Prochaine station … oh who cares?

With the Laval metro stations up and running, some young angryphones are griping about the lack of metro service in the West Island. Having spent 20 years of my life in Pierrefonds, and five of those regularly commuting downtown, I sympathize.

But there’s a good reason why the metro won’t be extended West from where it is now:Metro extension

That’s 10 km of mostly wasted tunnel travelling under uninhabited areas including the Taschereau rail yards, two highways, the Lachine industrial park and an airport runway.

At a cost of $150,000,000 per kilometre, the price of this extension to the airport terminal would cost about $1.5 billion.

Okay, you say, that’s big, but we can afford it, right?

Well, do you have $6,000 to spare? That’s how much each West Islander would have to pay the government to make this a reality.

Consider some alternatives, if you will, for that $1.5 billion:

  • Add 100 buses to the STM’s network for shuttle service to downtown points from various locations (Dorval, Fairview, Roxboro), and keep them running seven days a week for 40 years.
  • Create a high-speed rail link to Dorval airport and increase commuter train service on the Dorion-Rigaud line.
  • Multiply existing commuter train service 100-fold for 100 years.

My solution to this problem? Unsurprisingly, it involves increased commuter train and bus service to the West Island.

The 211 bus running along Lakeshore is insanely popular among southern West Islanders, because it’s a 7-day regular service bus that’s an express shuttle downtown. On the northern West Island, which is much worse served (except for commuter trains to Roxboro), the 470 Express Pierrefonds provides shuttle service from Fairview to Côte-Vertu, but only during rush-hour. Having an all-day shuttle from Fairview to the metro would save commuters as much as 20 minutes per trip.

I’m sure you can think of other express shuttle services that would serve the West Island well. And all of them put together would cost much less than extending metro service here.

UPDATE: More metro dreaming in this post, with maps.

17 thoughts on “Prochaine station … oh who cares?

  1. Josh

    Okay, but is there any reason this extension couldn’t run through NDG to Loyola, and then beyond, at least through the more densely-populated parts of Lachine (which, in my limited experience, are rather urban-seeming)? It wouldn’t have to be a straight line of useless tunnel from Snowdon to the airport.

    I’m not saying that a metro extension to the West Island would necessarily be a good idea, but neither do I think it’s necessarily as bad as you might have us believe.

  2. Fagstein Post author

    That’s certainly possible, but it would cost more. Running it through Lachine would probably make it cost double what it is now (mind you, if you’re going to run it that far south, you might as well extend the green line instead of the blue).

    In any case, let’s start with improved bus service first and then see how many people think an express shuttle isn’t fast enough for them.

  3. Josh

    If I were extending metros anyway, I would still go with the blue line because it’d give the blue line a bit more purpose, haha.

    If you were to extend the metro *somewhere* where would you go with it? Do any of the schemes that have been proposed in the last ten years or so make sense to you? (Blue line to Anjou, yellow line to McGill, yellow line deeper into the South Shore… any that I’m forgetting?)

  4. Fagstein Post author

    The blue line Eastward is definitely a good idea, and studies have shown that. Of course, because the voters in that area aren’t as swingable as those in Laval, it will probably be delayed for quite a while longer.

    I would also be OK extending the blue line West into NDG somewhat, since a lot of people live there, but not further West than that.

    The orange line at Cote-Vertu could be extended a bit further north, perhaps to Henri-Bourassa and the Bois Franc train station.

    The green line could be extended westward into LaSalle along Newman Blvd. (On the East side, it ends just before Montreal-Est, an industrial area that won’t be well served my metros)

    The reason I give the above extensions is that they’ve already shown to be high-traffic through the use of buses in those areas (64, 105, 106 etc.), and the metro would be transferring existing customers to a faster service.

    The yellow line is a strange case. An extension to McGill would have as its sole purpose to reduce traffic on the green line at rush hour. Creating a new tunnel for that purpose seems like a waste to me. On the other side, there’s already a huge terminal at Longueuil, and I don’t see any obvious place it should be extended further.

  5. Adrian

    I take issue with the comment that I am a “angryphone griping”…I am far from that the label…Anyway, the point of my post was to merely point out that it doesn’t make sense that Dorval, the International Airport is not connected to the main transport system of the city. I personally don’t see the point of a high speed train. And yes such plans for a metro are expensive, but to me, it’s an investment worth making. It serves a dual purpose of joining other “major” cities that connect their metros to the International Airport and the fact it will promote public transport. I know it will never happen, but it should be at least be examined as an option…..before it gets even more expensive!

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  8. Samir Metta

    So, what’s wrong with the 1.5 billion blue line project? The government spent almost 9 million dollars last year on Laval’s subway (which was supposed to be 3 million dollars due to some bad designed rail constructions). Projects like those don’t come only from people’s taxes. It comes from company taxes and loans from banks (which is also companies and people’s money).

  9. Samir Metta

    Sorry 900 million$ and 300 million$ (not 9 million$ and 3 million$). Sorry to be very late on my mistake.

  10. Samir Metta

    For me the lines I would are the ones that should have been done in the 90’s but put in momentum (which Line-7 (white line) all the way along Pie-IX Blvd., Line-5 (blue) from N-D-G to Anjou, Line-3 and Line-6 (which were never mentionned anywhere but guess why there are missing line numbers) which is the red line from Côte Vertu to Henri-Bourassa and magenta line from Lionel-Groulx to Brossard’s Panama’s actual bus station and, finally, the full circle of Line-2 (orange) going to Carrefour Laval as a closure point).

    I don’t know if it’s either the government or the businesses that are afraid of subway stations near their mall (examples: Carrefour Angrignon, Carrefour Laval, Place Vertu, Mail Champlain, etc…), but bottom line: it makes me sick that subway lines aren’t updated since 1988.

  11. Fagstein Post author

    Line 3 was originally supposed to be a line through the Mount Royal tunnel along what is now the Montreal-Deux-Montagnes train line.

    And I don’t think it’s that politicians don’t want subway stations near malls (the mall owners would no doubt love that just like the ones in the underground city are happy that there are metro stations nearby), but rather that huge malls are build in undeveloped areas that aren’t prime targets for metro stations.

  12. Marc

    Adrian: I’m just as frustrated at you are at the lack of subway service to YUL airport. I’ve been so for over 20 years. However, with the airline industry currently in turmoil, and that YUL will very likely no longer be considered an international gateway by 2020 at the latest due to a lack of expansion space, there isn’t much point in spending a boatload (actually, two boatloads because this is Quebec) of money on a metro extension. It’s still far too much of an Air Canada airport. So unless something like Pearson’s new terminal happens at YUL, I wouldn’t expect airport metro service.

  13. Samir Metta

    Oh Thanks Fagstein for the correction. So I guess so I guess Line-6 is Cote-Vertu to Henri-Bourassa? I know it was supposed to be on the north shore (from west to east).

    1. Fagstein Post author

      but they could extend metro one stop westward in St. Laurent, set up a bus dept,

      Since there’s already a bus terminus at Côte-Vertu, it would be crazy expensive to tear it down and build another one a few blocks away. And what purpose would that serve?

      Right now the plan is to have the orange line extend to the Bois-Franc train station for the benefit of northern West Islanders. But the bus terminal would remain at Côte-Vertu.

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