How Metrolinx’s past bus rapid transit experience shapes what’s to come for Dundas and Scarborough-Durham projects

vivaNext was the first bus rapid transit (BRT) project for Metrolinx, and the transit agency continues working on more BRT initiatives. In fact, today (Dec. 20), marks the one-year anniversary of the vivaNext project. Now Metrolinx is embarking on a couple of new BRT projects with hopes of repeating the success of the vivaNext project.  

Metrolinx is moving forward with two new BRT projects, as York Region’s recently completed vivaNext turns one.

After a year of successfully transporting York Region residents, Metrolinx is taking the experience gained from bringing the vivaNext project to fruition and applying it to larger scale projects across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton region.

For those people unfamiliar with BRT, these projects often involve dedicated bus lanes, technology that can give buses priority at intersections. They are designed to be quicker and more reliable than conventional bus routes.

The vivaNext bus rapid transit project in York Region has been in operation for a full year.
The vivaNext bus rapid transit project in York Region has been in operation for a full year. (York Region photo)

Two Metrolinx BRT projects currently in the planning and study phases are the Dundas BRT and Durham-Scarborough BRT (DSBRT). Upcoming BRT projects such as these will benefit from being able to look at previous work, like the vivaNext BRT project.

Want to learn more about the Durham-Scarborough BRT project? Click here.

Want to learn more about the Dundas BRT project? Click here.

Even before shovels are in the ground, Metrolinx strives to be a good neighbour. The transit agency wants to hear voices from the communities that could be impacted by future transit projects.

Since January 2021, Metrolinx has engaged with communities through virtual means, due to pandemic-restrictions.

  • Reached over 50,000 people through a combination of Public Information Centres (PICs), virtual open houses, e-newsletters and other mailings focused on both Dundas BRT and DSBRT
  • A combination of more than 600 questions and comments from communities were received and addressed by Metrolinx

One strength of the vivaNext was the focus on engaging stakeholders and community members early in the process. Metrolinx says residents can expect to continue to hear more from the transit agency about the two current BRT projects early in the new year.

A before and after look at the vivaNext BRT in Vaughan.
A before and after look at the vivaNext BRT in Vaughan. (York Region photo)

Coming up in 2022

The end of one year is also a good time to look ahead to the next. Here’s what Metrolinx has planned for BRT engagement events:

  • A Notice of Completion for DSBRT is anticipated for early January
  • PIC 3 to be held in January 2022 on Dundas BRT
  • Notice of Commence of Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP)

Learn more about upcoming BRT community events through Metrolinx Engage.

Building robust partnerships with municipalities is also fundamental to the successful delivery of transit. In the case of the vivaNext project, Metrolinx says it couldn’t exist if not for the strong partnership forged between York Region and the transit agency.

Building transit is about connecting not dividing.

Metrolinx is in the business of bringing people together, connecting them with jobs, commerce, and other people too.

A before and after look at the vivaNext BRT in Markham
A before and after look at the vivaNext BRT in Markham. (York Region photo)

On the micro scale, transit provides individuals access to their workplace, their relatives, their friends, and to broader shopping options. On the macro scale, it’s these very connections that make economies stronger, communities more vital.

Metrolinx acknowledges there will be a bit of pain and some pinch points experienced along the way during construction, but the payout will be worth it.

All you have to do is take a look at (or ride on) vivaNext. While the vivaNext BRT project turns one today it’s just the beginning of a new era for bus rapid transit.

Story by Suzanne Schofield, Metrolinx communications senior advisor