Posts Tagged ‘vivastation’

connecting people to people

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

connecting people to people

Have you ever wondered why the central markets, main streets and train stations of old cities thrive for so many years? Whether it’s the Temple Street Market in Hong Kong, the piazzas of Italy, or Toronto’s Union Station, it’s important to have a place to gather and connect. Somewhere to meet a friend or someone new, wait for the next bus or train, or just people-watch.

We all want to be around people, at least some of the time – Aristotle once said “man is by nature a social animal.” So in York Region, we’re hard at work building attractive places to spend our “connecting” time. A warm area at the station while you wait for Viva [it won’t be long!]… a place to buy coffee at the SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal in Vaughan, tree-lined sidewalks in Newmarket for walking along Davis Drive, or a trellis-covered plaza with benches to meet a friend at Cornell Terminal in Markham.

In this world of internet and mobile devices it’s easy to find ourselves isolated from the general population, so we’re using smart design to make sure everything we build connects people – not just vehicles.

 

matching the heights

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

matching the heights

With the extraordinary maneuvering required to install the roof sections of the VMC BRT station in its location in the centre of Highway 7, you might think the most challenging part of this project has been its incredible glass and steel canopy.

It’s true that installing the canopy of the station required a lot of planning and meticulous engineering. But actually, the coordination of the underground subway station with the BRT station above has been – and still is – a much more complex logistical challenge.

the mechanics of it all

Building the actual physical connections between the two structures was involved but not unduly complicated, similar to any building that has a framed structure on top of a concrete slab. Because the top of the station is wider than the lower part and overhangs at the edges, we couldn’t use rebar dowels, which are the most common construction method. Instead, we used mechanical couplings that enabled us to essentially bolt the top to the bottom.

working together

What makes the project more challenging is that the subway station is being built by the TTC, while the above ground BRT station is being built by vivaNext. With two different owners, and two different contractors, the project demands an intensive degree of coordination and planning.

Joint planning work began long ago, starting with establishing the specific requirements for how the project needed to be built, both below and above ground, and inside and outside the subway station. With the TTC building the subway station up to the surface, and vivaNext building the BRT station from the ground up, the heights of floors and ceilings had to line up perfectly.

top to bottom, inside and out

The vertical elements between the lower and upper floors – including the stairs, escalators and elevators – had to be installed early, with no margin for error. Escalators are very rigid, designed to fit perfectly between floors. And because the rapidway runs right through the station, the top of the escalator, stairs and elevator also had to align precisely with the existing level of Highway 7 outside.

At the same time as the TTC was building the lower levels of the subway station, we were outside building the civil works – the roadway, curbs and gutters – that surround the BRT station. Again, because the rapidway runs through the station, the heights of the underground parts of these elements had to fit with the height of the subway box below.

The BRT station is well on its way and is already a head-turner. In the not-too-distant future, all of this engineering and coordination will make it possible for you to step off the escalator at VMC subway station and easily make your way to the BRT station on Highway 7 and beyond.

See an artist’s rendering of the VMC BRT station once complete.

 

form meets function where Viva meets the subway

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

form meets function where Viva meets the subway

There’s a lot happening near Highway 7 and Jane Street right now. With the subway extension, bus rapidway, bus terminal, and commercial and residential buildings being built, it’s difficult to distinguish one construction project from the other. In the past week though, one project has become more visible.

In the middle of Highway 7, between Jane Street and the Highway 400 ramps, a huge structure is being built. The VMC-Spadina Subway vivastation will play an important part of this transit-oriented area, connecting Viva customers to the subway below.

The station is supersized with longer and wider platforms, and the roof will cover the entire rapidway. Customers will be able to access the concourse below via elevator or stairs to access the new subway extension or walk a few minutes underground to catch YRT or Züm at a new bus terminal.

A few fun facts about the station:

  • Single canopy is 50m long x 22m wide – bigger than the other vivastations to accommodate more bus and passenger traffic.
  • Steel structure assembled as three roof sections [now installed]; eight ladder sections [the first just arrived]; and 70 smaller infill sections.
  • Uses a combination of aluminum, painted steel, ceramic frit and tinted glass panels – overall, the station will appear light grey with blue and white accents.
  • Up-lighting will illuminate the lattice pattern of steel supports and glass panels on the roof.
  • Real-time bus arrival screens in station waiting areas, and underground at concourse level.
  • Heated and unheated waiting areas on each platform.
  • 100% coverage by security cameras.
  • Windscreens to block the prevailing wind – potential showcases for public art.
  • Hidden rainwater gutters and downspouts to drain water under the roadway.

The steel structure can be seen in the middle of Highway 7, and this will take a couple of months to put into position, and another couple of months of welding. As you’ll soon see, this station will make the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre area look very different. And once it opens in 2018, will connect everyone to where they need to go.

 

rapidways >> who goes there?

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

rapidways >> who goes there?

We have rapidways open on Highway 7 East, and on Davis Drive, and most people who live and work near these new rapid transit routes know who has access to the rapidways – buses! In fact, the rapidways are paved in red and painted with “bus only” to prevent others from accidentally entering the lanes.

There are a few others who are allowed to drive in the rapidway lanes. Ambulances, fire engines and police cruisers are permitted in an emergency to get past traffic quickly and safely. This is an added benefit that the rapidways bring to each community – saving valuable time when it’s truly needed.

Vehicles such as snow plows and street cleaners maintain the rapidways as needed. Maintenance and security staff from YRT/Viva operations and their contractor, TOK Transit, also access the rapidway stations and their marked vehicles may be seen at the far end of a station platform. This part of the platform is ramped on one side for their use – but this ramp should never be used by regular traffic to cross the rapidway.

Pedestrians and cyclists have access to any vivastation via the traffic signals and crosswalk, but should never jaywalk or cycle across or along rapidway lanes. To do this is risky because it’s unexpected and distracting to both Viva operators and drivers in regular traffic. And although we fully support active and alternative modes of travel, you also can’t travel the rapidway lanes in a scooter or wheelchair, skateboard, motorcycle, hoverboard, segway, golf cart, unicycle… or any other interesting mode of transportation we haven’t thought of yet!

You may wonder why Viva buses use the rapidways, but YRT buses don’t. The reason is that YRT buses either need to turn on and off the road frequently to gather customers, or their purpose is different – e.g., more stops, turning into shopping plazas, etc. Viva and YRT routes are evaluated by YRT/Viva’s Service Planning branch on a regular basis, and service changes are made to routes and schedules as needed.

A street that includes a rapidway is a complete street, with space for doing everything in a safe and efficient way.  Hope you get out and enjoy our streets this spring!

 

where will the vivastations be along Bathurst & Centre?

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

where will the vivastations be along Bathurst & Centre?

We’ve heard your questions about vivastation locations along Centre and Bathurst Streets, so here’s everything you need to know…

The Phase 2 rapidway project will include 10 new vivastations, with five of them along the current Viva bus route on Bathurst and Centre Streets. This is already one of York Region’s busiest Viva routes, so stops were planned where people will want to get on and off Viva.

From west to east, this is where the stations will be:

  • Centre Street at Dufferin Street.
  • Centre just east of Carl Tennen Street & Vaughan Boulevard.
  • Centre at North Promenade & Disera Drive.
  • Bathurst Street at New Westminster Drive.
  • On the connector road between Bathurst and Yonge Street.

As with all rapid transit in York Region, we plan stations to be walking distance from shopping, important services, and places to live and work. When it’s all done, the Centre and Bathurst area will have updated utilities and traffic signals, tree-lined streets and bike lanes. Preconstruction starts this year, including utility locations and relocations, and watermain upgrades.

For more information about the project, visit our project page. And if you have any other questions, feel free to comment or email us at contactus@vivanext.com. To stay up-to-date on construction, sign up for email updates at vivanext.com/subscribe.

 

the Davis Drive rapidway opens this Sunday!

Friday, November 27th, 2015

The Davis Drive rapidway opens this Sunday!

The rapidway along Davis Drive from Yonge Street to the 404 opens for service Sunday.  Viva yellow will start rolling down Davis Drive at 6:52 am, starting at the 404 park and ride lot and travelling westbound, and then every 15 minutes after that!

We excited to launch the service as well as all the amenities that go with it – the wide, pedestrian-friendly, tree-lined boulevards and sleek, modern vivastations, as well as the dedicated centre lanes that will allow riders to enjoy faster and more consistent travel.  New vivastations will open at Parkside/Longford, Main Street, and South Lake Hospital.

Vivastations will be directly accessible from crosswalks at signalled intersections. Pedestrian signals come with an audible tone and visual countdown as additional safety features.

The stations will include arched glass canopies inspired by transportation architecture from historic and modern European examples. The 27-metre glass canopy will offer passengers protection from the elements, and include a nine-metre enclosed and heated waiting area. At the stations, you can enjoy all the existing Viva technologies you love: off-board fare collection, real-time arrivals information, Presto payment and new card readers. 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, security cameras and an emergency call button.

Once the rapidway opens on Sunday, drivers need to be aware of how the street has changed as they make turns on Davis Drive. Red asphalt indicates a bus only lane, so drive with care. Emergency vehicles are permitted to access the rapidways should they need to, but they will have their flashing lights on for safety.

In just a few short days the wait will be over, and we can all celebrate the end of construction and the beginning of rapid transit in Newmarket!

countdown to handover

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

countdown to handover

Taking advantage of every sunny day in Newmarket to advance the work on the Davis Drive rapidway, our teams are working hard to finish all sorts of little details. With much of the construction complete, we’re now focused on testing and adding final touches, to get ready for Viva service, which we call “handover”.

Handover means just what it says – it’s the moment in time when the transit system is handed over to its owner for care and custody, which of course is YRT/Viva. Before handover, the system is the responsibility of the Contractor/Design Builder. Once handover takes place, legal ownership and responsibility is transferred to the owner, and the system becomes the owner’s private property. At this time, the Contractor/Design Builder’s warranty period begins, just the way it happens when a homebuyer takes possession of a new house.

In the case of vivaNext, some elements of the Davis Drive project, like the rapidway, vivastations, sidewalks and planters, will be transferred to the Region. Others, like the sidewalks and streetlights will be transferred to the Town of Newmarket to maintain.

Because the formal handover is such a significant development, especially on a major infrastructure project like the vivaNext rapidway, it’s important to ensure that everything is in perfect working order. The various steps involved in opening for service vary. Here are some examples:

  • Fare equipment is tested to ensure the ticket vending machine [TVM] prints properly.
  • Traffic signals are programmed and permanent signals are turned on. Each phase is then tested individually, and all the push buttons are tested to make sure they work.
  • Streetlights are inspected to ensure all the wiring is according to the drawings, the bases are level and the power connections are all correct. The teams go out at night and actually turn on the lights to ensure that all the lamps come on and nothing is flickering. Lighting is an important safety feature for both pedestrians and vehicles.

During testing every single detail of the rapidway is inspected through a visual walk-down. Then a list of the things that still need to be finished or perfected is created with items graded from most serious to least serious. These items will be fixed either prior to the system opening or post opening under the warranty.

Although we are officially handing over the Davis Drive rapidway to York Region, YRT, and the Town of Newmarket, in many ways we are handing it over to you – at the end of the day, the ultimate owners of the rapidways are the public of York Region. VivaNext wants to provide a reliable, efficient rapid transit system and beautiful streetscape for our valuable transit customers. With every new piece of rapidway delivered, we are building a better system that we can all be proud of.

accessible stations >> everyone is welcome

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

accessible stations >> everyone is welcome

With the Davis Drive rapidway opening for service soon, we want everyone to feel welcome, and to find it an easy, convenient experience. Whether they have mobility issues or other physical limitations, are pushing a baby stroller, bringing their bike, or pulling a shopping buggy, we want everyone to feel that this transit service is for them.

We consulted with the CNIB and York Region’s Accessibility Committee during the design process, so our vivastations meet local and Provincial accessibility requirements. We also took into consideration our aging population, who appreciate being able to get around easily without a car. So we designed stations for everyone to use, and included these features:

  • Heated, enclosed areas in the centre of the vivastation with doors on each end and a wheelchair-turning radius inside. Radiant heaters are temperature and motion-activated.
  • Benches in the heated enclosure and outside under the glass canopy. Benches are wood, which doesn’t get as cold as metal in the winter, and they have grab bars for those who would like a little support getting up and down.
  • Fare payment machines that are easy to use, with screens that are angled for people of different heights, and have clear, bright graphics and large buttons.
  • Informative digital screens [Variable Message Sign or VMS] installed overhead in the centre of each canopy showing when the next bus will arrive, and arrival times are ‘real-time’ which means they’re updated constantly, based on the location of each bus.
  • Even platforms without trip hazards or changes to grade, and handrails and shallow inclines on the pedestrian ramps approaching platforms.
  • Tactile surfaces on station platforms, including textured tiles in a contrasting colour at the platform edge and directional tiles where the bus stops – helpful for those with impaired vision.
  • Public Address system that can be heard clearly from one end of the station to the other.
  • Illuminated map boards to make it easy for everyone to plan their route.

Vivastations are designed for all transit riders – including those who just haven’t used Viva before. Since this is the first east-west Viva route in Newmarket, it might be unfamiliar to some, but rest assured that it will be easy and comfortable to get onboard Viva on Davis Drive. In the first few weeks, Viva staff will be there in person to answer questions, and after that the YRT.ca website and their call centre [toll free: 1-866-668-3978] will help everyone make their connections. From one end of Newmarket to the other, and to other transit like Viva, YRT and GO Transit – it’s about connections, made with comfort and convenience.

 

vivastations >> built for comfort and safety

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

vivastation safety and comfort

We’ve taken every possible step to make the vivastations on the new Davis Drive rapidway feel like a safe haven, especially considering the stations are located in the middle of a busy roadway.

While you wait for transit, you can take comfort in the fact that you are well protected from the elements and adjacent traffic, and able to get help easily if you need it.

safety starts with design

The new vivastations include a variety of safety features, and are designed with transparency and good lighting in mind – two key principles of CPTED [Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design]. Stations have a concrete barrier wall along the traffic side, and a steel and glass guardrail beyond the glass canopy. The glass is impact-resistant with an interior film that prevents shattering [similar to a windshield] and provides UV sun protection.

call buttons are crucial

In the case of an emergency, an Emergency Call Button is clearly marked inside the glass enclosure. Its speaker provides immediate two-way contact between the caller and YRT operators. Call audio is recorded and time-stamped, as is the video automatically captured by the closest of three security cameras when the button is pushed. When the button is pushed, blue strobe lights on the Variable Message Sign [VMS] and the button are triggered to indicate to passing emergency services that assistance is needed, and transit staff will dispatch emergency services if needed.

safety is personal too

As much as we’ve designed vivastations to be safe, safety is also in the hands of those driving and walking on Davis Drive. While many drivers are now accustomed to making U-turns, but for others, it’s new. Drivers and pedestrians should both stay alert, and keep an eye out for one another, especially in intersections – and especially in fall and winter when daylight is in short supply.

two-stage crossings have rest spots

Because intersections were widened, a two-stage crossing at crosswalks is recommended for pedestrians. There are waiting areas in the middle of the crosswalk, where pedestrians can press the “walk” button and wait for the next signal.

Safety features are one of those things that are only top of mind when they’re needed. We hope that you always keep them in mind. That way you can rest assured that your rapidway trip will be a safe haven.

lights, sound… Viva!

Friday, October 30th, 2015

lights, sound... Viva!

lights…

Safety has been top priority in designing the rapidway, vivastations, and the surrounding streetscape. Streetlights are one of the most important safety elements, and their design contributes significantly to the overall streetscape. While developing lighting designs, vivaNext works with York Region, the local Municipality and the Utility companies to coordinate, design and install the lights, ensuring they provide both safety and visual appeal.

There are strict national and local standards on how street lighting needs to be designed, including how much lighting is required for different conditions. For example, different criteria are used to determine the necessary lighting levels for roadways, intersections and sidewalks. These include variables such as pole height, spacing and “lux,” which is the amount of light that a fixture provides.

Once the lighting standards are established, lighting design helps achieve the desired streetscape “look.”  In the case of vivaNext, the streetscape design is modern, stylish and uncluttered, helping the corridors feel like urban destinations, distinctive from other roads.

To keep with the uncluttered look on Davis Drive, special hydro poles were installed that don’t require guy wires and can have streetlights installed. The luminaires [light heads/fixtures] on the streetlights have a light sensor to automatically turn on and off, and the bulbs only need to be replaced every 4 years.

 

sound…

Have you ever found yourself straining to hear a quiet, garbled message from a public address system? It’s frustrating, especially when that message is important to your commute. At our vivastations, we want to be sure you won’t face this frustration, so our engineers have worked hard to design the public address [PA] system. Having audio at stations is also part of keeping Viva accessible for all users.

We conducted a sound analysis study, to determine how the shape of our vivastations would affect the way sound moves around inside the stations, and way it would reflect off the concrete wall, floor and glass. As it turned out, 12 speakers outside the passenger enclosure and another three speakers inside does the trick.

The next challenge was to work on the volume of the speakers.  The problem with PA systems in noisy places is that ambient noise can overwhelm the volume of the PA system, making it impossible to hear what’s being said.  Our solution is to use a speaker volume system that automatically adjusts when its sensors detect an increase or decrease in ambient noise.

There are two sensors on each new Viva platform. These allow PA announcements to be audible whether there’s a bus idling in the station and trucks are moving past, or it’s nighttime and quiet. This type of speaker volume system ensures that messages can always be heard, but won’t be intrusive.

 

action!

Once the rapidway opens on Davis Drive, you’ll be able to travel faster, and see and hear clearly when the next Viva vehicle is coming. What could be better than that?