Vaillancourt getting greedy

Vaillancourt needs MORE METRO!

Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt, apparently not satisfied that the Quebec government spent more than his city’s entire annual budget building a metro extension of questionable worth there, wants even more money to close the loop of the Orange Line.

That’s kind of ballsy.

His arguments are as follows:

  • Laval’s population is growing: Yes, but the area around the Laval metro stations is still pretty vacant. Extensions of the blue and yellow lines would be through much more highly-populated areas that are in more desperate need of high-density transit.
  • The metro costs less per person, saving money: I don’t know where he gets his figures, but I’m guessing it’s based on operational costs, not construction costs. Building a metro to nowhere won’t pay for itself.
  • The current extension is a huge success: Its ridership numbers were a bit higher than an arbitrary conservative estimate pulled out of someone’s ass. Meanwhile, the project was almost an order of magnitude over budget. I don’t call this a success.
  • Closing the orange line loop would simplify many transit trips: Almost all Laval bus routes terminate at either the Montmorency or Cartier metro stations, funneling passengers onto metro cars. Creating a western connection would only split that traffic. It wouldn’t add another 40,000 riders to the system.
  • It’s environmentally friendly, and we need to get more cars of the road: In that case, I’m sure you’ll have no problem taking all that cash that’s building a new bridge along the Highway 25 axis and putting it into metro development instead.

Vaillancourt says he wants a dedicated tax for the extension. I agree. But I think he should be the one implementing it. If Laval wants a redundant metro extension for no particularly good reason, they can pay for it themselves.

UPDATE (Dec. 13): The Gazette’s Jim Mennie sees this as a shot across the bow in a battle between Laval and Montreal. And an editorial plagiarizes agrees with my main points.

12 thoughts on “Vaillancourt getting greedy

  1. Kate M.

    Actually, the metro is massively popular in Laval, especially at rush hours. There was a piece about this recently in La Presse but the link’s gone dead. They originally ran every second train up to Montmorency, but at rush hour now I think they all go there.

    It would be good to see the metro extended in various directions. But extending it to the suburbs is a really great idea. Eventually this entire agglomeration will be one city, and being able to travel by metro from Laval to Longueuil will be one of the factors that brings it all together. Look at London – it was transit that knitted it together early in the 20th century.

    I think Vaillancourt’s a little too enamoured of the loop idea, though. There’s no reason the two ends of the orange line need to meet.

    Anyway, saying Laval should use its “own” money is a bit naive. It’s going to be Quebec money whenever the metro gets extended again. Unfortunately, the stations will always be placed wherever the party in power thinks more potential voters live, not where they’re strictly most needed.

  2. Fagstein Post author

    Half the trains still stop at Henri-Bourassa. They don’t really have a choice, since that’s where the garage is. There’s not enough time between trains during the peak of rush hour to have them dead-head between Henri-Bourassa and Montmorency all the time.

    However, they have played with the ends of rush hour a bit and are sending a couple more trains to Montmorency than they had originally anticipated.

  3. DAVE ID

    Want to get the 450squatters to stop using theirs cars to pollute (Montreal) put toll booths at every bridge and make them pay 2 bucks for every entry. Oh Yeah! Car Population control through taxation and finally we can inflate Montreal’s chest and pour some money into fixing our old-and-busted infrastructure. About time the 450 started paying for what they are using. No free lunches.

  4. blork

    Anything that encourages public transport is a good idea, but it involves more than just adding stations. They need to add more trains too. As it stands, Berri-UQAM and Lionel Groulx are jammed like crazy during rush hours. It’s really uncomfortable, and it’s not uncommon to stand on the platform and let one or two trains go by before you can squeeze onto one.

    If you just feed more people into an already crowded system you get even more crowding. The trains need to come more frequently, expecially during rush hours (roughtly 7:00-9:30am and 4:00-6:30pm).

    Regarding the loop on the orange line, I was skeptical at first, but the more I think about it, the more I like it. For one thing, it means that the people going from downtown to Laval will not all pile onto the east side of the line – some will go on the west side, which dilutes the crowding a bit.

    What we really need (but I suspect will never happen) is a whole new line. There’s already a tunnel under Mont Royal; why not run a line through an expanded tunnel that intersects with the green line (at Guy-Concordia or McGill, or whatever is closest) and the orang line (Baventure? Lucien L’Allier?), and continues through to the Cité Multimedia? It would take a huge pressure off the green line, and it would provide much-needed service to all those programmers down on Wellington who are not very well served.

    Oh yeah. it would cost a kajillion dollars. Whoops.

  5. Marc

    The blue line tunnel actually extends past Snowdon into Hampstead. A map from the mid 70s shows the planned blue line ending at Ville St Pierre. I doubt that will ever be revived but a good plan might be to extend the green line past Angrignon at least to the airport. It’s a travesty that this city’s unique metro doesn’t serve its airport. But, alas, that too would cost a gazillion dollars plus there’s no political motivation to do it. Those ridings are guaranteed votes in the bag for the PLQ, metro or no metro.

  6. Josh

    They announced at the end of November that service would soon be improving – this happened at the same time that they announced the fare increase. And what they said was that service in the metro would be increased *around* rush hour, but not actually *during* rush hour.

    I just figured that was because maybe the metro was already at capacity during rush hour. Like, maybe they just cannot run anymore trains logistically.

    Steve or anyone else know if that’s the case?

  7. Fagstein Post author

    There is an upper limit to how many trains they can run at rush hour, which is equal to the longest distance between two stations (about 2-2.5 minutes). Trains, as a rule, can’t leave a station until the previous train has left the next one. That way they don’t get stuck in the tunnel.

    Though there are traffic jams of this nature sometimes at rush hour (which causes the service to slow down and trains to stay longer than usual in the station), the average time between two trains is still a bit above 4 minutes, so there is a bit of extra room.

    The real problem is that there simply aren’t enough trains to improve the service at rush hour. Almost all the trains are running, and the very few that remain are in for repairs.

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