The news broke yesterday before any announcement was made: the Metro will be expanding. The news was later confirmed at a joint news conference with Premier Jean Charest as well as the mayors of Montreal, Longueuil, and Laval.
The proposed expansion will extend the Metro by 11 stations over 20 kilometres costing about $3 billion, or $150 million per km. The MTQ will work with the AMT to create a bureaucracy to study the plan at the cost of $3 million. Three of the four lines will be expanded, with construction on the Orange line starting as early as next year, with the entire expansion taking 10 to 15 years to complete.
Although no timetable or particularly concrete plans were announced, Charest assured reporters that “what we’re announcing today is irreversible” saying “the difference is this – the government of Quebec for the first time has formally endorsed a vision, and a pretty concrete project of extending three (métro) lines” in response to questions about how committed the government is to actually following through with the expansion plans.
Graphic by Jeanine Lee, Montreal Gazette
Where the stations will be located exactly isn’t yet known and will likely be decided by the $3 million study. However, many details have been given as to how the new system will look after completion. For the Orange line, the termini at Côte-Vertu and Montmorency will be extended to meet up, creating a loop with 10 km of new tunnels. Five stations will be constructed but it is unknown as to whether more will be built in Laval. One station will be built at the Bois-Franc commuter rail station and will also provide Metro access to the relatively high density suburban housing development recently built nearby on the former Cartierville airport. The Blue line will extend eastward by 5 km through the neighbourhoods of St-Michel and St-Léonard with five new stations terminating at Anjou, a plan which has been on the table for decades. The Yellow line will be extended by 5.1 km by five stations through the Vieux-Longueuil neighbourhood. It will have stops at Pierre Boucher Hospital and at CÉGEP Édouard Monpetit. It’s possible that a sixth station will be added going to St-Hubert airport which would bring the length of the new extension to 9.3 km.
While many are applauding the expansion plans, some are unhappy with this week’s announcement. Mayors in the West Island have expressed frustration that their cities are not included in the plan. Beaconsfield Mayor Bob Benedetti was quoted by the CBC, saying “it’s a joke…this is the same transportation system we had when I was a kid,” while the mayor of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Ed Janiszewski said “they don’t care about us. We don’t count because we always vote Liberal.” Westmount mayor Karin Marks, who also heads an association of Montreal’s 15 suburbs, was considerably more sensible when commenting on the lack of Metro construction westward saying while more and better public transit is needed to the western suburbs, other options would better suit the area.
Transit activists have also expressed some displeasure with the expansion plans. Avrom Shtern of the Green Coalition, while admitting that the Metro expansions will likely be beneficial in the long term, feels that the plan “seems to be driven more by politics than common sense and studied, truly-integrated transportation policy.” Shtern suggested that it may have been better to use the money to expand commuter rail service and for the construction of a tramway network on the island. Normand Parisien of the lobby group Transport 2000 feels that the Metro expansion is coming at the expense of other transit initiatives such as a light-rail link to the airport and the revival of the Pie IX reserved bus lane which was shut down in 2002, among others.