What is the difference between streetcar, LRT and subway?


LRT vehicles are smaller and slower than subways, but travel faster and carry more passengers than streetcars or buses.

  • Subways are larger and longer – a subway train can hold up to 1500 passengers (in ‘crush’ conditions). An LRV can hold 255 people in each vehicle, and can be linked into a train of two or more cars. Streetcars carry between 75 and 100 people per vehicle.
  • Like a subway, LRT vehicles can be boarded through all doors at ground level, making them wheelchair accessible and reducing loading time.
  • Subways get their power from an electrified rail below the train. This requires larger stations, more infrastructure and safety separation. An LRV gets its power from a cable over head, like a streetcar.
  • LRT can run above ground at street level, like streetcars, however it operates in separate lanes, meaning it is not affected by car and truck traffic.
  • LRT can also run underground, like a subway, as is planned for much of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.
  • LRT stops are planned to be about 500 metres apart, slightly farther than streetcar stops (about 250 metres apart), but closer than subway stops.
  • Older streetcars, like the ones we see in Toronto today, are smaller than LRVs, and require “loops” to turn around. LRVs are larger, and are “double ended” like subways, so they can change direction quickly without loops.