Transit planners in York Region have gone all in on Bus Rapid Transit. The region has multiple town centres that require public transit—Richmond Hill, Markham, Newmarket, Vaughan, Unionville, Aurora and Whitchurch-Stouffville
While 34.6 km of dedicated lanes for Bus Rapid Transit – rapidways – are funded and either in service or under construction, over 75 km more are needed to service the growing population of York Region.
The first phase of York Region’s rapid transit plan is more than 80% complete. Over the past several months, 15 more kilometres of rapidway — dedicated bus lanes — opened for service in Vaughan, Richmond Hill and Newmarket. This provides faster transit options by separating traffic along some of York Region’s busiest streets.
Rapidway projects include upgraded utilities and infrastructure, tree-lined sidewalks and bike lanes. In Vaughan, there’s a new multiuse path separated from traffic, bringing pedestrians and cyclists away from the outside of the bridge over Highway 400.
The SmartVMC Bus Terminal opened last fall, adding a key transit connection point to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre’s transportation hub. This terminal connects people through a pedestrian tunnel to Viva buses and York Region’s first subway extension to Highway 7. One of the largest developments at SmartVMC—a 100-acre master planned community by SmartCentres—is Transit City by CentreCourt and SmartLiving, the recently renamed residential arm of SmartCentres. With towers 1 and 2 of this this five-tower development nearing completion, and tower 3 rising steadily, Transit City Condos 4 and 5 began construction in late 2019. In addition to those two most recent condo towers—to rise 50 and 45-stories respectively—the new phase also includes a 36-storey purpose-built rental building by SmartLiving, which officially broke ground last week. The three-tower development will also include a one-acre park, and 25,000 square feet of amenity space.
The next phase of rapid transit includes adding the Yonge Subway Extension and more Bus Rapid Transit to complete the rapidway network. The new subway will provide the missing link to travel in the Greater Toronto Area, bringing more than 88,000 new residents and 60,000 new jobs along the subway extension corridor. Infrastructure investment is an essential part of any stimulus plan and securing funding for infrastructure projects will attract more businesses, jobs and residents.
As of the end of 2019, more than $2.1 billion in assets have been delivered in bus rapid transit infrastructure, facilities and terminals. Employment grew by 5.3% in York Region’s transit oriented centres and corridors in 2019, outpacing the rest of the Greater Toronto Area (3.8%) and Ontario (2.2%).