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YRT/Viva Construction Thread (Rapidways, Terminals)

I don't think that was likely the approach taken by the applicable parties but it is the reality of the built form from my point of view. Another reality is that there was no way that Highway 7 would ever lose a single automobile lane in the reinvisioning of the road. Those who planned the project had to work within these strictures, among other considerations. I'd never say that Hwy 7 qualifies as a 'walkable street' — at station intersections one is expected to cross in two stages — but it does now meet a minimum level of safety for pedestrians as opposed to the unabashed stroad that it once was. For example, if you look at the photo that spurred this discussion you will see that in the before half there are portions of the road without a sidewalk.
 
I don't think that was likely the approach taken by the applicable parties but it is the reality of the built form from my point of view. Another reality is that there was no way that Highway 7 would ever lose a single automobile lane in the reinvisioning of the road. Those who planned the project had to work within these strictures, among other considerations. I'd never say that Hwy 7 qualifies as a 'walkable street' — at station intersections one is expected to cross in two stages — but it does now meet a minimum level of safety for pedestrians as opposed to the unabashed stroad that it once was. For example, if you look at the photo that spurred this discussion you will see that in the before half there are portions of the road without a sidewalk.

I think it's definitely still a stroad in its new configuration. It's both a thoroughfare and a centre for destinations.

It's been mentioned a couple times that there was no way a car lane could be taken away as part of the project. One of my original points and complaints is that private car lanes have been *added*. A similar point that's been made is that the project has improved pedestrian safety. Again, private car lanes didn't need to be added to achieve this.

Finally, if Hwy 7 doesn't qualify as a walkable street, then why bother put in all those planters if it's not meant to be a place to walk for many people? It's like the designers thought they could make a street for everyone. As many private cars as possible, rapid transit, and pedestrians. But that's not possible. They involve trade-offs, and I think that none of those groups got an improvement from the project. More car lanes are negated by the longer time spent at lights. The busway is negated most of the time by the lights as well. The improved pedestrian elements are negated by a significantly widened road. A lot of money was spent for little gain. This all started with Metrolinx posting a before/after photo and patting themselves on the back, and me taking serious issue with that. Yes, the busway looks nice, but how much value has been delivered for the cost?
 
I felt that I consistently hit more than 50% of the red lights from the 404 to South Town Central Blvd. I would joke to myself that the street was called Highway 7 red lights. It was pretty clear that the north/south streets were being favoured, but still the light timing was garbage. I bet drivers have a worse experience post busway installation and will still have a negative view of it, despite being given more road space. My colleagues that took the bus pre/post busway didn't feel much improvement as any savings they got from the dedicated lane seemed to be negated from the increase in time spent at lights.

York Region's traffic signal timing is atrocious. I have the same experience on Highway 7 and even moreso now on Yonge Street in Newmarket. I tend to hit significantly more red than green lights every time I drive these routes; and the signal cycle times are absurdly long when there is minimal traffic, it causes left turning vehicles that just miss their left turn signal, or vehicles waiting on the side street, to have to wait several minutes for their turn when there are no vehicles north-south. And for example, since the busway, every single time I've driven on Yonge southbound from Eagle Street, I've hit a red at the next intersection (Clearmeadow). Every single time, on dozens of drives. I've never seen it green, or close to turning green, even once. It makes absolutely no sense why it's timed that way. And I don't hit the tail end of the red, I hit the start of it, even if I accelerate and drive fast.

While it's much worse on the busway streets, traffic signal timing is awful in most of York Region. I live in Aurora and work near York University, and it's amazing how noticeable the difference in signal timing is once I cross Steeles. Also, there's York's idiotic practice of having pedestrian signals have a random correlation to the traffic signal (the timer hitting 0 might mean the light turns yellow immediately, or in 3 seconds, or 5 seconds, or 10 seconds, or 30 seconds), whereas in Toronto most if not all intersections turn yellow when it hits zero. I'd be open to arguments on why a different timing makes sense, but not ~5 different possible timings at different intersections with no discernible pattern.

Also, with the busways, it's absurd to have the signals delay so many people (and worsen climate change by causing more vehicles to idle, and decelerate/accelerate, needlessly) for one bus every 15-45 minutes. As a longtime transit user I think the busway on Highway 7 is great in theory just it needs significantly more service to be useful, same for the one on Yonge through Richmond Hill (and they really ought to have found a solution to the heritage stretch), but the Newmarket ones are a colossal waste of space for the minimal ridership and service frequency, and the fact that if Yonge and Davis each had an extra lane the roads would seldom be congested enough for the busway to offer any advantage on the rare occasion a bus even comes through.
 
York Region's traffic signal timing is atrocious
This, and just a quick side bar: driving home north on Leslie last night, I got stuck at almost cross street with no traffic on most of them. Although in my experience, it's not much better in Toronto either. An important consideration if we ever get around to implementing genuine BRT. No point in buffering busses from traffic and creating fancy stations if the traffic signals suck. How that's smart light pilot coming along??
 
This, and just a quick side bar: driving home north on Leslie last night, I got stuck at almost cross street with no traffic on most of them. Although in my experience, it's not much better in Toronto either. An important consideration if we ever get around to implementing genuine BRT. No point in buffering busses from traffic and creating fancy stations if the traffic signals suck. How that's smart light pilot coming along??
FWIW, at least the Blue VIVA buses are able to extend greens along highway 7
 
York Region's traffic signal timing is atrocious. I have the same experience on Highway 7 and even moreso now on Yonge Street in Newmarket. I tend to hit significantly more red than green lights every time I drive these routes; and the signal cycle times are absurdly long when there is minimal traffic, it causes left turning vehicles that just miss their left turn signal, or vehicles waiting on the side street, to have to wait several minutes for their turn when there are no vehicles north-south. And for example, since the busway, every single time I've driven on Yonge southbound from Eagle Street, I've hit a red at the next intersection (Clearmeadow). Every single time, on dozens of drives. I've never seen it green, or close to turning green, even once. It makes absolutely no sense why it's timed that way. And I don't hit the tail end of the red, I hit the start of it, even if I accelerate and drive fast.

While it's much worse on the busway streets, traffic signal timing is awful in most of York Region. I live in Aurora and work near York University, and it's amazing how noticeable the difference in signal timing is once I cross Steeles. Also, there's York's idiotic practice of having pedestrian signals have a random correlation to the traffic signal (the timer hitting 0 might mean the light turns yellow immediately, or in 3 seconds, or 5 seconds, or 10 seconds, or 30 seconds), whereas in Toronto most if not all intersections turn yellow when it hits zero. I'd be open to arguments on why a different timing makes sense, but not ~5 different possible timings at different intersections with no discernible pattern.

Also, with the busways, it's absurd to have the signals delay so many people (and worsen climate change by causing more vehicles to idle, and decelerate/accelerate, needlessly) for one bus every 15-45 minutes. As a longtime transit user I think the busway on Highway 7 is great in theory just it needs significantly more service to be useful, same for the one on Yonge through Richmond Hill (and they really ought to have found a solution to the heritage stretch), but the Newmarket ones are a colossal waste of space for the minimal ridership and service frequency, and the fact that if Yonge and Davis each had an extra lane the roads would seldom be congested enough for the busway to offer any advantage on the rare occasion a bus even comes through.
Weird, my experience is like the opposite. I drive on Bathurst late at night and I get nothing but greens.
 
As a longtime transit user I think the busway on Highway 7 is great in theory just it needs significantly more service to be useful
^^^ This.

The germans got it right when they said "organization before electronics before concrete". A lot of the Viva Rapidly is concrete first. Would you prefer a bus every 5 minutes, or a BRT every 20 min? I know which I'd pick.

Credit to the TTC where I think they nail this with their express system. It's pure organizational - zero infrastructure, and can be deployed overnight and rescinded with no sunk cost. York Region was handed a wad of cash for infrastructure but not operations.
 
^^^ This.

The germans got it right when they said "organization before electronics before concrete". A lot of the Viva Rapidly is concrete first. Would you prefer a bus every 5 minutes, or a BRT every 20 min? I know which I'd pick.

Credit to the TTC where I think they nail this with their express system. It's pure organizational - zero infrastructure, and can be deployed overnight and rescinded with no sunk cost. York Region was handed a wad of cash for infrastructure but not operations.
Honestly though imo it's better to have the wad to create the infrastructure now than to overload the service and go through the agony of infrastructure upgrades in the future when everything is 5x the cost and we have to tear down existing infrastructure. Look at the gongshow at ect right now. It's much easier to improve operations and add more buses further down the road than to build more rows
 
^^^ This.

The germans got it right when they said "organization before electronics before concrete". A lot of the Viva Rapidly is concrete first. Would you prefer a bus every 5 minutes, or a BRT every 20 min? I know which I'd pick.

Credit to the TTC where I think they nail this with their express system. It's pure organizational - zero infrastructure, and can be deployed overnight and rescinded with no sunk cost. York Region was handed a wad of cash for infrastructure but not operations.
I think it's more of a long term play here. If you get the customers but the buses are stuck in traffic how do you entice riders to take transit?
 
I think it's more of a long term play here. If you get the customers but the buses are stuck in traffic how do you entice riders to take transit?

Asked another way.......if you're stuck at the stop waiting 20 minutes because there is no bus there at all, how do you entice riders to take transit?
From a rider perspective, its total journey time that matters, which is wait time (for a vehicle) + time on a vehicle, as that's what's consumed by your trip.
Within those 2, wait time is actually the more important, because the bus is heated/air conditioned, and you're on your way, vs the anxiousness of 'when will the bus come' in summer heat/rain/winter cold etc.

***

I would then add another facet of service frequency that matters, which is reduced dead time for the rider.
If you have to be at work for 9am, and the bus trip takes 30 minutes, you want to grab a bus at about 8:20-8:25am; ie you want to get to work on time with a bit of margin for error, but you don't want to be twiddling your thumbs arriving too early.
If the buses are every 10 minutes, you can have a high degree of confidence there will be a bus at a near ideal time.
If the buses are every 30 minutes, and you have to choose a trip that will get you to work on time, you might taking a 7:55am bus and ending up at work 35 minutes early.
That is not remotely desirable.

Its also sometimes overlooked, but for many people their exit time from school or work or even a dentist appt is inflexible and out of their control. In other words you can't plan to the bus schedule, the service needs to be frequent enough to work for you.
 
Asked another way.......if you're stuck at the stop waiting 20 minutes because there is no bus there at all, how do you entice riders to take transit?
From a rider perspective, its total journey time that matters, which is wait time (for a vehicle) + time on a vehicle, as that's what's consumed by your trip.
Within those 2, wait time is actually the more important, because the bus is heated/air conditioned, and you're on your way, vs the anxiousness of 'when will the bus come' in summer heat/rain/winter cold etc.

***

I would then add another facet of service frequency that matters, which is reduced dead time for the rider.
If you have to be at work for 9am, and the bus trip takes 30 minutes, you want to grab a bus at about 8:20-8:25am; ie you want to get to work on time with a bit of margin for error, but you don't want to be twiddling your thumbs arriving too early.
If the buses are every 10 minutes, you can have a high degree of confidence there will be a bus at a near ideal time.
If the buses are every 30 minutes, and you have to choose a trip that will get you to work on time, you might taking a 7:55am bus and ending up at work 35 minutes early.
That is not remotely desirable.

Its also sometimes overlooked, but for many people their exit time from school or work or even a dentist appt is inflexible and out of their control. In other words you can't plan to the bus schedule, the service needs to be frequent enough to work for you.
Thing is that what youre mentioning above is a soft change that can be easily rectified vs construction. Look at steeles, finch and any other BRT corridors. It will be a shitshow just to do construction right now which frankly IMO
is partly why there hasnt been anything done. Politicians are just too scared of the nimbys complaining about years of construction and traffic jams. You can always put more buses on the ROWs but as
mentioned above, Viva played the long game, they identified that yonge and hwy 7 will grow in the future and built the infrastructure now while traffic is lower and costs are cheaper. Unlike TTC, they did something instead of
sitting on their hands for a generation.
trust me you will be praising them in 10 years time when density improves and they are already built for it.
 
Thing is that what youre mentioning above is a soft change that can be easily rectified vs construction. Look at steeles, finch and any other BRT corridors. It will be a shitshow just to do construction right now which frankly IMO
is partly why there hasnt been anything done. Politicians are just too scared of the nimbys complaining about years of construction and traffic jams. You can always put more buses on the ROWs but as
mentioned above, Viva played the long game, they identified that yonge and hwy 7 will grow in the future and built the infrastructure now while traffic is lower and costs are cheaper. Unlike TTC, they did something instead of
sitting on their hands for a generation.
trust me you will be praising them in 10 years time when density improves and they are already built for it.

I don't recall arguing against BRT infrastructure.

Rather, I replied to a specific comment and noted that ridership of York/VIVA is low and stagnant because they refuse to run the level of service that would attract riders.

The argument is not that BRT infrastructure is bad per se; though there is some room for debate on how that was implemented here.

But rather that the infrastructure is less consequential than the level of service.

That is clearly shown by ridership on routes throughout the GTA that lack BRT infra; but have significant and growing ridership relative to the VIVA routes just the same.

By all means build the infra, but then run the damned service!
 
The only BRT corridor they got right utilizing the busways is the Yonge corridor. Highway 7 in Vaughan gets a little help from the Zum buses in the western half of its run which embarrassingly flushes Viva’s service out of the water with service 4x the frequency during rush hour. In fact, I think Viva Orange is the only BRT route that underutilizes its busway. Purple has at least 15 mins all day combined frequency to it, and pre pandemic we also had Pink and a little bit of Green to help with rush hour frequency, so it was mostly well set up. All Orange has is a painful 20-24 mins off peak and 15 mins peak. And service doesn’t even head to Highway 50 or The Gore Rd which would attract way more customers heading more east of VMC and provide an alternative to Zum in case of any delays or capacity issues which has been happening during the whole pandemic.
 
Honestly though imo it's better to have the wad to create the infrastructure now than to overload the service and go through the agony of infrastructure upgrades in the future when everything is 5x the cost and we have to tear down existing infrastructure. Look at the gongshow at ect right now. It's much easier to improve operations and add more buses further down the road than to build more rows
Transit spending is finite. Spending $1 billion on a project that is under-utilized for a decade takes money away from another project which is approaching capacity today. That is why that German transit infrastructure axiom was created - to spend money efficiently.

Take the Sheppard Subway for example, by your logic it was a good idea to spend the money and get it done earlier even if it took nearly 20 years to build the ridership to support that level of infrastructure. I believe that money would have been put to better use on projects that would have been better utilized from day one, like a downtown relief line, or a York University extension.
 
Transit spending is finite. Spending $1 billion on a project that is under-utilized for a decade takes money away from another project which is approaching capacity today. That is why that German transit infrastructure axiom was created - to spend money efficiently.

Take the Sheppard Subway for example, by your logic it was a good idea to spend the money and get it done earlier even if it took nearly 20 years to build the ridership to support that level of infrastructure. I believe that money would have been put to better use on projects that would have been better utilized from day one, like a downtown relief line, or a York University extension.
More like they should have built transit city for that money and it would have been done by now.
 

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