Last updated: Oct 4, 2017 at 16:00 – refined data from Toronto and Mississauga LRT project teams entered

Recently I have been working on a comparison of Canada’s different rapid transit systems to quantify operating speeds on the numerous rapid transit lines that have been built or are under construction across the country. While some of my work (i.e. gathering my references) continues to be in progress, I thought it would be appropriate to share some of my data collection on our transit systems so far.

Full spreadsheet link: [CLICK HERE]

One of the most noteworthy observations I have made from this data is that the rapid transit system with one of the slowest speeds in the country will be the Surrey-Newton-Guildford Light Rail line, at an average speed of just 21.4 km/h.

This means that the Surrey-Newton-Guildford Line will be less than half as fast as the existing SkyTrain Expo Line. These speed numbers are based on the latest travel time estimated released by the City itself, and suggest that the line will be remarkably slow compared to other LRTs. By comparison, Toronto advertises that its proposed Light Rail systems will have average speeds of 28 kilometres per hour. This is certainly true of the under construction Line 5 Eglinton, which will have an average operating speed of 28.5 km/h, likely boosted by the central 11 km underground segment where trains can travel at faster 80 km/h speeds separated from traffic. However, the Finch West and Sheppard LRT lines, which will run predominantly at-grade, will have average speeds of 17.6 and 21.2 kilometres per hour, respectively. While my data suggests that this may also have something to do with closer stop spacing, it certainly does appear that more street-running on rail systems contributes to a significant loss in operating speed.

The fastest rapid transit system in the country is currently the SkyTrain Expo Line, with an average speed of 42.2 km/h, which can certainly be attributed to its full grade-separation and wider stop spacing.

However, this will be superseded in 2020 by the new Reseau Electrique Metropolitain lines in Montreal, which will utilize similar driver-less train technologies and feature full grade-separation. The Deux-Montagnes branch, which replaces an existing commuter rail line that features relatively wide stop spacing, will reach average speeds of 50.3 km/h.

22, KPU Geography, J-POP enthusiast. Founding director of SkyTrain for Surrey.

LRT and rapid transit travel times in Canada
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2 thoughts on “LRT and rapid transit travel times in Canada

  • September 18, 2017 at 12:45 pm
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    I think the Surrey speed has been flattered by using 5 min peak headways. I’m doubting that Surrey freq will play out for as much of the day & week as do Skytrain freq values used. So on average, the Skytrain: Surrey LRT speed ratio will be even higher

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  • September 19, 2017 at 11:02 pm
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    I enjoy your blog. Well done! I live is the Steveston area of Richmond and enjoy the use of the Canada Line. However, for me, it is the time from my door to the destination which is of most importance. A lot of time is spent getting to the Canada Line. When it comes to any line, it would seem a more useful metric would be one which somehow measured door to door time rather than just the time on the line. In the case of the Surrey LRT, I wonder if the increased number of stops offsets the time it takes for most commuters to get to the station.

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