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$2M campaign will tout York Region's new rapid-transit bus


York Region is going to spend $2 million to promote Viva, its new transit project debuting this September along Yonge St. and Highway 7.

A key ad campaign that debuts in April targets office workers, women, immigrants and students as the most likely candidates to ride the luxury buses the region has ordered as the backbone of its transit service.

“The car is king in York Region and it is going to take a persuasive education campaign to convince people that Viva will meet their travel needs and entice them to leave their keys at home,” concludes a staff report to be considered by the region’s rapid transit steering committee tomorrow.

Viva will run 19 hours a day, hitting 119 bus stops along Highway 7 (from Martin Grove to Cornell), Yonge (from Newmarket Terminal to Finch station) and a couple of spur lines. It will operate as rapid transit, getting a head start at traffic lights and linking efficiently with other systems, as the region tries to create a transit culture.

Fares remain the same, and riders will connect easily with Brampton Transit, three subway stations and four GO links.

At peak times, the comfortable, low-floor buses will operate five minutes apart; at others, every 15 minutes. Bus stops will be outfitted with ticket vending machines and a global positioning satellite hookup that will inform waiting riders of the real arrival time of the next bus.

The education campaign follows a study by consulting company Barrett and Welsh of Toronto that urged the region to “attract a whole new generation of riders” through targeted ads.

About 8 per cent of York Region commuters use transit now. Gridlock has provided incentive for the Viva project, which has cost $150 million so far. City staff are now seeking an extra $2 million to promote it.

The report concluded that:

Women are more likely to use Viva, because they take 56 to 68 per cent of transit trips.

Office workers are “open” to trying the new service.

Immigrants, 39 per cent of the region’s population, are more likely to use transit, “even as their incomes rise.”

Teenagers and students at York University and Seneca College need to hear the message that they’ll gain empowerment and mobility if they use Viva.

The campaign has two goals: first, to market the rapid transit concept and create a new generation of transit users; second, to educate people about how to use it. Much of the money will be used to print maps and explain how the system works. (Details at