Light rail in Canada

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Light rail in Canada entails light rail systems in Canadian urban areas. Canada has three light rail systems—in Calgary, Edmonton, and Ottawa—and one streetcar system in Toronto.[1]

This article also gives a brief overview of light rail projects both proposed and under construction in Canada. Edmonton will open its new Metro Line in 2015, followed by Waterloo Region's Ion rapid transit in 2017.

List of Canadian light rail systems by ridership[edit]

The following table lists average weekday ridership figures for the four Canadian light rail systems, using Third Quarter 2014 figures (from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA)[2]) wherever possible:

City System Transit mode Avg. weekday
Opened Stations System Length
Calgary CTrain Light rail 310,700 1981[3] 45[4] 59.9 km (37.2 mi)[4]
Edmonton Edmonton LRT Light rail 100,760[5] 1978[6] 18[6] 24.3 km (15.1 mi)[6]
Ottawa O-Train Diesel light rail 8,000 2001 5 8.0 km (5.0 mi)
Toronto Toronto streetcar system Streetcar 281,900 1861 708 stops[7] 82 km (51 mi)

List of future light rail lines by city[edit]

The following table lists light rail lines either planned or under construction:[notes 1]

City Line Transit mode Construction Start Expected Opening Stations Line Length Status
Edmonton Valley Line[notes 2] Light Rail 2016[8] 2020[8] 12[9] 13.1 km (8.1 mi)[9] Planned
Hamilton B-Line Light Rail 2019 17 13.4 km (8.3 mi) Planned
Ottawa Confederation Line Light Rail 2013 2018 13 12.5 km (7.8 mi) Under construction
Peel Region Hurontario-Main LRT Light Rail 2018 2022 23 17.6 km (10.9 mi)[10] Planned
Toronto Eglinton Crosstown line Light Rail 2011 2021 26 19 km (12 mi) Under construction
Toronto Finch West LRT Light Rail 2016 2021 19 11 km (6.8 mi) Planned
Toronto Sheppard East LRT Light Rail 2021 26 13 km (8.1 mi) Planned
Waterloo Region Ion rapid transit[notes 3] Light Rail 2014 2017 19[notes 4] 19 km (12 mi) Under Construction
  1. ^ Data come from the Wikipedia article for each line unless otherwise noted.
  2. ^ Data for Valley Line phase 1 only from Mill Woods to 102 Street.
  3. ^ Data for Ion phase 1 only from Conestoga Mall to Fairview Park Mall.
  4. ^ 6 of the 19 Ion stations serve one direction only.

Light rail systems by city[edit]


Main article: CTrain

There are 45 stations in operation in the 59.9-kilometer (37.2 mi) CTrain light rail system,[4] with the opening on August 23, 2014 of Tuscany Station).[11] There are four routes that accommodate two CTrain lines (identified as the Red Line and the Blue Line on network maps). The routes, in chronological order, are the South (1981), the Northeast (1985), the Northwest (1987), and the newest one, the West (2012). Route 201 (Red Line) uses the South and Northwest lines; Route 202 (Blue Line) uses the Northeast and West lines. The two routes share most of the downtown line on the 7th Avenue South transit mall; the exception is the Downtown West – Kerby station, which serves only Route 202.


Until 2015, the Edmonton Transit System operated only one light rail line, the Capital Line. In 2015, the new Metro Line becomes the first new line in Edmonton that is not an extension of the existing Capital Line. The proposed Valley Line will use low-floor vehicles.

  • The Capital Line runs roughly north-south, between northeast Edmonton and the Century Park community, with a mix of tunnels and at-grade track. Six stations are underground, while the remaining nine are at-grade.
  • The new Metro Line which opened on 6 September extended the light rail system by 3.3 km (2.1 mi) adding three new stations. It interlines with the Capital Line sharing seven stations and services northwest Edmonton to central Edmonton.[12][13]


Main article: B-Line (Hamilton)

Hamilton, Ontario's B-Line route, part of the region's BLAST rapid transit network, is a proposed light rail line to run east-west along King and Main streets, with McMaster University and Eastgate Square as its termini.[14] However, in announcing the financing for the line, the Province of Ontario changed the eastern terminus to Queenston Circle instead of Eastgate Square but added a branch to the new West Harbour GO Station.[15]


Main article: O-Train
The O-Train, Ottawa's light rail train system

In 2001, to supplement its Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, Ottawa opened a diesel light rail pilot project, (the O-Train), which was relatively inexpensive to construct (C$21 million), due to its single-track route along a little used freight-rail right of way and use of diesel multiple units (DMUs) to avoid the cost of building overhead lines along the tracks.

With the construction of the Confederation Line, the O-Train brand has been extended to both rail transit services and the diesel line has been renamed as the Trillium Line.[16]

  • The Trillium Line is an 8 km (5.0 mi) diesel light rail line running north to south from Bayview Station to Greenboro Station connecting with a transitway at each terminus. There are three passing sidings along the single-track line.

Peel Region[edit]

Main article: Hurontario-Main LRT

The Hurontario-Main LRT is a proposed 17.6 km (10.9 mi) light rail line largely financed by the Province of Ontario to run on the surface along Hurontario Street from Port Credit GO Station in Mississauga to Steeles Avenue in Brampton. On October 28, 2015, Brampton City Council cancelled the proposed 5.6 km (3.5 mi) section of the line along Main Street in Brampton to Brampton GO Station.[10]


The City of Surrey has proposed to build a 27 km (17 mi) network containing 3 light rail lines radiating from Skytrain stations in Surrey. The proposed lines are:[18][19]

The lines on 104 Avenue and King George Boulevard would be built in 7 years while the Surrey-Langley Line on Fraser Highway would be finished 5 years afterward.[18] A report (Economic Benefits of Surrey LRT) was produced by a consulting firm in May 2015.[20]

This project (among others including a new subway line in Vancouver) was dependant on approval by referendum of a tax increase to pay for new public transit. The electorate voted against the tax increase leaving the project unfunded.[21]


New Flexity streetcar on Spadina Avenue in Toronto

Toronto streetcar system[edit]

Most of the 11 routes of the Toronto streetcar system operate in mixed traffic, but three of them have similarity to light rail in that there is a high degree of separation from road traffic by using reserved lanes with some track in tunnels. There is also a proposal to build a fourth such line. The lines are:

Light rail in Toronto[edit]

When completed, the Toronto Transit Commission will operate three light rail lines with vehicles that will be incompatible with the streetcar system as they will use a different track gauge (1435mm for LRT, 1495mm for streetcars).[22] The three light rail lines will operate independently of each other as there will be no interconnecting tracks between them.[23] The TTC considers the light rail lines to be a part of its rapid transit services along with the subway lines and the Scarborough RT and has numbered the light rail lines accordingly.

Victoria region[edit]

In August 2011, Victoria Regional Transit System announced that light rail transit was recommended as the preferred technology to connect Victoria to Saanich and West Shore communities.[26][27]

Waterloo Region[edit]

Main article: Ion (transit system)

The Waterloo Region, Ontario has approved plans for a light rail transit system from Waterloo to Cambridge, which will be constructed in two phases.[28] The first phase of the LRT system is under construction and will run from Conestoga Mall in Waterloo to Fairview Park Mall in Kitchener. Extension to Ainslie St. Transit Terminal in Cambridge will be implemented in the second phase. During the first phase, the Kitchener to Cambridge segment will be operated as adapted bus rapid transit. Currently, the iXpress system, a limited stop express bus service, is operating as a precursor to rapid transit. The Region of Waterloo received funding from the provincial government.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Commuting Patterns and Places of Work of Canadians, 2006 Census". Statistics Canada. 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-14. 
  2. ^ a b "Public Transportation Ridership Report Third Quarter 2014" (pdf). American Public Transportation Association (APTA) (via: ). 26 February 2014. pp. 31–32. Retrieved 2015-05-15. 
  3. ^ "About Calgary Transit / Corporate Information / History". Calgary Transit. City of Calgary. 2015. Retrieved 2015-07-17. 
  4. ^ a b c "About Calgary Transit / Facts and Figures / Statistics". Calgary Transit. City of Calgary. 2015. Retrieved 2015-07-17. 
  5. ^ "2013 LRT Passenger Count Report" (pdf). City of Edmonton. January 2014. pp. 2, 4. Retrieved 2014-08-04. The Transportation Planning, Strategic Monitoring and Analysis Section conducted the 2013 Fall LRT Passenger Count over a three-week period in October 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c "LRT for Everyone" (pdf). Edmonton Transit System and City of Edmonton. p. 4. Retrieved 2014-08-05. 
  7. ^ "2012 - TTC Operating Statistics". Toronto Transit Commission. 2013. Retrieved 2014-08-04. 
  8. ^ a b c "Valley Line (SE to West LRT): Mill Woods to Lewis Farms". Edmonton Transit System. 2015. Retrieved 2015-06-16. 
  9. ^ a b c "Valley Line LRT Animation". City of Edmonton. 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2015-06-16. 
  10. ^ a b "Brampton council votes to reject provincially approved LRT". Metro News. October 28, 2015. Retrieved 2015-10-28. 
  11. ^ "Northwest LRT extension to Rocky Ridge/Tuscany". Calgary Transit. The City of Calgary. 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-04. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ Dykstra, Matt (May 9, 2013). "Edmonton city crews promise to finish north extension of LRT line to NAIT by next spring". Edmonton Sun. Retrieved August 26, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Rapid Transit". City of Hamilton. Retrieved 2010-06-30. 
  15. ^ Hamilton to get a new LRT and GO Train station
  16. ^ "O-Train name approved for Ottawa light rail system". CBC News Network. September 17, 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-29. 
  17. ^ "Confederation Line". City of Ottawa. 2015. Retrieved 2015-06-15. 
  18. ^ a b "Light Rail Transit". City of Surrey. 2015. Retrieved 2015-06-15. 
  19. ^ "City of Surrey's Vision for Rapid Transit -- LRT". video (City of Surrey). 2011-08-23. Retrieved 2015-06-15. 
  20. ^ Shirocca Consulting (2015). "Economic Benefits of Surrey LRT" (PDF). City of Surrey. Retrieved 2015-06-15. 
  21. ^ Francis Bula (2015-07-02). "Vancouver-region tax hike transit referendum voted down by 62 per cent". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2015-07-02. 
  22. ^ Steve Munro (2013-07-02). "An Interminable Debate About Track Gauge". Steve Munro. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  23. ^ a b "Toronto Light Rail Transit Projects". Metrolinx. 2015-06-04. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  24. ^ "What is the Crosstown?". Metrolinx. 2015-06-04. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  25. ^ "Finch West LRT". Metrolinx. 2015-06-04. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  26. ^ "April 2011: Light Rail Recommendation". BC Transit. 2011. Retrieved 2015-06-12. 
  27. ^ "Regional Transit Local Funding Options - Technical Analysis". BC Transit. 2012-08-22. Retrieved 2015-06-12. 
  28. ^ Douglas John Bowen (12 July 2013). "Waterloo opts for Bombardier LRVs". International Railway Journal. Archived from the original on 2013-07-13. Retrieved 2013-07-13. The first of the Flexity Freedom LRV are due to be delivered in mid-2016, and will be used on the 19km, 16-station line from Conestoga Mall in Waterloo to Fairview Park Mall in Kitchener. The $C 92.4m ($US 89.2m) contract will include an option for 16 additional vehicles. 
  29. ^ "Province announces funding for rapid transit in Waterloo Region". City of Hamilton. 29 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-30. 

External links[edit]