Michel Labrecque, who chairs the board of the STM (and ostensibly represents its users on that board, though try to find some way to reach him on the STM’s website), did a little live Q&A on the STM’s website on June 14. He got asked some interesting questions and gave some interesting answers.
I’ve summarized a few interesting bits he said below, mainly about stuff that’s happening down the line (2014 looks to be a pretty busy year for them):
- Replacement of the other half of the metro fleet (the MR-73 trains that run on the blue and orange lines) is set to begin at the end of the decade. The first set of new cars to replace the older MR-63s are to arrive in 2014.
- Labrecque isn’t very interested in the idea of maritime shuttles to the south shore. Too impractical, he says.
- Studies are in progress to determine the placement of stations on an eastern extension of the blue line, but it will follow Jean-Talon St. until the Galeries d’Anjou.
- On an eventual rapid transit system on Pie-IX Blvd. (starting in 2014), boarding of buses will happen on all three doors for people with passes, as is done in other cities. The STM is studying using such a system on other high-traffic routes as well.
- As automated machines handle more duties previously done by metro booth employees, they will be doing more duties of a customer service nature and be more in contact with users.
- Real-time bus data is expected to start working in 2014.
- The orange line could have as many as 40 work sites operating in the four hours a night the metro is not in service, doing repairs and maintenance.
“employees … will be doing more duties of a customer service nature and be more in contact with users”
Can we get machines doing those things, too? They’re friendlier.
What about a larger metro extension?
What do you mean by larger?
Perhaps extending to the west? The STM absolutely refuses to consider extensions to the west, despite the fact it is desperately needed. Ever try taking the 105 bus along Sherbrooke? There are already tunnel tracks running from the Snowdon station into Hampstead (used for backing up trains), it wouldn’t take much to add a line that runs through Hampstead, Cote St. Luc and NDG. Better yet, imagine a subway extension that runs into isolated areas like DDO, or out to Point Claire and Dorval, and building a link between Montreal’s airport and downtown!
It is all about politics however. Not costs, not feasibility, not lack of necessity…just pettiness. The west island is heavily ENGLISH populated, and the STM may as well be an off shoot of the Parti Quebecois the way they act (if you think I’m sounding ridiculous, look at recent stories: bus driver calls police because someone spoke English, the incident with the 12 year old girl, or the Montreal Impact player who was told he cannot use the subway if he cannot speak French. Countless other stories, too numerous to mention).
More that westward expansion isn’t a priority. It isn’t “desperately needed” compared to other needs. And the eastern part of the island the blue line would extend to is simply more dense.
To add even one station would require building more tracks, because those trains would still need to be able to turn around. Adding a line through Hampstead and NDG would require the same effort and expenses as extending the blue line east to Anjou.
Why would you want a subway to run to isolated areas? It would cost billions of dollars and serve maybe a few thousand people.
I won’t pretend politics aren’t a consideration here. There’s a reason Laval and Longueuil are each promised an extension. But the main issue with extending the metro to the West Island isn’t politics, it’s geography. There’s simply too much empty and near-empty space (airport runways, train yards, industrial parks) between downtown and the West Island to make a metro extension there make any sense.
Even West Island mayors aren’t calling for the metro to be extended there. They prefer a much more economical and practical commuter train.
This talk I hear of extending the Metro to the West Island is complete, unmitigated nonsense. Delude yourself all you want, but the population density just isn’t there. There have been train tracks (along the 20) for 150+ years, use them! Only surface rapid transit is justified outside the city core, aka. west of NDG.
And as for the politics of transit with respect to the West Island:
If the PLQ was a gang of animal torturers and child molesters, they’d still get near-unanimous support from that area. It’s perfectly understandable why the Liberals don’t give a damn; the support is already in the bag! They don’t have to do anything, nada, zip, zero in terms of effort to win votes. The Parti Québecois knows full well they’ll never, ever get any support from the west island, so why should they bother.
For many years it’s been the same crap; a series of twisty, slow buses (201, 203, 208) that go seemingly nowhwere. Combined with a few overcrowded “express” bus routes, a largely rush hour-only train and all the NIMBYism, and you’ve got a recipe for street after street of three-car households.
Also, let’s face it; until 1981 there was no transit service whatsoever west of the airport on the south end, and nothing west of Saraguay woods on the north end.
If the West Island really wanted plentiful, frequent transit service, they’d have had it ages ago. If there is to be a glimmer of hope, then the ridings of Jacques-Cartier, Nelligan, and Robert-Baldwin need to vote A.B.L. That would send a message the party will (hopefully) take note of.
Those are local buses, they go to where people live. The 201 is a loop, and is the primary bus serving St. Charles Blvd. The 203 is the only bus that serves Lakeshore Hospital. They might not be useful to you, but people take them and have for decades.
They’re getting it now, no? The 470, 411, 485, 405, 468, 465 – all express buses serving the West Island. It’s never going to be what you can get on Park Ave. downtown, but is it really that awful? What is it missing?
NIMBY == Not in my backyard
Not really. The west is already served by two commuter train lines, and, in any case, there is absolutely not enough density to warrant extending the Métro there.
The most smarterest thing to do in the west would be to add more commuter trains; an easy done thing on the CPR line, but more problematic on the CN, thanks to the silly bottleneck of the Val-Royal_Roxboro section. Granted, one would need a environmental assessment study for the Bois de Liesse, but the line is already double-tracked all the way to a bit past Saraguay (in fact, autoroute 13); one would only need to add the wire and a switch.
Besides, the West-Island does not really want transit (see below).
Montréal-Ouest, Hampsted and Côte-St-Luc were adamant in refusing Métro stations. Westmount turned one down, as well (the Westmount station, which would have been at Victoria & Ste-Catherine, was replaced by Vendôme, causing the Décarie station (near the Queen Elizabeth hospital) to be scratched, causing an operating nightmare for the STM to bring buses from Maisonneuve to Sherbrooke without disturbing the rich people who live there), alleging that this would bring down their “quality” of life, by introducing unsavoury characters of the like of those who cannot afford cars.
Likewise, the West-Island refused any kind of service for 10 years after the creation of the MUC, and when service finally came there, it was a pitiful patchwork of woefully inadequate bus lines (can you imagine? Bus 209 ran from Côte-De-Liesse and 55th avenue, and went to Dorval airport. How can something be that utter useless and designed to make people hate transit?).
At about $300 million per kilometer, you’re talking about 2.4 billion dollars for Dollard-des-Ormeaux. And will you want to sit for 45 minutes in a subway car, blankly staring at the tunnel wall? I don’t think so. Even though I appear to be a subway freak, I avoid taking the subway whenever I have the time and opportunity.
A better alternative to fill the voids commuter trains don’t are streetcars. One could run on Henri-Bourassa (from the namesake subway station) west all the way to St-Charles via Brunswick, then south on St-Charles to Beaconsfield station: http://emdx.org/rail/metro/Images/TramBeaconsfield.gif .
Another on Pierrefonds from the Roxboro train station all the way to St-Jean, then down to Beaconsfield station via Lakeshore: http://emdx.org/rail/metro/Images/TramPointeClaire.gif
Then you could link Roxboro station to Dorval station via Des Sources and Cardinal: http://emdx.org/rail/metro/Images/TramDesSources.gif
Dorval station then could be linked to Angrignon via Bouchard/Victoria/Lafleur & Newman: http://emdx.org/rail/metro/Images/TramLachine.gif
And lastly, another line could serve St-Laurent, Côte-st-Luc & Notre-Dame-de-Grâce from Henri-Bourassa, via Thimens/Poirier/Cavendish onwards to Villa-Maria (not Vendôme, because it is choking with buses already).
The last thing the west island needs is a Métro, it just needs more commuter trains and streetcars.
It’s the low-density suburb, stupid. Which causes the preponderance of cars that choke the 2-20 and the 40. The french suburbs are just as choked as the west-island is.
And it’s not his business either, it’s the AMT’s.
That’s silly; it would make more sense to go up Pie-IX to Montréal-Nord, the area along Jean-Talon is already served by Line 1 on Sherbrooke.
It should be on every single bus that runs. They just need to add a card reader on the back door (cash fares and tickets by the front door, please). The law has been changed almost 10 years ago to allow an europan-style honour system with spot checks (how many times have you been spot-checked in a bus here??? I’ve seen it only once, and I wasn’t even controlled as I came aboard at the same time as the inspectors), so there is no reason not to do it.