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York Region Viva rapid transit fleet expanding

NEWMARKET
- The fleet of Viva rapid transit vehicles is expanding to keep pace with the
steady growth in ridership. Today, York Regional Council approved the purchase
of five additional Viva 60-foot articulated vehicles from the award winning
Belgian bus manufacturer Van Hool. These vehicles will be available for service
beginning in 2007.

“The fact we need additional vehicles is a tribute to the
excellent service Viva is providing throughout our Region,” said York Regional
Chair and CEO Bill Fisch. “Commuters are using both Viva and York Region
Transit (YRT) in growing numbers, and are finding tremendous value in our
frequent and comfortable service.”

The total cost of the vehicles is $3,882,793, plus
applicable taxes. Regional Council is seeking to cost share the purchase with
the senior levels of government, possibly through the Ontario Transit Vehicles
Program and York Region’s portion of the Federal Gas Tax.

“This is a worthwhile long-term investment that will improve
service and eventually lead to a reduction in traffic congestion and improved
air quality throughout the Region,” said Township of King Mayor
Margaret Black, Chair of the Region’s Transit
Committee. “The growth in ridership over the past few months has been
tremendous, but we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. I encourage everyone
to park their keys and give Viva a try.”

Due to increased ridership and congestion growth on Yonge Street, the
Viva Blue Line is quickly reaching capacity. Between September 2005 and
December 2005, Viva and YRT experienced an increase in the number of boardings
on Yonge Street
of more than 33 per cent. The increase in the number of boardings in the system
overall was more than 21 per cent.

The boarding numbers for the entire Viva/YRT system are as
follows:

September

2004 – 1,461,789

2005 – 1,747,262

% Change – +19.5%

October

2004 – 1,400,554

2005 – 1,688,958

% Change – +19.2%

November

2004 – 1,511,648

2005 – 1,853,355

% Change – +21.4%

December

2004 – 1,355,823

2005 – 1,691,703

% Change – +24.8%

Total

2004 – 5,729,814

2005 – 6,943,278

% Change – +21.2%

During the first four months of operation, midday boardings
(between 9:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.) on the Viva Blue Line have grown
significantly. During a midday trip from Newmarket to the Finch station along
Yonge Street, people are now getting on and getting off each Viva vehicle an
average of 81.6 times.

“The large number of people getting on Viva midday is the
result of our two-hour hop on, hop off policy,” added Chairman Fisch. “People
are using transit to go out for a quick lunch or run a few errands. It’s
innovations like these that are attracting a whole new generation of riders.”

Viva links the Region’s urban centres of Markham,
Richmond Hill, Vaughan,
Aurora and Newmarket.
In addition, Viva links York Region with the City of Toronto and its subway system, GO Transit,
the Region of Peel and eventually with Durham Region.

Frequency is the hallmark of Viva with rapid transit
vehicles arriving every five to 12 minutes during peak periods. New fare
vending machines, located at all Viva stations and terminals, sell tickets that
can be used on both Viva and YRT with no increase in price. Viva also provides
real time information so passengers know exactly when the next vehicle is
departing.

This is the first of three Phases in a 20-year transit
expansion plan. In Phase Two, the Region will build dedicated transit lanes
separating the Viva vehicles from mixed traffic. If funding is secured and the
environmental assessments approved, construction could begin as early as 2007.

“Viva is a tremendous rapid transit service that will
benefit people in York Region and throughout the GTA for generations to come,”
said Chairman Fisch. “Although this initial phase offers passengers a package
of innovative rapid transit elements, Phase Two of Viva will truly put the
“Rapid” in rapid transit.”

For more information on YRT routes and fares, visit the York
Region Transit Web site at www.yrt.ca or call toll-free at 1-866-MOVE-YRT
(668-3978).

For TTC routes, please visit the TTC website at www.ttc.ca
or call 416-393-INFO (4636).

For live transit updates with reporter Rebekah Murdoch, tune
in to A-Channel weekday mornings between 6:35 a.m. and 8:35 a.m.

 

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