Viva Rapid Transit

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Viva
logo
image
Parent York Region Transit
Founded 2005
Headquarters 50 High Tech Road,
Richmond Hill, ON
Locale York Region, ON
Service area York Region along the Highway 7 and Yonge Street corridors
Service type Quality express bus
Alliance Züm
Routes 5
Stations 59
Fleet 60 40' units
56 60' units
Fuel type Diesel
Operator 4286847 Canada, L.P.
(Veolia Transportation)
Website Official Website

Viva is a bus rapid transit[1] service operating in York Region, Ontario, Canada. Viva service is integrated with York Region Transit's local bus service to operate as one regional transit system providing seamless transit service across York Region and connections to northern Toronto.

Viva was designed and built using a public-private partnership (P3) model. York Region partnered with York Consortium, which comprises seven private sector firms with extensive international experience in transit design, architecture, construction and operations. Under the terms of the partnership agreement, public sector responsibilities include establishing fare policies and service levels, ownership of all assets, and control of revenues and funding. Private sector responsibilities include providing professional staffing and procurement support, assuming risk on all approved budgets and schedules, and assisting York Region in its funding and financing requirements.

Viva opened in stages commencing September 6, 2005. The second stage opened on October 16, 2005, the third on November 20, 2005, and the fourth on January 2, 2006.

Five routes are in operation: Viva Blue, Viva Purple, Viva Orange, Viva Pink, and Viva Green.

Overview[edit]

By entering the "Bus Stop Number" to the RideNow webpage, riders can check vehicle arrival information via the Internet, or the YRT Information Line.
Viva's vivasmart display showing real-time vehicle arrival information.

Viva is the first phase of York Region's rapid transit plan to reduce traffic congestion. The next phase is called VivaNext.

The service uses high-end Belgian-built Van Hool and Canadian-built NovaBus buses referred to as "rapid transit vehicles" (RTVs). To maximize speed, buses make use of existing or specially lengthened right-turn lanes bypass lineups at intersections, as well as bus-only lanes and roads to avoid traffic altogether. When behind schedule, they are given priority at traffic signals.

Viva operates 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, from 5:30 a.m. to midnight on weekdays, 6:30 a.m. to midnight on Saturdays and 8:00 a.m. to midnight on Sundays. During peak hours (6:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.), buses arrive every three to ten minutes depending on the route. Outside of peak hours, buses arrive less than 15 minutes apart.

Stops along the routes are referred to as "vivastations", and incorporate a ticket vending machine, a ticket validator, and a Presto card reader (fares are on a proof-of-payment basis to speed up boarding times). A real-time display that notifies passengers when the next vehicle is expected to depart. Viva stations are typically blue, except where they are part of a theme. Viva stations located in the historic districts of Thornhill, Richmond Hill, and Aurora have a unique bronze design referred to as "vivavintage". Viva stations on York University's campus are red to comply with the university's signage policy. Where space is limited, stops are served by miniature "vivamicro" stations.

Viva routes connect to Toronto Transit Commission's Yonge, Spadina, and Sheppard subway lines, GO Transit trains and buses, and to a number of Toronto bus routes. Viva is integrated with YRT's existing bus network, and passengers pay one fare to use both Viva and the regular bus system. Fares are valid for unlimited use for two hours from the time of purchase. To speed up boarding times, Viva uses the "proof of payment" system. Rather than have drivers sell fares, passengers obtain tickets at vending machines and Viva officials occasionally check to ensure all passengers have paid their fare.

Routes[edit]

Line Opening Date Terminus Stations # Running time (mins)* Status Connecting Services
Viva Blue September 4, 2005 (Finch to Bernard)
November 20, 2005 (Bernard to Newmarket)
Finch Newmarket 24 73 (off-peak), 80 (peak) Full Service, Fare Zone Change Required YRT, TTC (Subway and Buses), GO, Viva Purple, Viva Pink
Viva Purple September 4, 2005
(York University to Town Centre)
October 16, 2005 (Enterprise to McCowan)
January 27, 2008 (McCowan to Markham-Stouffville Hospital)
York University Markham Stouffville Hospital 23 80 (off-peak), 88 (peak) Full Service YRT, TTC (Buses), GO, Viva Orange, Viva Blue, Viva Pink, Viva Green
Viva Orange October 16, 2005 Martin Grove Downsview 12 55 (peak), 53 (off-peak) Full Service; Passengers south of Steeles are allowed to embark and disembark YRT, TTC (Buses, Subway), Viva Purple
Viva Pink January 2, 2006 Finch Unionville 18 56 (peak only) Peak Service (06:30 - 09:30 ; 15:30 - 19:00) YRT, TTC (Buses, Subway), GO, Viva Blue, Viva Purple, Viva Green
Viva Green October 16, 2005
(Don Mills to 14th Avenue)
November 20, 2005
(Warden to McCowan)
Don Mills McCowan 11 50 (peak only) Peak Service (06:30 - 09:30 ; 15:30 - 19:00) ; During Southbound services, passengers are not allowed to embark south of Steeles Avenue, during Northbound services, passengers are not allowed to disembark south of Steeles Avenue YRT, TTC (Buses, Subway), Viva Purple, Viva Pink

* Running time based on normal traffic and weather conditions, retrieved from the YRT website.

A map of the Viva bus routes effective fall 2013


As Viva’s mandate does not include local service in the city of Toronto, Viva vehicles travelling south of Steeles Avenue (the regional boundary) do not pick up passengers when travelling southbound, and do not allow passengers to disembark when travelling north. However, TTC customers intending to go to York University can use their TTC transfers and passes as proof-of-payment aboard Viva vehicles and do not have to pay another fare. TTC customers heading southbound from York University without a TTC Metropass or TTC transfer, however, will need to buy an additional YRT/Viva ticket to board Viva Orange. This arrangement was adopted to reduce overcrowding on the TTC's 196 York University Rocket, while generating an additional revenue stream from the Viva Orange service, which has capacity for additional customers. The TTC pays YRT 49 cents for each TTC customer it picks up. It costs the TTC 97 cents per passenger boarding on route 196 York University Rocket.

In 2009, YRT/Viva bus schedules became available on Google Transit; trip planning, detours, and fare information are available to riders over the Internet.[2]

Major locations and terminals[edit]

Red Viva station on York University Campus

Viva operates at several major locations and terminals, with vivastations (the names of the stations in brackets) at:

Future terminals[edit]

Cornell Terminal was originally planned to open in July 2007, but has been postponed. The terminal is to be built near Markham Stouffville Hospital, near the intersection of Markham By-Pass and Highway 7. The current Markham Stouffville Hospital terminus is only a standard VivaBRT stop in an area next to the hospital.

The Vaughan Corporate Centre Viva station, already existing as a stop, is to be relocated to a spot on Highway 7 directly above the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre subway station under construction, thus converting this Viva stop into a terminal. It will become the largest Viva station on the network due to extra space required for escalators and elevators.

Wootten Way and Main St. Markham Viva stations serve the Viva Purple line, but will serve the Viva Green line in the future, in conjunction with the extension of Viva service to Cornell.

Fares[edit]

This is an example of a validated and expired Viva Student Ticket dated on May 4, 2006. The printed date and time shows when the ticket expires.
This is an example of a monthly pass for York Region Transit for April 2009.
A Presto card reader at the Promenade Terminal.

Both Viva and YRT are part of YRT's 1system fare policy. This means that a Viva fare and a YRT fare are treated the same, and that riders can transfer from either service to the other without having to pay an additional fare. Riders can also transfer from TTC buses operating in York Region, assuming that they have paid the YRT fare when boarding the TTC bus (when in York Region) or exiting the TTC bus (when travelling to York Region from Toronto).

YRT/Viva operates on a three-zone fare system. Much of southern York Region is in one zone (comprising the city of Vaughan, the city of Markham, the town of Richmond Hill and southern areas of the township of King and the town of Whitchurch-Stouffville). Central York Region is in another zone (comprising the town of East Gwillibury, the town of Newmarket, the township of King, the town of Aurora, and the town of Whitchurch-Stoufville). The third fare zone is in the town of Georgina. The Oak Ridges Moraine divides the zones. Georgina, which constitutes another zone at least for Mobility Plus riders, does not have local bus connections to any other zone at present. Fares within Georgina are basically the same as for one-zone in the southern municipalities. Transfers are accepted if a rider uses the GO bus in between YRT routes, and YRT fares are accepted on the GO bus, with payment of a zone supplement.

Riders can purchase single ride fares from "oneRide" ticket machines, available at all Viva stations. In addition, riders may purchase multiple ride fares from authorized vendors or at "multiRide" ticket machines, available at select terminals where Viva operates. Single ticket fares are good for a two-hour time window (expiry time printed on ticket) on any Viva or YRT route.

To reduce time spent loading passengers, Viva routes employ a proof-of-payment fare system. Fare Inspectors travel vehicle to vehicle to ensure that passengers have paid their fares. Those caught without valid proof of payment are subject to a fine. Students must produce an authentic student ID card to use student fares (TTC Student ID cards are considered a valid student ID).

Beginning July 1, 2006, monthly passes for YRT/Viva became eligible for a 15.5% tax credit from the Government of Canada, which can be claimed when filing tax returns at the end of the year, with proof of purchase. This was reduced to 15% for 2007 and subsequent years.

In July 2011, the Presto card was launched in York Region, providing another payment method.

Tickets are available for one or two zone fares. Effective January 1, 2014, the following fares are in force:


Effective January 1, 2014:
Fare Category Presto Cash Fare 10 Tickets Monthly Pass
1 zone 1 zone 2 zones 1 zone 2 zones 1 zone 2 zones
Adult $3.30 $4.00 $5.00 $33.00 $43.00 $132.00 $177.00
Student (High School) $2.50 $4.00 $5.00 $25.00 $35.00 $99.00 $144.00
Senior/Child $2.00 $4.00 $5.00 $20.00 $30.00 $55.00 $85.00
Express + $0.50 $4.50 -- $38.00 -- $152.00 --

Ticket machines[edit]

Viva ticketing machines at the Finch Bus Terminal.
A Viva Ticket Validation Machine.

The ticketing machines operate on Microsoft Windows 2000 and a customized Viva client. Because of the large number of people using the ticketing machines in terminals, they are inspected often and usually in good working order. All ticket machines not in terminals have a validation machine attached to their sides. For many ticketing machines inside the terminal, the validation machine is separated from the ticket machines because many of the ticket machines are side by side.

At ticket machines labelled "oneRide", one can purchase single ride Student (student ID required when riding), Adult, or Child/Senior tickets (seniors are required to show their ID). As they have been pre-validated, they must be used immediately upon purchase. "oneRide" machines accept coins (but are not able to return change) and credit cards (MasterCard and Visa), and are available at all Viva stations.

At ticket machines labelled "multiRide", one can purchase multiple tickets in packs of 10 for Student, Adult, or Child/Senior fares. Zone upgrades can also be purchased from these machines. Multi-ride ticket machines are available at select terminals and accept coins, bills of up to $20 (and are able to return change) and debit cards (Interac), and are available at select terminals. Multi-ride ticket machines are also under the ATM networks Cirrus and Plus.

Beginning 2007, security cameras have been installed in Viva stations (and the vehicles) to prevent abuse to the machines.

Vehicles and fleet rosters[edit]

Viva's vehicles are intended to be much more luxurious than is usual for public transport in North America.
Viva bus interiors are intended to be more comfortable in design than normal transit buses, and are equipped with "Next Station" prompts and information screens.
A holiday themed Viva bus spotted on November 19, 2010.

Viva's buses are referred to as Rapid Transit Vehicles (RTVs). Viva operates 101 Van Hool buses and 15 Novabuses.

 Make/Model   Description   Fleet #   Notes 
Van Hool  Belgium Articulated newAG300 5201-5225, 7201-7205, 8201-8211 Handicapped/disabled access
Length: 18 meters (60 ft)
Cost per vehicle: $742,000
Engine/Transmission: Cummins ISM/Voith D864.3E
(Cummins ISL/Voith D864.5 for 8201-8211)
Van Hool  Belgium newA330 5101-5160 Handicapped/disabled access
Length: 12 meters (40 ft)
Cost per vehicle: $494,000
Engine/Transmission: Cummins ISL/Voith D864.3E
Novabus Canada Canada Articulated
LFX
1080–1094, 1370-1386
  • When vehicles were first delivered they were banned from running on Viva Purple routes due to blue hubcaps that would conflict with the platform height at Warden Station. Since then the hubcaps were removed for cosmetic purposes. The vehicles now service Viva Routes Blue and Purple (Routes with highest ridership).
Handicapped/disabled access
Length: 18 meters (62 ft)
Cost per vehicle: $902,234
Engine/Transmission: Cummins ISL9/Voith D864.5
Ford Motor Company Ford Focus United States USA N/A compact station wagons - support vehicles

Similar buses are being used in Longueuil (Montreal's South Shore) by Réseau de transport de Longueuil, and in Oakland, California by AC Transit.

Handicapped/disabled access All Viva vehicles are wheelchair-accessible.

Future extensions[edit]

The next phase of the Viva rapid transit system is called "vivaNext". The Vivanext plan includes the extension of the Spadina subway line north from its current terminus at Downsview to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre and the extension of the Yonge subway line north from Finch to Richmond Hill Centre. This will be the first time in history that York Region will be serviced by subways. Funding for the 8.7 kilometre Spadina subway extension from Sheppard Avenue to Highway 7 has received a funding commitment from all three levels of government and is expected to be fully operational by 2016.[3]

The Environmental Project Report for the Yonge subway extension was unconditionally approved by the Ministry of the Environment in 2009. The 6.7 kilometre extension from Finch Avenue to Highway 7, is one of the top 15 priority projects of Metrolinx, the provincial transportation agency. (http://www.metrolinx.com/Docs/big_move/Backgrounder_Top_15_Priorities_Final_11_28_08.pdf) A conceptual design contract was initiated in 2010 to maintain momentum on the project and provide a stronger foundation for moving it forward.

Rapidways[edit]

The first Vivanext station at Warden

The Vivanext plan also includes the construction of dedicated bus lanes called rapidways. They will take Viva RTVs out of mixed traffic along segments of some of the region’s busiest corridors – Highway 7, Yonge Street and Davis Drive, reducing ride times by up to 40%. Vivanext rapidways will improve connections between regional growth centres and provide links to other key transit services such as GO Transit and the TTC subway system. Eventually, Vivanext may replace buses on the dedicated rapidways with a light rail transit system.[4]

In November 2008, the provincial transportation agency Metrolinx selected two infrastructure projects for construction beginning in 2009, including major components of the Vivanext plan. Metrolinx gave its final approval to a $7 billion, five-year capital plan that includes over $1 billion for construction of several Vivanext rapidways.[5]

In the spring of 2009, the Province of Ontario committed $1.4 billion for Vivanext rapidways. The Cornell Terminal in Markham has received $5.6 million in funding through the provincial government's "Quick Wins" program.

Previous expansions to the Viva rapid transit system include Viva Purple. The Purple line was extended to Markham Stouffville Hospital on January 27, 2008, providing service to three new Viva stations: Main Street Markham, Wootten Way, and Markham Stouffville Hospital.

YRT/Viva have also identified a partnership with Brampton Transit's Züm, a service similar to Viva operating in the Region of Peel, as a priority. Connections along Highway 7 are expected to start upon Züm's launch. Integration with Brampton Transit, Page 7

2008 driver strike[edit]

Vivasmart display alerting passengers that no VIVA service is available during the strike.
A fully packed YRT bus during the strike.

Viva's 165 bus operators are members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113. The union and president are the same union representing transit operators for the Toronto Transit Commission.

On September 25, 2008, 160 operators walked off the job at 4am EST. 61% of the operators rejected the contract that had been offered the previous week.[6] While Viva service was disrupted, York Region Transit continued to operate as their drivers are divided into a different local of the ATU and did not strike.[7]

On October 10, 2008, 65% of the operators voted to accept the contract that they rejected on September 25, ending the 16-day strike.[8] Service resumed at 6am EST on October 11, 2008.

Customer relationship[edit]

Viva/YRT staff giving away drinks and snacks on customer appreciation day

Customer appreciation days[edit]

Two times each year, Viva/YRT give away free drinks and snacks to thank their riders for support.

Free rides on New Year's Eve[edit]

Viva/YRT offer free transportation on New Year's Eve (after 7 p.m. on December 31).[9]

Free travel for veterans on Warrior's Day[edit]

Veterans and a companion, or immediate family of a deceased veteran are offered free travel on Warriors' Day.[10] (Warriors' Day occurs on the third Saturday before Labour Day.)

Veterans free rides on Remembrance Day[edit]

Viva/YRT offer free transportation for veterans or immediate family of a deceased veteran on Remembrance Day.[11]


See also[edit]

General

York Region Transit predecessors

Greater Toronto Area transit

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Viva vehicles are so un-bus like, we call them rapid transit
  2. ^ "YRT/Viva and Google have teamed up to give riders another trip planning option". Retrieved January 16, 2009. 
  3. ^ Vivanext
  4. ^ Viva York
  5. ^ Metrolinx Capital plan
  6. ^ Fleischer, David (September 27, 2008). "Commuters acting responsibly during Viva strike, YRT boss says". Markham Economist and Sun. p. 2. 
  7. ^ Loriggio, Paola; Mathieu, Emily (September 25, 2008). "Viva bus drivers on strike". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2008-09-25. 
  8. ^ Kalinowski, Tess (October 11, 2008). "Striking Viva drivers back in buses". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2008-10-11. 
  9. ^ "MyTransit Newsletter Winter 08/09". Retrieved December 11, 2008. 
  10. ^ "MyTransit Summer 09". Retrieved August 9, 2009. 
  11. ^ "MyTransit Newsletter Winter 08/09". Retrieved December 11, 2008. 

References[edit]

Viva publications

  • Viva - A Rider's Manual, York Region September 2005
  • Viva - York Region Rapid Transit Route Map 2005
  • the viva rapid transit vehicle/rtv:ag300 2005
  • "Viva RT - New Transit System Coming Soon", About Markham, p. 2. June 2005
  • MyTransit, York Region Transit, September 2005. (PDF)

Government publications

Newspapers

  • "vivatalk - York Region's Rapid Transit Update", Economist & Sun/Sun-Tribune: Community, p. 7. June 11, 2005
  • "Bus Riders find bearings", Toronto Star, p.B3, September 7, 2005.

Other sources

  • "Ontario and Beyond - York Region Rapid Transit Plan", Transfer Points June–July 2004, p. 5-6.

External links[edit]