With the Laval metro stations up and running, some young angryphones are griping about the lack of metro service in the West Island. Having spent 20 years of my life in Pierrefonds, and five of those regularly commuting downtown, I sympathize.
But there’s a good reason why the metro won’t be extended West from where it is now:
That’s 10 km of mostly wasted tunnel travelling under uninhabited areas including the Taschereau rail yards, two highways, the Lachine industrial park and an airport runway.
At a cost of $150,000,000 per kilometre, the price of this extension to the airport terminal would cost about $1.5 billion.
Okay, you say, that’s big, but we can afford it, right?
Well, do you have $6,000 to spare? That’s how much each West Islander would have to pay the government to make this a reality.
Consider some alternatives, if you will, for that $1.5 billion:
- Add 100 buses to the STM’s network for shuttle service to downtown points from various locations (Dorval, Fairview, Roxboro), and keep them running seven days a week for 40 years.
- Create a high-speed rail link to Dorval airport and increase commuter train service on the Dorion-Rigaud line.
- Multiply existing commuter train service 100-fold for 100 years.
My solution to this problem? Unsurprisingly, it involves increased commuter train and bus service to the West Island.
The 211 bus running along Lakeshore is insanely popular among southern West Islanders, because it’s a 7-day regular service bus that’s an express shuttle downtown. On the northern West Island, which is much worse served (except for commuter trains to Roxboro), the 470 Express Pierrefonds provides shuttle service from Fairview to Côte-Vertu, but only during rush-hour. Having an all-day shuttle from Fairview to the metro would save commuters as much as 20 minutes per trip.
I’m sure you can think of other express shuttle services that would serve the West Island well. And all of them put together would cost much less than extending metro service here.
UPDATE: More metro dreaming in this post, with maps.