Tag Archives: tramways

Transitways before tramways

Government mockup of rapid-transit corridor on Pie-IX

Government mockup of rapid-transit corridor on Pie-IX

La Presse has another one of their “Exclusif”s, which sounds like hard-hitting investigative journalism but is really just being tipped off to a press conference ahead of schedule.

This one reports that the city is going to announce the building of a dedicated transit corridor in the middle of Pie IX Blvd. This would replace the contra-flow rush-hour reserved bus lanes that were shut down in 2002 after they were deemed unsafe for pedestrians (and left shelters in the middle of the road vacant since).

A median between the transit corridor and the traffic lanes would be built between 2011 and 2013. And it would go up to the end of the island, eventually being extended into Laval.

This is a good idea. It’s safer than the old contraflow system, and it encourages quick public transit. And though the article makes no mention of tramways, the corridor could be more easily converted into a tram line once it’s setup. Pie-IX is one of the routes being considered for a tramway (long ago, it was even considered for a metro line, to the point where it appeared as a dotted line on metro maps).

I like transit corridors or transitways, roads that are reserved 24/7 strictly for use by public transit (essentially buses). They seemed to work well when I went through them in Ottawa. So why don’t we have more of them here?

Bus-only roads are good enough for Ottawa. Why not here?

Bus-only roads are good enough for Ottawa. Why not here?

I ask this question because transitways are a good middle ground between reserved bus lanes and tramways. If we’re planning on building tramways on Côte des Neiges Rd. and Park Ave., reserving lanes in both direction 24/7, then why aren’t we doing that already for buses? Why not build the median and setup a transitway that can be replaced by a tramway later?

This could also help test the waters before plunking down serious cash for a tram line that nobody might use. Like Mayor Tremblay’s plan for a loop going from downtown to the Old Port. The city setup a bus along the route – the 515 – which has been a huge disappointment in terms of ridership. Tremblay still thinks a tram here is a good idea, despite the evidence to the contrary. Setting up a transitway along this route would remove any lingering doubts about whether traffic is the reason people aren’t taking a liking to public transit here.

It just seems like a no-brainer to me: if you’re going to take that parking away and reserve space for public transit, don’t wait until the tramway is built and just give the space full-time to buses already.

So why isn’t anyone else considering it?

UPDATE: La Presse says a simple reserved bus lane would cost a third the price. But, of course, it wouldn’t be as efficient.

UPDATE (Dec. 29): The MTQ has posted the “fiche technique” of the proposal for Pie-IX (PDF). Bus stops would be after intersections, and the bus lanes would narrow to make room for the boarding platform (or, conversely, would widen when buses leave the platform and travel at a faster speed).

Montreal Geography Trivia No. 64

Montreal Geography Trivia No. 64

What is this a picture of?

UPDATE: Just about everyone guessed correctly that these are decomposing railway ties, but Frank was the first to properly guess that these are decomposing tramway ties, uncovered because of excavation work.

Exposed tramway rail and ties on Sherbrooke St. W. near Loyola, taken in September 2006.

Exposed tramway rail and ties on Sherbrooke St. W. near Loyola, taken in September 2006.

The city is littered with tramway rails that were merely paved over after the network was dismantled. Some are later exposed through potholes, others because of excavation work, and are slowly being removed. But much of the vast network still remains, just inches below the surface of the street.


Union Montreal's Tram plan: Orange lines denote planned routes

Union Montreal's Tram plan: Orange lines denote planned routes

Saturday’s Gazette has a feature from transportation reporter Andy Riga about whether trams are the future of transportation in Montreal.

There are two schools of thought on the matter. On the one hand are people like Projet Montréal’s Richard Bergeron, who get a hard on every time he hears the word and thinks there should be thousands of them (250 km worth) criss-crossing the city. He even has a proposal to replace Mont-Royal Ave. with a tram. Tram proponents (which also include Mayor Gérald Tremblay) say they’re clean, they’re fast and they’re fun, and they’ll attract tourists as well as those who think buses are too crowded and smelly.

On the other hand, there are those who think trams are too expensive for their purported benefits. They’re inflexible, require large infrastructure costs, and won’t actually pull more people out of their cars even as they necessarily reduce the amount of roadway available to traffic. The Gazette’s Henry Aubin, for example, thinks that trolley buses, which are also electric but can navigate around roadblocks and don’t require tracks, are a less sexy but much more sensible option.

The story comes in many parts, in print and online:

Having heard arguments on both sides, I’m still on the fence about tramways. I like the coolness factor and appreciate how efficient they are, but I also agree with the argument that trolley buses are more flexible. The idea of testing them out on routes that are simple, straight and begging for transit infrastructure (like Pie-IX) makes sense to me. If it’s successful, then we can ponder more complicated routes like Côte des Neiges, Park and Mont-Royal.

All aboard the dream train

The city today released its 155-page transportation plan (PDF), which focuses on public transit, cycling and other green initiatives. Heck, even the report itself is green, so you know they mean business.

The report includes some very common-sense ideas: Extending the blue line metro East to Pie-IX and then Anjou, extending the orange line northwest to the Bois-Franc train station, connecting bicycle paths across the island, adding bicycle parking and adding express buses and reserved bus lanes to major arteries.

But just in case you’re hopeful that any of these initiatives will see the light of day, remember that it also includes a promise to finish the Cavendish Extension. Yeah.

As ambitious as the plan is, it’s not as crazy as tramway fetishists Projet Montréal’s plan (PDF), which proposes putting tramways on the highway and all the way out to Ile Bizard. (Well, some people at least think it’s worth the trouble)

Hidden in the sea of Montreal’s plan is another common-sense idea that I think would make a huge impact toward getting people to use public transit, especially in suburbs: Make express buses run all day. It works brilliantly for the 211, why not have something similar for the other suburbs?