Metro to be expanded on three lines, eleven new stations to be built

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.

22 comments

  1. I agree 100% with some of the comments in this article. Although an extended Metro line would indeed be beneficial on a long-term basis, it’s sad that it will be milking available funding for other transport alternatives for the next 10-15 years.

    Where the hell is the rail link to the East end of the island?? Where is the re-worked Pie-IX express bus lanes?? Where is the light rail train that will ease traffic woes on Champlain Bridge?? These are real-world priorities, not just political glimmer!

    Extending the Metro to Longueuil? There just isn’t a high enough population density along this route to justify 150 million dollars per kilometre that this extension will cost, in my opinion.

    Why can’t we just come up with simpler solutions that won’t cost us an arm and a leg? How about finally offering the Communauto Duo+Bus on the South Shore (AMT, are you listening? Stop dragging your feet!)? I believe that an alternative transport cocktail is the best solution, and the most efficient. Believing that the Metro is the ultimate solution for everyone is a little near-sighted.

  2. Congrats to Montreal to make this commitment. I have read of expansion plans all over the country regarding public transit. Montreal’s plans seem to be the most expansive then other plans I have been following. Investing in buses is OK but to really lure people out of their cars and onto public transit; invest in subways and other forms of rapid transit.

    I understand the frustration of the residents of the West Island. I hope the AMT get some funding to increase the frequency of the commuter trains to and from this region. Commuter rail is even faster then the Metro, the stations are just farther apart. Hopefully their will be better bus connections to these AMT station in this area.

  3. Denis: that section of Longueuil is actually quite dense while still being human scaled. It’s much more urban than one yould imagine and I think a Metro line running through it is as justified as running a Metro line through many other medium-density parts of Montreal, especially since there is a major hospital and CEGEP there.

  4. A little pre-election gift to liberal mayors running for re-election Nov. 1st?!!
    It won’t do much for Montrealers though: we should be using the money to build a tramway system on the island and invest more in commuter train lines for less densely populated areas (i.e. Montreal’s suburbs on and off island), ensure express lanes reserved for public transit and tolls on the bridges for cars equal to the cost of a bus ticket. The timing of the Metro expansion announcement is about municipal politics, but municipal politics, at least in Montreal with the arrival of Louise Harel, is about provincial politics (also note the expansion is into what are considered swing ridings at the provincial level). It is a good thing that in Montreal we have a municipal party that is not about provincial politics but that is about improving public transit in Montreal (and greening in general, as well as cleaning up corruption), Projet Montreal has elaborated a serious and detailed plan to bring a tramway system back to Montreal; a modern tramway system is more efficient, less costly and offers greater accessibility when it comes to moving people in and around an urban environment like Montreal’s. Don<t forget to vote Projet Montreal on November 1st, I certainly won't!

  5. These regional development issues involve many competing trade-offs. Apparently there is a lack of school space on the South Shore, while Montreal is closing schools due to young families leaving the city. And Montreal’s municipal infrastructure is reaching the point where it will need to be completely rebuilt, instead of just ‘maintained’. But it is easier and more glamorous to build something new, than it is to maintain some old and decrepit sewer system.

    Our regional transportation network will have a significant impact on regional land-use developments. Is it wise to encourage more distant development in the Montreal region? Who benefits from this? At what cost? Clearly provincial politics are a significant driving force in these decisions….

  6. I’m very much a public/active transport advocate and activist, but I question some of these choices. I find it very odd indeed to look at the proposed map and see no station planned at Pie IX and Jean-Talon – where the blue line had been supposed to go over 20 years ago. An extension to Pie-IX and a tram up to Montréal-Nord would increase accessibility for that very densely populated area where there are few cars per household and many people (mostly immigrant workers) have to make long commutes by bus.

    I’d rather prioritise trams everywhere else. The West Island doesn’t have the population density in most areas to justify a métro line, but decades ago, there was a tram line through NDG – it was known as a streetcar suburb. This would be useful for commuters both ways in Westmount and NDG – the line should run to Loyola campus at least.

    Another important line is avenue du Parc, not only to speed up service on that saturated bus line but also to take pressure off the orange line, terribly crowded since the extension to Laval. That extension disproved the canard that Laval commuters are all wedded to their cars, but it is creating capacity problems.

    Old Longueuil is more densely-populated than most Montréalers think, but I doubt it is too densely populated to be adequately served by a modern tramline or two – one east and one to St-Lambert (though people on the South Shore would probably have more accurate priorities).

    Lise, I certainly agree with the Projet Montréal transport priorities and plan, though the close off-Montréal-Island suburbs (Laval and Longueuil) certainly need better rapid transport as well to increase densification and percentage of public transport use, to serve the people living there and counter the development of the “troisième couronne”.

  7. One of things I found strange in the newspaper is that they mentioned a “maybe” extension to the St.Hubert airport… meanwhile, what about extending the blue line to OUR Montreal-island airport? Don’t get me wrong, I would love a better subway system, but I am not really sure this is the right plan for many of the points mentioned above.

  8. As an ex-Montrealer banished to Toronto for employment, I am disappointed to see the same subway foolishness there as here (well, never as bad as Toronto). Both cities, esp. Toronto, need more density of subways within 10km of downtown, and more commuter lines, operating more frequently, outside of this. When a subway brings in suburban commuters, it serves city residents poorly as it is already full to or beyond capacity.

    As for connection to each cities’ airports’: whether it should be subway or commuter line should be a practical, rather than a political, decision. Good luck, eh? The line which will best connect to the wider network of commuter and subway lines should be the one used. Finally, the decision makers should be made to commute for more than a week in cities with dense transit systems of various ages, because we need to best expand a legacy-network with new in-fill. These cities are: Tokyo, London, etc.

  9. Maria, I also am curious about the Blue line stops. I think the confusion lies with the incomplete Gazette illustration above, which only shows a few of the proposed stops. The Metro paper has a similar article (http://www.journalmetro.com/montreal/article/313171–trois-prolongements-du-metro-d-ici-10-ans?pageno=all) with a much better graph (http://media.metronews.topscms.com/images/0a/f1/46618134465f875928999b741acf.jpeg) that DOES show a proposed station at Pie-IX and Jean-Talon…

  10. tram on busy urban streets like parc avenue is not a good idea, in my opinion. high-capacity articulated buses will be on this route shortly. You just can’t have NO parking on parc avenue.

    I think the metro is too slow for the distances of the west island, bring on the rail and light rail, and dedicated bus lanes on autoroute 40 service road. Autoroute 20 has train line beside it already. Time for some west island mayors and their over-paid tax-o-phobic resients to put their money where their mouth is, and pay for some train expansions/dedicated cmmuter train tracks themself.

    Laval can lick my b*lls before they get more metro stations, until they start to pay for the infrastructure. That city is a Transport Quebec welfare addict. Spend money on me, spend money on me!

    finally lets see several more stations north of cote vertu – Poirier, Bois franc, and gouin, before Laval gets another station on the orange line.

    For longueuil, well, they have been waiting a long time. throw them a bone.

  11. The metro to the West Island will never happen, or at least shouldn’t. There might be sufficient activities (or sufficient redevelopment potential) to merit better links on the 40 corridor or St Charles, St John’s or des Sources, but all of those are just too far and too marginal to merit such a long underground metro extension through the industrial lands. Pierre Bourque’s lame election-year promise to run the blue line to Pointe-Claire is a shining example of politically expedient transit extensions that make no practical sense.

    Maria, I wouldn’t be too worried about the seeming lack of a Pie-IX station on the blue line extension. A station there has been in every one of the many proposed and mothballed — and man, has that happened over and over again — eastward extensions that I’ve ever seen. The graphic itself is more than a little lazy, showing some “proposed stations” and not others. Notice also that it doesn’t manage to depict the full Longueuil extension, but unnecessarily illustrates the big void on the West Island where the metro *isn’t* going. It’s almost as if the Gazette chose to visually reinforce all those crabby quotes from the mayors of low-density West Island suburbs…

    I’d like to see more transit attention paid to the north-central part of the Island, say everything north of Jean-Talon between the 30 and the 25. That’s where we get high concentrations of industrial jobs and industrial workers, and a highway network that needs to move goods quickly (and not people slowly). Getting better express-bus service in place, or even merely finding ways to speed up the bus routes we have now, could have a region-wide impact without having to wait for higher-priced fixed-guideway electrically-powered modes like trams or trains.

  12. Yes, the Saint Hubert airport thing surprised me too. But as for Dorval, as you know the underground station has been built. We ARE supposed to be getting a decision soon on the final route — are we not?

  13. I wonder if all the people living on the West Island who are unhappy about the lack of money or attention to their commute, are willing to put their money where their mouth is?
    If every West Island commuter mailed a $100 check (75% prov. tax credit) to Projet Montreal, they might actually have a chance to change things. They also accept PayPal ! http://www.projetmontreal.org/ (earmark your donation -West Island- to track numbers) …

    We get the governments we deserve…
    Do we deserve better or don’t we?

  14. I have to question the wisdom of looping the Orange line through Laval. It looks wonderful on maps and just seems like such a logical move, yet, there are some things that don’t add up such as the initial costs. A lot of emphasis is being placed on the Bois Franc station as a natural place for West Islanders to come to town via rail or bus. Someone mentioned the Orange Line already being quite crowded coming down from Laval and I would think that the western side of the loop would become very crowded with people from Laval and the West Island climbing on. The trains would be packed by the time they got to Cote Vertu. And a majority of those people will be heading downtown.Something just isn’t right with all that.Maybe it is that we are encouraging urban sprawl by sending the Metro into suburbs where it was never intended to go in the first place. Would that overcrowding send people back to their cars?

    The Metro going out to the West Island is a ridiculous concept, but maybe West Islanders are feeling a little resentful of these other suburbs getting the big transit bucks, while they seem to sit out in some kind of limbo. They have been paying directly for things such as the Metro for decades – at least as part of the old Montreal Urban Community – and now they see other areas getting results.
    In this age of sustainable planning, climate change, and the brave new world of peak oil on the horizon, no one in our metropolitan area is being asked to make greater changes than those car cultures in the suburbs. I am anything but a suburbia type of person, but I can certainly understand their frustrations.

  15. The whole idea of making the orange line a loop is stupid. It will make it impossible to extend it further northwest into Laval if this is deemed necessary, except by creating a whole new line. Furthermore, circular lines have a tendency to be difficult to manage operationally, as a delay anywhere on the line tends to make the whole line (well, one direction of it anyway) grind to a halt. This is why the Circle Line in London will no longer be a true circle starting in December 2009. There was a similar proposal to make the Yonge-University-Spadina subway in Toronto line a loop at the north end a while ago, but this was abandoned in favour of two northern extensions. The orange line should be extended to Carrefour Laval, not turned into a loop.

  16. Of course, all of this is electoral oxdung. The metro proposals above do not make any sense at all.
    Anjou is already serve by line 1 to Honoré-Beaugrand. It would make far more sense to send line 5 to Montréal-Nord instead.
    The only thing that has some remote sense is extending line 2 from Côte-Vertu to Bois-Franc, so to give more options to commuter train users, and perhaps even lighten the load between Bois-Franc and Montréal (do the St-Jérôme/Blainville trains lose a lot of riders when they hit Concorde?).
    Longueuil and Laval are low-density territory; that’s the province of streecars (sorry, “light rail”).
    And speaking of tramways, up to 50 years ago, Montréal had an outstanding streetcar system, one which was perhaps the most innovative in the world (we invented “Pay As You Enter”, we had the first all steel streetcars, the first articulated streetcars, the first sightseeing streetcars, etc.).
    The only area of Montréal dense enough to justify a subway system is the downtown core (Atwater_St-Laurent/Sherbrooke_René-Levesque_Notre-Dame east of Peel). Everywhere else, digging tunnels is just a colossal waste of money, as the extension to Laval proved; for the same amount of money, Laval could have had much more service offered by streetcars (sorry, “light rail”).
    In fact, building the Métro itself was a huge mistake. The proper course of action would have been to revamp the streetcar system, and have them go underground when they reached the downtown core, as it was done in Boston or Brussels, for example. People would have been spared to have to transfer, as their streetcars would get out of the tunnel at the streets they served.
    From the onset, the area served would have been much greater, and the service good enough to have helped forestall the disastrous increase of the number of automobiles that make our life so miserable nowadays.
    It would have looked like that.

  17. I agree, a Metro to the West Island is completely un-realistic; I do believe the tramways could work well in bringing West islanders to west-end Metro stations. That is why I believe the Bois-Franc extension is so important: a tram line is perfect to run along Gouin with a Terminus at Bois-Franc station. This North end of the Island used to have trams. I would much rather see the city pushing trams outside the downtown core.

    I do believe the Blue Line needs to be maximized: it should be extended in both directions to complete the original plans.

    As for the Airport link: no one should be playing politics on this. A city’s international airport and infrastructure is so incredibly important for economic development.

  18. Circular lines are always an operational disaster. London’s Circle Line, the best known example, has been a source of endless headaches and would not have been built if its planners knew what transit specialists know now.

    If a line has a finite end, the terminal can be used to deliberately delay trains so that the headways are regular (i.e., so that the trains are evenly spaced). If a transit line does not have a finite end, it becomes very difficult to cope with situations where trains are bunched together — a regular occurrence on all lines.

  19. I echo the comments about linking the two ends of the Orange line: looks good on a map. That’s all. I don’t see the point of joining the two ends and the cost associated with tunneling an extra KM or 2 for the novelty can be used to tunnel where it’s really needed.

  20. No offense Marc, as you seem to be quite well learned in urban transport systems, but by saying “building the Métro itself was a huge mistake” you simply look like a crackpot. Montreal’s metro is one of the more loved metros in the entire world, and a major reason people love living here, and visiting our city. Sure, there’s merit in proposing other transport systems, but saying “what we did back then was a mistake” really doesn’t help construct a new system or improve the one we have now. Take now as a starting point, and move forward from this point. Since Montreal doesn’t have a single lightrail/tramway, and you seem so obviously in love with this mode of transport, maybe you should aim for the contruction of some of these surface rails? Excuse the rant, I just can’t stand when people say things that happened 2 generations ago were a mistake. It’s just so melodramatic and negative.

  21. No offense Marc, as you seem to be quite well learned in urban transport systems, but by saying “building the Métro itself was a huge mistake” you simply look like a crackpot. Montreal’s metro is one of the more loved metros in the entire world,

    No offense, Kyle, but by saying ­"Montréal’s Métro is one of the more loved metros in the world" makes you look like a crackpot. Slapping nice architecture on a tunnel is something easy to do (the wonky Montréal architecture has added no more than 5% to the cost of building a Toronto-like bland system). The functionnality, on the other hand, is more than the remaining 95%.
    Building the Métro has shifted the attention towards the Métro, and the loss glamour of the attendant bus network has driven many people to buy cars, as the bus service became exeedingly dismal towards the years; I myself bought a motorcycle because I was sick and tired of waiting an unknown amount of time (30 years ago, bus schedules were as secret as soviet ICBM launch codes) for the goddammed fucking bus who would never show-up (we’d never know if it was on time or not, there were no published schedules).
    I’ll never forget, some 25 years ago, what happenned at the Beaubien Métro. One late evening, we were about 30 people waiting in the cold for the 160 bus. A few days before, some rain had left some ice on the city; a grader had broke the coat of ice in fist-sized chunks which laid on the sidewalk before being picked.
    A 160 bus came to the station, let off it’s passenger, and then boldly passed in front of our noses, headed for the garage, but was blocked by the red light.
    I wish I could say I was who cast the first stone, but alas, I do not remember. Within 5 seconds, everyone waiting for the bus started to pick ice chunks and hurled them at the bus windows, in frustration of the abysmally rotten service. For about 1 minutes, there must have been a hundred chunk of ice thrown at the bus.
    This was spontaneous. This was a good indication of the frustration of the travelling public towards the poor level of service offered by the Hannigan STCUM (Hannigan was a Drapeau tablette; like his master, he did not give a shit about transit). During those years, when you called to complain about the bus service, they answered back "but you have the most beautiful Métro in the world!".
    I am not shitting you: the glamour of the Métro directly caused an awfully mediocre bus service, and the buses served far more people than the Métro did. As a result of the poor bus service, I vowed never to live far from a Métro station, to insure I would never be dependent on the crappy bus network for transportation. For the last 25 years, I have not broken that vow.
    Still, to this day, despite published bus schedule (they bend over backwards to make sure they are accessible  – not without some hickups, though), the bus service remains mediocre. For more than 30 years Lionel-Groulx has been opened, bus passengers still have to wait in the rain for their buses. Ditto for Fairview and Côte-Vertu.
    Côte-Vertu is the most infuriating example of the total disregard of the STCUM and the AMT for the bus passenger: despite spending zillions of dollars for a sparkling new bus terminal, passengers STILL have to wait in the rain; the shelters there are totally ineffective as they are away from the bus stops.
    Contrast this to the south-shore bus terminals downtown and in Longueuil. Those are dream bus terminals!!!
    It is clear that there are still too many Drapeau era tablettes in the STM planning department that do not give a shit about bus passengers, for they have not pushed for proper bus terminals.
    There is an exception, which confirms the rule.
    The Henri-Bourassa STM bus terminal. This is the best terminus the STM has to offer. Granted, it’s not quite as good as the south-shore bus terminals, but in STM standards, it is an awefully great bus terminal.
    Why is that? Well, that’s because when it was built, the municipal councillor was Pierre Lachapelle, a past Transport-2000 president who really did care about transit users, and he fought epic battles with STCUM brass to have a proper bus terminal.
    (As an anecdote towards the crass incompetence of the AMT, one day, I was waiting with a friend in Windsor station for our commuter train to leave. I explained him how the transit agency works – it contracts running the trains to the private railroads – and went on to explain the utter incompetence of the AMT. Well, just as the train left,the conductor came to two girls sitting in front of us, and invited them in the cab . As they got up, one of them turned towards me and said "you are right, sir, the AMT is very incompetent; I know, I used to work for them")…
    By contrast, St-Laurent obviously does not give a shit about creature comforts as it did not pressure the AMT (who built the infuriatingly stupid bus terminal there) to produce something useful.
    Côte-Vertu infuriates me so much that I prefer to go through Fairview on a longer trip than pass through Côte-Vertu.
    Lastly, the newest buses ordered by the STM show that they do not give a shit about passenger comfort: both the articulated and the "T-Drives" ordered have an horrible seating arrangement, calculated to cram as much people as possible. The rear seats all look inwards, and the rear windows are plastered with stupid decals which insures that people inside cannot look outside.  We might as well travel in trucks!!!
    During the articulated bus press rollout, I confronted Marvin the Martian (for the humour-impaired, I’m talking about Marvin Rotrand) about that, and he did not say anything. Either he does not care, like Hannigan didn’t, or he has been hoodwinked by the Hannigan-era tablettes.
    Shame on you, Marvin, you might as well move back to Mars for all the care you show to transit users!
    No, the hoopla about politicians caring about transit is just electoral oxdung. They clearly do not care, and the highly-paid planning fonctionnaires of the STM and the AMT care even less.

    and a major reason people love living here, and visiting our city. Sure, there’s merit in proposing other transport systems, but saying “what we did back then was a mistake” really doesn’t help construct a new system or improve the one we have now.

    Sure it does. By exposing the errors of the past, one can learn not to repeat them. Of course the Métro is there and we can’t rip it out to replace it by streetcars. However, instead of foolishly frittering tax money to extend it, new developments should be done with tramways. Nowhere where there is no Metro is sufficient density to justify it!!!

    Take now as a starting point, and move forward from this point. Since Montreal doesn’t have a single lightrail/tramway, and you seem so obviously in love with this mode of transport, maybe you should aim for the contruction of some of these surface rails? Excuse the rant, I just can’t stand when people say things that happened 2 generations ago were a mistake. It’s just so melodramatic and negative.

    Blandness does not make a statement. Just as dramatic Métro station architecture moves people, melodramatic statements do the same.

  22. SaskatoonMark – re London’s circle line, yes the issue is that when there is a terminus, minor delays can be magnified because they are more difficult to recover from. Also, there is uneven wear on the trains’ wheels from always taking the curves in the same direction. I read recently that London plans to stop circle line service, combining some lines so that while the entire circle continues to be covered by various lines, there will be no one train that continously makes the loop.

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