Numbers — not politics — is why the metro should extend toward the east first

When the PQ government made a big-splash announcement that the blue line of Montreal’s metro would be extended toward the east, plenty of anglophones took the opportunity to once again complain that there’s no extension toward the west.

To them, the reason was simple: politics. The PQ is more interested in francophone voters in St-Léonard than anglophones in the West Island, they argue, and so the West Island will never get improved transit service as long as the PQ is in power.

The problem is that the logic doesn’t hold up.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of politics involved in high-cost consumer-oriented projects like this. And there’s plenty of politics involved in this particular announcement. But let’s set a few things straight before we come to incorrect conclusions:

1. The people served by this metro extension aren’t PQ voters or swing voters. They’re Liberal voters.

Anglos who have never travelled east of St-Laurent Blvd. might just assume that everyone on the east side of the island is a hard-core francophone separatist. But while the east end is certainly francophone, and more likely to vote PQ than, say, Beaconsfield, the ridings covered by this metro extension were all won by the Liberal Party in the last election.

Here, look at a map and see for yourself. Ridings on the south (east) side of the island — which are already served by the green line — are very strong for the PQ, but those on the north (west) side have been Liberal strongholds for decades.

Here are the four relevant ridings, the areas they roughly correspond to, and how much the Liberals got in the last election:

  • Anjou—Louis-Riel (Anjou) (40%): This riding has been won by the Liberals with double-digit margins since 1998, though the PQ got 31% here last fall. A swing riding perhaps, but not the swingiest.
  • Jeanne-Mance—Viger (St-Léonard) (65%): Liberal since 1981 (when it was just Jeanne-Mance). The PQ came third in this riding in the last election, with 13% of the vote.
  • Bourassa-Sauvé (Montreal-North) (42%): Liberal since its creation in 2003, and the two ridings that merged to create it were Liberal since the mid-80s. The PQ hasn’t cracked 30% here in at least a decade.
  • La Fontaine (Rivière des Prairies) (59%): The last time the Liberals didn’t get more than 50% of the vote in this riding was 1981.

Now, you can make arguments for other adjacent ridings, like Rosemont (solid PQ), whose northern border goes near where the metro line will be drawn (though I would expect most will still go south to go downtown), or eastern Laval’s Mille-Îles riding, which does swing and might have voters who would drive to an extended blue line.

But while these areas aren’t the same absolute fortresses of NDG and the West Island, they’re neither swingy enough for the PQ to buy their votes, nor PQ enough for them to be rewarding their supporters.

2. Politics is why this wasn’t done years ago.

Those complaining that the blue line is being extended first because of political reasons seem to forget that such an extension has been in the plans for decades. Metro maps used to include a dotted line because it was assumed that such an extension was eminent. (There was a similar dotted line for a line up Pie-IX Blvd.)

But instead the first extension given the green light since the 1980s was a three-station extension into Laval.

Why? Politics. Laval is filled with swing voters. Of its six ridings, only one (Chomedey) had any party get more than 40% of the vote in the last election. So it was a no-brainer that an extension of the orange line into Laval would be more lucrative politically than an extension of the blue line into St-Léonard. This was the case both for the PQ under Bernard Landry (which started the project) and the Liberals under Jean Charest (which finished it).

Of course, it’s easy to argue the project wasn’t successful politically. In 2003, after the project was announced by the PQ, the riding switched from the PQ to the Liberals. In 2007, weeks before the inauguration, the Liberals won again by a narrower margin. And in 2012, the riding went to the PQ’s Léo Bureau-Blouin.

Not that failure is going to stop either party from trying again.

3. The announced extension makes the most sense from a population density standpoint.

The Gazette has a detailed map of population density on the island, but it’s a bit too detailed to be useful here. Here’s a graphic someone Faiz Imam did that takes population density and superimposes metro and train lines. Dark brown is more dense than light brown.

If you were to choose an extension based only on that graphic, which way would you go? To me the most logical conclusion would be to extend that short line near the middle toward those dark areas of the northeast. (Or build a new subway line to serve Rosemont, but that’s a different discussion.)

Now, the graphic also shows density in the NDG area. But it’s not as dense as the eastern side, and just as important, it’s not as large either. Remember that the metro stations won’t just be served by people walking to it, but people taking buses to it too.

Which brings me to my next point:

4. NDG/Côte-St-Hamp-West is a transit dead-end.

These three suburbs and half a borough have a lot of people in them. And those people deserve good transit service. But natural and artificial barriers mean a metro extension to this area will benefit them and only them.

This urban peninsula is bordered by the Décarie Expressway to the east, the Hippodrome area to the north, the Taschereau train yards to the west, and a big cliff to the southeast. Train lines with limited crossing points surround it on three sides.

The result is that only two STM buses leave this area by crossing something other than Décarie Blvd. The 90 and 123 both take Avon Rd., the former to Lachine and the latter to Lasalle.

There’s the perennial hope that the Cavendish Blvd. extension will finally happen some day. But even if it does, it will just connect to an industrial area of St-Laurent.

Building roads through the Taschereau yards is impractical for as long as those train yards are still in use. Nor is it practical to build from NDG that goes over the cliff that separates it from Highway 20. So there’s a physical limit on how useful this extension could be, unless it’s extended further through that narrow corridor toward Lachine.

5. A metro extension to the West Island would cost $12,500 per resident

The West Island, which for the purposes of this argument excludes Lachine and St-Laurent but includes all on-island areas west of there (and Île Bizard) has about 250,000 residents. If you include Lachine that jumps to about 300,000.

Fairview Shopping Centre, the place people want the metro extended to, is 15 kilometres from the Snowdon metro station, or 12.5 kilometres from the Côte-Vertu station. And that’s assuming a perfectly straight line that in the former case runs through a train yard and two airport runways and in the latter case runs almost entirely through industrial areas.

How much would that cost? Well, the Laval extension, which was just a bit more than five kilometres, cost $745 million, or just under $150 million per kilometre. Despite what the AMT says, that figure is way more than we were told it would cost when the project began.

Even so, the per-kilometre cost has apparently increased. Government officials now estimate the cost at between $200 million and $300 million per kilometre.

At $250 million per kilometre, a 12.5-kilometre metro extension would cost $3.125 billion. That would work out to $12,500 per resident (I’m not including Lachine here because it would make little sense for them to use these stations).

Remember that this is per resident, not per transit user. Lots of people would still end up using their cars to get to work. and yet, for this price you could buy everyone in the West Island a new car. (I am not, of course, advocating this.)

Even an extension to the airport, which is closer at only 10 kilometres from Snowdon, would cost more than $2 billion.

6. There’s no secret already-built metro tunnel in Hampstead

One argument used for a western extension of the metro is that the tunnel is already partly built west of Snowdon. This argument is a misunderstanding of how the metro system works.

Each line has tracks that extend beyond the terminus. Some, like the yellow line at Berri-UQAM, only go far enough so that the trains can switch tracks. Others, like Angrignon and Honoré-Beaugrand, lead into garages where trains can be stored when not in use or undergo maintenance.

Snowdon’s tail tracks extend 790 metres west of the station, which allows enough space for the two tracks to align vertically, enough space to store a train and enough space for a track connecting with the orange line.

Though it’s visible because of the emergency exit at Queen Mary Rd. and Dufferin St. (one block into Hampstead), this is little different from the tail tracks at other terminal stations. And any extension would require more tail tracks at the new terminus, so it doesn’t save any time or money to consider this in calculations.

7. Better bus service, reserved lanes and commuter trains would be a much more effective — and cheaper — solution to West Island traffic problems.

When the STM created the 470 Express Pierrefonds bus, I wondered why it took them so long. It was the first time the transit agency had thought to create a non-stop express between the Fairview shopping centre and a metro station. (Before that, people would take the 216, a rush-hour-only bus designed to serve businesses along Highway 40. And before that, it was the 215, which would take a 45-minute trip through the Dollard des Ormeaux and St-Laurent industrial parks.) Sure enough, the 470 was an instant hit, and was quickly upgraded to all-day service, then added evenings, weekend and weekend evenings. It’s still hugely popular.

I took West Island transit for more than 10 years, so I know how frustrating it can be. Things are getting better, and there’s still room for improvement. Highways 40 and 20 needs reserved bus lanes. Commuter train service needs to be improved, especially on the Vaudreuil-Hudson line. The AMT should look at reactivating the Doney Spur and creating a bus terminal in Pointe Claire serving it (or extending it to Fairview). And enough service needs to be added so there’s no hesitation to using buses to get around.

But all of these things are much less expensive than expanding a metro line to the West Island.

The STM spends $500 million a year on its regular and adapted bus services. The entire network, which provides 5 million hours of service a year. So for $3 billion, it could have 30 million hours of service. By my math, that’s enough to have more than 3,000 buses running 24 hours a day, seven days a week for a year. Or 300 buses for 10 years. Or 30 buses for 100 years.

Since the 470 takes a little over an hour and a half for a round trip, this would mean we could add buses running on that route every five minutes, 24/7, for 100 years, and still have a cool billion dollars left over.

When you put it in perspective, we’re starting to talk about real money here.

8. There are already two train lines to the West Island.

Those who argue that the West Island needs a metro seem to discount the already existing above-ground train lines that serve the area: The Deux-Montagnes and Vaudreuil/Hudson commuter trains. These lines are far from perfect, but the improvements necessary to make them work would cost much less than extending the metro.

The Deux-Montagnes line needs two things: A doubling of the track between Roxboro-Pierrefonds and Bois-Franc stations, and new cars to increase the frequency of departures. The former is in the plan, but nothing is moving on it yet. The latter has been announced.

Improvements to the Vaudreuil/Hudson line are more complicated. There, the AMT shares tracks with CP freight, so additional train runs need to be negotiated. The ideal solution would be to build an extra set of tracks dedicated to public transit. The so-called Train de l’Ouest project is advancing slowly, with news expected by the end of the year. But this project needs to be reconciled with a train shuttle to Trudeau Airport, and the parties involved still haven’t agreed on whether those trains should use CP tracks going to Lucien-L’Allier or CN tracks going to Central Station.

Having commuter trains running every 20 minutes (and more often during rush hour) on both lines, combined with a reasonable fare integration between the STM and AMT, would do wonders to improve transit toward downtown.

The AMT could also look at reviving the Doney Spur, an underused train line that runs from the Deux-Montagnes line to St-Jean Blvd. near Hymus. Many dream of connecting this to Fairview (which would require an overpass over Highway 40), but removal of tracks near St-Jean and development along Holiday Ave. have made the road to such a project more complicated.

9. The announcement of the blue line extension was very political, but that doesn’t make it wrong.

The PQ government is clearly in election-planning mode. Just last weekend it had four ministers present at an announcement about new reserved bus lanes, as if painting lines on pavement somehow required the cooperation of that many provincial government departments.

And the announcement wasn’t that they’ve begun construction. It’s that they’re commissioning a feasibility study. They don’t know where the stations are going to be, what they’ll be named, or what it’s going to cost. The study will look at that. So really there is nothing much to announce here, but they went all out anyway.

Whether or not metro extensions are the best use of public transit funding (many would argue they’re not), the issue is sexy because metro stations are tangible things that voters can see every day. Even those not in the affected area will note the presence of these new stations.

So it’s no surprise that the whole thing has been politicized from the beginning. Choosing the Laval extension first, even though it has a lower population density. Now contemplating a second extension in Laval, even though there’s no reason to believe it’s even needed. Coming up with a three-way deal in which Laval, Montreal and Longueuil each get metro extensions, as if the three are functionally equal from a public transit perspective. All of this is politics.

But the blue line extension to the east (perhaps not all the way to Anjou, but at least to, say, Pie-IX) still makes sense.

And sometimes, common sense can come out of even the most ridiculous-minded people.

That said…

There are arguments against the proposed extension, mostly based on its cost. Even some people who are solidly behind improved public transit argue that extending the metro would be a waste of taxpayer money. Among the reasons:

  • The new line would run parallel to the eastern part of the green line, which in the east end is much closer to Jean-Talon St. In these areas, the two lines would be only five minutes apart by bus
  • People taking the blue line to get downtown would need to take three metro lines, requiring two transfers, versus taking the bus to the green line and taking only one train (and probably having a seat for most of the run).
  • Adding people to the blue line would increase the load on the Jean-Talon-to-Berri-UQAM leg of the orange line, already one of the most congested in the network.
  • Improved bus service, including more buses and more reserved lanes, would make a much bigger difference for commute times. And buses are both cheaper and much more flexible.

90 thoughts on “Numbers — not politics — is why the metro should extend toward the east first

  1. Kevin

    I only have one thing to say: at an estimated cost of $2 billion for 5 stations, the blue line extension will never get built

    Reply
    1. David Senik

      And don’t forget that by the time the thing is finished, the price tag will likely have ballooned to $6-7 billion.

      Reply
  2. Michael

    Even if the PQ was the best government this province has ever seen it would still be the devil incarnate for a vast majority of the Anglophone community. The hate Anglos have towards the PQ (some of it warranted but a lot of it not) is so visceral that reasoning with these individuals is a waste of time. What they don’t seem to realize is that the hatrid they express towards the PQ often has as it’s consequence to push moderates and undecided Francophones into the arms of the PQ who interpret Anglophone rage as an attack on traditional Québec values. Not all that different to the Mom and apple pie appeal of some American politicians. I can’t wait to see all the hatrid directed towards me for even suggesting that certain elements of the Anglophone community are responsible for some of the mistrust and division that exists in this province.

    Reply
    1. David Senik

      Michael, I think the mistrust and division that exists in this province is everyone’s responsibility. Putting it completely on the backs of a minority within a minority seems to be me to be a tad bit extreme. Come to think of it, I’m not sure that there is higher percentage of people in the Anglophone community that “hate” the PQ than there is of people in the Francophone majority who “hate” the Liberals, so I’m not sure why you are focusing on only one side of this coin.

      Would you agree that if a Metro extension is being proposed, the focus should be on questions such as:
      -is it being built along a route serves a genuine need?
      -is this the most pressing need for transit development?
      -could the money help more people by being spent elsewhere?
      -can we afford to extend the metro?

      Isn’t it possible that focusing on these kinds of questions rather than artificial divisions between Anglophone and non-Anglophone people would be a better approach? Isn’t it possible that comments like yours that paint all people who speak English (which, by the way isn’t that uncommon) with the same brush is at least partially responsible for some of the mistrust and division that exists in this province?

      Without hate,
      David

      Reply
  3. Marc

    The hate Anglos have towards the PQ (some of it warranted but a lot of it not) is so visceral that reasoning with these individuals is a waste of time

    It’s not all anglos. It’s specifically west end and west island anglos who suffer from that type of nonsense. East end, Plateau, Mile end, Villeray anglos are much more refined people who don’t see a linguistic conspiracy behind every government policy. They’re also voting more and more for Quebec Solidaire. But the other anglos will always, always, always vote Liberal; even if the party were made up of animal-tortuing borgs. Fact is, west of Decarie the population density just isn’t there. But that won’t stop moronic thought – I heard one soundbyte of someone saying “If they would extend the green line just to DDO, or something…” Talk about being clueless.

    Having said that, all they ever do on expanding the blue line are studies. That’s what this is, too. Over 120 studies have now been done. It ain’t happening. This announcement was a pre-election candy. You’d have to be living on the moon to think we’re not heading to the polls provincially before Christmas.

    Reply
  4. Chris

    Thanks for the analysis. I have only one comment.

    Extending the blue line to just Pie-IX would only be one more station than it’s current terminus. For it to really make sense it should go to Galeries d’Anjou or Lacordaire at the very least.

    Reply
  5. Mike

    I’ve heard every excuse there is. There’s no reason why a metro shouldn’t have already been extended to Fairview. The money was spent to extend it to Laval…but not to a surburb that is part of the city of Montreal! Enough shafting anglophones and west islanders.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      The money was spent to extend it to Laval…but not to a surburb that is part of the city of Montreal!

      Pointe-Claire is not part of the city of Montreal. And even if it was, why does that matter?

      Reply
      1. Jim P.

        Pointe-Claire pays 1/2 of its 58 MILLION Taxes to the agglomeration council of the island of Mtl. We get descent Bus service. Who needs a Tunnel when the road network is working well. I pay enough Fn taxes as it is. Be realistic people the $$ come out of your pocket too – not just the other guy’s

        Reply
    2. Marc

      Enough shafting anglophones and west islanders

      If the waste island really wanted frequent, rapid, plentiful transit service, they’d have had it ages ago.

      Reply
      1. emdx

        If the waste island really wanted frequent, rapid, plentiful transit service, they’d have had it ages ago.

        Yup. The Waste Island resisted having bus service for 10 years after the MUC was instituted. Then, everyone was bitching to NOT have a bus line pass on their street. Imagine! Buses on my steet! Oh! The Humanity!

        Reply
          1. emdx

            How long did it take the 470 to see the day after the STM started serving the “waste island”? 25 years?

            If the “waste island” wanted the service so bad, how come it took 25 years to get it?

            Reply
            1. Fagstein Post author

              How long did it take the 470 to see the day after the STM started serving the “waste island”? 25 years?

              Far too long. I’d been calling for it for years before it began. Before the 470, people would take the 216 Transcanadienne between Fairview and Côte-Vertu. But that bus only operated during rush hour, didn’t have the same frequency as the 470, didn’t go to Pierrefonds and took the service road instead of the highway because its purpose was to serve the industrial buildings along Highway 40. Before the 216, people took the 215, which at the time went all the way to Île Bizard. But the trip to Fairview took forever.

              Reply
  6. David Senik

    Steve,

    Thank you for posting these facts. I think it’s really positive to focus one’s attention on what’s really important here and not on identity politics, which is what I think you were trying to accomplish. I applaud you for that.

    One thing that isn’t sitting well with me is that you infer that it is only Anglophones who are complaining about a lack of metro extensions to the West, when you say “plenty of anglophones took the opportunity to once again complain that there’s no extension toward the west”.

    Full disclosure: I live in Beaconsfield. The West Island is 22.8% Francophone, which makes French speakers a much larger constituency within the West Island than Anglophones within Quebec who account for only about 8% of the population. I bring this up because I’m trying to figure out why you would assume that none among these 18,000 French speakers would complain about a lack of metro service. My next door neighbours are Francophones and they expressed their frustration to me about the lack of metro extensions to the West Island when this news was announced. Of course, there is a slight chance that these are the only French speaking people in the West Island to harbour these feelings, but I highly doubt it. Were you trying to say that your personal experience has only involved English speakers from the West Island making this complaint. Perhaps you could be more clear about that instead of making comments that infer that it is only Anglophones.

    Secondly, it seems to me that you’re encouraging the idea of a divided city and society when you say “Anglos who have never travelled east of St-Laurent Blvd. might just assume that everyone on the east side of the island is a hard-core francophone separatist.” (By the way, does “travelled” have two “l”s or just one? Chrome seems to think only one.) Yes, someone who fits that description might make that assumption, but I think at best you’re imaging that we’re still living in 1955 and at worst you’re being a little harsh. The point is that you are assuming the assumptions of another, which to me lies at the heart of racism and intolerance; things we would be better off without.

    Once again, I think you have done a great thing here by listing the important facts. It’s just too bad that intentionally or unintentionally you have made Anglos out as being uninformed buffoons who are so focused on language and identity that they can’t see the facts of the matter.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I’m trying to figure out why you would assume that none among these 18,000 French speakers would complain about a lack of metro service.

      I’m sure some of them would. But I haven’t seen that, and I don’t think they’re complaining that they’re being discriminated against because of their language. In any case, I didn’t say francophones aren’t complaining.

      does “travelled” have two “l”s or just one?

      Two in Canada.

      The point is that you are assuming the assumptions of another, which to me lies at the heart of racism and intolerance; things we would be better off without.

      Feel free to offer a theory whereby an anglophone who spends plenty of time on the east side of the island is unaware of the large number of Liberal voters there.

      I’m not saying all anglophones are uninformed. I’m saying that many anglophones complaining about the order of metro extensions are basing their arguments on incorrect assumptions.

      Reply
      1. David Senik

        Fair enough Steve. I know you’re trying to do the right thing. I just wish you could consider the possibility that what you’re saying may encourage the very divisions that we should all consider rising above.

        Reply
        1. wendykh

          so if we ignore divisism (I am sure that is not a word. Steve? Please fill in something appropriate) it won’t exist?

          Reply
      2. Dilbert

        “’m not saying all anglophones are uninformed. I’m saying that many anglophones complaining about the order of metro extensions are basing their arguments on incorrect assumptions.”

        trust me when I say, language comes into it but not in the way you consider. It’s more a question of “this place voted for us, this place didn’t” when it comes time for the PQ to make choices.

        Charest and the Liberals tried the other way “these people didn’t vote for us, let’s try to make them like us” and got their asses handed to them in the last election.

        Logic says “extend the metro to where you get the most new riders and most need service”. Running a line parallel to an existing line already well served by express buses seems stupid. The Laval extension (and extending to more places in the South Shore) would have a much bigger impact on Montreal commuters.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          trust me when I say, language comes into it but not in the way you consider. It’s more a question of “this place voted for us, this place didn’t” when it comes time for the PQ to make choices.

          Then why is the PQ announcing a metro extension that would serve a bunch of solidly Liberal ridings?

          Logic says “extend the metro to where you get the most new riders and most need service”.

          I guess that makes sense, but how do you define need? If you save 20 minutes of travel a day for tens of thousands of people, and free up dozens of buses that can be used elsewhere, while reducing traffic in heavily congested areas of the city, wouldn’t that make the most sense?

          The metro should be extended to replace or relieve the busiest bus lines. And those are along Côte des Neiges, Pie-IX, Parc, St-Michel and Sauvé.

          The Laval extension (and extending to more places in the South Shore) would have a much bigger impact on Montreal commuters.

          I wasn’t against the Laval extension that much, mainly because it relieves the big bottleneck that is the bridges. A further extension to Carrefour Laval might make sense if it can be shown that a lot of people would use it. But bringing the other side up to create a big loop seems unnecessary to me.

          As for a further Longueuil extension, I’m not against it, but a look at how population is distributed on the south shore shows what we really need is better transit along the Champlain Bridge.

          Reply
          1. Dilbert

            “? If you save 20 minutes of travel a day for tens of thousands of people, and free up dozens of buses that can be used elsewhere, while reducing traffic in heavily congested areas of the city, wouldn’t that make the most sense?”

            The problem here is that you are marginally improving service for people who are already using public transit, while not improving things enough to change the habits of those who don’t use it. I also don’t think (and there are studies that show it) that the downtown traffic issues are a result of people in this target area, but rather for commuters that come from much further away. Those are the people who jam in from off island in all directions, plugging up most of the main arteries into town. When you look where the traffic jams, you can tell where the people are coming from.

            “The metro should be extended to replace or relieve the busiest bus lines. And those are along Côte des Neiges, Pie-IX, Parc, St-Michel and Sauve”

            Yes, and except for Sauve, everything else you listed is north south, which likely won’t get fixed much with an east west extension that still requires most of them to ride the bus to get to a station. For anyone at or south of these stations, it will still be quicker to take the bus down to the green line and direct into to town, rather than bus to blue line to orange line to change to the green line.

            It would be a different story if the blue line extension was going to turn and head to connect up with the green line somewhere like Assomption, so that the travel time for people served by the line to downtown would be more reasonable, and would also allow for a flow of people from the north of the city to the east of the city without having to travel all the way down town (say Sauve to Anjou area).

            “what we really need is better transit along the Champlain Bridge.”

            it’s why any plan to redo the Champlain Bridge needs to have a serious component of public transit, not bus lanes but actual light rail / subway system that goes preferably as far as 10/30, as this has become quite the heart of the area. Again, it would have to be integrated into the current subway system (maybe a third level at Lionel Groulx) so that it is transparent to the user.

            The elimination of south shore buses to Montreal would have a huge impact on traffic in the lower downtown area, where the bus terminus and such has a pretty big footprint.

            Reply
            1. Fagstein Post author

              The problem here is that you are marginally improving service for people who are already using public transit, while not improving things enough to change the habits of those who don’t use it.

              You don’t think improving service (I wouldn’t call a 10-minute reduction in travel time “marginal”) would lead to more users?

              Reply
              1. Dilbert

                I don’t think 10 minutes is going to change the world. It might make existing users happy, it may attract a few more people, but it’s improving service to the already well served, which means any improvement would be incremental. rather than a significant change.

                The other point is that the idea saves 10 minutes each way for CERTAIN users, but might not help those who (example) live in St Michel and work in Anjou. Any new metro stations would likely mean that their express buses to the green line would disappear or be reduced, making their trips longer.

                It also doesn’t account for the issues of capacity on the orange line for that matter. With the people coming from Laval added in, the Orange line is already pretty busy, so if you have to wait 5 – 10 minutes extra to get on a train because they are full, did you really save any time?

                Further, if you add in two train changes to get to (say) McGill station, did you really save 10 minutes, or is the 10 minutes actually spent walking?

                I could go on, but your own argument about express buses on the West Island applies here too. The costs involved here to extend the metro are way out of line with doubling or even tripling the number of express buses, which would also like save people some some time. If there is that much need, perhaps an east to west express bus route to the end of the blue line might be a better idea.

              2. Fagstein Post author

                The other point is that the idea saves 10 minutes each way for CERTAIN users, but might not help those who (example) live in St Michel and work in Anjou.

                Maybe I’m missing something, but wouldn’t a metro linking St-Michel and Anjou be the perfect thing for those people?

                Nevertheless, your point is valid. The metro will benefit some users more than others, and even for those well situated, the benefits won’t be that dramatic.

      3. Kevin

        Liberal supporters are not vocal and don’t waste time on social media. See your posts about the Election 2012 social media chatter and the actual results…

        Reply
  7. MacGuffin

    You can throw out all kinds of numbers, but when actual metro extension decisions are made by Quebec politicians, they are purely political in order to win votes.

    Reply
      1. MacGuffin

        Don’t worry, I won’t!

        Even people who don’t know Montreal geography or population breakdowns notice immediately the way the metro map is configured. Not accidental by any means.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          the way the metro map is configured. Not accidental by any means.

          I would certainly expect that underground train networks aren’t designed by accident.

          Reply
  8. Dilbert

    It’s a wonderful story but I think more than slightly misleading. The question isn’t just “where are there riders” but “where are there under served riders”, and the answer is not the same.

    The area of the blue line is proposed to be extended is already served by a number of bus lanes and routes that lead down to the direct line green line to down town. It means that these people at at worst 10 – 15 minutes from the metro.

    Moreover, it doesn’t really do much to put the metro where people need it, and where it can change the commute for many. Those who live here will already take the bus to the metro, adding metro service might serve these existing customers better, but does little to add new customers to the service. If you want to accomplish that, you have to push the system to places where people are not currently properly served – and most importantly beyond where the traffic jams start in the morning.

    Moreover, extending the blue line is potentially not the best way to serve these people, because it makes them travel two sides of a triangle to get anywhere, having to go completely west to the (already crowded) orange line to then turn and head into town. It would appear that the people in these areas would be much better served by express buses – and by your own logic Steve, it would be insanely cheaper.

    Extending the Green line a couple of more stops East (or north towards Galleries D’Anjou might make more sense, especially if they choose to make that a termination point for buses in the area. Alternately, turning the green line south and running it under the water to the South Shore would also likely be a VERY good idea, as it would push the metro past a major point of traffic congestion, and likely encourage many people not to take their cars into town.

    The same logic applies on the West Island side. Extending the metro, on any one of the three lines would be a plus, especially if you extend it far enough to get on the other side of traffic. Those key points are areas likes 40 /13 20 /13 and such. You only have to go as far as about the airport to make a huge difference, maybe one stop past to Sources and suddenly you change everything – all those buses running all the way downtown can become buses running just to the Metro. Having metro service at the airport would also be a major plus.

    Now, the same effects could be had in the West Island if the commuter train line was run as more of a light rail system with departures every 10 – 15 minutes. That could also solve many issues, especially if that light rail terminated into the metro system at a transfer point without having to pay extra.

    I don’t see it happening, because those people planning the metro extensions are working for political reasons and not practical ones, the goal of more commuters in public transit doesn’t match up with their actions at all.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      The area of the blue line is proposed to be extended is already served by a number of bus lanes and routes that lead down to the direct line green line to down town. It means that these people at at worst 10 – 15 minutes from the metro.

      The farthest part of Côte St-Luc is 17 minutes from the metro. From Pie-IX and Henri-Bourassa, it’s exactly twice that.

      In this scenario, building a station at Pie-IX and Jean-Talon would bring people about five minutes closer to a metro station, though the theoretical metro transit time would be about five minutes longer (not counting the extra time with two transfers if their destination is on the green line downtown). But this also doesn’t take into account rush-hour traffic.

      But the farther you get, the more time is saved with a metro. From Langelier and Jean-Talon, it’s 24 minutes of transit time (not including waits) to Berri-UQAM, but would be about 17 minutes through the metro.

      Multiplied by hundreds of thousands of people in that area who take transit daily, and that’s a lot of savings.

      And it assumes that everyone’s destination is downtown. For people heading to somewhere like Université de Montréal, the benefits will be much greater.

      Those who live here will already take the bus to the metro, adding metro service might serve these existing customers better, but does little to add new customers to the service.

      Except all those customers who don’t take the metro and bus because it takes too long. There are few places on the island that aren’t served at all by public transit. For everywhere else, it’s a question of time.

      It would appear that the people in these areas would be much better served by express buses – and by your own logic Steve, it would be insanely cheaper.

      I agree. I’ll add this as a point so it’s clear.

      Extending the Green line a couple of more stops East (or north towards Galleries D’Anjou might make more sense, especially if they choose to make that a termination point for buses in the area.

      Maybe. I’ve been to the Galleries d’Anjou a few times and find it’s actually not well served by buses (though maybe I’ve been spoiled with Fairview). Doing this would require the green line to make a U-turn after Honoré-Beaugrand (though it wouldn’t be the only such U-turn on the green line).

      Reply
    2. Fagstein Post author

      You only have to go as far as about the airport to make a huge difference, maybe one stop past to Sources and suddenly you change everything

      That’s still very far — twice as long as the Laval extension. And we already have a train line that runs from the airport directly toward downtown. It would be a lot cheaper to modify it to run a dedicated train to the airport (and, indeed, that’s the plan, once the different sides can settle on a route).

      Now, the same effects could be had in the West Island if the commuter train line was run as more of a light rail system with departures every 10 – 15 minutes.

      Indeed. And I’m sure the AMT would love nothing more than to do that. But first, it needs to double the track between Bois-Franc and Roxboro-Pierrefonds and add new rolling stock, and on the other line it needs to build a new track so it doesn’t have to share with CP freight.

      Reply
  9. mike

    What about West Island Train? Most probable you “forgot” about it. What about 20 million $ “study” that was due at the beginning of 2013 or 2012? Why there are no news about that here or The Gazette?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      What about 20 million $ “study” that was due at the beginning of 2013 or 2012? Why there are no news about that here or The Gazette?

      You’re right. The latest news about that was all of four days ago.

      Reply
  10. Jase

    I don’t want the Metro to come to Ndg/Hamp-Cote West. You can think about why. Taking the bus to get locked in that corner isn’t so bad. No worries. Terrible to use the word Hatred for us west enders. Maybe the West Island could use a special metro connection. We aren’t big fans of the PQ government, but neither seems to be Bouchard and Parizeau this week ! The word Hatred is so string and harsh, Shame !

    Reply
  11. Radisson

    Great analysis. Some thoughts:

    Those who think St-Leonard and Anjou are all-french boroughs are clueless. There’s the little Maghreb between the actual St-Michel and the future Pie-IX stations, the obvious italian presence in St-Leonard and many anglos in Anjou.

    There isn’t a single suburb train east of St-Laurent Blvd… yet. And the one that is built will go through the west before ending downtown.

    As a Franco living in northern Rosemont, of course I’m happy. I’m still frustrated that Laval got their stations before the blue line got extended to the east though. There shouldn’t have been any new stations outside of the island after the Longueuil station if we have had any vision of how the city should grow.

    If you ask me , I’d rather see a metro extension in NDG than on the south shore or even worse, Laval. But the metro to the east first is logical.

    Reply
  12. Anonymous

    Numbers? It is always about the politics. The orange extension ‘Montmorency’ to Laval which cost $745 million. Laval pop. was 50,613 at 2007. Which calculates to $14,719 per person in Laval. So it is easy to throw out saying that it is the numbers, but the policy makers and descion makeres are the people that we vote in.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      The orange extension ‘Montmorency’ to Laval which cost $745 million. Laval pop. was 50,613 at 2007. Which calculates to $14,719 per person in Laval.

      Laval’s population was 368,709 in the 2006 census. That works out to $2,020 per person. Which is still pretty high, but not as high as the West Island extension, which would cost more and serve fewer people.

      Of course, I already argue in this post that the Laval extension was highly political.

      Reply
      1. Dilbert

        Your West Island cost concept is a little bit off the rails for various reasons. One of which is that it doesn’t take into consideration the number of commuters who would come from off island, by car or bus, who could end up getting on the Metro rather than riding all the way into town.

        Further, with connections proposed to the 440 in laval to the West Island, it would give a more direct route for buses to come from Laval and the north shore areas (like St Eustache) to a Metro station on the west island, while bypassing traffic.

        Most importantly, population density is only half of the public transit equation – the other half of the question is where they are going. People aren’t just heading downtown and that’s it, they are heading to all sorts of places – including where the major employers are around the airport, in St Laurent, and out into the West Island. You have students heading to school, you have workers, and so on. They are not a uniform mass all heading to a single station and saving the perfect 10 minutes.

        So you have to look at any extension not only in it’s “rider source” but also “rider destination” – plus “non rider source” and “non rider destination”. It’s about where people come from and where they go to, nothing a single path.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          Your West Island cost concept is a little bit off the rails for various reasons. One of which is that it doesn’t take into consideration the number of commuters who would come from off island, by car or bus, who could end up getting on the Metro rather than riding all the way into town.

          And that number would no doubt increase. I suspect many of them already take the commuter train. But sure, feel free to add in the few thousand people who live in Vaudreuil or St-Lazare if you want.

          Further, with connections proposed to the 440 in laval to the West Island

          Unless I’ve missed something, that plan has all but been abandoned. Even building a two-lane road in that right of way is going up against fierce opposition from locals.

          Most importantly, population density is only half of the public transit equation – the other half of the question is where they are going. People aren’t just heading downtown and that’s it, they are heading to all sorts of places

          Sure. But that would be as much an argument for extending the blue line east as any other extension. Heading to Laval, St-Laurent, Côte des Neiges or other areas would be even faster for those living in St-Michel, St-Léonard and Anjou under an extended blue line.

          Reply
          1. Dilbert

            “Sure. But that would be as much an argument for extending the blue line east as any other extension. Heading to Laval, St-Laurent, Côte des Neiges or other areas would be even faster for those living in St-Michel, St-Léonard and Anjou under an extended blue line.”

            The point I guess is that while you might server slightly better some demographic, the potential for serving more people by making it easier for them to access their DESTINATION might be more useful.

            Like I said, extend the orange line along Thimins area in St Laurent, get the metro out to reach at least the 40 could result in more than a 10 minute improvement for thousands of people as well, and virtually eliminate the need for some of the more busy bus lines, reducing traffic.

            The airport isn’t an absolute need, but more of a “that would be nice”. Considering it’s going to take 4- 10 years before the Dorval interchange is done, the concept of the train being in the airport is a decade or more away, it seems.

            Reply
  13. Paul C

    Rather than touching the blue line, I would rather see the green line extended into Lasalle with a station at the interection of Dollard and Neuman and then continue on to the new terminus in the LaSalle Park / Lachine hospital area. These areas are often hard to bus to and from and unlike DDO, etc – LaSalle and Lachine are still boroughs of Montreal. Also they might as well close down either the Verdun station or De L’Eglise station because having two stations 500 meters apart seems a waste of commute time for the riders.

    Reply
  14. Ant6n

    You make a lot of good points. One point about the tail tracks, though – it it is possible to construct a terminus without any tail tracks, if there’s a crossover before the station and the station has an island platform. Even if there are trail tracks, they only need to be about 200m long.

    Reply
    1. emdx

      Actually, the Montmorency terminus station has been designed to be usable without a tail-track; right before entering the station, there is a very long crossover that could be used by passenger-carrying trains so they would not need to proceed to the backstation to change tracks, as they currently do.

      However, the train frequency to Laval is not high enough to warrant that kind of operation, so it’s effectively not done (plus extreme length of the crossover prevents short 3-car trains from taking the crossover, as none of the motor cars would contact the power rails).

      Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      has a Green Line-Blue Line “horseshoe” ever been considered (kind of like what the Orange Line has now)?

      What purpose would this serve? Consider that any advantage would have to be weighed against the fact that both lines would need trains and platforms of the same length, the frequency of trains would need to match, service disruptions would now affect both lines, and drivers would now have to work for an hour continuously without a break, among other problems.

      Reply
  15. Batman

    Some thoughts;

    1. You should be comparing the percentages of Liberal votes between the metro extension ridings and the West Island ridings. Two of the ridings you listed were at 40% and 42%. Would you take your chances to gain some voters here or on the West Island?

    2. While it’s true that an Eastward extension of the blue line has been planned for a long time, so has a Westward extension. In fact, when the blue line was originally conceived a Western extension was already being thought about.

    3. You mentioned the commuter trains. Isn’t there an eastern line that is being constructed right now not too far away from the new proposed metro stations?

    4. Cost. When considering a major project like a metro extension, it’s not wise to simply look at cost of all the alternatives and then pick the cheapest one. There are so many other factors to consider. Are people on the West Island leaving the province because they feel neglected and thus we’re losing a tax base? How much would it have helped a team like the Expos (and the stature of MTL by having another major sports team) if the people from the West Island had a reasonable public transportation option to get to the Big O? What are the spin-off revenue possibilities of expanding into an area that is nowhere close to a metro station? Now, I’m not saying that a metro extension would help in any all of these areas, but you can’t simply throw cost out there and neglect everything else.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      1. You should be comparing the percentages of Liberal votes between the metro extension ridings and the West Island ridings.

      Obviously nowhere comes close to the kinds of majorities in D’Arcy McGee (CSL), Nelligan (Pierrefonds), Robert-Baldwin (DDO) and Jacques-Cartier (Pointe-Claire etc.). But that doesn’t make Bourassa-Sauvé a swing riding.

      2. While it’s true that an Eastward extension of the blue line has been planned for a long time, so has a Westward extension.

      But not to the same degree. A westward extension wasn’t on metro maps for a decade, and hasn’t been seriously proposed by anyone recently.

      3. You mentioned the commuter trains. Isn’t there an eastern line that is being constructed right now not too far away from the new proposed metro stations?

      The Train de l’Est uses the train line that runs near Sauvé St. and Industriel Blvd. At its closest, this is three kilometres from the proposed blue line extension. Though this should be taken into consideration when transit planning. Some residents of Montreal North and Rivière des Prairies will probably use this line.

      Are people on the West Island leaving the province because they feel neglected and thus we’re losing a tax base?

      If that’s what this is meant to solve, wouldn’t simply giving each person $12,000 be a much better idea?

      How much would it have helped a team like the Expos (and the stature of MTL by having another major sports team) if the people from the West Island had a reasonable public transportation option to get to the Big O?

      I’m guessing virtually nothing. The Olympic Stadium has excellent transit connectivity, but the Expos still failed. And even if there was a metro to Fairview, it would still take about an hour in metro travel time alone. (And, of course, West Islanders have no problem getting to the Bell Centre.)

      Finally, at an estimated $500 million value for a lesser team, the $3-billion budget could buy six baseball teams and move them to Montreal.

      What are the spin-off revenue possibilities of expanding into an area that is nowhere close to a metro station?

      This all depends on which route you choose. But a direct route from Snowdon goes through a train yard and airport runways where the possibilities of development are pretty well zero. All other routes that didn’t take long detours through the shores would go through industrial areas.

      you can’t simply throw cost out there and neglect everything else.

      I’m happy to consider other factors (like population density, for example). But cost is the big factor here. If cost was no option, we’d have a 12-line 200-station subway system the transit fans fantasize about.

      Reply
      1. Batman

        -The ridings in the East may not be considered swing ridings now, but at 40 and 42% could they potentially become them? I’m not saying it’s a good plan, but if I were looking to add seats I’d definitely take my shot at those ridings vs the ones in the West Island.

        -How far is Fairview from the closest train station? I’m just taking a guess here but I would think that metro stations let’s say along the 40 leading to Fairview are probably further away from train stations than the proposed blue stations would be from the east train line,or at least comparable.

        -If you give everyone $12,000 that still leaves everyone in the same position relative to each other and you can’t just give money to a specific group of ppl on the island. I agree with you about the Expos and like I said they weren’t meant as concrete examples but just to show that a balanced metro system can have indirect benefits potentially. Cost is a big factor no doubt, but so is potential revenue, and I don’t just mean along the route. Let’s say you build a station at Fairview, perhaps someone visiting from Ottawa says you know what here’s an Anglo area with a good link to downtown, yeah I wouldn’t moving to Montreal. Or someone from Vaudreuil thinks the housing cost vs convenience trade-off is worth it to move onto the island.Or a major department store/restaurant thinks, wow this has become a hub for a whole part of the west we should open up something here. Again, this is not to say that any of this would happen, but the optics of having a whole part of the island with a specific language demographic not being served with what everyone else is may be inhibiting some growth

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          I’m not saying it’s a good plan, but if I were looking to add seats I’d definitely take my shot at those ridings vs the ones in the West Island.

          If that was the only consideration, they’d be extending the metro in Laval again, where ridings are tight, or on the south shore, where there’s a three-way race.

          How far is Fairview from the closest train station?

          It’s 2.5 kilometres from Cedar Park.

          I’m just taking a guess here but I would think that metro stations let’s say along the 40 leading to Fairview are probably further away from train stations than the proposed blue stations would be from the east train line,or at least comparable.

          They’re comparable. To give some perspective, these distances are about half the distance between the two legs of the orange line, and just a bit less than the distance between the blue line and green line on each side of Mount Royal.

          the optics of having a whole part of the island with a specific language demographic not being served with what everyone else is may be inhibiting some growth

          I haven’t seen any surveys on the matter so I can’t say whether that’s true. But even if it is, how much are these “optics” worth? Three billion dollars is a lot of money.

          Reply
      2. Dilbert

        ” All other routes that didn’t take long detours through the shores would go through industrial areas.”

        Yup, destination areas for many users, and also better places to terminate buses. Right now having buses terminate in places like Cote Vertu is insane, considering the congestion between the 40 and station. Having a station that is in an area that is more easily accessed by buses would speed commuter trips signficantly, and would allow for a transit hub to be built that might be more useful in the end for West Island users – while eliminating bus trips and improving the living quality for people along those congested routes.

        Even adding 3 or 4 stations on the orange line towards Sources would be a big improvement for West Island users. Imagine stops at Bombardier / Canadair, Place Vertu, near 40 / 13 as a transit hub, and one more stop to the airport. Suddenly you have connectivity and another way for people to avoid having to drive into town, shorter bus routes, and so on.

        It’s amazing what can happen.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          I’m sure plenty of people work in industrial zones. My point is that it’s low-density. So building metro lines through these areas is high cost with low reward.

          The point about buses is a good one, though. A terminus near a highway would speed things up. (Though my experience with the 470 during rush hour — I was just on it today in fact — is that it’s the highway itself that causes the biggest slowdown.)

          Reply
          1. Dilbert

            Yup, it happens. But imagine your daily commute if the part of 40 to Cote Vertu station was dropped every day each way. That is your 10 minutes each way at least, possibly more. In the end, Cote Vertu metro station is well positioned in the neighborhood, but it’s a lousy place to have a bus terminal.

            Same point for that matter with the Metro at Agrignon. It’s a nice place for a station, but a poor place for a terminus. It’s a few too many streets away from the 20, and at the same time, access for people from the west of Lasalle (and the Mercier Bridge) means a long trundle down Newman. That is another line that is begging to get extended to the old Labatt’s plant, where a decent bus terminus with direct access to the Mercer bridge could make a big difference for commuters (and with train lines there, perhaps a reason to run a light rail from there to the south shore on a more frequent basis, to try to get rid of some of the congestion.

            Quite simply, you can’t keep building wider bridges and wider roads, but unless public transit starts to meet up with the demands, there will be more and more pressure for more and more roads.

            Reply
      3. emdx

        And even if there was a metro to Fairview, it would still take about an hour in metro travel time alone.

        Who in his right mind would be happy to stare at a blank concrete wall for one hour??? Ewwwww.

        Reply
  16. emdx

    — Sigh — there’s always a transit story here the week before I decide to take a look…

    Okay. A few things.

    First of all, the Métro extension to Anjou is silly, because it’s gonna be at most 3 km (and as little as 1.5 km) from line 1 to Honoré-Beaugrand. Then it’s gonna take you either nowhere, or to an overloaded line 2.

    Much better to use that money to make TWO streetcar lines, one to Montréal-Nord, and one to Pointe-Aux-Trembles. Because there is not enough density to justify a full-fledged underground subway there.

    Now. There were in the early 1980’s two (2) projects for streetcar lines serving the “west”; one towards Lachine (line 10) and one towards LaSalle (line 11).

    You can see the details here: http://emdx.org/rail/ProjetsTrams/

    Okay, granted, it’s not much, and line 10 was assuming it could go on the CPR line between Montréal-Ouest and Vendôme, and likewise, line 11 would go on the CPR “loop track” to LaSalle.

    Nowadays, the loop track has been uprooted except for a little wye tail near the CPR Adirondack subdivision (near the current LaSalle station).

    Streetcars are the solution to serve the West-Island.

    You could have a line going on Henri-Bourassa, from the Métro station, all the way to the Beaconsfield station: http://emdx.org/rail/metro/Images/TramBeaconsfield.gif

    Then one line going from the Roxboro station to the Beaconsfield station, via Pierrefonds, St-Jean & Lakeshore/Beaconsfield: http://emdx.org/rail/metro/Images/TramPointeClaire.gif

    Another line could go from the Roxboro station to the Dorval station via (where else?) Des Sources & Cardinal, with stops at the airport: http://emdx.org/rail/metro/Images/TramDesSources.gif

    There is a pie-in-the-sky line possible, too, but impossible because it’s clear that the Cavendish extension will never happen. That line would have left the Henri-Bourassa Métro station on Henri-Bourassa, then through Thimens & Poirier, go on Cavendish to whimsically (because we’re talking about pie-in-the-sky here) follow the old 3A streetcar line to Villa-Maria (why Villa Maria? To not overload Vendôme…): http://emdx.org/rail/metro/Images/TramCavendish.gif

    And lastly, the grand finale, a line linking the Dorval train station to the Angrinon Métro station, via Bouchard, Lafleur and the old CPR loop track southernmost right-of-way: http://emdx.org/rail/metro/Images/TramLachine.gif

    Now, about the airport shuttle (I have an opinion on everything). There is bickering with the business types who want a subsidized exclusive fast shuttle train to Central Station, and the AMT who would rather have something used by everyone.

    Of course, here, the AMT is right, because the heaviest transit users at any airport are employees. The 747 happens to be useful for me because I often take the 204, and I live right next to Lionel-Groulx. And, sure enough, most riders are employees.

    So if you have a $20 a pop train ride, only expense accounts businessmen will ride it, and the employees will be stuck with shitty bus service. And, as usual, those business types will want this to be subsidized… Well, though shit, those expense-accounts businessmen will have to learn to rub elbows with the lowly plebe, because that’s not how tax dollars should be spent.

    Basically, there is a tug of war between Central Station and Windsor Station. Windsor Station is allegedly “too excentric” to cater to businessmen (despite it being 3 blocks from Central Station). It also has a much better Métro connection than Central Station. Central Station has the immense drawback of relying on the CN mainline, which is, well, a mainline, with trains from CN, VIA, AMT and Amtrak. I live right next to that line, and there is between 50 and 80 trains per day passing there. By contrast, going to Windsor Station uses the CPR mainline to it’s terminus, which is used by CP trains for less than 3 miles, then it’s all AMT trains to Windsor Station. And it’s a good 3 miles shorter than the CN mainline, which snakes trough St-Henri and Pointe-St-Charles to get to Central Station.

    Pop quiz: which line is better to offer fast, frequent shuttle service? The line used by 80 trains belonging to 4 rail companies, or the line that is shared for 25% of it’s length with ONE other rail company?

    But wait! There’s a way of satisfying everyone! Lucien L’Allier is a poor shadow of Windsor Station, who will never regain it’s former railroady glory, thanks to the temple for the new people’s opium, the new Forum.

    It’s really a pitiful station, a really undignified farce to greet travellers. Let’s put the poor thing out of it’s misery.

    Let’s send all the trains there to Central Station’s 14 tracks and platforms.

    All you need to do is build a viaduct. Since the area still bears the stigma of the 1960’s Drapeau devastation to make parking lots, only a few derelict buildings will need to be put down: http://emdx.org/photos/cptdb/ViaducWindsor2.gif

    Now, this way, Central Station will finally truly bear it’s name, more than 70 years after it opened.

    Reply
    1. Dilbert

      Trams are generally not a good solution if they share the roadways with cars, and if they cross roadways or otherwise interact with cars, they generally slow the amount of traffic that moves and pretty much screws things up solidly.

      Unless you run a tram system with extremely long, uninterrupted distances between stops, they are generally not even as fast as a comparable bus in a bus lane.

      Further, Montreal is a “winter” city, where for 4 – 6 months of the year, people would prefer to be indoors and not outdoors waiting for public transit. The metro generally is a good way to resolve that issue.

      You also are unlikely to see any connection to central station from the West, as the space required is expensive land that the city and province are unlikely to want to take away from use. The current deal looks odd, but it does drop people off at a pretty convenient location all considered.

      What most people miss in dealing with Montreal’s transit system is that it is not destination oriented in the slightest. Almost every bus route is a “goes all over the place” deal, often missing the key concepts along the way. Except for the 747, there is no bus in Montreal that goes directly from a metro station to the airport. Why? Most people end up doing the 202 – 204 shuffle, having just ridden past the airport. It’s pretty mindless.

      Buses always seem to be going almost to where you are going, but not quite. St Laurent has a couple of big industrial parks, but the best buses to get anywhere near them run all over hells half acre before going there. Too many of the routes end up at or near Place Vertu and stop, and don’t venture into the industrial area at all. The best one is the one that runs through Bois Franc, but then you have to put up with that extra meaningless routing to get to where you are doing.

      Same thing in Lasalle – there are any number of stops on what was the “Montreal” side of the line, but nothing past Angrignon, missing a huge amount of population who would travel by metro, and at the same time disconnecting an industrial area and also forcing South Shore buses to drive surface streets for 20-25 blocks to get to the metro. Even the Angrignon station itself falls short of the mark, so desperate to stay in Montreal that it’s not connected to the large shopping center / commercial area, people end up taking a bus to go one or two stops to get there instead, often filling those buses up for a short period of time.

      It’s things like this that end up making taking your car and dealing with traffic much more attractive than taking public transit.

      Reply
      1. emdx

        Trams are generally not a good solution if they share the roadways with cars, and if they cross roadways or otherwise interact with cars, they generally slow the amount of traffic that moves and pretty much screws things up solidly.

        The idea is, of course, not to run the streetcars along with other traffic. The space used by the streetcar line will not be available for traffic, the idea being to discourage the use of automobiles.

        Unless you run a tram system with extremely long, uninterrupted distances between stops, they are generally not even as fast as a comparable bus in a bus lane.

        Not necessarly; steetcars can have a good acceleration. Unlike buses, they have unlimited power available through the trolley wire. And if you use regenerative braking, the energy used to accelerate fast is not wasted because it can come from decellerating streetcars.

        Further, Montreal is a “winter” city, where for 4 – 6 months of the year, people would prefer to be indoors and not outdoors waiting for public transit. The metro generally is a good way to resolve that issue.

        At what cost? Besides, nothing prevents shelters from being heated, except, of course, homeless bums squatting the shelters…

        You also are unlikely to see any connection to central station from the West, as the space required is expensive land that the city and province are unlikely to want to take away from use. The current deal looks odd, but it does drop people off at a pretty convenient location all considered.

        The land to be used has not been used for the last 40 years, so there is obviously no rush to use it…

        What most people miss in dealing with Montreal’s transit system is that it is not destination oriented in the slightest. Almost every bus route is a “goes all over the place” deal, often missing the key concepts along the way.

        You’re talking about the West-Island? Well, it’s because the density is so low, there cannot be a high number of bus lines so they have to sweep the largest area possible.

        Except for the 747, there is no bus in Montreal that goes directly from a metro station to the airport.

        There are plans for an airport bus line to go to Du Collège.

        Why? Most people end up doing the 202 – 204 shuffle, having just ridden past the airport. It’s pretty mindless.

        The whole West-Island transit is a joke, thanks to the ’burbs there being very low-density and the politicians not really wanting service.

        It’s things like this that end up making taking your car and dealing with traffic much more attractive than taking public transit.

        With less lanes available to autos, thanks to reserved bus lanes and eventually streetcar lines, driving a car will soon no longer be so attractive, which is the whole idea.

        Reply
        1. Dilbert

          “The idea is, of course, not to run the streetcars along with other traffic. The space used by the streetcar line will not be available for traffic, the idea being to discourage the use of automobiles.”

          You will never get people to stop using cars by forcing them onto poor public transit. Public transit only wins when it’s as good or better an option than taking the car. Slowing traffic down until public transit looks better doesn’t really advance anything, does it? If you take my half hour downtown car ride and slow it down until it takes an hour and a half, it won’t make me like the hour and fifteen public transit ride any more than that.

          “With less lanes available to autos, thanks to reserved bus lanes and eventually streetcar lines, driving a car will soon no longer be so attractive, which is the whole idea.”

          Why not just declare all the roads “bus only”, and call it done?

          Reply
          1. Fagstein Post author

            If you take my half hour downtown car ride and slow it down until it takes an hour and a half, it won’t make me like the hour and fifteen public transit ride any more than that.

            I’d be willing to bet that if public transit was noticeably and consistently faster than taking cars, more people would change. They’d complain, and some would stick with their cars because they need their cars for work, but it would make a big difference.

            Reply
            1. emdx

              The 9 to 5 (or 7 to 3) prole does not need a car.

              Furthermore, if someone needs a car for his work, the car should be fully paid for the employer (and if the employee takes it home, he should be charged for the use).

              I dunno if it’s still the case, but back then, if you used your personal car for work and got in an accident, there were insurance policies that would deny paying for the damage, because the car was insured as a personal vehicle, not a commercial one.

              Reply
              1. Fagstein Post author

                if someone needs a car for his work, the car should be fully paid for the employer (and if the employee takes it home, he should be charged for the use).

                Most people who use their cars for work do have the cars paid for, at least in part. As for paying to take it home, that’s kind of ridiculous. Most arrangements involve shared use of the car for personal and business purposes. And many people who need their car for work are small businesses.

            2. Dilbert

              “I’d be willing to bet that if public transit was noticeably and consistently faster than taking cars, more people would change. ”

              Yes, but if you have to specifically hobble the road network to accomplish the goal, it’s a net failure.

              Think about it – what is the negative effect, economically and socially, if people spend an extra 2 hours a day commuting? You have incredible amounts of time wasted, you have families who spend longer apart, and less time for the individual to recover from work and sleep. Remember, that means up and hour earlier and home an hour later every day.

              Do you really, honestly think that is a good solution?

              Public transit wins when it gets BETTER than the car option by being better, not by makes cars seem worse. People in the cars will remember how it was, and they won’t change quickly at all. They are much more likely to push back in elections to put in people who would reverse the Luddite mentality that took two hours a day away from them.

              It’s not a winning argument Steve – making the roads worse just to make public transit look better is a failure concept.

              Reply
              1. Fagstein Post author

                if you have to specifically hobble the road network to accomplish the goal, it’s a net failure.

                Okay then, let’s not hobble the road network.

    2. Christopher

      I don’t really see the point of extending a tramway to Pointe-aux-Trembles. We are well served by 3 express bus lines at rush hour that all terminate at the Honoré-Beaugrand metro station.

      Outside of rush hour, there are still at least 3 bus lines serving my immediate neighborhood and I know there are more that serve other parts of PAT and Montreal East.

      Having a tramway would certainly increase the volume of passengers one could shuttle to the metro station but would do nothing to increase the speed at which they could reach the metro which currently stands at somehwere between 10 and 15 minutes coming from Sherbrooke and Tricentenaire (completely dependent on the volume of traffic on Sherbrooke)

      Since I don’t see a big need to increase passenger volume and since a tramway to PAT would do nothing to decrease travel time to the metro, I don’t see the capital cost of a tramway to PAT making any sense.

      A Metro to Galleries d’Anjou (via St-Leonard) on the other hand makes a lot of sense. They have a lot of population density and they are a straight line from the terminus at St-Michel along Jean-Talon.

      Galleries d’Anjou is both a source (many highrise condos) and a destination (possibly the nicest shopping mall on the island). Jean-Talon and Lacordaire is also very densely populated with many highrise condos and all of the multiplexes surrounding that which is very common in St-Leonard. Viau and Jean-Talon has the same mix of highrise condos and multiplexes.

      Another thing that hasn’t been mentioned when talking about transit in West Island vs. the East is the fact that the West Island has 2 autoroutes going east-west. The east only has the 40. In the east, if we want to go downtown by car, we have to go all the way up to the 40 to the Decarie and back down or we have to take Notre-Dame (which is not an autoroute) Having more of the metro system in the east probably balances that out a bit.

      Reply
  17. emdx

    I don’t really see the point of extending a tramway to Pointe-aux-Trembles. We are well served by 3 express bus lines at rush hour that all terminate at the Honoré-Beaugrand metro station.

    It’s not only for the east of Montréal, but also for people coming from further out; buses from Repentigny and Lanoraie could bring people to the Métro; that will remove buses from the road and make them available to better the services to outlying areas, making car use even less attractive.

    Outside of rush hour, there are still at least 3 bus lines serving my immediate neighborhood and I know there are more that serve other parts of PAT and Montreal East.

    It’s not only your own immediate neighbourhood, but the rest of the east-island.

    Having a tramway would certainly increase the volume of passengers one could shuttle to the metro station but would do nothing to increase the speed at which they could reach the metro which currently stands at somehwere between 10 and 15 minutes coming from Sherbrooke and Tricentenaire (completely dependent on the volume of traffic on Sherbrooke)

    The streetcar would not be dependent at all on the volume on Sherbrooke, as it would be totally off-street.

    Since I don’t see a big need to increase passenger volume and since a tramway to PAT would do nothing to decrease travel time to the metro, I don’t see the capital cost of a tramway to PAT making any sense.

    Well, it was planned in the early 80’s.

    A Metro to Galleries d’Anjou (via St-Leonard) on the other hand makes a lot of sense. They have a lot of population density and they are a straight line from the terminus at St-Michel along Jean-Talon.

    Nowhere outside of the downtown core there is enough density to justify a subway.

    As it happens, the proper thing that should have been done 50 years ago was to revamp the streetcar system with underground tunnels in the downtown core, just as I describe it right here.

    Galleries d’Anjou is both a source (many highrise condos) and a destination (possibly the nicest shopping mall on the island). Jean-Talon and Lacordaire is also very densely populated with many highrise condos and all of the multiplexes surrounding that which is very common in St-Leonard. Viau and Jean-Talon has the same mix of highrise condos and multiplexes.

    Still not as much people as in the downtown core.

    Another thing that hasn’t been mentioned when talking about transit in West Island vs. the East is the fact that the West Island has 2 autoroutes going east-west. The east only has the 40. In the east, if we want to go downtown by car, we have to go all the way up to the 40 to the Decarie and back down or we have to take Notre-Dame (which is not an autoroute) Having more of the metro system in the east probably balances that out a bit.

    So, in other words, the poor plebes out east should eat cake, while the rich west-islanders sell them the cake and eat it, too???

    Reply
    1. Paul C

      Yes but what about the poor west-islanders? In my eastern Dorval/ western Lachine neighborhood most people are forced drive 15 year old junker cars because we don’t have much money and the commute downtown is over 1 hour. The 211 completely skips over this area via highway 20.

      Reply
      1. Fagstein Post author

        Yes but what about the poor west-islanders? In my eastern Dorval/ western Lachine neighborhood most people are forced drive 15 year old junker cars because we don’t have much money and the commute downtown is over 1 hour.

        According to Google Maps, the trip time from the area you describe is actually just under one hour (and it involves going to Dorval station and taking the 211). Conversely, the trip by car is 25 minutes, but that assumes no traffic. During rush hour that’s probably closer to the trip by bus, and that doesn’t include finding parking.

        Reply
      2. CedarPark

        In rush hour, why not take the train from Lachine? It is right there in western Lachine and far quicker than any car or bus, 18 minutes from Lucien L’Allier, and 12 minutes from Vendome.

        The 211 is ok outside rush hour, but it pales in comparison to the commuter trains which carry as many or even more people in rush hour than autoroute 20 next to it (do the math: 1 car per second = 3600 cars per hour, vs. 4 trains per hour each carrying around 1000-1300 people).

        Reply
  18. Dilbert

    Another concept might be that rather than extending the blue line, it might be much better to have a line that goes north / south from say station Radisson, with one end terminating in just barely into the South Shore (Boucherville industrial park near Marie Victorin) and the other side terminating just over in the Laval side? At both terminus areas, build reasonable amounts of parking and bus terminals, and change the very basic traffic patterns that get people to and from the city.

    Oh, and yes, the line could very easily have a stop at Galleries D’Anjou.

    It would also allow for a nice bus terminal point for east west travellers in the north and east of the city, and could certainly encourage residential and commercial activity in the area, while helping to tie the areas together into the city rather than being just far flung burbs.

    Running a second line parallel less than 2 kms from an existing line and paying out the ass for it seems, well, silly!

    Reply
  19. Christopher

    It’s not only for the east of Montréal, but also for people coming from further out; buses from Repentigny and Lanoraie could bring people to the Métro; that will remove buses from the road and make them available to better the services to outlying areas, making car use even less attractive.

    I don’t really understand your context here. Buses already bring in people from Repentigny, Lanoraie, etc. and are dropping them at the Honoré-Beaugrand and Radisson metro stations. I would think that would be more convenient for buses in many cases to drop people at a future Galleries d’Anjou metro station (adjacent to the 40 and 25).

    The streetcar would not be dependent at all on the volume on Sherbrooke, as it would be totally off-street.

    Unless you want to build a corridor through one of the oil refineries, there are no other throughways connecting PAT to the (metro enabled) city other than Sherbrooke, Notre Dame and the 40.

    Building a dedicated streetcar “lane” on Sherbrooke or Notre Dame would be quite tricky. It would have to be something like what was once proposed for Av. du Parc. I’m trying to think of real life “off-street” streetcar lines that I have used. Would it be comparable to something like the Bathurst line in Toronto?

    Reply
  20. Stewart Clamen

    The Blue Line doesn’t go Downtown; it just feeds into an overcrowded Orange Line.

    How about extending the Green Line to Galeries d’Anjou?

    Reply
  21. Jamie D

    I live in St Michel and I’m an Anglophone, and work in Ville Saint Laurent and the West Island.

    Personally I think it is a ridiculous idea to extend the blue line further East for that amount of money, there is already a Green line which goes far East, a Blue line to St Michel, and soon an AMT line to Mascouche.
    There is plenty of options for residents in the East.

    While I think a Metro to Fairview is a ridiculous amount of money also, I’d rather the money be spent on more bus routes/frequency in the west, and fixing of the rail lines.
    Just about every bus in the West during peak hours is completely full and rarely running on time.

    Reply
  22. Adam

    A bit of a necro post here, but I thought I’d chime in. As much as I’ve dreamed of metro service to the west island for many years, I realize that it’s completely unfeasible. We don’t really need it, though, as you point out. We’ve already got commuter rail service in place, which could theoretically deliver most of the benefits of a metro extension.

    The problem is the schedule. Want to take a train to the West Island on a Sunday? Service only runs between 1:30PM and 8PM, shutting down at 6:45PM in the other direction, with up to a mind boggling 4 hours between trains. We don’t even need service every 20 minutes off-peak (as nice as that would be); even committing to service every 60 minutes off-peak for a reasonable span of the day would be appreciated. Unfortunately, something as basic as 60 minute service for a 16 hour window on Sunday would represent a 533% increase in trains, and that just doesn’t seem likely.

    Yes, it’s not entirely the AMT’s fault. They don’t own the tracks, and they don’t have the money to do anything about that. The blame falls squarely on the provincial government, regardless of party. They’re the ones who control the AMT budget, and they have the authority to get the project done. The estimates put the cost at something like one third of that of the blue line extension, and there is also potential for integrating that with the airport shuttle (perhaps via a spur) at a relatively minimal cost.

    Unfortunately, it seems like we’ll not see any progress in any of this for some time to come.

    Reply
  23. Michael

    Where are the blue line extensions beyond Snowdon that we were promised 40 years ago? 4 stops west of Snowdon: Côte Saint-Luc, Cavendish, Montréal-Ouest, Lafleur (their original names).

    NDG: 60k pop
    CSL: 30k pop
    Hampstead: 7k pop
    Montreal-West/Ville St Pierre: 9k pop

    Over 100,000 people could be served by these metro stations. The 10 minute max 51 and 105 could have their ridership loads decreased and the service on these bus routes would improve, as more people take the metro to downtown instead of the bus. The amount of times a packed 105 has just driven right by me during the morning rush hour is unacceptable. As it stands now NDG is hardly served by the Metro, 2 metro stations exist on the extreme eastern border of NDG, on the right side of the decarie. Most NDG residents take the bus to these metros, because they’re not within walking distance. If you live on the other side of the decarie autoroute its not worth it to walk across to vendome, or villa for that matter.

    In my opinion these are the metro extensions montreal most badly needs:

    Expansion of the Blue line in both directions. West to Montreal-West and East to Galleries d’Anjou. Extension of the yellow line, to St-Laurent and to run under Parc avenue, up until Parc station or under St-Laurent and terminate at De Castelnau. This would ease the congestion problem on the Orange line between Jean-Talon and Berri-UQAM. Another possibility would be a new line under Pie-IX to link the newly expanded Blue line with the Green line. These new metro stations and lines would eliminate or reduce the number of buses needed on the following 10 minute max bus lines: 51, 105 (blue W extension), 141 (blue E extension), 80 (yellow extension) and 139 bus that runs along Pie-IX boulevard.

    http://i.imgur.com/gRsEfFU.png (close approximation of the line extensions drawn in paint, with the fictional Pie-IX line in purple)

    Seeing as the AMT has approved the construction of a 1/2 billion dollar BRT monstrosity on Pie-IX boulevard the chances of that artery ever seeing an underground rapid transit line are next to none. We are not in South America, why are we wasting resources on an over-priced surface route that isn’t grade separated and has lower acceleration and top speed than a metro? This farce of a BRT means that the precious little money in Quebec that isn’t greasing hands will not make it to Metro planning committees.

    The AMT and the STM want to extend the Metro into the suburbs, instead of building upon the existing commuter rail network and increasing the density of metro coverage in the urban core. The appalling state of transport in city compels me to move somewhere in the world where public transport is taken seriously- and corruption is not such a major factor. Perhaps a nice metropolis in Europe.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Where are the blue line extensions beyond Snowdon that we were promised 40 years ago?

      The same place all the other metro extensions dreamed about 40 years ago are.

      We are not in South America, why are we wasting resources on an over-priced surface route that isn’t grade separated and has lower acceleration and top speed than a metro?

      Because it’s a lot less expensive than an underground subway line serving that same route.

      The AMT and the STM want to extend the Metro into the suburbs, instead of building upon the existing commuter rail network and increasing the density of metro coverage in the urban core.

      Unless you consider a possible yellow line extension further into Longueuil as “the suburbs”, I don’t think that’s true. And the AMT (an organization that’s not going to exist soon) is most certainly in favour of expanding commuter rail, particularly in the southern West Island.

      Reply
      1. Michael

        Studies have shown that Bus Rapid Transit does not take people out of cars. It doesn’t attract new ridership like rail connections do. The people taking the Pie-IX BRT will be in large the same people taking the 139 now, which is one of the few articulated bus routes in Montreal. Also the BRT costs half a billion dollars making it as expensive as a short subway extension. And yes I do consider both the north shore and south shore to be the suburbs. They are not apart of the urban territory of Montreal. The AMT should focus on buying more rolling stock and increasing frenquency of service to boost ridership while the STM and the Ministry of Transport invest in expanding the Montreal Metro, in Montreal. The yellow line is perfectly poised to provide a relief line to the orange Jean-Talon/Berri corridor. The 80 which services Parc Boulevard is also one of the other few articulated bus routes on the island.

        Reply
    2. Marc

      Based on population density, there’s no justifiction to bore tunnels west of Decarie. A light rail/surface route up to YUL is within the cards, though. But that’s not for our lifetimes.

      Reply
      1. Michael

        So what you’re saying is that NDG has lower population density than Laval and the South Shore? That’s simply not true. The ridership levels that a blue line extension westward would garner are more than enough to justify it.

        Speaking of light rail, the AMT needs to construct its own railways tracks for use on the Vaudreuil commuter rail line. The frequency of that service is appalling and a major impediment to ridership.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          So what you’re saying is that NDG has lower population density than Laval and the South Shore?

          No, what he’s saying is that NDG has lower population density than St-Michel and St-Léonard, which is true. Also, a blue line extension eastward would take transfers from people in Montreal North and Rivière des Prairies, while a westward blue line extension wouldn’t really serve anyone beyond N.D.G., Hampstead, Côte-St-Luc and Montreal West, at least until better links are created to the north and south.

          Reply
    3. Dilbert

      There is pretty much a solid case against building surface transport in Canada, and especially in Quebec. You only have to look at things like the Metropolitain to understand how quickly concrete can deteriorate in Montreal and you will know why light rail surface transport is not a very good option. Nor for that matter is an elevated / raised trestle concept, as it would have to be entirely rebuilt about every 20 years. You also have to deal with the visual pollution of having a train line running through the middle of an area, especially if it’s running a metro style train every 5 minutes each way.

      Oh yeah, not to forget that the Metro’s trains are NOT made to be outdoors, so that any new outdoor or exposed system would require yet another type of train to maintain. Already there are enough problems without adding more!

      Sadly, construction in Quebec is also burdened by corruption, price fixing, insane overruns. and crony captialism that means that it costs more to build in Quebec than almost anywhere on the planet. It’s why we can’t have nice things.

      Reply
      1. Michael

        I agree with you that surface light rail is useless (North American cities are spread out and face adverse weather conditions in the winter. The proper vehicle for this challenge is commuter heavy rail. Big, powerful locomotives tugging a dozen double decker passenger cars is a much more efficient method of transportation than light rail.) I wish more suburbanites would take the commuter rail so our network of trains could more like Sydney’s or Chicago’s. But nonetheless do you really feel elevated rail is an eyesore? Its an aesthetic component in any urban environment its present in. The Vancouver SkyTrain or the classic Chicago and New York EL look amazing I find. On steel wheels they are a bit noisy but you didn’t even make that complaint.

        Reply

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