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. 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 (from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA)[2]) wherever possible:

City System Transit mode Avg. weekday
Opened Stations System Length
Flag of Calgary, Alberta.svg Calgary, Alberta CTrain Light rail 310,700 1981[3] 45[4] 59.9 km (37.2 mi)[4]
Flag of Alberta.svg Edmonton, Alberta Edmonton LRT Light rail 108,690[5] 1978[6] 18[6] 24.3 km (15.1 mi)[6]
Flag of Ottawa, Ontario.svg Ottawa, Ontario O-Train Diesel light rail 8,000 2001 5 8.0 km (5.0 mi)
Toronto Flag.svg 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:[notes 1]

City Line Transit mode Construction Start Expected Opening Stations Line Length Status
Calgary Green Line Light Rail 2017 2024[notes 2] 28 40 km (25 mi) Planned
Edmonton Valley Line[notes 3] Light Rail 2016[8] 2020[8] 12[9] 13.1 km (8.1 mi)[9] Under Construction[10]
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 LRT Light Rail 2018 2022 23 17.6 km (10.9 mi)[11] 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 4] Light Rail 2014 2018[12] 19[notes 5] 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]


Main article: CTrain

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 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 becomes 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 6 September 2015 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.[15][16]
  • The Valley Line is a under construction 27 km (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 (downtown) connecting with the Capital Line and Metro Line at Churchill.[8][9]


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.[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]


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.[19]

Peel Region[edit]

Main article: Hurontario LRT

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]

Surrey, B.C. (Suburban Vancouver)[edit]

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:[21][22]

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.[21] A report (Economic Benefits of Surrey LRT) was produced by a consulting firm in May 2015.[23]

This project (among others including a new subway line in Vancouver) was dependent 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.[24]


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]

See also: Toronto subway

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).[25] The three light rail lines will operate independently of each other as there will be no interconnecting tracks between them.[26] The TTC considers the light rail lines to be a part of its subway system 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.[29][30]

Waterloo Region[edit]

Main article: Ion rapid transit

The Waterloo Region, Ontario has approved plans for a light rail transit system from Waterloo to Cambridge, which will be constructed in two phases.[31] 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.[32]

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.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  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. ^ "September 2015 Daily Cumulative Boarding Report Bus & LRT" (PDF). Edmonton. City of Edmonton. September 2015. p. 14. Retrieved 1 May 2016. 
  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. ^
  11. ^ a b "Brampton council votes to reject provincially approved LRT". Metro News. October 28, 2015. Retrieved 2015-10-28. 
  12. ^ "LRT rollout delayed, Bombardier blamed". Waterloo Region Record. May 24, 2016. Retrieved 2016-05-24. 
  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 2014-08-04. 
  15. ^
  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 2010-06-30. 
  18. ^ Hamilton to get a new LRT and GO Train station
  19. ^ "O-Train name approved for Ottawa light rail system". CBC News Network. September 17, 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-29. 
  20. ^ "Confederation Line". City of Ottawa. 2015. Retrieved 2015-06-15. 
  21. ^ a b "Light Rail Transit". City of Surrey. 2015. Retrieved 2015-06-15. 
  22. ^ "City of Surrey's Vision for Rapid Transit -- LRT". video. City of Surrey. 2011-08-23. Retrieved 2015-06-15. 
  23. ^ Shirocca Consulting (2015). "Economic Benefits of Surrey LRT" (PDF). City of Surrey. Retrieved 2015-06-15. 
  24. ^ 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. 
  25. ^ Steve Munro (2013-07-02). "An Interminable Debate About Track Gauge". Steve Munro. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  26. ^ a b "Toronto Light Rail Transit Projects". Metrolinx. 2015-06-04. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  27. ^ "What is the Crosstown?". Metrolinx. 2015-06-04. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  28. ^ "Finch West LRT". Metrolinx. 2015-06-04. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  29. ^ "April 2011: Light Rail Recommendation". BC Transit. 2011. Retrieved 2015-06-12. 
  30. ^ "Regional Transit Local Funding Options - Technical Analysis". BC Transit. 2012-08-22. Retrieved 2015-06-12. 
  31. ^ 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. 
  32. ^ "Province announces funding for rapid transit in Waterloo Region". City of Hamilton. 29 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-30. 

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