Light Rail Transit (LRT) Equity Evaluation

Do new light rail lines improve residents’ participation in society and the economy?

Why LRT?

The Canadian government has invested billions of dollars in supporting light rail transit (LRT). The government has planned an additional $14.9 billion in investments over the next decade. Evaluations of these investments focus on traditional performance metrics such as ridership, mode shifts, and economic activity. While these measures are important, Canadian planners need to develop methods of evaluating the social and wellbeing impacts of LRT to ensure our transportation plans benefit those who need better transportation the most.

This pilot will produce rigorous experimental evidence on the social impacts of LRT. The research team will survey residents along two new LRT lines before and after the lines open. These surveys will be compared with a control group receiving surveys in similar neighbourhoods that do not have LRT lines under construction (i.e., “placebo neighbourhoods”). The study design allows us to measure whether the opening of the LRT:

The study will also examine how these impacts vary by community to assess whether the benefits of the LRT reach those who need better transportation the most.

The Lines Under Study

Valley Line Southeast

A 13 kilometre LRT that connects downtown Edmonton with the neighbourhood of Mill Woods in the city’ southeast. It will include 11 stops an is expected to serve over 100,000 riders daily. Learn more from the City of Edmonton (click here).

Eglinton Crosstown

A 19 kilometre LRT that connects the heart of Toronto with multiple subway and GO rail stations. It will include 25 stops and is expected to serve over 100,000 riders daily. Learn more from Metrolinx (click here).


Below is the schedule for data collection and analysis. These dates may change if either line’s opening dates are postponed into 2024:

June 2022 – February 2023Survey design and testing, research ethics approval
March 2023 – May 2023Pre-opening data collection (pending LRT opening announcements)
June 2023 – August 2023First wave data analysis, presentations, publications
September 2023 – November 2023Post-opening data collection (pending LRT opening announcements)
December 2023 – June 2024Final data analysis, presentations, publications

Participating Partners


To learn more about this pilot contact the LRT Pilot Team at