Light rail in Canada

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

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. Waterloo Region's Ion rapid transit and Ottawa's Confederation Line will open in 2018.

Existing light rail systems[edit]

The following table lists average weekday ridership figures for the four Canadian light rail systems, using third quarter 2014 figures wherever possible:[2]

City System Transit mode Avg. weekday
Opened Stations System length
Calgary, Alberta CTrain Light rail 310,700 1981[3] 45[4] 59.9 km (37.2 mi)[4]
Edmonton, Alberta Edmonton LRT Light rail 108,690[5] 1978[6] 18[6] 24.3 km (15.1 mi)[6]
Ottawa, Ontario O-Train Diesel light rail 8,000 2001 5 8.0 km (5.0 mi)
Toronto, Ontario Toronto streetcar 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:[a]

City Line Construction start Expected opening Stations Line length Status
Calgary Green Line 2017 2024[b] 28 40 km (25 mi) Planned
Edmonton Valley Line[c] 2016[8] 2020[8] 12[9] 13.1 km (8.1 mi)[9] Under construction[10]
Hamilton B-Line 2019 2024 17 13.4 km (8.3 mi) Planned
Ottawa Confederation Line 2013 2018 13 12.5 km (7.8 mi) Under construction
Peel Region Hurontario LRT 2018 2022 23 17.6 km (10.9 mi)[11] Planned
Surrey Surrey–Newton–Guildford Line 2025 11 10 km (6.2 mi) Planned
Surrey Surrey–Langley Line 2030 8 17 km (11 mi) Planned
Toronto Eglinton Crosstown line 2011 2021 26 19 km (12 mi) Under construction
Toronto Finch West LRT 2016 2022 19 11 km (6.8 mi) Planned
Toronto Sheppard East LRT 2021 26 13 km (8.1 mi) Planned
Waterloo Region Ion rapid transit[d] 2014 2018[12] 19[e] 19 km (12 mi) Under construction
  1. ^ Data come from the Wikipedia article for each line unless otherwise noted.
  2. ^ Depends on delivery of funding promised by federal and provincial governments during recent elections.
  3. ^ Data for Valley Line phase 1 only from Mill Woods to 102 Street.
  4. ^ Data for Ion phase 1 only from Conestoga Mall to Fairview Park Mall.
  5. ^ 6 of the 19 Ion stations serve one direction only.

Light rail systems by city[edit]


Calgary Transit claims that the Calgary CTrain network, which started operation in 1981, now has the highest ridership of any light rail transit system in North America, carrying over 320,000 passengers per weekday.[13] This is higher than the 155-year-old Toronto streetcar system and is also higher than the Boston Light Rail system, which is the busiest light rail transit system in the United States. There are 45 stations in operation in the 60-kilometer (37 mi) CTrain light rail system,[4][14] After starting by running on one leg in 1981, the system has expanded and now has four legs radiating out into Calgary's suburbs in different directions. The legs have been organized into two routes (identified as the Red Line and the Blue Line) that connect the four legs via shared tracks in a downtown transit mall. The existing four legs of the system, as built in chronological order, are the South leg (1981), the Northeast leg (1985), the Northwest leg (1987), and the West leg (2012). The segments of the system are:

  • Downtown - the transit mall where the Red and Blue lines share common tracks at street level along 7th Avenue South;
  • Route 201 - the Red line connects the South and Northwest legs via the downtown transit mall;
  • Route 202 - the Blue line connects the Northeast and West legs via the downtown transit mall;
  • Route 203 - the planned Green line will add about 40 kilometres (25 mi) and 28 stations to the system by connecting a North leg to a Southeast leg, probably in a tunnel underneath the existing downtown transit mall. Construction on it is expected to start in 2017.[13]


Until 2015, the Edmonton Transit System operated only one light rail line, the Capital Line. In 2015, the new Metro Line became the first new line in Edmonton that is not an extension of the existing Capital Line. The under construction 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 September 6, 2015, extended the light rail system by 3.3 km (2.1 mi) and added three new stations. It interlines with the Capital Line, sharing seven stations, and services northwest Edmonton to central Edmonton.[15][16]
  • The Valley Line is an under-construction, 27-kilometre (17 mi), low-floor urban line running southeast to west from Mill Woods to Lewis Farms, crossing through downtown. The line will be constructed in two phases, with phase 1 being the portion between Mill Woods and 102 Street stop, which will connect with the Capital and Metro Lines at Churchill.[8][9]


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.[17] 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.[18] After uncertainty in Hamilton's city council, and poor ridership projections in provincially funded studies, Queen's Park announced that they would abandon the spur line down James North, and a previously announced BRT system along James, in favour of reinstating Eastgate Square as the terminal station of the B-Line.[19]


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.[20]

Peel Region[edit]

The Hurontario 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.[11]


A 27-kilometre (17 mi) light rail network consisting of three lines radiating from Skytrain stations has been proposed for construction in Surrey, BC. The planned lines are:[22][23]

The lines on 104 Avenue and King George Boulevard would be built in seven years while the Surrey-Langley Line on the Fraser Highway would be finished five years later.[22] A report on the economic benefits of the project was produced by a consulting firm in May 2015.[24]

This project (among others major transit infrastructure initiatives, including the extension of the Millennium Line under Broadway in Vancouver) was originally made contingent, by the governing BC Liberal party, on the approval, by plebiscite in 2015, of a sales tax increase to generate new funds for public transit. The electorate voted against the tax increase, leaving the project unfunded.[25] Subsequently, the project has been included in the second phase of TransLink's 10-Year Investment Plan, which is scheduled for approval in late 2017.[26]


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 (1435 mm for LRT, 1495 mm for streetcars).[27] The three light rail lines will operate independently of each other as there will be no interconnecting tracks between them.[28] The TTC considers the light rail lines to be a part of its subway system, along with its heavy rail subway lines and the light metro Line 3 Scarborough, 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.[31][32]

Waterloo Region[edit]

The Waterloo Region, Ontario has approved plans for a light rail transit system from Waterloo to Cambridge, which will be constructed in two phases.[33] 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.[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Commuting Patterns and Places of Work of Canadians, 2006 Census". Statistics Canada. 2008. Retrieved July 14, 2008. 
  2. ^ a b "Public Transportation Ridership Report Third Quarter 2014" (pdf). American Public Transportation Association. February 26, 2014. pp. 31–32. Retrieved May 15, 2015. 
  3. ^ "About Calgary Transit / Corporate Information / History". Calgary Transit. City of Calgary. 2015. Retrieved July 17, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c "About Calgary Transit / Facts and Figures / Statistics". Calgary Transit. City of Calgary. 2015. Retrieved July 17, 2015. 
  5. ^ "September 2015 Daily Cumulative Boarding Report Bus & LRT" (PDF). Edmonton. City of Edmonton. September 2015. p. 14. Retrieved May 1, 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c "LRT for Everyone" (PDF). Edmonton Transit System and City of Edmonton. p. 4. Archived from the original (pdf) on September 10, 2015. Retrieved August 5, 2014. 
  7. ^ "2012 - TTC Operating Statistics". Toronto Transit Commission. 2013. Retrieved August 4, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c "Valley Line (SE to West LRT): Mill Woods to Lewis Farms". Edmonton Transit System. 2015. Archived from the original on May 15, 2015. Retrieved June 16, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c "Valley Line LRT Animation". City of Edmonton. December 3, 2013. Retrieved June 16, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 9, 2016. Retrieved June 16, 2015. 
  11. ^ a b "Brampton council votes to reject provincially approved LRT". Metro News. October 28, 2015. Retrieved October 28, 2015. 
  12. ^ "LRT rollout delayed, Bombardier blamed". Waterloo Region Record. May 24, 2016. Retrieved May 24, 2016. 
  13. ^ a b "Vision for Green Line". Calgary Transit. Retrieved May 2, 2016. 
  14. ^ "Northwest LRT extension to Rocky Ridge/Tuscany". Calgary Transit. The City of Calgary. 2014. Retrieved August 4, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Edmonton's Metro Line now set to open in spring". Retrieved April 12, 2017. 
  16. ^ 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. 
  17. ^ "Rapid Transit". City of Hamilton. Retrieved June 30, 2010. 
  18. ^ "Hamilton to get a new LRT and GO Train station - Toronto Star". Retrieved April 12, 2017. 
  19. ^ Van Dongen, Matthew (April 27, 2017). "LRT to Eastgate Square reborn after council nod". Hamilton Spectator. Retrieved May 12, 2017. 
  20. ^ "O-Train name approved for Ottawa light rail system". CBC News Network. September 17, 2014. Retrieved December 29, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Confederation Line". City of Ottawa. 2015. Archived from the original on June 13, 2015. Retrieved June 15, 2015. 
  22. ^ a b "Light Rail Transit". City of Surrey. 2015. Retrieved June 15, 2015. 
  23. ^ "City of Surrey's Vision for Rapid Transit -- LRT". video. City of Surrey. August 23, 2011. Retrieved June 15, 2015. 
  24. ^ Shirocca Consulting (2015). "Economic Benefits of Surrey LRT" (PDF). City of Surrey. Retrieved June 15, 2015. 
  25. ^ Bula, Francis (July 2, 2015). "Vancouver-region tax hike transit referendum voted down by 62 per cent". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved July 2, 2015. 
  26. ^ "Phase Two of the 10-Year Vision: Preparing for Growth". TransLink. Retrieved March 20, 2017. 
  27. ^ Steve Munro (July 2, 2013). "An Interminable Debate About Track Gauge". Steve Munro. Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  28. ^ a b "Toronto Light Rail Transit Projects". Metrolinx. June 4, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  29. ^ "What is the Crosstown?". Metrolinx. June 4, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  30. ^ "Finch West LRT". Metrolinx. June 4, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  31. ^ "April 2011: Light Rail Recommendation". BC Transit. 2011. Retrieved June 12, 2015. 
  32. ^ "Regional Transit Local Funding Options - Technical Analysis". BC Transit. August 22, 2012. Retrieved June 12, 2015. 
  33. ^ Douglas John Bowen (July 12, 2013). "Waterloo opts for Bombardier LRVs". International Railway Journal. Archived from the original on July 13, 2013. Retrieved July 13, 2013. 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. 
  34. ^ "Province announces funding for rapid transit in Waterloo Region". City of Hamilton. June 29, 2010. Retrieved June 30, 2010. 

External links[edit]