September 6, 2005

Viva takes to the streets of York Region


RICHMOND HILL, ONT. History was made today in the Regional Municipality of York with the official launch of Viva, the first bus rapid transit service of its kind in the Greater Toronto Area. The ceremony was held at the new Richmond Hill Terminal, located at Yonge Street and Highway 7.


During today's event, Regional Chair and CEO Bill Fisch and members of Regional Council were joined by the Honourable Belinda Stronach, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada on behalf of the federal Minister of Transport, the Honourable Jean-C. Lapierre; the Honourable Greg Sorbara, Ontario Minister of Finance; the Honourable Harinder Takhar, Ontario Minister of Transportation; and Michael Roschlau, President and CEO of the Canadian Urban Transit Association.


 "Through its New Deal for Cities and Communities, the Government of Canada is committed to the development of sustainable communities across the country, and improving public transit is very much a part of sustainability," said Minister Stronach. "The investment we have made through the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund, together with the province and York Region, is a testament to this commitment. Better public transit helps improve the quality of life for Canadians."


"This is great news for the commuters of York Region," said Minister Lapierre. "The Viva rapid transit service is the first of many projects of its kind across Canada."


"As York Region's population grows, the need for a strong public transportation system becomes critical," said Minister Sorbara. "Today's announcement represents a very important step towards ending gridlock in our community and the beginning of a new age of rapid transit in York Region."


The Governments of Canada and Ontario each contributed $50 million to the first phase of this initiative, under the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund. For its part, York Region contributed $80 million.   


"Viva will become a key piece of a Greater Toronto Area-wide transportation system, helping to reduce gridlock and promote sustainable development," said Minister Takhar. "The Greater Golden Horseshoe is growing at a fantastic pace and the McGuinty Government believes we need transportation systems like Viva in order to keep people and goods moving quickly and efficiently."


"Viva is a reality today because of the vision and commitment of the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, and the members of York Regional Council," said Chair Fisch. "By working together and pooling our financial resources, York Region has taken this bold initiative from the drawing board to the roadway in three years; an amazing accomplishment."


"York Region has done a wonderful job of designing and building a rapid transit service that is innovative, user friendly and practical," said Mr. Roschlau. "Viva will provide an attractive alternative to driving, making people think twice before grabbing the keys and heading out in their car."


Frequency will be the hallmark of Viva with rapid transit vehicles arriving every five to 10 minutes during peak periods. New fare vending machines, located at all Viva stations and terminals, will sell tickets that can be used on both Viva and York Region Transit (YRT) with no increase in price. Tickets are valid for 120 minutes, giving passengers up to two hours to hop on and hop off to run errands. Along with this frequency and flexibility, Viva will also provide real time information so passengers know exactly when the next vehicle is arriving.


The Viva service is being rolled out in four stages between September and January 2006. The first part of the service will run along Yonge Street from Finch Station to Bernard Station and along Highway 7 from York University to Town Centre Boulevard.


The Viva rapid transit vehicles were constructed in Belgium by the award-winning bus manufacturer Van Hool. These new modern rapid transit vehicles are fully accessible, with wide doors, low floors and ramps to accommodate wheelchairs and strollers. They operate on clean burning fuel and meet the latest government emission standards. Today, there are 40 rapid transit vehicles delivering the Viva service and that number is expected to increase to 85 vehicles by the time the system is fully operational.


When the first phase is fully implemented, York Region estimates these initial improvements will lead to a 30 per cent increase in transit ridership or an additional 4.5 million riders moving 7,000 cars a day off the major arterial roads.


For more information on Viva, the stages of service implementation or to take the Viva Quiz please visit the Viva Web site at:


For more information on the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund, visit


For more information, see attached Viva Fact Sheet.


For more information contact:


Patrick Casey

Director, Corporate Communications

The Regional Municipality of York

(905) 830-4444 ext. 1235


Dan Miles

Communications Specialist, York Region

(905) 886-6767 ext. 2250



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