Text and photos by David Eustache
The Richmond Hill terminal is located on the northeast side of the Yonge St. and Highway 7 interchange in southern Richmond Hill. It was opened 4th September, 2005, the same date York Region’s Viva bus rapid transit service commenced first phase operations on Yonge St. and Highway 7.
Four YRT and two Viva bus routes currently serve this facility: YRT’s routes 1 Hwy 7, 83/83A Trench, 99 Yonge (northbound and southbound); and Viva’s Blue line (Yonge, northbound and southbound), and Purple line (Highway 7, eastbound and westbound). Eight bus bays accommodate these routes, with overhead LED displays indicating time of arrival for the Viva routes.
Amenities at the terminal include two ‘oneRide’ ticket vending machines, two Bell Canada payphones, two route map/information displays, three each of waste and recycle bins, and eighteen 5’ wide metal benches. Just on the west side of the Terminal are three high-backed and arm-rested benches (also 5’ wide, and metal), two each of the waste and recycle bins, and a small structure for locking bicycles.
In the short term, there are plans to link the terminal with GO Transit’s Langstaff commuter rail station, to the immediate southeast on the Richmond Hill line, via a pedestrian bridge over the rail corridor.
The Richmond Hill terminal is an elegantly simple building, in terms of form and function. From an esthetic point of view, this beige coloured stone structure, with its conservative yet distinct form, implies a sense of permanence without being overly pretentious. When it comes to its current functionality, considering the afforementioned, one can argue that it lies somewhere between being classified as a bare-bones bus station, and a glorified bus stop.
To place perspective in the grand scheme of things, however, the terminal is only part of an initial phase of a much larger and long term initiative: to transform the Yonge St. and Highway 7/407 vicinity into a thriving central city area (Langstaff Gateway), with an augmented Richmond Hill terminal - including Langstaff station - as its main public transportation hub.
Considering population growth in York region, and an ever increasing awareness of public transit’s beneficial role, the Richmond Hill terminal is currently a humble yet important inclusion into the equation of what makes a city region work. However, the long term possibilities for this terminal are interesting, to say the least.
One day, Viva’s bus service may be replaced by light rail transit. Toronto’s Yonge subway line might be extended into York region. The Richmond Hill line, with some modifications, could offer a frequent high-speed train service to and from downtown Toronto. And there are possible long term plans to build some sort of interurban transit line alongside Highway 407.
Like all roads leading to Rome, any and all of these would lead to the Richmond Hill terminal.