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York Region plans to attract riders by offering WiFi service on VIVA buses
But transportation providers must balance technology with service, urban transit expert says
6 July 2007
The Toronto Star

It can be a long drive to the suburbs for an email-addicted commuter.

York Region Transit is hoping that WiFi access on its VIVA buses will be enough to lure more motorists out of their cars and notch up the service to its existing customers.

"We have an affluent and technically sophisticated population that looks for those types of innovations and that's what we want to give on our transit," said general manager Don Gordon.

"Our hope is that by the end of this year we'll have the hardware installed and a service provider selected," he said. It would make York Transit one of the first systems in Canada to offer WiFi.

But others are looking at the idea, including the TTC as transit companies expand their marketing strategies beyond reliable schedules and comfortable buses.

Michael Roschlau, president and CEO of the Canadian Urban Transit Association, compares the technology service trend with air conditioning 10 years ago.

"It used to be a frill. Now it's part of a core expectation," he said.

But adding new technology and services is a balancing act. Business people want a fast, frequent service, but seniors might be more interested in a shorter walk to the bus stop.

Then there's the problem of how you pay for the technology without raising fares. York wants to offer WiFi free to riders by selling advertising that would appear on the screen when the user logs on. The alternative is a subscriber fee.

That's how TTC patrons will likely pay for WiFi when it becomes available - not for at least another 18 months - according to chair Adam Giambrone.

The TTC has also talked about making cellphone transmission work in the subway.

GO Transit isn't looking at WiFi.

"Most people don't need the WiFi. People are already working on their laptops and using their BlackBerrys," said spokesperson Ed Shea.

The West Coast Express, a Vancouver-area commuter rail service, says one of its most popular offerings is an on-board coffee bar.

"Once (commuters) found they could come for a 30-minute train ride and be downtown, refreshed, cappuccino in hand, they were converted for life," spokesperson Kyla Daman-Willems said.
 

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Has anyone ever experienced the "time display" not being accurate. Vancouver's 98 B-Line had that problem where the LED time displays system crashed... Siemens- On Street, the company that supplied TransLink did not know why and did nothing to help. As of right now, some buses are fine but most aren't 'recognized' by the system. I really wonder what's going on.

Hopefully Viva won't encounter this problem
 

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never experienced the VIVA system..but man..it looks impressive...the busses are sleek, the individual stations are very very neat (and must be expensive as well!)

Hopefully we can see the system expand, and eventually reach LRT.
 

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Has anyone ever experienced the "time display" not being accurate. Vancouver's 98 B-Line had that problem where the LED time displays system crashed... Siemens- On Street, the company that supplied TransLink did not know why and did nothing to help. As of right now, some buses are fine but most aren't 'recognized' by the system. I really wonder what's going on.

Hopefully Viva won't encounter this problem
In the Waterloo Region you can find out the schedule at each bus stop by calling 519-888-(unique 4 digit number posted on every bus stop), and an automated voice tells which bus route comes in how many minutes. Unfortunately this apparently is just the official schedule and not real-time tracking, and once late at night I was stranded because the bus came earlier than the hotline said.
 

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In the Waterloo Region you can find out the schedule at each bus stop by calling 519-888-(unique 4 digit number posted on every bus stop), and an automated voice tells which bus route comes in how many minutes. Unfortunately this apparently is just the official schedule and not real-time tracking, and once late at night I was stranded because the bus came earlier than the hotline said.
We have that in Vancouver too: 604-953-3333, then 1, 1, and enter 5 digit stop number. It works pretty well for some routes. It's good to see the VIVA GPS/Time Display system actually working. And it seems that YRT is really trying to protect their stops and busses from vanadalism, etc. unlike Vancouvers....

For those who don't know, this is Vancouvers less advanced (but I think it's the first on in Canada) version of VIVA BRT:






Notice the broken display.
And this is what the time display has been saying for some stops for the past year now:


Anyway hopefully BRT becomes LRT soon. Our 98 B-Line (one of the three b-lines) is being replaced with the Canada Line (see that thread). Vancouver should follow YRT in terms of their BRT planning.
 

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TTC stopped that service a number of years back, but aren't the times based on schedule rather than real-time?
The displays on the Viva stops are supposed to be real time, though on occaision they are less accurate than they should be. You can also call up a 1-800 number and find out when the next bus is supposed to come (very handy considering how infrequent the service is on many routes, and that few stops have schedules posted on them). These times are based on schedules though.
 

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From my experience, the VIVA schedules are fairly accurate, although it would've been better had they incorporated the YRT Yonge bus schedules as well. But then, I don't think those older buses are equipped with GPS and the technology yet.

The key to VIVA's success is further intensification of the main corridors, namely Yonge and Hwy 7. Then there'll be plenty of riders to keep the system profitable. Also, they need to build that connection at the Hwy 7 transfer point with Langstaff GO. A very logical transit point. Don't know why they didn't do it long ago.
 

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From my experience, the VIVA schedules are fairly accurate, although it would've been better had they incorporated the YRT Yonge bus schedules as well. But then, I don't think those older buses are equipped with GPS and the technology yet.

The key to VIVA's success is further intensification of the main corridors, namely Yonge and Hwy 7. Then there'll be plenty of riders to keep the system profitable. Also, they need to build that connection at the Hwy 7 transfer point with Langstaff GO. A very logical transit point. Don't know why they didn't do it long ago.
I was once on a late night 99/98 bus, and up until RHC it was showing up on the Viva displays as a Viva Blue route. I've only seen this once though. And I REALLY have no idea why they did not build the bridge at RHC first. Only thing I can think of is to supress conections with GO and force higher ridership on the Viva. Hell. if they were gonna spend so much on a terminal station, at least have it enclosed so you aren't freezing your ass off in winter waiting 20 minutes for a Viva Purple to come along!!!
 

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I was once on a late night 99/98 bus, and up until RHC it was showing up on the Viva displays as a Viva Blue route. I've only seen this once though. And I REALLY have no idea why they did not build the bridge at RHC first. Only thing I can think of is to supress conections with GO and force higher ridership on the Viva. Hell. if they were gonna spend so much on a terminal station, at least have it enclosed so you aren't freezing your ass off in winter waiting 20 minutes for a Viva Purple to come along!!!
What do you mean? You mean the 99/98 was showing up on the VIVA bus stop variable signs?

Also, Regional Council has approved improvements to the open-air YRT/Viva Richmond Hill Centre Terminal, including ceiling mounted heaters for winter heating and enhanced shelter wind shields. 680 News.
 

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What do you mean? You mean the 99/98 was showing up on the VIVA bus stop variable signs?

Also, Regional Council has approved improvements to the open-air YRT/Viva Richmond Hill Centre Terminal, including ceiling mounted heaters for winter heating and enhanced shelter wind shields. 680 News.
Yeah, it was coming up as 'Viva Blue' on the VIVA stop signs, even though the Viva service had ended an hour earlier. However north of Richmond Hill Center, it was saying Viva service had ended. So I wouldn't be too surprised if in the next 12 months it will display both Viva and YRT routes.

And yeah, I just read that they were going to add heating to RHC as well (as well as add some Viva stations), but they also just brought forth ANOTHER fare hike :mad2: . I thought the vote for the fare increase was next week, and I was going to email my councilor and ask him to vote against it, and instead increase advertising on the Viva.

I really can't wait to move out of this county :(
 

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