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Viva is a bus rapid transit network in York Regionmarker, Ontariomarker, Canadamarker, with connections to northern Torontomarker and Toronto Transit Commission subway stations. Viva is a subsidiary of York Region Transit.

It is the brand name for the York Region Rapid Transit Plan, and was funded through a Public-Private Partnership (P3) consortium called the York Region Rapid Transit Corporation. York Region has control over all fares and service planning. Viva service is integrated with York Region Transit's conventional transit service and operated as one regional transit system (1system) that enables customers to travel across the Region.

Viva began operations on September 4, 2005 at 9 a.m. EST, and officially opened on September 6, 2005. The second phase was opened on October 16, 2005, the third phase was opened on November 20, 2005, and the first part of the fourth phase was opened on January 2, 2006 (the Cornell extension is the second part of Phase 4).

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

Overview

Viva's vivasmart display showing real-time vehicle arrival information.


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

The service uses high-end Belgianmarker-built Van Hool buses referred to as "rapid transit vehicles" (RTVs), which make use of existing or specially-lengthened right-turn lanes to move through an intersection ahead of traffic. They are given priority at traffic signals. Viva buses run 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 and less than 15 minutes for off peak hours.

Viva is operated by 4286847 Canada Incorporated (known in promotional material as the "York Region Rapid Transit Corporation") on behalf of York Region. The system is operated by Connex, a division of Veolia Transport.

Stops along the routes are referred to as "Vivastations", and incorporate a ticket vending machine and a ticket validator (fares are on a proof-of-payment basis to speed up boarding times), as well as a real-time "smart" display that notify passengers when the next vehicle is expected to depart. Most Vivastations are blue, but several stops on Yonge Street have a unique bronze design referred to as "vivavintage" in order to better suit the historic areas, especially along Yonge Street in Thornhillmarker, Richmond Hillmarker, and Auroramarker where space is short, and will be served by miniature "vivamicro" stations. Vivastations on York University's campus are red in keeping with the University's signage policy.

Viva routes connect to Toronto Transit Commission's Yonge, Spadina, and Sheppard subway lines, and to a number of Toronto bus routes. Viva is integrated with YRT's existing bus network, and passengers are able to pay one fare to use both Viva and the regular bus system. Viva is not, however, integrated with the region's GO train network, and only one of York Region's fourteen GO stations is served by Viva.

On March 31, 2005, at the Regional Municipality of Yorkmarker Council meeting, the contract for the operations and maintenance of the entire Viva’s fleet for its first five years of service was approved to be awarded to Connex Canada. The approved contract was valued at $112,496,870, inclusive of Goods and Services Tax.

Routes

Line Opening Date Terminus Stations # Running time (mins)* Status Connecting Services
Viva Blue September 4, 2005 (Finchmarker to Bernardmarker)
November 20, 2005 (Bernardmarker to Newmarketmarker)
Finchmarker Newmarketmarker 24 52 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 61 Full Service YRT, TTC (Buses), GO, Viva Orange, Viva Blue, Viva Pink, Viva Green
Viva Orange October 16, 2005 Martin Grove Downsviewmarker 12 30 Full Service; Passengers south of Steeles are allowed to embark and disembark YRT, TTC (Buses, Subway), Viva Purple
Viva Pink January 2, 2006 Finchmarker Unionvillemarker 18 43 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 Millsmarker to 14th Avenue)
November 20, 2005
(Warden to McCowan)


Don Millsmarker McCowan 11 39 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.



As Viva’s mandate does not include local service in the city of Toronto, Viva buses 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.

This being a result of disjointed regional policy, although VIVA buses duplicate the route of the TTC's crowded York University express route, they are not allowed to pick up passengers along it so as to alleviate crowding, leaving many VIVA buses noticeably less crowded than their TTC counterparts within Toronto city limits.

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

Major locations and terminals

Renovations (new shelters and platforms) to accommodate VIVA were completed during late summer 2005.Viva operates at several major locations and terminals, with Vivastations (the names of the stations in brackets) at:



Future terminals

Cornell Terminal was originally planned to open in July 2007, but has been postponed to a date probably in late 2008. The terminal is to be built near Markham Stouffville Hospitalmarker, near the intersection of Markham By-Pass and Highway 7.

Wooten Way and Main St. Markham Vivastations currently serve the Viva Purple line, but will serve the Viva Green lines in the future, in conjunction with extending the Viva service to Cornell.

Fares

This is an example of a validated and expired VIVA Student Ticket dated on May 4th, 2006.
The printed date and time shows when the ticket expires.


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 1system operates on a zone fare system. Much of southern York Region is in one zone and central York Region is in another zone. The Oak Ridges Moraine splits the zones. (Georgina, which constitutes another zone at least for Mobility Plus riders, do not have connections on the YRT to any other zone at present, thus fares are basically the same for one-zone down south, and transfers would be accepted if the rider used the GO Bus in between YRT routes, although starting in September 2007, YRT fares will be accepted on that GO bus, with a usual zone suplement.)

Riders can purchase "oneRide" (for a single ride) at all vivastations. In addition, riders may purchase "multiRide" (for ten rides) tickets from fare machines at terminals where viva operates or at authorized vendors. oneRide and single ticket fares are good for a 2-hour window (time printed on ticket) on any viva or YRT route.

To ensure that all passengers pay their fares, the YRT has special "Fare Inspectors". Occasionally, they will go from bus to bus to make sure that passengers pay the fare; those that fail to do so will be fined $250. Students must produce an authentic student ID card. (TTC Student ID cards are also considered a valid student ID card). Fines for students start from CAD$150.

Beginning July 1, 2006, monthly passes for YRT 1system 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 late 2010 Viva will start introducing the Presto card .

The single oneRide fare of YRT and VIVA buses rose by $0.25 as of January 1, 2008. However, tickets and monthly pass fares remain unchanged.

Each ticket is divided into one or two zone fares. A single oneRide fare costs $3.00 for one zone, or $4.00 for two zones, effective January 1, 2008.

Beginning on January 1, 2009, VIVA and YRT raised fares again, as approved by the York Region Council on October 23, 2008. The new cash fare increased by $0.25, all 10 Ticket fare will increase by $2.00 and all monthly passes increased by $10 with the exception of Senior/Child which had an increase of $4.00.

As of [January 1, 2008:
Fare Category Cash Fare 10 Tickets Monthly Pass
one-zone two-zone one-zone two-zone one-zone two-zone
Adult $3.25 $4.25 $26.00 $36.00 $105.00 $150.00
Student (High School) $3.25 $4.25 $19.00 $29.00 $75.00 $120.00
Senior/Child $3.25 $4.25 $15.00 $25.00 $46.00 $78.00
Express $3.50 -- $232.50 -- $120.00 --


Effective January 1, 2009]:
Fare Category Cash Fare 10 Tickets Monthly Pass
one-zone two-zone one-zone two-zone one-zone two-zone
Adult $3.25 $4.25 $26.00 $36.00 $105.00 $150.00
Student (High School) $3.25 $4.25 $19.00 $29.00 $75.00 $120.00
Senior/Child $3.25 $4.25 $15.00 $25.00 $46.00 $78.00
Express $3.50 -- $32.50 -- $125.00 --


Ticket machines

A Viva Ticket Validation Machine.
Viva went beyond other transit services by applying the latest technologies in their services. Currently, 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 bus terminals, they are inspected often and usually in good working order. The ticket machines that are not in a bus terminal have a validation machine attached to their sides. For those ticketing machines inside the bus terminal, the validation machine is separated from the ticket machines because there could be multiple ticket machines side by side.

One can purchase multi-tickets in packs of Student (student ID required when riding), Adult, or Child/Senior tickets (seniors are required to show their ID). Zone upgrades can also be purchased from these machines. All machines accept coins and credit cards, while machines at select terminals also accept $5, $10, $20 bills and debit cards.

As of 2007, Viva Stops (as well the buses themselves) began having dome security cameras installed to prevent abuse to the machines.

Vehicles and fleet rosters

Viva's buses are intended to be much more luxurious than is usual for public transport.
Viva RTVs tend to be a little more comfortable in design than normal transit buses, equipped with "Next Station" prompts, information screens (although they are no longer used) and even Wireless Internet.
Viva Van Hools A330


Viva's initial stock includes 85 buses comprised of two models, referred to as Rapid Transit Vehicles (RTVs):

 Make/Model   Description   Fleet #   Notes 
Van Hool articulated newAG300 5201-5225, 7201-7205
Length: 18 m (60 feet)
Cost per vehicle: $742,000
Engine/Transmission: Cummins ISM/Voith D864


Van Hool newA330 5101-5160
Length: 12 m (40 feet)
Cost per vehicle: $494,000
Engine/Transmission: Cummins ISL/Voith D864


Ford Taurus mid size station wagons - support vehicles
Ford Focus compact station wagons - support vehicles


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

 All Viva buses are wheelchair-accessible.


Future extensions

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 Toronto to Vaughan Centre and the extension of the Yonge subway line north from Toronto to Richmond Hill Centre. This will be the first time in history that York Region will be serviced by modern 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 2015.(http://www.vivayork.com/downloads/november_28/Subway_handout.pdf)

The 6.7 kilometre extension of the Yonge subway from Finch Avenue to Highway 7 has now received funding commitments from the provincial government, where it 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) Planning for the Yonge subway extension is underway, but it will not be an actual subway extension in the "near future", but as special VIVA Bus Rapid Transit lanes that will run from the Finch subway station up north towards Highway 7. The first section will be ready by 2011, with full service available by 2013. This project will cost $1.4 billion.

The vivaNext plan also includes the construction of rapidways. They will take Viva RTVs out of mixed traffic and run them on dedicated rapidways along segments of some of the region’s busiest corridors – Highway 7, Yonge Street, Davis Drive, reducing ride times by up to 40%. vivaNext rapidways will improve connections among regional growth centres and provide links to other key transit services such as GO Transit and the TTC subway system. Eventually, vivaNext will replace buses on the dedicated rapidways with an even faster light rail transit system. (http://www.vivayork.com/)

2008 was a watershed year for VivaNext. In November, the provincial transportation agency Metrolinx selected two infrastructure projects for construction beginning in 2009, including major components of the vivaNext project. Metrolinx gave its final approval to a $7 billion, five-year capital plan that includes over $1 billion for construction of several vivaNext rapidways. (http://www.metrolinx.com/Docs/big_move/Backgrounder_Capital_Plan_Final_11_28_08.pdf)

The Government of Ontario is expected to confirm this funding in the 2009 Spring Budget.

The Cornell Terminal in Markham has received $5.6 million in funding through the provincial government's "Quick Wins" program. Construction is expected to be completed by 2009-2010. http://www.york.ca/NR/rdonlyres/6czrgqvz4uq77hlkwohszop7z277v3vmaeekncczqqvc3fx3s7gkaayf73vfr7bosm5ubxpo7b76vkmymle2j2hvxg/rpt+1+cls+6.pdf

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 3 new vivaStations: Main Street Markham, Wootten Way, and Markham Stouffville Hospital.

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

Phases

  1. Bus rapid transit (currently in action)
  2. Dedicated transitways (reserved bus lanes at the centre of the street) for Viva, subject to funding from the three levels of government
    • Currently, an environmental assessment has been completed for the area on Yonge Street from Steeles Avenue in Toronto to Highway 7 (and eventually to Newmarket). An application has been submitted to the Ontario Ministry of Environment, pending approval. The transitway would have buses running in a dedicated middle lanes with islands allowing passengers to board and disembark.
  3. Transitways being turned into light-rail transit (i.e., streetcar), subject to need and funding; not expected in the immediate future.


The next review of the service will take place in 2009, at which time decisions will be made about the transfer of service to different vehicles, and the addition, removal, or modification of current routes.

Staff



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.

Uniforms

Uniforms for Viva operators consist of a white shirt with Viva logo, a grey and black vest and dark pants. Male operators usually wear a blue Viva tie.

Strike



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. While Viva service was disrupted, York Region Transit continued to operate as their drivers are represented by a different union.

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

Customer relationship



Customer appreciation days

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

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

Free travel for veterans on Warrior's Day

Veterans and a companion, or immediate family of a deceased veteran are offered free travel on Warrior's Day.

Veterans free rides on Remembrance Day

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

Transit enforcement

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. They make random checks onboard buses to ensure the proper use of tickets, transfers and passes. Customers without valid fares are subject to a warning, an instant fine or a criminal charge.

Notes

  1. VivaNext handout
  2. http://www.yrt.ca/gotransit.asp
  3. http://www.prestocard.ca/en/when/default.aspx
  4. New Transit Breakdown. What's Coming Near You?


References

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.


See also

General



York Region Transit predecessors



Greater Toronto Area transit



External links




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