Is western part of Island forgotten?
by John Symon
Montreal’s metro (subway) system is the third busiest in North America (after Mexico City & NYC), but parts of Montreal Island are badly served by the system. In particular, residents of the West End (Cote St Luc, Montreal West, NDG, and Westmount), together with parts of the West Island close to Trudeau Airport (Dorval, Lachine) have only two metro stations in eastern NDG (Vendome & Villa Maria). There is also some AMT (commuter) train service in the West, but service is infrequent outside of rush hour and there are few train stations.
Daily ridership on Montreal’s metro averages 1.2 million reports Wikipedia, but despite this popularity, no new metro stations have been opened on Montreal Island since the blue line was “completed” in 1988. In 2007, a $745 million metro expansion was completed in Laval. Today only two light rail expansion plans are “on track.” These are the imminent opening of the $700 million “Train de l’Est” AMT line towards Mascouche and the possible extension of the blue line metro towards Pie IX Blvd. Neither project does anything for the western part of Montreal Island. There are also calls for five new metro stations in Laval and four in Longueuil, but again nothing in the West.
Voters on Montreal Island will no doubt remember bold promises made five years ago by then mayor Gerald Tremblay to expand the city’s metro (subway) system, to inaugurate a tramway to be in service by 2013, and to render much of the system accessible to people in wheelchairs. None of these promises have been realized.
“To achieve the 21 construction sites [needed to meet the 2008 promises] between now and 2018, we need to invest $240 million per year. But we have only invested about $82.5 million,” explained Réal Ménard recently; he is in charge of transportation on the city’s executive council. Ménard puts the blame for this inaction on lack of funding by senior levels of government.
So there is not enough money for all public transit projects, but why are none of the funded projects on the western part of the Island? Not only is there a large population here, but also Montreal’s (Trudeau) Airport is located in Dorval with 14 million annual passengers.
La Presse reports that metro (STM) officials are considering opening a new metro station on an existing extension of the blue line that already reaches Hampstead. A possible advantage of adding such a new station would be reducing the turnaround time of trains. However, a well-connected source contacted by The Times about this “Hampstead extension” expressed skepticism that the project will go forward.
Regardless, opening a new metro station in Hampstead will not improve passenger service between Trudeau Airport and downtown. Meanwhile, Quebec government officials have quietly stopped talking about a $1 billion plan to improve commuter train service, “le Train de l’Ouest,” between Lucien-L’Allier station, the Airport, and Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue. But while Montreal is facing inertia, other cities have gone forward with passenger light rail projects. In 2012, Vancouver BC in 2009 opened the $1.9 billion Canada Line of its Sky Train (monorail) system, integrating intercity travel with trips to the airport. This reporter has used the Sky Train and is very impressed.
The Times has previously reported how that many important decisions about Montreal’s metro and commuter train systems are made by bureaucrats based in Quebec City who are not necessarily familiar with this city’s public transit system.
* DISCLAIMER: The author is a candidate in Nov. 3 municipal election in Lachine *