The Town of Markham in Ontario, Canada, offers a complex transportation infrastructure. These include airports, highways, public transit, regional roads, municipality-funded roads, and train services.
Due to Markham's proximity to Toronto, Markham residents use Toronto Pearson International Airport in order to travel to various international destinations. However, the Town of Markham itself does provide local alternative to Pearson.
There are two airports in Markham, operated by two different operators. These are Toronto/Buttonville Municipal Airport and Toronto/Markham Airport. Their names are signed under Toronto because of Markham's proximity to Toronto.
Operated by Toronto Airways Limited, Toronto/Buttonville Municipal Airport is Canada's 8th busiest airport by aircraft movement in 2006. The airport is located at the town's west end, at 16th Avenue and Highway 404.
Buttonville Municipal Airport is privately owned, and that is until the license expires in 2010. The Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) plans to cease the airport operation in 2011. By then, Markham residents will use the nearby Pickering Airport in Pickering.
Buttonville Municipal Airport currently offers domestic flights and flights for United States destinations. Operators using the airport include NexJet Aviation Inc, Million Air, Executive Edge Air Charter, Aviation Limited and Canadian Flyers International. The airport also offers flight school hosted by the Seneca Community College.
The Toronto/Markham Airport is located at the northeastern end of the town, at Highway 48 and 19th Avenue. It is operated privately by Markham Airport Incorporated.
There is only one heliport in Markham. The Toronto/Markham Stouffville heliport is located on the roof of the Markham Stouffville Hospital in the eastern end of town, at Highway 7 and Bur Oak Avenue. The heliport is privately owned, with ownership shared between Markham and Whitchurch-Stouffville.
Markham designated almost 400 km as "Cycling devoted routes", as part of the town's Master Cycling Plan. There are 3 signs showing the route is designated for cyclists. The first one, with the diamond shape, and a bicycle, is an exclusive bicycle lane for cyclists. Roads that are designated with this, such as Castlemore Avenue, is marked with an extra lane on the pavement, and one of them is for cyclists.
The second sign is a green sign with a bicycle on top, and is the most frequent sign across Markham. Roads that are designated with this, such as Carlton Road, has no specially marked bicycle lane, but other lanes are wide enough that motorists and cyclists do not have to share a lane.
The third sign is the most rare of all, with a car on the left side, a cyclist on the right , and a sign saying "Share the road". This sign is designated to busy roads, and is narrow enough that motorists and cyclists have to share a lane.
Bicycle lanes are also designated in some of the town's parks.
The Town of Markham proposed a final draft of the "Cycling Master Plan" in 2007. The plan would be put in place in the next 15 years. The plan includes designating various major municipal roads into the following categories:
- Signed-Only Routes : On-road bicycle routes denoted strictly with bicycle route signs with no other physical changes to the roadway geometry. Users share the pavement with motor vehicles. There are no special lane designations.
- Bike Lanes and Paved Shoulder Bikeways : Facilities located in the traveled portion of the roadway and designed for one-way cyclist traffic. Bike lanes are typically located on urban streets with curbs, and paved shoulders are typically used to accommodate cyclists on rural cycling routes where no curbs exist.
- Multi-Use Trails : Facilities that are completely separate from the traveled portion of a roadway. They may take the form of a boulevard trail in a public road right-of-way or greenway / hydro corridor. The proposed cycling network will expand on the spine network developed as part of the first phase this study and is intended to provide access to existing and proposed utilitarian and recreational cycling routes and trail systems in the Town of Markham and adjacent municipalities.
Within the Town of Markham, Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), Viva (a type of bus rapid transit), and York Region Transit (YRT) offers public transit services for the local residents. Since 1973, Markham has been providing a public transit of its own, namely Markham Transit, and was funded by the municipal government. In 2001, the York Regional government "merged" the Markham Transit with 4 other municipal-managed transit systems to form York Region Transit. In 2005, York Region Transit launched Viva, which operated in parts of Markham on Yonge Street and Highway 7. In addition, GO Transit provide passenger trains and shuttles to help commuters to get to their work.
- Main article: GO Transit
As GO trains only offer train services during rush hours, and that GO trains are only available in certain locations (primarily the centre portion of the town), GO shuttle buses are bound to serve as an alternative. During non-rush hour, GO shuttle buses departs from stations across town and will transport passengers to Downtown Toronto (As all GO train lines does). GO shuttle buses also connect with other YRT routes and TTC routes.
GO buses are developing, like Viva, a bus rapid transit. This plan has already started by launching an express bus route on Highway 407 ETR.
GO buses also extend the service area of the GO trains. In Markham, there are only 2 lines, one operating on Highway 7, linking Brampton and Markham, and the other one is the York University express, operating on Highway 407.
- Main article: Toronto Transit Commission
Due to Markham's proximity to Toronto, some bus routes in Markham are operated by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). They are called the "TTC contracted routes operating within York Region". These buses all connect to subway or RT stations in Toronto, and thus help to connect Markham (or the whole York Region) with Toronto.
There are a total of 8 TTC contracted bus routes operating within Markham (that is 47% of all 17 TTC routes operating in York Region). There is a special fare policy to go with this special contracted bus program. If a passenger boarded a TTC contracted bus route in York Region, and only travel within York Region, the passenger must pay according to the YRT's fare policy. The passenger is entitle for another free ride of other York Region Transit/Viva operated bus routes, or TTC contracted bus routes (and that is, if the passenger does not travel into Toronto). If a passenger boarded a TTC contracted bus route in York Region and travel into Toronto, the passenger must pay an extra fare (YRT's fare and TTC's fare). The passenger is entitle for a free ride on the subway or RT or streetcars, or TTC bus routes operating within Toronto. If the passenger enters York Region again, he or she must pay another fare for the YRT.
York Region Transit (YRT)Edit
- Main article: York Region Transit
A merged system of Markham Transit and 4 other municipal-managed transit systems, forming York Region Transit in 2001. The York Region Transit is now serving all over Markham with over 40 routes. The system operating system operates in a grid-like system. Most of its bus routes are operating on the main routes throughout Markham, which is laid in a grid-like system. Transfers between bus routes are available at major intersections. Passengers are required to pay a flat fee of $3.25, no matter of age. Unlike travelling on TTC contracted routes, travelling on the YRT and entering Toronto does not require an extra fee. The York Region Transit allows Markham residents to travel around York Region, Toronto, Brampton (YRT Route#77 travels to Bramalea City Centre), and Hamilton (YRT connects to GO shuttle)
Other than that, YRT offers 4 express routes (80% of 5 YRT express routes -- not counting the Bayview Express, which is scheduled to be discontinued in September 2007). The express travels on higher speed limit roads, such as Highway 407. The express routes include # 300 (Business Express), 301 (Markham Express), 302 (Unionville Express), and 303 (Cornell Express). All of the express routes connect to the Finch Bus Terminal.
- Main article: Viva (bus rapid transit)
Due to the increase congestion on York Region's roads, the York Region Transit launched a bus rapid transit (BRT) on September 4, 2005 at 9am EDT, and named it Viva, meaning "praised by everyone" in Italian. Unlike YRT, viva only stops at Vivastation, an especially designed station which incorporate a ticket vending machine and a ticket validator (fares are on a proof-of-payment basis to speed up boarding times), as well as a real-time "smart" display that notify passengers when the next vehicle is expected to depart. Most Vivastations are blue, but several stops on Yonge Street have a unique bronze design referred to as "vivavintage" in order to better suit the historic areas, especially along Yonge Street in Thornhill, where space is short, and will be served by miniature "vivamicro" stations. Passengers must pay the YRT's fare policy.
It is the brand name for the York Region Rapid Transit Plan, and was funded through a Public-Private Partnership (P3) consortium called the York Region Rapid Transit Corporation. York Region has control over all fares and service planning. Viva service is integrated with York Region Transit's conventional transit service and operated as one regional transit system (1system) that enables customers to travel across the Region.
The system was opened to public in 4 stages. The second phase was opened on October 16, 2005, the third phase was opened on November 20, 2005, and the first part of the fourth phase was opened on January 2, 2006 (the Cornell extension is the second part of Phase 4).
There are 4 viva lines operating within Markham (80% of Viva lines operating within York Region): Viva Blue (on Yonge Street), Viva Purple (on Highway 7), Viva Green, and Viva Pink (an alternative to Viva Blue at peak-hours).
All of the Viva bus lines operate in the south zone of the Viva transit system. Viva bus lines operate using Van Hool blue buses. The Viva buses are given with priorities of traffic signals, meaning that the bus driver could "adjust" the traffic lights when the bus are behind schedule due to a traffic congestion. This significantly improve the efficiency of the viva bus. Buses are operated 18 hours a day, 7 days per week, and 365 days a year. Bus frequency ranges from 5 minutes to 15 minutes.
In the future, viva would be upgraded to an elevated rail, connected to the Toronto's subway system. Viva is also considering extending its route into the fast-growing community of Cornell in eastern Markham.
- Main article: GO Transit
Throughout Town of Markham, there are two major railways. They are the Canadian National Railway (CN), and the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). In particular, the CN has the most lines across Markham, especially the southern parts. The CPR mainly focuses on the southeastern end of the town. They are responsible for freight trains servicing Markham, and thus help goods produced in Markham to be delivered to the rest of the country. Other than these rail lines, the GO Train (Government of Ontario Trains) also operate within Markham, providing 4 stations (formerly 5 stations -- Milliken station relocated in Toronto) across town. The system is also known as GOT, or GTTA (Greater Toronto Transit Authority). GO Train is an interregional passenger train and passenger shuttle service (as mentioned above, see the "GO Bus" section) across Greater Toronto Area. GO Train operates on the CN line in Markham, and only during rush hours. The five GO stations in Markham are as follows:
- Milliken (Steeles Avenue & Kennedy Road) -- defunct, relocated beside Splendid China Tower in Toronto.
- Unionville (Enterprise Drive and Main Street Unionville) -- A major YRT and GO terminal. Connects to various YRT bus lines, Viva Blue, Viva Pink (rush hour only), Viva Purple, and Viva Green.
- Markham (Main Street Markham North and Bullock Drive) -- the oldest train station in Markham, and is also an attraction in town. It is originally a station of the Toronto and Nipissing Railway.
GO Train operates only the F line (Stouffville Line) in Markham. There are a total of 11 stations on the line. F line continues north to Stouffville, while continuing south to Union Station, which also connects VIA Rail, TTC bus/subway/streetcar lines, and other GO train lines.
In terms of road systems, Markham is strongly influenced by its southernly neighbour, Toronto. Like Toronto, Markham inherits a grid-like road network, funded by 3 different levels of government. The government of Ontario funds the provincial highways across the town; the government of York Region funds most of its arterial and main routes throughout the town; and the government of Markham funds all local routes, and some arterial routes.
The Ontario government only funded certain roads across Markham as Ontario Provincial Highways. These include Highways 7, 48, and 404. Highway 404 serves as a major expressway linking Markham, Newmarket, and Toronto downtown. Prior to the 1998 massive downloading, the Ontario government also funded Highway 11 (now York Regional Road 1, locally known as Yonge Street)
Massive downloading in 1997-1998 and its effects to MarkhamEdit
During 1997 and 1998, the Ontario government downloaded parts of Highways 7 (from the Richmond Hill/Markham boundary to Main Street Markham), 11 (whole length), and 48 (from the Toronto/Markham boundary to 16th Avenue). Due to the Ontario government running low on transportation budget, many road improvement projects are either delayed or cancelled, and thus making road conditions worse. Downloading the highways to the York Region government allow road conditions to be better, and thus more inviting to visitors.
The issue of downloading Highway 7Edit
- Main article: York Regional Road 7
The downloading of Highway 7 has becoming a big issue in the Town of Markham. Ever since the downloading, the York Regional government has not suggested a renaming of the road, therefore, it is still named as "Highway 7", despite the fact the road is more of an urban thoroughfare, with frequent traffic light stops, numerous bus routes, automobiles, and traffic congestions.
The Markham government is now suggesting to rename Highway 7, as "Avenue 7", saying that this would help the road to sound more "urban". The Markham council is presenting this idea to the York Region government, as well as the Richmond Hill and Vaughan councils. Some objecting voices are saying it would be too confusing, or the name "Avenue 7" would not make sense. This is because the main route south of Highway 7 is named as "14th Avenue", and the main route north of Highway 7 is named as "16th Avenue", and thus Highway 7 should be named as "15th Avenue".
Majority of the main routes are urban "county" roads funded by York Region. Each one of them is assigned with a number, each shown by a shield shaping like a flowerpot. York Regional Roads, like roads in Toronto, are laid out in a grid-like system. Most of the north-south routes inherit names from Toronto. For example, Bayview Avenue in Toronto is still called Bayview Avenue in Markham. Several of the east-west York Regional Roads in Markham still retain their historical concession road numbers (as opposed with the concession roads in Toronto which have all been named), such as 14th Avenue and 16th Avenue (they are the 14th and 16th main routes from Front Street in Toronto). The York Regional Roads are laid out in a grid pattern about 2 kilometers apart. The regional road system is particularly successful due to the landscape across Markham and York Region is relatively flat.
Most of the York Regional Roads within Markham are four-laned, and available in both directions, with a few exceptions to the northern and eastern farmlands, where they are mostly paved with two-lanes both directions.
The Town of Markham also funds some of the main routes, and all of the light-duty roads. Major roads that are funded by Markham are favourited by motorists for travelling within the town. Most cars wanting to visit other nearby municipalities must use York Regional Roads, therefore, although they are called the "Municipal main streets", they are relatively light duty. These roads often serve as an alternative to car jammed York Regional Roads. The Town of Markham also funds almost all residential streets across the town.
- Main article: Highway 407 (Ontario)
In addition, Highway 407 Express Toll Route (407 ETR) is a toll, major east-west expressway, and is privately controlled. The route is formerly provincial controlled, but is now privately owned. The highway serves as a by-pass to Highway 401 and Highway 7, which are very busy highways. Users using the Highway 407 must pay a certain fare.
How Highway 407 works is that every time the customer uses the route, the camera installed above the on-ramps take record of the transponder, leased by the Highway 407. The transponder holds information of the customer's automobile, and thus will mail the bill to the transponder's holder's residence. In case of the customer has no transponder, the camera takes a photo shot of the car license, and a video toll charge will apply. If the customer fails to pay, an interest would be added to the owed amount. The fee would be charged when the customer attempts to renew their driver license.