May 31, 2005

Ontario’s York Region unveils rapid transit vehicles

Newmarket, Ontario – The first Viva rapid transit vehicle was unveiled during a ceremony to mark a new era of public transit in York Region, north of Toronto, Ontario.

The fleet will consist of 25 60-foot vehicles and 60 40-foot vehicles, which are being built in Belgium by bus manufacturer Van Hool. The vehicles are expected to arrive in Canada over the next several months. They operate on clean-burning diesel, meet the latest emissions standards, are fully accessible to wheelchairs and strollers, and feature high-backed, contoured seats.

“Viva is truly the evolution of public transit in York Region, and I’m confident that these vehicles will attract a whole new generation of riders,” said John McCallum, Minister of Revenue, on behalf of Transport Minister Jean-C. Lapierre. “Viva is important because it will not only reduce traffic gridlock, but will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to Canada’s Kyoto targets.”

Viva will link York Region’s urban centres of Markham, Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Aurora and Newmarket, and will also link York Region with the City of Toronto and its subway system, the province’s GO Transit system, and to transit systems in the Region of Peel and eventually into Durham Region. The difficulty of moving easily between the transit systems of the regions surrounding the City of Toronto has long been an issue with commuters, many of whom take their cars into the city rather than face long waits for transit and difficulty in coordinating transit routes from one region’s system to another.

York Region has contributed $50 million for the first phase of Viva. The Governments of Canada and Ontario also contributed $50 million each under the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund for Viva’s first phase. When the first phase is fully implemented, York Region estimates these initial improvements will lead to a 30 per cent increase in transit ridership and will remove 7,000 car trips a day off the major arterial roads.

The Viva rapid transit service will begin operating in 99 days, and will be opened in four stages between September and December.

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