York Region Transit
|Headquarters||50 High Tech Road,|
Richmond Hill, Ontario
|Locale||York Region (with some service into Toronto and Brampton)|
|Service area||Suburban/semirural areas|
|Service type||Bus service, bus rapid transit|
|Alliance||Toronto Transit Commission |
|Routes||97 YRT, 6 Viva, |
|Fleet||406 YRT buses|
123 Viva bus rapid transit
97 Mobility Plus vehicles
|Annual ridership||22,822,806 (2016)|
|General Manager||Ann-Marie Carroll|
YRT operates 65 full-time, rush hour and limited routes, 35 school services, and six Viva bus rapid transit routes. Five contracted Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) bus routes run within York Region's boundaries (most of which are in the city of Markham). Passengers who cross Steeles Avenue (the Toronto–York boundary) on these routes must pay an additional fare (the YRT or TTC fare) to continue their trip(s).
Some YRT routes operate within the City of Toronto; these buses generally run to and from TTC subway stations. YRT northbound buses are allowed to pick up passengers south of Steeles Avenue if they are heading into York Region (but passengers must flag the bus from a designated TTC or YRT stop). YRT buses heading to a TTC subway station can similarly drop off passengers at designated stops south of Steeles Avenue, but are not permitted to pick up passengers from these stops. As the majority of passengers are assumed to be transferring to and from TTC services, no extra fare is charged for riders boarding or disembarking YRT buses within Toronto.
In 2016, average weekday ridership was approximately 71,500 on buses and 1,200 on MobilityPlus, a service for people with disabilities. 22.8 million riders used YRT in 2016, a 1.4% increase over 2015.
YRT was created by the regional government in 2001 to combine the four municipally-managed transit authorities in the region: Vaughan Transit, Markham Transit, Richmond Hill Transit, and Newmarket Transit (Aurora Transit had merged with Newmarket in 1999).
In mid-2006, the YRT logo was modified to bear closer resemblance to the Viva logo and, by the end of the year most of the YRT fleet and bus stop signs had their looks changed to bear the new colours.
Before 1973, several private transit operators provided services around York Region:
- Toronto and York Radial Railway: radial railway along Yonge Street in Vaughan and Markham
- Maple Leaf - Markham Coach Lines: routes taken over by Gray Coach in 1929
- Travelways: operated briefly in Markham in 1973
- Newmarket Bus Lines: 1948–1958
- Newmarket Town Bus: 1958–1960s
- Aurora Bus Lines: operated until 1972
Transit services in York Region are divided into 4 divisions and are provided by private operators under contract.
Viva BRT Division
The BRT division operates the 6 Viva Rapid Transit bus routes and uses the 196-bus garage near Leslie Street and 16th Avenue in Richmond Hill. In 2015, Tok Transit began a 7-year contract, replacing Veolia Transportation (Transdev) as operator.
Transdev Canada Inc. is under contract of this division until August 2020.
Bus rapid transit
In response to escalating congestion on the region's roads, York Region's transit plan included a provision for a bus rapid transit (BRT) system along the Yonge Street and Highway 7 arterial corridors. This service, known as Viva, was launched in September 2005.
Fares for riding YRT can be paid by cash, Presto cards, or the YRT Pay app. Paper tickets are no longer available for purchase to the general public, but existing tickets will be accepted as payment until December 31, 2020.
|Fare category||Presto or
YRT Pay app
|Cash fare||Monthly pass|
|Child / Senior 65+||$2.40||$4.25||$65.00|
|Express (all age groups)||$4.38||$4.75||$175.00|
Three separate methods of payments are used by transit routes serving York Region:
- "Pay as you board" on conventional YRT routes, Züm Queen, and TTC-operated bus routes heading southbound towards Toronto
- "Pay as you leave" on TTC bus routes heading northbound into and within York Region (north of Steeles Avenue)
- "Proof of payment" basis on all Viva routes
York Region's rapid transit bus service, Viva operates on a "pre-paid proof-of-payment (POP)" system, meaning passengers in possession with POP can board these buses at any door. Unlike conventional YRT buses, Viva buses are not equipped with onboard fareboxes, which means passengers are required to purchase paper POP transfer tickets and passes at fare vending machines, tap a Presto card on the fare readers or activate their mobile ticket/pass at the platforms prior to boarding. An unvalidated ticket must be validated at a ticket validator machine, known as the "vivaNow" machine prior to boarding. When a ticket is validated, the date and expiry time are printed on the ticket. A single ride ticket has the date and expiry time printed on it at the time of purchase and so it does not need to be validated.
Paper POP tickets/transfers are not issued to YRT pass holders, Presto card holders as well as the YRT pay app (mobile ticket/pass) users since they act as POP. Time-based fares/transfers allow for unlimited travel within York region on a single fare for two hours.
Former fare zones
On July 1, 2017, YRT removed fare zones allowing customers to travel within the region with only one fare. Previously, the YRT/Viva service area was divided into three fare zones. Zone 3 was defined as the portion of York Region north of Ravenshoe Road, and Zones 1 and 2 were divided by Bloomington Road for northbound passengers, just south of King Road for southbound passengers. Passengers crossing a zone boundary had to pay a zone fare supplement in addition to the regular fares.
GO Transit co-fares
As with many other transit agencies within the GTA, YRT offers a reduced fare for passengers transferring to YRT or Viva buses from GO Transit. Passengers may transfer at a GO train station from a GO Transit route to a YRT/Viva route and pay the reduced fare with the GO Transit proof of payment.
- Though Viva Purple and Viva Green do not directly serve Unionville GO Station, GO Transit co-fares are accepted when boarding either route at Enterprise Vivastation.
- Due to the proximity of Richmond Hill Centre Terminal and Langstaff GO Station, GO Transit co-fares are accepted for transfers between GO services at Langstaff GO station and YRT services at Richmond Hill Centre.
The GO Transit co-fare is expanded for passengers with the Presto card: passengers will automatically be assessed the co-fare (and any YRT fare supplements, if necessary) when transferring from GO Transit to YRT/Viva regardless of where the passenger boards the YRT bus. Similarly, passengers transferring from YRT/Viva to GO Transit will also be reimbursed the difference between the YRT fare and the co-fare upon disembarking from GO Transit (effectively, the YRT portion of the journey is paid with a co-fare).
TTC fares in York Region
YRT routes operated by the TTC on behalf of York Region allow passengers to board a TTC bus in York and disembark in Toronto and vice versa. Though they are considered a single route by both agencies, passengers continuing across Steeles Avenue on a TTC bus must pay separate fares for the portion north of Steeles (where the bus is operated as a YRT route) and south of Steeles. Therefore, passengers effectively transfer between a TTC route and a YRT route of the same name and number at Steeles Avenue. Certain YRT routes enter Toronto city limits, but City of Toronto regulations mean that passengers may not board inbound (towards Toronto) YRT routes in Toronto or disembark on outbound (away from Toronto) YRT routes in Toronto.
Since August 26, 2019, riders have been able to use their electronic Presto cards to pay both their YRT and TTC fares on contracted TTC buses operating between York Region and Toronto. While limited-use TTC Presto tickets can be used to pay a TTC fare for the subway (whether in York Region or Toronto) or TTC surface routes in the City of Toronto (south of Steeles Avenue), they cannot be used to pay a YRT fare on any YRT or contracted TTC bus routes in York Region (north of Steeles Avenue).
On December 17, 2017, the western branch of the Line 1 subway was extended into York Region. Coinciding with that opening, YRT took over the operation of four TTC-operated routes in Vaughan. Unlike the policy with contracted TTC buses north of Steeles, no extra fare is charged when boarding or disembarking at Highway 407 and Vaughan Metropolitan Centre stations in Vaughan, due to the impracticality of a payment-on-exit system. However, a separate fare is required when transferring between YRT bus routes and the TTC subway at these stations, as it is at stations located in or bordering Toronto, such as Finch or Pioneer Village.
Brampton Transit fares in York Region
An agreement between YRT and Brampton Transit means passengers boarding Züm Queen east of Highway 50 (which largely duplicates service with Viva Orange while in York Region) will be assessed YRT fares even if they intend to disembark in Brampton. As a Brampton Transit route, Brampton Transit fare media (including those loaded onto a Presto card) may be used to board without any additional fares being assessed. However, despite the fare integration, passengers boarding with YRT passes will not be issued transfers for connecting to Brampton Transit routes in Brampton, and passengers boarding with Brampton Transit passes will not be issued transfers for connecting to YRT routes in York Region.
Brampton Transit and YRT have cooperated on routes connecting Brampton and Toronto via York Region, and for a time, certain YRT routes were jointly operated by YRT and Brampton Transit buses, where both agencies' fare media were accepted. The introduction of Züm Queen has ended operation of YRT route 77 to Bramalea City Centre. The acceptance of YRT fares on Brampton Transit routes in York Region are the last vestiges of such cooperation.
Vehicles and fleet rosters
YRT has 123 Viva bus rapid transit vehicles, 406 YRT buses, and 97 Mobility Plus vehicles. The initial fleet consisted of buses from previous York Region operators, but has since been expanded with YRT-bought vehicles.
YRT's first fleet (2001–2005) was painted with a white base with blue and gold stripes. During the early years many buses still had their pre-2000 colours from the previous operators with "YRT" painted on the front and sides. The livery was changed after 2005 to a white and several tones of blue. Only the Viva fleet is all-blue, but one Orion I YRT (#2028) was painted all-blue for a colour demo. During the transition to the second colour theme some buses were all white with the old "YRT" label remaining.
Fare Inspectors and Special Constables patrol the entire transit system for the safety and security of passengers and to ensure compliance with the proof-of-payment system used on Viva buses. They make random checks onboard buses to ensure the proper use of tickets, transfers and passes. There is a time limit to be riding while paying one fare, and passengers without valid fares (even those whose two-hour travel window expires after boarding the last vehicle) are subject to a warning, an instant fine or a criminal charge.
In 2006, YRT began installing 150 cameras on YRT (including Viva and Mobility Plus) buses. By the end of 2008, there were to be 210 more cameras added to the system's vehicles. CCTV cameras are also installed in some of the Vivastations in Richmond Hill.
YRT owns a few facilities: many are shared with other transit agencies like the TTC, GO Transit and Brampton Transit.
- Richmond Hill Centre Terminal - has a bridge connecting to GO train station
- Vaughan Mills Terminal - platforms only; no terminal building (shelters only)
- Bernard Terminal - driveway and platforms only
- Promenade Terminal - platforms only; no terminal building (shelters only)
- Pioneer Village Terminal - at Pioneer Village subway station
- SmartCentresPlace Terminal - adjacent to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre subway station
- Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Vivastation - covered transfer facility at Vaughan Metropolitan Centre station
- Numerous Viva stations along on-street Rapidways
Garages used to store buses are owned by contractors.
2011–2012 labour strike
Starting on October 24, 2011, bus drivers and workers contracted by Miller Transit, First Student and York BRT Services (Veolia) started striking, protesting over wages and benefits for three months. Over 60 percent of YRT bus routes in York region and all Viva routes did not operate. YRT and Viva workers started picketing on December 5, 2011, at Finch-GO Terminal, YRT headquarters, South-West Division Garage, and Richmond Hill Centre Terminal. 96% of all YRT/Viva routes returned to service on February 4, 2012, and 98% of services were operational on Monday, February 6, 2012. Full YRT/Viva service resumed on February 27, 2012. To compensate riders for the three months of service disruptions, York Region Transit provided two months of free service, using the money saved by not having to pay striking workers.
In December 2014, the executive of YRT consisted of:
- Chair: Wayne Emmerson (as York Region Chair)
- Vice-Chair (Regional Councillor): Dave Barrow
Operational executives are:
- Commissioner of Transportation Services: Daniel Kostopoulos
- General Manager: Ann-Marie Carroll - became GM December 2014 and interim GM from early 2014 to December 2014
- Richard J. Leary served as GM from 2010 to 2014; he had been Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority chief operating officer and replaced YRT's first head Donald Gordon (2001–2009) and left in early 2014 for the Toronto Transit Commission)
- Vice-President of York Region Rapid Transit Corporation: Mary-Frances Turner
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to York Region Transit.|
- "Fast Facts". www.yrt.ca. Retrieved April 7, 2018.
- "2016 Transit System Performance Update" (PDF). York Region. Retrieved April 7, 2018.
- "Transit History of Ontario Communities (S-Z)". Retrieved February 3, 2016.
- "Transit Operations and Maintenance Contracts" (PDF). York Region. May 1, 2014. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
- "transit facility / Richmond Hill". vivanext.com. York Region Rapid Transit Corporation. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
This 481,679 square-foot facility includes energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly features and will be used to maintain and store up to 196 YRT/Viva transit vehicles.
- "About Miller Transit - Miller Transit". Miller Transit. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
- "YRT/Viva Prices". York Region Transit. July 1, 2018. Retrieved December 17, 2019.
- "PRESTO launching in York Region July 18". Archived from the original on July 15, 2011. Retrieved July 16, 2011.
- "Fare changes coming July 1". York Region Transit/Viva. Retrieved May 24, 2017.
- "Fare Policies - Fare Media Policies Transfers". York Region Transit/Viva. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
- "Beginning August 26, Pay with Presto on TTC in York Region". YRT. June 30, 2019. Archived from the original on August 9, 2019. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
- James Bow. "A Subway to York University and Beyond: North of Finch". Transit Toronto.
- "York Region Transit (YRT) - Includes former Markham Transit, Vaughan Transit, Richmond Hill Transit and Newmarket Transit". Archived from the original on February 2, 2009.
- MyTransit Fall 2008
- "CUTA". CUTA. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
- David Fleischer (January 26, 2010). "York looks south for new transit boss". yorkregion.com. Metroland Media Group. Retrieved February 4, 2010.
- Markham Transit 1990 Rider's Guide, Town of Markham
- Markham Transit Fall 1994 Rider's Guide, Town of Markham
- Markham Transit Fall 1999 Rider's Guide, Town of Markham
- Markham Transit 2000 Rider's Guide, Town of Markham
- Transit History...Vaughan
- Transit History...Markham
- Transit History...Richmond Hill
- "vivatalk - York Region's Rapid Transit Update", Economist & Sun/Sun-Tribune: Community, June 11, 2005, p 7.