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Viva York: Retrofitting Toronto Sprawl with Smart Transit
Hassan Masum, 4 Sep 05

A funky transit system? Unlike Toronto itself, public transit hasn't been a priority in the sprawling northern suburbs, collectively called York Region. But now there's movement toward smart sprawl, with York Region introducing a new bus-based rapid transit system with style, visible to the world through a site which is itself a work of art: Viva York (Flash required).

GPS-enabled real time bus information at every stop, frequent service 19 hours a day, buses with tables in the back (and WiFi coming soon), and even links to traffic signals to green-light late-running buses - what's not to like? Especially since the project was done in three years on a modest budget, with a fair public-private partnership where the public retains ownership and control.

Long-range plans, mentioned briefly on the region's site, include potential conversion to light rail and higher-density land use along service corridors (including four nodal "transit villages"). Sometimes large North American cities can seem like endless waves of subdivisions marching into farmland and forest, but with creativity and resolve, smart retrofitting is possible.

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