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How Ottawa's LRT compares across Canada

Ottawa’s halfway done its new light rail system, and if we count the O-Train, by 2018 we’ll have more than 20 km built. But will we still be behind?

The city's stage two light rail plans will add another 30 kilometres of rapid transit to the network by 2023.

City of Ottawa

The city's stage two light rail plans will add another 30 kilometres of rapid transit to the network by 2023.

Green infrastructure is on the tip of many politicians’ tongues these days, and for the most part the money’s not far behind.

The newly-elected federal Liberals have promised to spend nearly $20 billion on public transit in the next decade, and Ontario’s Liberals have $31.5 billion set aside for projects just in their province.

So has Ottawa gotten its fair share?

The capital has already been on the receiving end once – its $2.1-billion Confederation Line project received $600 million each from the feds and the province.

And the federal government has committed to fund a third of Ottawa’s $3-billion expansion pack in 2018.

The province hasn’t officially promised its stage two share yet, but local MPPs have voiced unofficial support.

The jury’s still out whether two items on the city’s wish list – a rail spur to the airport and an extension to Trim Road, both worth $155 million – will see the light of day.

But across the country, government funding varies for public transit.

Sometimes the province covers the most, while other times the municipality is left with the lion’s share.

Of course, Hamilton, Mississauga and Toronto have the best deal, as they get free rides for their new light rail lines. That’s largely thanks to Premier Kathleen Wynne, who plans to spend half her massive transit budget inside the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

Budget breakdowns across Canada:

  • Metro Vancouver’s $1.4-billion Evergreen Line will get $424 million from the Canadian government, $586 from the province and $400 million from Translink, the region’s transit operator.
  • Calgary Transit plans to green-light its Green Line with equal $1.53 billion shares from the feds, the Alberta NDP and the city. It’s still waiting on the province for a promise.
  • Edmonton Transit Service will open its $1.8-billion Valley Line in 2020. The 27-km track has $400 million from the Canadian government, $800 million from the city and $600 million from the province, although $176 million of that is a loan the city must repay.
  • Ontario will fund several LRT projects in full, including $1.4 billion for the 20-km Hurontario project in Mississauga and $1 billion for 13 kilometres through Hamilton. Toronto’s $5.3-billion Eglinton Crosstown line is also fully funded by the province, and Ontario’s paying most of the $1-billion Sheppard East LRT project.

Today's LRT:

  • Metro Vancouver's LRT first opened in 1985. It currently has 68 kilometres of track and 49 stations.
  • Calgary Transit opened its first LRT line in 1981. It currently has 59.9 kilometres of track and 45 stations.
  • Edmonton’s transit system opened LRT in 1978. It now has 24.3 kilometres of track and 18 stations.
  • Toronto Transit Commission maintains 68 kilometres of LRT, mostly in the form of subways. The system first opened in 1954.
  • Ottawa’s O-Train has eight kilometres of track and five stations, and opened in 2001.
  • Montreal's subway system has 69 kilometres of track, which first opened in 1966.

Who named it better?

Ottawa’s tunnel boring machines are affectionately known as Jawbreaker, Crocodile Rouge and Chewrocka, and they’re chugging away in the Confederation Line's downtown tunnel as we speak.

But the TTC is also trying to take the boring out of tunnel boring. They've named their roadheaders Holey, Moley, Yorkie and Torkie as they expand the Spadina line.

So the question is, who named it better? Is Ottawa living up to its (tunnel) boring reputation? Or did we chew Toronto up?

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