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5 things Toronto could learn from Vienna

Vienna is called the City of Dreams for a reason: aside from it being the birthplace of Freud, Austria’s capital is voted one of the world’s most livable cities year after year—and when it comes to public transit, it’s the stuff TTC dreams are made of. An eight-hour flight might be worth a delay-free ride on their adorable trams.

Here are 5 things Toronto could learn from Vienna.

How to operate a great streetcar system

Trams—which locals lovingly call ‘bims’—have been operating in Vienna since 1865, but the streetcar system has expanded significantly since then, making it the fifth largest tram network in the world.

Today, their fleet consists of state-of-the-art high-floor and low-floor trams running along 28 lines, including a tourist-friendly Ring Tram circuit that goes around central Vienna. In Toronto, I’d generally advise tourists to avoid the TTC if they want to hit the attractions on time.

Encouraging electric cars

Completely unlike Toronto, where Premier Doug Ford’s decision to nix rebates for EVs has all but devastated the idea of moving forward with chargeable cars, Vienna is considered the capital of electric vehicles.

There’s hundreds of electric filling stations around the city that provide barrier-free charging, and company’s even offer city tours for environmental-minded visitors in electric ‘vintage’ cars.

Extending subway service to match last call

In Vienna, bars and clubs are allowed to serve alcohol until 6 a.m., and to make sure people get home safe, the city’s transit system, U-Bahn, stays up accordingly.

You can take the subway 24 hours a day on Friday, Saturday, and the evenings before holidays. Since Toronto’s last call is a measly 2 a.m. (most of the time), the TTC hours reflect that, ending service around an annoying 1:30 a.m daily.

Improving green spaces

There’s nearly 100 parks and gardens scattered across Vienna, meaning green space makes up about half of the city’s entire land area.

From the Lobau to Vienna Woods, there’s a concerted effort by the city’s forestry and urban agriculture department to preserve their wetlands and forests. Toronto could do the same with its deteriorating ravines and large swaths of land.

Affordable housing

Inexpensive housing doesn’t really exist in Toronto—but it's the opposite in Vienna. The city is known worldwide for its progressive social housing system, which provides government-subsidized housing to its citizens for low costs.

About 62 percent of Vienna’s population lives in social housing right now—and one could say about 99 percent of Torontonians need it too, considering Toronto is now the fifth most unaffordable city in the world.

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