’s all handled by your TV or phone’s app automatically. It’s all seamless, and easy to use, and we just take it for granted now.

Take that degree of transformation and apply it to how you get around. That’s how mobility is about to be changed.

Say you need to get from A to B. You go to your app, punch in where you are now and where you’re going, and it tells you all your options. Bike sharing, public transit, ride hailing, car sharing, etc. You’ll be told what combination will get you there soonest, and how much each component will cost. You pay on your phone. It’s all coordinated behind the scenes, but seamless for you.

Sounds like some kind of sci-fi? Not at all. Some cities, including in Europe and Japan, are way ahead and already have these apps in place, coordinating the services offered by a whole range of public and private sector mobility providers. Canadian cities aren’t all that far behind. And with some transformation, our public transit services will play a key role as they do in those other cities; many, including at York Region Rapid Transit, are already focusing on mobility options. This means lots of creative ways of working together to make mobility seamless and more efficient for consumers. The day is coming when you can have your own “wheels,” without owning a car.


rapid transit means quality of life

Friday, February 16th, 2018

rapid transit means quality of life

When you think of rapid transit, you probably think of commuting – getting to school or work on time, without having to rely on a car. It’s true that transit helps people get to work – and that having more people on transit means fewer cars on the roads. But a fast, convenient transit system means more than getting to work.

It means getting home on time to meet friends for dinner, take the kids to swimming lessons or just to enjoy family time. Knowing when the next bus [or subway] will arrive is key. And being able to predict when you’ll get there is important to you, and everyone you’re connecting with.

Whether you take transit because it’s fast and easy, or because you can text your friends on the bus, quality of life is what it’s all about. This Family Day weekend, we wish you all the best, as you connect with friends and family.


we’re preparing for spring [despite what groundhogs may say…]

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

we’re preparing for spring [despite what the groundhog may say…]

The groundhogs seem to be of differing opinions about when spring is coming. Of the big three – Wiarton Willie, Shubenacadie Sam and Punxsutawney Phil – one says winter is over, and two predict six more weeks.

We’re ready for spring to come at vivaNext, with lots of plans afoot to continue the transformation of York Region’s busiest roads to rapidways.

When spring has sprung and the ground has thawed, our crews will be ready to carry out their detailed construction plans.

We carry out construction in all seasons, but there are some things that need warmer temperatures, like road widening, paving and of course, planting! Planters will be installed along Yonge Street in Newmarket this spring. At our newly open Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station, the planters are ready and waiting for a green touch, soon to be filled with greenery.

We’re paving the way to spring with information, preparing newsletters on our projects, and keeping our Board and local stakeholders updated. Subscribe to sign up for email updates today.

At this time of year, we’re looking forward to ramping up our work. It’s not long now, and whether the groundhogs are right or wrong, we’re ready for spring.

viva la winter!

Monday, January 29th, 2018

Brr, it’s cold out there, or unseasonably warm, depending on the day. You never know what’s in store. Regardless of the weather, our construction crews continue to expand the Viva rapidway system to improve connections in York Region. The winter season lends itself to certain types of work, especially the kind that happens above ground.

shiny, new canopies

Forget the January blahs! It’s been exciting times on the Bathurst & Centre corridor this past month. The first two vivastation canopies were installed at Bathurst/Hwy 7 Station located on the Bathurst connector road, one for each side of the station. There’s nothing like seeing that crane lift the canopy into place!

The elegant, arched glass canopies evoke traditional European transit infrastructure, transforming the everyday experience of transit into a beautiful one. A third canopy is coming this winter to the vivastation on Bathurst at Atkinson Avenue.

Looking to the west, construction of the first vivastation platform is beginning to take shape at what will be Commerce Street Station on Highway 7 West.

On both Highway 7 West and Bathurst & Centre, road widening and construction of storm sewers, retaining walls and culvert work is underway. Winter is also a great time to relocate hydro lines and install new poles, which is getting close to being completed in this area.

signals, check!

Our Yonge Street projects are not as far along, and the underground utility work they need to do is limited during cold weather. Crews have made some progress on installing underground duct banks and gas mains in Richmond Hill. Traffic signal work, a good above-ground winter activity, and is also underway. In Newmarket, crews are preparing to start work on the east side of Yonge when the weather gets a bit warmer. They’ll be replicating the road widening that was performed on the west side last year.

planning season

Winter is also a great time to make plans, large and small. We’re working together with the TTC on design and engineering for the biggest plan of all – the Yonge Subway Extension. Also, our staff and contractors are carefully planning spring construction schedules for the Viva rapidway projects, coordinating in advance with stakeholders, and procuring contractors for other projects.

Come spring, our crews will be raring to go, full steam ahead. If you’d like to keep on top of what’s going on in your community, we invite you to sign up for updates.

the critical role of spiders in building Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

Now, before you think we’ve imported some exotic tropical arachnids, what we call “spiders” are actually the stainless steel fittings that hold together the glass pieces on our stations. They’re called spiders due to their shape, and they play a critical role in the architectural and structural design of our stations.

For the new Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] rapidway station, the main structural support comes from the welded steel superstructure that forms the distinctive curved shape. Over top of that, steel, custom-made spider fittings are bolted to each steel intersection. The spider fittings support the individual glass panels on the station’s sides and skylight.

410 panels of glass

Each triangular-shaped panel of glass is attached by brackets on the legs of the spiders. Because each piece of glass is a unique size and shape, the job of attaching the glass to the spiders is very fiddly. The extra-large 50 by 24 metre VMC canopy has an eye-popping 410 panels, each equally spaced and slightly different due to the station’s curved planes. The tempered glass can’t be cut or drilled on site without shattering, so holes for the brackets were made during the fabrication process.

beautiful precision

We knew if the holes in the glass didn’t line up exactly to the spider brackets, the glass pieces wouldn’t fit. Since glass fabrication is a fairly slow process, we didn’t want to risk having to go back and remake a piece. Rather than making the glass in advance, we installed the spiders, then measured them with a 3-D laser scanner that registered the targets as multiple cloud points; essentially the same process used to make a 3-D model.

The last step was the installation of the glass panels to the station roof, and seeing all this precision and planning come together for beautiful results. Now if you visit the VMC rapidway station, you can take shelter under a strong and stunning glass canopy reminiscent of the great European architectural traditions, right here in York Region.


beautiful curves of glass

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

If you’ve ever had to replace a window in your house, you know that working with glass is fiddly, exacting work. It needs to fit perfectly or you’ll get drafts and leaks. Glass has no tolerance for being the wrong shape or size. And dropping a pane from a window: well, that means another trip back to the store.

Now, imagine the challenges of installing the glass on the curves of our new Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] rapidway station. As you can guess, it was a long, multi-stage process, done with great care and precision.

strength and safety

As with all our vivastations, the VMC glass was laminated and tempered for strength and safety. First the glass was cut into panes, and then it went through a special process to make it extra strong. This way, if it breaks, it crumbles into small granular chunks instead of sharp pieces.

To add more strength and make it even safer, we then laminated the tempered glass by sandwiching two glass sheets together around an interlayer. If the glass is broken, the interlayer holds the small pieces together instead of breaking into many little shards, the same way a car windshield stays together in an accident. The interlayer on the blue skylight glass is actually a different, stronger material than the interlayer used for the clear side glass, since the top skylight needs to support heavier loads from snow and maintenance workers.

creating curves

Fitting flat glass to the curved shape of the station was a challenge, because every surface of the steel roof curved over two dimensions, much like the outside of a ball. The first step was to divide the glass into a series of triangles. Three-sided shapes are easier to work with compared to four-sided shapes, the same way a tripod is more stable on uneven ground compared to a four-legged chair.

But this still left the challenge of fitting flat pieces of glass over a curved frame. The solution here was to adjust the bolts on the corners of the spiders [the stainless steel fittings that hold  the glass pieces onto the frame] so they’re each set at a different height. We knew how high each bolt needed to be from 3D scans, so we adjusted them before we installed the glass. By installing each corner of glass at a slightly different height, we recreated the curves of the tubular steel frame.

intricate jigsaw puzzle

The last step was putting the glass panels in place, one by one. Although they were all triangles, every piece was unique like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, so to avoid mix-ups they were carefully numbered before they were delivered. Once the glass panels were bolted onto the spiders and the final adjustments made to perfect the curve of the glass, we sealed the gaps with caulking to make the structure weather-tight.

Building this strong and beautiful glass-covered station took precision, but look at the stunning results! This landmark station helps set the architectural stage for future development at the VMC and makes the everyday experience of transit a beautiful one for our customers.

amazing team, extraordinary results

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

What a week it has been! The launch of the TTC Line 1 subway extension with the Highway 7 West rapidway and vivastation on Sunday in Vaughan is one of those lifetime moments. We’re going to remember this day for the rest of our lives. This is the day everything became a little closer, and a lot faster for York Region and the City of Vaughan.

unwavering dedication

For everyone involved, including us at York Region Rapid Transit Corporation, it was an exhilarating and emotional weekend, the culmination of years of incredible challenges and unwavering dedication, everything we’ve been working toward for a very long time! Many of us shouted and cheered as the first train pulled into the new subway station.

Then, seeing that Viva bus roll down the red asphalt rapidway into the open, airy Vaughan Metropolitan Centre vivastation and pick up actual passengers who came up the stairs from the subway – well, it’s hard to describe the feeling, except to say that more than a few grew a little misty-eyed! So many people came out to mark this milestone day for transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, we know how much these new transit connections matter and we thank you for your patience during the long construction period.


Kudos goes out to the engineers, planners and project team, whose tireless drive moved the VMC station and rapidway project forward every step of the way: from the environmental assessments to the design to breaking ground, from utility relocations to storm sewer work and road widening. Along with the many contractors, they pushed though good and bad weather, scalding heat, freezing cold and everything in between. They worked through paving and bridge reconstructions, to timelines off schedule and on again, to the construction of our vivastations and our landmark Vaughan Metropolitan Centre vivastation. Experts from many agencies, cities and private companies all came together to make this day happen.

Now we have incredible, tangible results with the first subway-BRT connection, a legacy that will keep our Region moving for years to come. Just goes to prove anything is possible with extraordinary teamwork, unwavering dedication and an eye to the future. Again, thank you for supporting this project and we hope you get out and try the new system!

Subway and new Viva connections NOW OPEN in Vaughan!

Sunday, December 17th, 2017

This morning, the first subway carrying transit customers arrived in York Region, forging a historic connection between bus rapid transit and subway. Now, everyone can experience seamless transit connections in Vaughan! The vivaNext rapidway and new landmark vivastation also opened for service this morning with an epic celebration at Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC], alongside the TTC Line 1 subway extension opening. Viva la subway!

Read the news release.

even more transit connections

Now the transit connections available to customers simply go further and faster. The rapidway-subway connection marks a tipping point for transit in York Region, amplifying the power of the Viva rapid transit network.

The VMC area is a transit powerhouse, home to two new stations: the landmark Vaughan Metropolitan Centre vivastation and the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre subway station – the new terminus of TTC Line 1. In a few months, the SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal will make the VMC area even better, connecting YRT buses to both stations with a pedestrian tunnel.

true city building

There’s no doubt – your destination has arrived! The new VMC development is true city-building on an epic scale, built on the foundation of strong transit connections. Not only does rapid transit transform how people move in our Region, it changes how we live – for the better. Stronger economies, more jobs, and walkable, livable, desirable communities: it’s the driving force behind York Region’s Transportation Master Plan and the reason we build rapid transit.

On an even larger scale, strong connections like these that cross regional borders are crucial to the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area [GTHA], and a key strategy of the Metrolinx Draft 2041 Regional Transportation Plan.

Thank you!

Now we can see the network take shape in York Region, with three rapidways running, two more underway and an actual subway connection!

Changes of this magnitude are fueled by the power of collaboration and funding partnerships. Our rapidway projects are funded by the Province of Ontario, and our other projects are funded by a combination of Federal, Provincial and Regional contributions. SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal even includes some private funding for the pedestrian tunnel.

We’ve all come a long way together, and we thank you for your patience during construction. Now, we hope you enjoy the ride!

proof of performance

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

The days are counting down and the excitement is growing. The launch of our extraordinary new vivastation at Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, along with the ground-breaking TTC Line 1 subway extension and our rapidway, is only four days away. Now we have one last crucial task to complete before our gorgeous new station joins the transit mega-hub at the VMC: we need to carry out commissioning.

testing, one, two, three

Commissioning of the new bus rapid transit station is similar to the process we do for all our new stations, rapidways and facilities. Very simply, it means confirming everything we installed, from the heaters and automatic doors in the passenger enclosures, to the cameras, speakers and variable message signs [VMS] on the platforms, works the way it’s supposed to.

Before their work is done, our builders have to test every single device and piece of equipment to demonstrate they met all their obligations. The station has complex equipment for fares and security, and all the general building components like lights, plumbing, and electrical connections. Systems connect to the central York Region control room, enabling them to see the platforms, hear the speakers, run messages on the VMS and communicate through emergency call buttons. During commissioning, every light switch, outlet and connection is tested. Our builder also works with the new station owners, YRT/Viva, to help them assume operation.

smart systems

The new station is part of a highly sophisticated system which includes the broader rapidway network and its whole range of intelligent transportation system [ITS] features. ITS is really the reason Viva is able to operate as a rapid transit service, keeping our system running on time with supervision from YRT/Viva’s central control room.

trial run

A critical part of commissioning is testing the newly finished components in the new VMC station and the surrounding rapidway, to make sure they’re all connected properly to the control room and the rest of the system. Testing for full integration requires that we run buses through the new rapidway for a day. During that process, we’ll make sure that all the traffic-related components are communicating properly to the buses and to the general system, and ensure the traffic signal timing is set for optimal travel times.

This station has one more layer of complexity beyond the other stations we’ve built, because of its connections to the TTC. We need to check every interface with the TTC system, which includes electrical connections running between our station and their panels below.

Commissioning is the final step, and you can see why it’s so important to do it carefully and methodically. Because of that complexity, some work will continue on the station in 2018. But once it’s finished, get ready to celebrate and enjoy faster transit with us!

changes are coming to Vaughan!

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

changes are coming to Vaughan!

As of December 17, there will be new ways to get around in Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC]. The TTC Line 1 extension will open, Viva will start using the brand new vivastation and rapidway on Highway 7 west of Jane, and YRT buses will begin servicing the new SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal.

How will it all connect? Check out our latest video, showing a cross-section of how subway meets bus rapid transit in the VMC.

The countdown is on and it’s an exciting time for Vaughan and the Greater Toronto Area. With so many new developments, new ways to get around and more destinations to explore, it’s a good thing it’s all connected.

Be sure to sign up for email updates, follow us on Twitter and Instagram.