Tag Archives: Longueuil

TRAM 3 at Longueuil: Right decision for the wrong reason

This morning, apparently, the Montreal Metropolitan Community (which coordinates issues affecting Montreal and its suburbs) decided that, beginning in July, the Longueuil metro station would be subjected to the same fare rules as those in Laval: Montreal passes would not be accepted, and users would instead need a TRAM 3 multi-zone pass to enter the station.

The news came out not through the STM or the MMC, but via Longueuil mayor Caroline St-Hilaire, who sent out a press release expressing her outrage:

“Je ne peux pas et je ne vais pas cautionner ça!”, a déclaré Caroline St-Hilaire, en indiquant que toutes les dispositions nécessaires seront prises pour que l’entente signée et valide jusqu’en décembre 2011 soit respectée.

This led to stories at Radio-CanadaCyberpresse and Rue Frontenac, which follow the narrative St-Hilaire has created. Metro goes a bit further, adding that about a quarter of people who use the Longueuil metro use the $70 CAM instead of the $111 TRAM 3. (UPDATE: The STM’s Odile Paradis says it’s more like 15% of users, or 3,000 to 4,000 people.) The TRAM 3 gives access to the Réseau de transport de Longueuil bus network and the Agence métropolitaine de transport’s commuter trains in Longueuil.

Why this change? Well, it makes sense, especially considering what’s going on in Laval. The AMT has established zones for transit that crosses into multiple territories, and Longueuil is clearly in Zone 3. The fact that it accepts CAMs just like the rest of the STM network is more historical than anything. That’s just the way it’s been.

Even St-Hilaire accepted, it seems, that this would eventually change after 2011. But she’s mad that Montreal and the STM appear to have gone back on their word and is doing this ahead of schedule.

(The Parti Québécois, meanwhile, jumps on an opportunity to pander to suburban voters and demands that government step in to not only reverse the decision but to reduce the fares for Laval users as well.)

This is happening, St-Hilaire says, because of Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt, who is refusing to pay for Laval’s share of the taxpayer cost of the metro because he feels his city is being discriminated against. So he decided to take the transit system hostage until Montreal acquiesced to his demand that Longueuil be treated the same as the Laval stations.

Ironically, while this decision would theoretically mean that Laval will start paying its share, the release also says that Longueuil will refuse to pay its share for the metro until further notice.

Vaillancourt, meanwhile, says his city will now start paying its share of the STM’s metro deficit, but it won’t pay retroactively for the years that Laval paid more and Longueuil paid less.

This is absolutely ridiculous. These mayors are all acting like children, and apparently no adult is either able or willing to step in. Instead of suing Laval so the city lives up to its contract, or having the provincial government step in and order them to respect their agreement, everyone is acting as if Vaillancourt has a legitimate bargaining chip in his hand and is bending over.

Can I start refusing to hand over tax money until I get free pizza delivered to my apartment?

Still a good idea

If St-Hilaire is right and there is an agreement until 2011, then the decision should be overturned and postponed until then. But requiring a TRAM 3 pass at Longueuil just makes sense.

The people who will be affected by the change are people who don’t use the RTL bus network, either because they live near the metro station (a tiny minority) or because they drive to it in their cars. We’re talking about 3-4,000 people, including those who park in the 2,370 parking spaces outside the Longueuil metro. And to park there, they have to pay about $100 a month in parking fees. In other words, if they’re taking the bus from home and using a TRAM 3, they will pay significantly less ($111) than they did parking at the Longueuil metro and using a CAM to get into the station ($170). Less convenient, but cheaper.

Perhaps there’s a group of people I haven’t considered who would be driven into bankruptcy by this decision, but I can’t imagine they will be a large number.

Of course, St-Hilaire loses nothing by taking the stand she takes. Longueuil people like to use their cars, and they like not having to pay for things if they can get away with it. Just like everyone else.

It’s time for Longueuil to realize that it is a suburb, and transit is more expensive there because of that. And it’s time for politicians in all three cities to realize that holding your breath and screaming “NO NO NO!” is not a valid negotiation tactic.

At least, I desperately hope it’s not.

UPDATE (Feb. 5): Nathalie Collard of La Presse agrees that this is silly, as does Projet Montréal, which suggests reducing the number of trains going to Laval and Longueuil.

La Presse also has a vox pop on the subject, and you can imagine what the opinion of the populace is.

UPDATE (Feb. 10): A Facebook group has started up.


Média Sud was launched in 2008 as a joint project between community newspaper Point Sud and community radio station FM 103.3 (CHAA), both serving the South Shore community. It provided much-needed coverage of local news for those communities, who are otherwise underserved by large Montreal papers who focus on the island and Transcontinental-owned community papers that are little more than press releases and advertisements.

That partnership has broken down in recent weeks, with both sides fighting over control of the website. The battle appears to have been won by the newspaper (which literally took control of the website and denied the radio station access), and the story on Média Sud (and audio news update) makes it out to be a victory for goodness and puppies and such against the evils of community radio. The story by Quebecor weekly Brossard Éclair paints a much different story, with the radio station as the victim.

The conflict appears to have grown out of financial problems at the media website, even though it’s heavily funded by the city of Longueuil and the Quebec government, something The Gazette pointed out last year might hurt its objectivity.

Now that Point Sud has won the battle, let’s hope it can win the war to keep Média Sud alive.

Suburbs have too much transit clout

Proposed extensions to Orange, Blue and Yellow lines

Proposed extensions to Orange, Blue and Yellow lines

This week, La Presse came out with the news that the mayors of Montreal, Laval and Longueuil have joined forces to suggest to the Quebec government that proposed metro extensions in their cities be acted on simultaneously.

Because these projects require such a huge infusion of cash from the provincial government (they cost $150 million per kilometre, and that’s a low estimate), the decision to proceed with them tends to have as much to do with politics as it does with need. The Laval extension, for example, was pushed forward ahead of the extension of the Blue line mostly because of the fact that Laval has swing ridings whereas the east end of Montreal tends to be pretty well PQ blue (when the PQ has a chance of winning elections, anyway).

The three proposed extensions aren’t new. The Blue line extension has been on the books for decades now in one form or another. Laval’s closed loop was suggested in 2007, Longueuil’s plan is a bit more recent.

But why these three? Why not extend the green line in either direction? Why not create a line on Pie-IX, or Park Avenue, or through NDG?

The answer is that Montreal only has one mayor, and because of the way politicians have setup our cities, the mayor of Montreal has no more say than a smaller suburb on either side. So in order to get a much-needed metro extension in the dense neighbourhood of St. Leonard, we have to approve two comparatively useless extensions in underdeveloped off-island areas.

The idea isn’t going over so well, even among people who you’d think would support it. Some transit activists are arguing that less expensive (and less sexy) projects should be dealt with first, like improving commuter trains and setting up a tram network.

Let’s hope common sense prevails before the government writes that $3-billion cheque.

Longueuil dreams of more metro stations

The City of Longueuil is doing what every transit fan has done at some point in their lives: dream of extending Montreal’s metro lines far beyond their current terminuses into places it may or may not make sense for them to go.

Laval’s Gilles Vaillancourt makes a hobby of this. Even after getting an insanely overpriced extension of the metro into his territory fast-tracked before much-needed extensions into poor dense neighbourhoods in Montreal, he complains that the loop needs to be closed on the orange line with more stations on his territory.

Longueuil’s plan would be to add four metro stations in the Vieux-Longueul area, including a stop at CEGEP Édouard-Montpetit.

View Larger Map

Of course, it’s better to have suburban mayors dreaming about metro extensions than strip malls and highways. But maybe there’s something behind the argument that politicians shouldn’t be in control of public transit.