June 12, 2006
Media Release

The Regional Municipality of York congratulates winners of YRT/Viva 6 Years and 60 Million Riders contest


NEWMARKET – At a ceremony at the Richmond Hill Centre transit terminal today, York Regional Chair and CEO Bill Fisch joined King Township Mayor Margaret Black, Chair of the Region’s Transit Committee and guest Master of Ceremonies Lance Chilton of A-Channel News to commemorate York Region Transit (YRT) and Viva Rapid Transit’s surpassing 60 million riders in six years.
 
“Reaching 60 million riders by our sixth year of transit operation is nothing short of spectacular,” said Chair Fisch.  “Since amalgamation of our transit service we have worked extremely hard to create a comprehensive, Region-wide system to service our communities.  This is a tremendous accomplishment that could not have been achieved without the support of our commuters.”
 
To mark the ridership landmark, awards were presented to the winners of the 6 Years and 60 Million Riders contest, sponsored by YRT over the past four weeks.  The contest asked YRT and Viva riders to submit written entries detailing why YRT and/or Viva was important to them and their communities, or share positive experiences they encountered had as a rider.
 
The contest garnered 230 entries in the categories of Youth, Teen, Adult and Mobility Plus.  Four winners were selected, with eight runners up.  The winners are:
 
• Youth Category: Sherry Jacoby from Thornhill
• Teen Category: Jennifer Dryfhout from Mount Albert
• Adult Category: Steve Armes from Oak Ridges
• Mobility Plus Category: Bill Murdoch from Aurora
 
“The stories submitted by all the contest entrants really put a human face on our transit service,” said Mayor Black.  “It is very gratifying to see how YRT and Viva continues to make such a positive difference in the lives of our residents.”
 
Winners received one year of free ridership on YRT and Viva, as well as an assortment of prizes.  Runners up received one month of free ridership.
 
YRT has witnessed substantial growth in ridership since amalgamating from several local systems in 2001.  Since that time the system has had ridership growth of 10 per cent each year.  YRT and Viva carry an average of 55,000 riders each weekday on 450 vehicles (including TTC contracted buses).
 
For more information on the winners of the 6 Years and 60 Million Riders contest, please view the attached Media Backgrounder.  For more information on YRT and Viva please visit www.yrt.ca or www.vivayork.com  
 
Live transit updates are available weekday mornings between 6:35 a.m. and 8:35 a.m. on A-Channel.
 
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Media Contact: Michael Kemp, Corporate Communications, York Region
 Phone:  (905) 830-4444, ext. 1232 or After-hours Pager 905-830-3302
 Email: michael.kemp@york.ca
 
 
 
June 12, 2006             Backgrounder
 

I'm doing my part in helping. So for me it turns out riding YRT & Viva on a regular basis is not only possible but convenient.

 
Teen Prize (Age 14-18): 1 year free YRT/Viva travel + Apple iPod Nano
Winner: Jennifer Dryfhout, Mount Albert
 
I have lived in Mount Albert my entire life, and have always felt somehow separate from the rest of York Region. May 1st was a big day in my life, because Mount Albert received its first ever YRT bus and I was the first person to ride that bus into Newmarket at 6:35 that morning.
 
It has been very exciting for me to take the bus on a regular basis, almost every morning into Newmarket. Because of my regularity on the bus I have noticed nothing but the utmost friendliness and kindness from the drivers of the 58A route. For instance, on one particular morning the route was unable to run, whether it was due to technical problems or other problem. On this morning instead of being left out and abandoned, the driver of the route called into the station and ensured that a mini-van was sent to pick up myself and another lady who takes the bus with me in the morning. Not only was I impressed by the level of commitment, but I was extremely thankful that I had someone looking out for me.
 
The YRT system has given me a chance to become involved in before and after school programs at Huron Heights Secondary School. Because of it I have been able to become involved in the rugby team, a fitness program, and even volunteer at my school.
 
I have waited for this bus my entire life, and though I will be able to drive myself soon, that will not stop me from continuing to take the YRT on a regular basis to get where I need to go. Thank you for giving us a YRT bus, and thank you for your incredible service!
 
Adult Prize (Age 18+): 1 year free YRT/Viva travel + 27 inch flat screen TV
Winner: Steve Armes, Oak Ridges
 
The expansion of the YRT and Viva routes throughout York Region has given me, and countless others, an easy, convenient and environmentally responsible alternative to taking the car everywhere.
 
In March 2005, my wife and I decided to go from being a 2 car family to a 1 car family, and use YRT and Viva (which was commencing service a few months later) in an effort to simplify our lives and reduce the impact that owning and operating 2 cars had, both on the environment and on our chequebooks!
 
I had not been a frequent user of rapid transit since my teens, growing up in Toronto, and wondered how much extra time and effort this was going to require. Would it be too difficult to get around Richmond Hill, no less the Region? Well, I decided to try, and hoped for the best.
 
What I soon discovered was with the ever-improving YRT system, I was able to get pretty well anywhere I needed to, and was able to do so without much additional time. In fact, when Viva came into service last fall, I was able to get to my downtown office, by connecting to the subway at Finch, in far less time than if I drove. In addition, I didn't have the increasing cost of fuel, parking, insurance ... and frayed nerves. Instead, I could listen to my iPod, get caught up on my reading or email, and leave the driving to someone else.
 
As YRT continues to improve and interconnect with other systems, I have found that the schedules and updates available on the web, the phone service and the morning reports on A-Channel make it even easier for me to arrive on time!
 
In addition, we figure that we have saved more than $7,500 in the last 12 months!  Thanks YRT!!!
 
Mobility Plus Prize (Specialized transit): 1 year free YRT/Viva travel + and a $250 Mall Gift Certificate
Winner: Billy Murdoch, Aurora
 
I have been a rabid and avid rider and user of YRT's Moblity Plus service and now the amazing VIVA services since I moved to York Region almost 3 years ago from TTC land!
 
The freedom to be a part of the community has been so liberating.
 
I have been able to be an active part of the many amazing sites and events that York Region has to offer. Being an amputee has many limitations and conventionally suburban living tends to be very limiting to a handicapped person.
 
Mobility Plus and VIVA have allowed my wife, Joanie (a quadriplegic for many years from MS) to also get out and enjoy her favourite restaurants, visit with family at my daughter's house, go Christmas shopping and just live!
 
We have had some very touching moments taking Mobility Plus where some very special drivers went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure a comfortable and safe ride. We even had one driver bring a blanket to keep my wife warm during a chilly pre-Christmas trip.
 
Your amazing service has also been a Godsend to the staff here at the Willows Estates (in Aurora on VIVA Blue) enabling them to come and care for us on time!
 
We are very happy VIVA - YRT customers!  Thank you!
Runners up
 
Two runners up were also selected for each of the four categories.  Each runner up will receive one month free YRT/Viva travel. 
 
Youth:  Laura Bassoon
  Rohit Rangroo
 
Teen:  Michael Kolinas
  Garry Smolyansky
 
Adult:  Joelle Woodruff
  Christine Hogenkamp
 
Mobility: Kilkka Haliburton
  Peggy Riley
 
For more information on YRT and Viva routes and fares, please visit www.yrt.ca or call toll-free at
1-866-MOVE-YRT (668-3978), locally at (905) 881-5167 or TTY line at 1-866-276-7478.
 
For information on Viva Rapid Transit please visit www.vivayork.com 
 
Live transit updates are available weekday mornings between 6:35 a.m. and 8:35 a.m. on A-Channel.
 
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Media Contact: Michael Kemp, Corporate Communications, York Region
 Phone:  (905) 830-4444, ext. 1232 or After-hours Pager 905-830-3302
 Email: michael.kemp@york.ca

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