In January 2001, five municipal transit systems amalgamated to form York Region Transit (YRT). Since amalgamation, ridership on the conventional transit system has grown by over 14 million riders. This equates to an average growth of 10 per cent per year, for an average daily ridership of approximately 80,000 passenger trips per weekday and almost 20 million annually.
Viva, York Region's bus rapid transit service, launched in September 2005. Viva service was designed to be faster than conventional service, reliable and customer-friendly. To achieve a service that is faster than YRT's conventional service, a proof of payment system was introduced to speed up boarding and alighting. Traffic priority systems were implemented at major intersections to reduce delays at red lights and a Variable Messaging System (VMS) system offering real time bus arrival information implemented at every Viva bus stop (vivastations).
YRT/Viva contracts out its service to four private bus contractors, who employ the bus operators and maintain the YRT/Viva fleet. Performance-based contracts with each contractor ensure the system is always running up to the Region's high standards. This is a very unique service delivery model within Canada, as most other transit agencies are responsible for their operators and fleet.
VivaNext, the next phase of the Viva project, will see dedicated transit lanes (rapidways) built along major corridors. Rapidways will take Viva vehicles out of mixed traffic, enabling them to operate faster and avoid traffic congestion. The proposed plan also includes two subway extensions and two light rail transit lines.