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Viva is a bus rapid transit[1] service operating in York Region, Ontario, Canada. Viva service is integrated with York Region Transit's local bus service to operate as one regional transit system providing seamless transit service across York Region with connections to northern Toronto.

Viva blue logo.svg
ParentYork Region Transit
FoundedSeptember 4, 2005
Headquarters50 High Tech Road,
Richmond Hill, Ontario
LocaleYork Region, Ontario
Service areaYork Region along the Highway 7 and Yonge Street corridors
Service typeBus rapid transit/Quality express bus
Fleet40 40' units
83 60' units
Fuel typeDiesel
OperatorTok Transit
WebsiteOfficial Website

Viva was designed and built using a public–private partnership (P3) model. York Region partnered with York Consortium, which comprises seven private sector firms with international experience in transit design, architecture, construction and operations. Under the terms of the partnership agreement, public sector responsibilities include establishing fare policies and service levels, ownership of all assets, and control of revenues and funding. Private sector responsibilities include providing professional staffing and procurement support, assuming risk on all approved budgets and schedules, and assisting York Region in its funding and financing requirements.

Viva opened in stages commencing September 6, 2005. The second stage opened on October 16, 2005, the third on November 20, 2005, the fourth on January 2, 2006, and the fifth on January 27, 2008.

Six routes are in operation: Viva Blue, Viva Purple, Viva Orange, Viva Pink, Viva Green, and Viva Yellow, which opened in November 2015.[2]



By entering the "Bus Stop Number" to the RideNow webpage, riders can check vehicle arrival information via the Internet, or the YRT Information Line.
Viva's vivasmart display showing real-time vehicle arrival information

Viva is the first phase of York Region's rapid transit plan to reduce traffic congestion. The next phase is called Vivanext.

The service uses high-end Belgian-built Van Hool and Canadian-built NovaBus buses referred to as "rapid transit vehicles" (RTVs). To maximize speed, buses make use of existing or specially lengthened right-turn lanes bypass lineups at intersections, and of bus-only lanes and roads to avoid traffic. When behind schedule, they are given priority at traffic signals.

Viva operates 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, from 5:30 am to midnight on weekdays, 6:30 am to midnight on Saturdays and 8:00 am to midnight on Sundays. During peak hours (6:30 am to 9:00 am and 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm), buses arrive every three to ten minutes depending on the route. Outside of peak hours, buses arrive 10–45 minutes apart.

Stops along the routes are referred to as "vivastations", and incorporate a ticket vending machine, a ticket validator, and a Presto card reader (fares are on a proof-of-payment basis to speed up boarding times). A real-time display that notifies passengers when the next vehicle is expected to depart. Viva stations are typically blue, except where they are part of a theme. Viva stations located in the historic districts of Thornhill, Richmond Hill, Aurora, and Main Street Markham have a bronze design referred to as "vivavintage". Viva stations on York University's campus are red to comply with the university's signage policy.

Viva routes connect to stations on Line 1 Yonge–University and Line 4 Sheppard of the Toronto subway, as well as GO Transit railway stations and bus terminals. Viva is integrated with YRT's existing bus network, and passengers pay one fare to use Viva and the regular bus system. Fares are valid for unlimited use for two hours from the time of purchase. To speed up boarding times, Viva uses the "proof of payment" system. Rather than have drivers sell fares, passengers obtain tickets at vending machines and Viva officials occasionally check to ensure all passengers have paid their fare.


Line Opening Date Terminus Stations # Running time (mins)[a] Service Connecting Services
September 4, 2005 (Finch to Bernard)
November 20, 2005 (Bernard to Newmarket)
Finch Newmarket 26 73 (off-peak), 80 (peak) Full service      
September 4, 2005
(Richmond Hill Centre to Town Centre)
October 16, 2005 (Town Centre to McCowan)
January 27, 2008 (McCowan to M–S Hospital)
Richmond Hill Centre Terminal Markham Stouffville Hospital 25 80 (off-peak), 88 (peak) Full service        
October 16, 2005
(Martin Grove Road to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre)
December 17, 2017
(Vaughan Metropolitan Centre to Richmond Hill Centre)[3]
Martin Grove Richmond Hill Centre Terminal 13 53 (off-peak), 55 (peak) Full service between Pine Valley and Richmond Hill Centre Terminal. Weekday service only between Martin Grove Road and Pine Valley Drive    
January 2, 2006 Finch Unionville 21 56 Peak service (6:30–9:30; 15:30–19:00)        
October 16, 2005
(Don Mills to 14th Avenue)
November 20, 2005
(Warden to McCowan)
Don Mills McCowan 12 50 Peak service (6:30–9:30; 15:30–19:00)      
November 29, 2015[4][2] Newmarket Terminal Davis Drive and Highway 404 7 15 Full service      
  1. ^ Running time based on normal traffic and weather conditions, retrieved from the YRT website

As Viva’s mandate does not include local service in the city of Toronto, Viva vehicles travelling south of Steeles Avenue (the regional boundary) do not pick up passengers when travelling southbound, and do not allow passengers to disembark when travelling north. However, TTC customers intending to go to York University can use their TTC transfers and passes as proof-of-payment aboard Viva vehicles and do not have to pay another fare. TTC customers heading southbound from York University without a TTC Metropass or TTC transfer, however, must to buy an additional YRT/Viva ticket to board Viva Orange. This arrangement was adopted to reduce overcrowding on the TTC's 196 York University Rocket, while generating an additional revenue stream from the Viva Orange service, which has capacity for additional customers. The TTC pays YRT 49 cents for each TTC customer it picks up. It costs the TTC 97 cents per passenger boarding on route 196 York University Rocket.

In 2009, YRT/Viva bus schedules became available on Google Transit; trip planning, detours, and fare information are available to riders over the Internet.[5]

Major locations and terminalsEdit

Former Viva station on York University Campus

Viva operates at several major locations and terminals, with Viva stations (the names of the stations in brackets) at:

Some station shelters along Yonge Street north of Steeles along Yonge utilize Gablet roof design: Clark Avenue, John Street, Centre Street, Royal Orchard, Bay Thorn.

Future terminalsEdit

The opening of Cornell Terminal had been planned for July 2007, but it has been postponed to 2019.[6] The terminal is to be built south of Markham Stouffville Hospital, near the intersection of Ninth Line and Highway 7. The current Markham Stouffville Hospital terminus is a standard VivaBRT stop in an area next to the hospital.


Presto card reader at a Vivastation

Both Viva and YRT are part of YRT's 1system fare policy. This means that a Viva fare and a YRT fare are treated the same, and that riders can transfer from either service to the other without having to pay an additional fare. Riders can also transfer from TTC buses operating in York Region, assuming that they have paid the YRT fare when boarding the TTC bus (when in York Region) or exiting the TTC bus (when travelling to York Region from Toronto).

YRT/Viva formerly operated on a three-zone fare system. Much of southern York Region was in one zone (comprising the city of Vaughan, the city of Markham, the town of Richmond Hill and southern areas of the township of King and the town of Whitchurch-Stouffville). Central York Region was in another zone (comprising the town of East Gwillibury, the town of Newmarket, the township of King, the town of Aurora, and the town of Whitchurch-Stouffville), with Bloomington Road dividing these two zones. The third fare zone was in the Town of Georgina, which was formerly isolated from the rest of the system and former fare zones and had its own disconnected bus routes (and no Viva service, which is still the case). Fares within Georgina were the same as for one-zone in the southern municipalities. Transfers are accepted if a rider uses the GO bus in between YRT routes, and YRT fares are accepted on the GO bus. The fare zones were abolished on July 1, 2017.[7]

Unlike conventional YRT buses, Viva buses are not equipped with onboard fareboxes, and riders purchase single ride fares from "oneRide" ticket machines, available at all Vivastations. In addition, riders may purchase multiple ride fares from authorized vendors or at "multiRide" ticket machines, available at select terminals where Viva operates. Single ticket fares are good for a two-hour time window (expiry time printed on ticket) on any Viva or YRT route.

To reduce time spent loading passengers, Viva routes employ a proof-of-payment fare system. Drivers do not enforce fare payment, but inspectors travel vehicle to vehicle to ensure that passengers have paid their fares. Those caught without valid proof of payment are subject to a fine. Students must produce an authentic student ID card to use student fares (TTC Student ID cards are considered a valid student ID).

Beginning July 1, 2006, monthly passes for YRT/Viva became eligible for a 15.5% tax credit from the Government of Canada, which can be claimed when filing tax returns at the end of the year, with proof of purchase. This was reduced to 15% for 2007 and subsequent years.

In July 2011, the Presto card smart card was launched in York Region, providing another payment method.

As of July 1, 2017, the fare zone system was eliminated [8] as part of a system-wide reorganization of fares, which included a fare increase and the elimination of sales of paper tickets and passes mainly in the borough of northern York Region. (Due to issues with the Presto card, paper tickets/passes will still be used on TTC operated buses)

Ticket machinesEdit

Viva ticketing machines at the Finch Bus Terminal
Viva Ticket Validation & Presto machines

At ticket machines labelled "oneRide", one can purchase single ride Student (student ID required when riding), Adult, or Child/Senior tickets (seniors are required to show their ID). As they have been pre-validated, they must be used immediately upon purchase. "oneRide" machines accept coins (but are not able to return change) and credit cards (MasterCard and Visa), and are available at all Viva stations.

At ticket machines labelled "multiRide", one can purchase multiple tickets in packs of 10 for Student, Adult, or Child/Senior fares. Zone upgrades can also be purchased from these machines. Multi-ride ticket machines are available at some terminals.

Terminals accept coins, bills of up to $20 (and are able to return change). Some accept debit cards (Interac, Cirrus and Plus).

All ticket machines not in terminals have a validation machine attached to their sides. For many ticketing machines inside the terminal, the validation machine is separated from the ticket machines because many of the ticket machines are side by side.

Beginning 2007, security cameras have been installed in Viva stations (and the vehicles) to prevent abuse to the machines.

The ticketing machines operate on Microsoft Windows 2000 and a customized Viva client. Because of the large number of people using the ticketing machines in terminals, they are inspected often and usually in good working order.

Vehicles and fleet rostersEdit

Viva's vehicles are intended to be much more luxurious than is usual for public transport in North America.
Viva bus interiors are intended to be more comfortable in design than normal transit buses, and are equipped with "Next Station" prompts and information screens.
A holiday themed Viva bus spotted on November 19, 2010

Viva's buses are referred to as Rapid Transit Vehicles (RTVs). Viva operates 101 Van Hool buses and more than 15 Nova Buses. All Viva vehicles are wheelchair-accessible.

Make/Model Description Fleet # Notes
Van Hool   Belgium Articulated newAG300 5201-5225, 7201-7205, 8201-8211 Length: 18 meters (60 ft)
Cost per vehicle: $742,000
Engine/Transmission: Cummins ISM/Voith D864.3E
(Cummins ISL/Voith D864.5 for 8201-8211)
Built from 2005-2008.
These buses are found on routes Viva Blue, Viva Purple, and occasionally on Viva Pink.
All units refurbished between 2011 and 2015.
5201-5223 units were transferred to YRT for routes 20 Jane and 90 Leslie.
Van Hool   Belgium newA330 5101-5160 Length: 12 meters (40 ft)
Cost per vehicle: $494,000
Engine/Transmission: Cummins ISL/Voith D864.3E
Built from 2005-2006.
Mainly restricted on routes Viva Orange, Viva Green, Viva Purple, Viva Pink, and Viva Yellow. Rarely, they may appear on Viva Blue.
All units have been refurbished in 2012 and 2013.
5102, 5109, 5112, 5114, 5117, 5119, 5121, 5136, 5139, 5141, 5143, 5146, 5149-5151, 5154, 5156, 5158-5160 units were transferred to YRT for conventional service.
Novabus   Canada Articulated

The vehicles now service Viva Routes Blue, Pink (Rush Hours) and Purple (Routes with highest ridership).

Length: 18 meters (62 ft)
Cost per vehicle: $902,234
Engine/Transmission: Cummins ISL9/Voith D864.5
Built in 2011.
These buses are found on routes Viva Blue, Viva Purple, and occasionally on Viva Pink.
Novabus   Canada Articulated

The vehicles now service Viva Routes Blue, Pink (Rush Hours) and Purple (Routes with highest ridership).

Length: 18 meters (62 ft)
Cost per vehicle: $902,234
Engine/Transmission: Cummins ISL9/Voith D864.5
Built in 2013 and 2017.
These buses are found on routes Viva Blue, Viva Purple, and occasionally on Viva Pink.
Ford Motor Company Ford Focus   USA N/A compact station wagons - support vehicles

Similar buses are being used in Longueuil (Montreal's South Shore) by Réseau de transport de Longueuil, and in Oakland, California by AC Transit.

Future extensionsEdit

The next phase of the Viva rapid transit system is called "Vivanext". The Vivanext plan includes the Yonge North Subway Extension of the Yonge subway line north from Finch to Richmond Hill Centre. The Environmental Project Report for the Yonge North Subway Extension was unconditionally approved by the Ministry of the Environment in 2009. This 6.7-kilometre extension is one of the top 15 priority projects of Metrolinx, the provincial transportation agency. A conceptual design contract was initiated in 2010 to maintain momentum on the project and provide a stronger foundation for moving it forward.

Viva Network Expansion Plan (VNEP)Edit

Viva Network Expansion Plan (VNEP)

The Viva Network Expansion Plan (VNEP) is York Region's plan to expand the size of Viva's bus rapid transit network. Beginning 2015 through to 2020, the system will expand to include 6-full service and 1-rush hour line. These expansion plans will complement the region's new bus rapidways and subway lines as they open.[9]

By 2020, the following lines are planned to be in service:

  • Viva Blue (Yonge) between Finch Subway - Newmarket Terminal (all times), with a branch bypassing Richmond Hill Centre (rush hour only).
  • Viva Purple (Highway 7 East) between Richmond Hill Centre - Cornell Terminal (all times), with a branch detouring to Enterprise Blvd (all times except rush hour).
  • Viva Orange (Highway 7 West) between Richmond Hill Centre - Highway 50 (all times), with a branch between Finch Subway - Highway 50 (all times).
  • Viva Yellow (Davis) between Newmarket Terminal - Highway 404 (all times).
  • Viva Green (Leslie/Major Mackenzie East) between Don Mills Subway - Harding (all times).
  • Viva Silver (Jane/Major Mackenzie West) between Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Subway - Newkirk (all times).
  • Viva Pink (Yonge/Highway 7 East) between Finch Subway - McCowan (rush hour only).


The first Vivanext station at Warden

The Vivanext plan includes the construction of dedicated bus lanes called rapidways. They will take Viva RTVs out of mixed traffic along segments of some of the region’s busiest corridors – Highway 7, Yonge Street and Davis Drive, reducing ride times by up to 40%. Vivanext rapidways will improve connections between regional growth centres and provide links to other key transit services such as GO Transit and the TTC subway system. Eventually, Vivanext may replace buses on the dedicated rapidways with a light rail transit system.[10]

In November 2008, the provincial transportation agency Metrolinx selected two infrastructure projects for construction beginning in 2009, including major components of the Vivanext plan. Metrolinx gave its final approval to a $7 billion, five-year capital plan that includes over $1 billion for construction of several Vivanext rapidways.[11]

In the spring of 2009, the Province of Ontario committed $1.4 billion for Vivanext rapidways. The Cornell Terminal in Markham has received $5.6 million in funding through the provincial government's "Quick Wins" program.

Previous expansions to the Viva rapid transit system include Viva Purple. The Purple line was extended to Markham Stouffville Hospital on January 27, 2008, providing service to three new Viva stations: Main Street Markham, Wootten Way, and Markham Stouffville Hospital.

In 2022, York Region Transit will begin service on the Viva Silver route, which will serve Vaughan Metropolitan Centre north on Jane Street to Major Mackenzie Drive, and east to Richmond Hill GO Station.[12]

YRT/Viva have also identified a partnership with Brampton Transit's Züm, a service similar to Viva operating in the Region of Peel, as a priority. Connections along Highway 7 are expected to start upon Züm's launch. Integration with Brampton Transit, Page 7

2008 driver strikeEdit

Vivasmart display alerting passengers that no VIVA service is available during the strike.
A fully packed YRT bus during the strike

Viva's 170 bus operators are members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, which also represents most unionized staff (over 10000 drivers, ticket collectors and maintenance workers) for the Toronto Transit Commission.[13]

On September 25, 2008, 160 operators walked off the job at 4am EST. 61% of the operators rejected the contract that had been offered the previous week.[14] While Viva service was disrupted, York Region Transit continued to operate as its drivers are represented by a different local of the ATU that did not go on strike.[15]

On October 10, 2008, 65% of the operators voted to accept the contract that they rejected on September 25, ending the 16-day strike.[16] Service resumed at 6am EST on October 11, 2008.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Viva vehicles are so un-bus like, we call them rapid transit". Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Page not found - vivaNext". Archived from the original on May 8, 2016. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  3. ^ "YRT/Viva System". Archived from the original on December 22, 2017. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  4. ^ "MyTransit Fall 2015" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  5. ^ "YRT/Viva and Google have teamed up to give riders another trip planning option". Archived from the original on May 25, 2011. Retrieved January 16, 2009.
  6. ^ "transit terminal / Markham". Retrieved May 19, 2018.
  7. ^ "Fare changes coming July 1". York Region Transit/Viva. Retrieved May 24, 2017.
  8. ^ "Attention PRESTO customers travelling across a fare zone". YRT/Viva. June 6, 2017. Archived from the original on October 20, 2017. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  9. ^ "Viva Network Expansion Plan" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on January 18, 2017.
  10. ^ "Viva York". Archived from the original on April 16, 2005. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  11. ^ "Metrolinx Capital plan" (PDF). Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  12. ^ "Moving to 2020: YRT/Viva 2016-2020 Strategic Plan" (PDF). York Region Transit. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 11, 2016. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  13. ^ "About – ATU Local 113". Archived from the original on January 1, 2018. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  14. ^ Fleischer, David (September 27, 2008). "Commuters acting responsibly during Viva strike, YRT boss says". Markham Economist and Sun. p. 2.
  15. ^ Loriggio, Paola; Mathieu, Emily (September 25, 2008). "Viva bus drivers on strike". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on September 28, 2008. Retrieved September 25, 2008.
  16. ^ Kalinowski, Tess (October 11, 2008). "Striking Viva drivers back in buses". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on October 14, 2008. Retrieved October 11, 2008.


Viva publications

  • Viva - A Rider's Manual, York Region September 2005
  • Viva - York Region Rapid Transit Route Map 2005
  • the viva rapid transit vehicle/rtv:ag300 2005
  • "Viva RT - New Transit System Coming Soon", About Markham, p. 2. June 2005
  • MyTransit, York Region Transit, September 2005. (PDF)

Government publications


  • "vivatalk - York Region's Rapid Transit Update", Economist & Sun/Sun-Tribune: Community, p. 7. June 11, 2005
  • "Bus Riders find bearings", Toronto Star, p.B3, September 7, 2005.

Other sources

  • "Ontario and Beyond - York Region Rapid Transit Plan", Transfer Points June–July 2004, p. 5-6.

External linksEdit