Light rail in Canada
There are light rail systems in four Canadian urban centres—Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, and Waterloo Region—and one streetcar system in Toronto. Light rail systems are also planned or under construction in Hamilton, Mississauga, Quebec City, and Toronto.
Existing light rail systemsEdit
The following table lists average weekday ridership figures for the four Canadian light rail systems, using third quarter 2016 figures wherever possible:
|City||System||Transit mode||Avg. weekday
|Calgary, Alberta||CTrain||Light rail||293,400||1981||45||59.9 km (37.2 mi)|
|Edmonton, Alberta||Edmonton LRT||Light rail||108,690||1978||18||24.3 km (15.1 mi)|
|Ottawa, Ontario||O-Train||Light rail||18,600||2001||5||8 km (5.0 mi)|
|Toronto, Ontario[note 1]||Toronto streetcar||Streetcar||292,100||1861||708 stops||82 km (51 mi)|
|Waterloo Region, Ontario||Ion rapid transit[a]||Light rail||N/A||2019||19[b]||19 km (12 mi)|
- While the system is included here, the Toronto streetcar system is not a light rail system by definition.
Calgary Transit's CTrain network, which started operation in 1981, now has the second highest weekday ridership of any light rail transit system in North America, carrying over 299,000 passengers per weekday in the fourth quarter of 2017. There are 45 stations in operation in the 60-kilometre (37 mi) CTrain light rail system, 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;
- Red Line – the line connects the South and Northwest legs via the downtown transit mall;
- Blue Line – the line connects the Northeast and West legs via the downtown transit mall;
- Green Line – the planned 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.
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.
- 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.
The Government of Alberta has promised CA$3 billion in light rail transit funding in Alberta over the next 10 years. $1.5 billion of the money will be dedicated to Edmonton's Valley line west and other priorities. Edmonton has started planning and is seeking community feedback on the proposed Centre Line LRT using low floor technology—the same as the Valley Line—which is proposed to connect downtown, the Alberta Legislature, University of Alberta, Whyte Avenue, and to Bonnie Doon Mall on the Valley Line. Renderings have been released for the future expansion of the Capital Line south expansion from Century Park to Ellerslie. This expansion would include a new park-and-ride and operations and maintenance facility. The city will construct the permanent Nait station so the line can support five-car trains. The city is also looking into replacing the crossing at Princess Elizabeth Avenue to ease congestion at the intersection by building an over or under pass. Expansions include a station at Blathford, one of the world's largest fully sustainable communities. And extending the line out to St. Albert, one of Edmonton's larger suburbs. The City of St. Albert has released renderings of what LRT could look like in the city.
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 ($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.
- The Trillium Line, (Line 2) 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.
- The Confederation Line, (Line 1) is a light rail line under construction to run east-west from Blair to Tunney's Pasture connecting to a transitway at each terminus and with the Trillium Line at Bayview. The line will run both underground and on the surface and is completely grade-separated. There will be a tunnel downtown with three underground stations. The Confederation Line is currently targeting an opening date in September 2019 after multiple project deadlines were missed.
While Toronto does not have a light rail system it does operate a streetcar system. 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 partial reserved lanes with some track in tunnels. There is also a proposal to build a fourth such line. The lines are:
- 510 Spadina running between Spadina station and Union station.
- 509 Harbourfront running between Union station and Exhibition Place via Queens Quay station.
- 512 St. Clair running along St. Clair Avenue West between St. Clair station and Gunns Loop via St. Clair West station.
The Toronto Transit Commission and Metrolinx are currently constructing its first light rail line, Line 5 Eglinton. When completed it will run across Eglinton Avenue between Mount Dennis (Weston Road) and Kennedy station. This 19-kilometre (12 mi) corridor will include a 10-kilometre (6.2 mi) underground portion, between Keele Street and Laird Drive. Vehicles will be incompatible with the streetcar system as they will use a different track gauge (1435 mm for LRT, 1495 mm for streetcars).
The first phase of the 19-kilometre (12 mi) LRT system runs from Conestoga station in Waterloo to Fairway station in Kitchener. It opened to the public on June 21, 2019. The system operates in reserved lanes on public streets and on private rights of way. Waterloo Region, Ontario has also approved plans for a light rail extension to the Ainslie St. Transit Terminal in Cambridge, as phase two of Ion. The Kitchener to Cambridge segment is operated as adapted bus rapid transit, with plans to extend the rail line to Cambridge in the future dependent on funding from senior levels of government. For the original Kitchener–Waterloo segment, the provincial government broke a pledge to pay two-thirds of the costs and instead contributed only $300 million. The federal government contributed $265 million. Local property taxpayers paid the remainder. Fares paid by riders help offset operating costs.
The following table lists light rail lines either planned or under construction:[c]
|City or region||Line||Construction start||Expected opening||Stations||Line length||Status|
|Calgary||Green Line (stage 1)[d]||2020||2026[e]||14[f]||20 km (12 mi)[g]||Planned|
|Edmonton||Valley Line Southeast[h]||2016||2020||12||13.1 km (8.1 mi)||Under construction|
|Edmonton||Valley Line West||2019||2025[i]||16||14 km (8.7 mi)||Planned|
|Gatineau||Gatineau LRT||2028||30||26 km (16 mi)||Proposed|
|Hamilton||B-Line||2019||2024||17||13.4 km (8.3 mi)||Planned|
|Ottawa||Confederation Line||2013||2019||13||12.5 km (7.8 mi)||Construction complete|
|Ottawa||Confederation Line (Stage 2)||2019||2024–2025||16[j]||26.5 km (16.5 mi)[k]||Planned|
|Ottawa||Trillium Line (Stage 2)||2019||2023||8[l]||14 km (8.7 mi)[m]||Planned|
|Peel Region||Hurontario LRT||2018||2022||19||18 km (11 mi)||Planned|
|Toronto||Line 5 Eglinton||2011||2021||26||19 km (12 mi)||Under construction|
|Toronto||Line 6 Finch West||2018||2023||18||11 km (6.8 mi)||Planned|
|Toronto||Sheppard East LRT||2022||2028–2032||26||13 km (8.1 mi)||Planned|
|Quebec City||Quebec City Tramway||2026||35||23 km (14 mi)||Planned|
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. However, in announcing the financing for the line, the Government of Ontario changed the eastern terminus to Queenston Circle instead of Eastgate Square but added a branch to the new West Harbour GO Station. 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.
The Hurontario LRT is a proposed 17.6-kilometre (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-kilometre (3.5 mi) section of the line along Main Street in Brampton to Brampton GO Station. On March 21, 2019, Metrolinx announced that the most of the downtown loop would be deferred to a later date due to financial restrictions, although a short spur and stop on Rathburn would remain.
- Surrey City Centre to Guildford Town Centre along 104 Avenue (travel time: 10 minutes).
- Surrey City Centre to Newton Town Centre along King George Boulevard (travel time: 15 minutes).
- Surrey City Centre via Fleetwood Town Centre to Langley along the Fraser Highway (travel time: 24.5 minutes).
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. A report on the economic benefits of the project was produced by a consulting firm in May 2015.
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. Subsequently, the project was included in the second phase of TransLink's 10-Year Investment Plan, which was approved in late 2017. However, in 2018, more than 80% of the city's residents objected to the line and potential problems prompting several parties to adopts its cancellation as part of that year's civic election. A mayor and council who objected to LRT were elected and their first order of business was to vote unanimously to cancel the LRT line in favour of extending the existing SkyTrain line to Langley. The LRT was "indefinitely suspended" by the regional Mayors' Council on November 15.
There are two additional light rail lines planned in the city of Toronto.
- Line 6 Finch West is an 11-kilometre (6.8 mi) light rail transit line that will run along the surface of Finch Avenue from the new Finch West subway station on the Toronto–York Spadina Subway Extension at Keele Street to Humber College.
- The Sheppard East LRT is a proposed 13-kilometre (8.1 mi) light rail transit line that will run along the surface of Sheppard Avenue from Don Mills subway station to east of Morningside Avenue.
The Quebec City Tramway is a planned light rail transit line in Quebec City set to open in 2026. It will link Charlesbourg to Cap Rouge, passing through Quebec Parliament Hill. The 23-kilometre (14 mi) line will include a 3.5-kilometre (2.2 mi) underground segment, with the rest of the line being on the surface.
- Data for Ion phase 1 only from Conestoga Mall to Fairview Park Mall.
- 6 of the 19 Ion stations serve one direction only.
- Data come from the Wikipedia article for each line unless otherwise noted.
- Only phase 1 which spans from 16 Avenue N to 126 Avenue SE (About 14 stations and 20 kilometres (12 mi)).
- Depends on delivery of funding promised by federal and provincial governments during recent elections.
- When fully complete the Green Line will have 28 Stations
- When the Green Line is complete it will be 48 kilometres (30 mi) long.
- Data for Valley Line phase 1 only from Mill Woods to 102 Street.
- Council is looking into the possibility of opening the line in phases between 2020 and 2025. For example the first parts of the line closer to downtown could open in 2020 while sections near the end of line could open closer to 2025 .
- When Stage 2 is complete, the Confederation Line will have 29 stations.
- When Stage 2 is complete, the Confederation Line will be 39 kilometres (24 mi) long.
- When Stage 2 is complete, the Trillium Line will have 13 stations.
- When Stage 2 is complete, the Trillium Line will be 22 kilometres (14 mi) long.
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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.
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