Valérie Plante and Projet Montréal want to expand the Montreal Metro with an entirely new line, the 29-station Pink line, which would run from Montreal North to Lachine, intersecting both the Orange and Green lines a few times and the Blue Line once. Her mayoral rival Denis Coderre doesn’t think it’s a viable solution to the city’s transit woes…is what I would have written if that was what he said.

Instead, Coderre did what he always does. He dismissed the idea outright, telling reporters that ” it’ll never happen” and comparing it to a joke you might hear at Just for Laughs.

I’ve been to Just for Laughs and I’ve also rode both the western and eastern ends of the Orange Line and the 105 bus at rush hour, they are not comparable. Overcrowding on public transit is not a joke. It’s something that someone running for or running to be re-elected to the post of Mayor of Montreal should care about.

So why does Coderre feel we shouldn’t even discuss it? Is it the price tag, which Plante estimates at $6 Billion? Well, she already knows where that money is potentially going to come from: the new federal infrastructure bank and two provincial funds, one specifically for transit and the other for infrastructure.

Also, it’s a little funny that a mayor who can spend $1 Billion on Montreal’s 375th birthday, double what Canada spent on its 150th, with some of that money going to eyesores like those granite tree stumps and a National Anthem for one borough, would have a problem funding a project that Montrealers could rely on for years or decades to come.

Could it be that Coderre feels the six year time frame proposed by Plante is unrealistic and would be too disruptive? He does, but forgets that the original two lines of the metro were built in four years and without a tunnel-boring machine, something that hadn’t been invented in the 60s.

If, by chance, he is implying that it can’t be done in that time-frame given the corruption Montreal’s construction industry is infamous for, well, even Jean “count the trucks twice” Drapeau’s record with the metro proves that it can. Yes, the plan is even corruption-proof (though I’m sure Plante and her team would work outside of a corrupt system).

Could it be that Coderre doesn’t want to upset the apple cart he’s holding for the powers-that-be in Quebec City? Bingo!

You see, the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) is part of the Réseau de transport métropolitain (RTM), a provincial body which runs transit in Montreal and the surrounding area including buses, metros and above-ground trains. So any new initiatives, say, a whole new line on the metro, needs to be worked out with the provincial authorities.

De-clogging Montreal’s existing transit infrastructure with new projects clearly isn’t the RTM’s top priority and why would it be? I wouldn’t expect the Mayors of Longueil or Laval or their representatives to push for it, that’s the Mayor of Montreal’s job.

Our current mayor clearly doesn’t want to stand up for what Montreal needs, if this comment from the press conference where he was dismissing the Pink line is any indication:

“Let’s be frank here, it’ll never happen. You cannot say that. There’s other things that we can do. First the Blue line, then through the planning we’re talking about to finish the Orange line.”

Okay, extending the Blue line east, fine (Projet wants that too, BTW). But finishing the Orange line? Um, last time I checked the Orange line was complete, at least on the Island of Montreal. Any new stops would have to be in Laval.

While I completely understand the RTM being concerned with this, the Mayor of Montreal shouldn’t be. Or, at the very least, our Mayor should be more concerned with the relief from the sardine can that is the Orange line at rush hour actual Montreal voters are asking for.

Public transit is not a joke. The concerns of riders aren’t jokes, either. Whether you support the Pink line as Plante and Projet have proposed it or not, at the very least, the concerns of transit users should be discussed, not dismissed and laughed off.

A more honest response from Coderre would have been: “It’ll never happen…as long as I’m Mayor!”

 

Last week, Montrealers got a look at the new metro cars headed our way. This week, the big transport story isn’t about new things, but rather repairing what we have and how long it will take.

The Yellow Line which connects Montreal (Berri-UQAM) to the South Shore (Longueil-Université De Sherbrooke) with a stop on Île Sainte-Hélène (Jean-Drapeau) will close for twenty five weekends in 2014. So just what does this mean for…

Festival-Goers

Nothing, really. The closure is scheduled for March 8th through May 25 and then picks up September 13th and runs until December 14th. So while going to Halloween at La Ronde may be a little tricky, going to Osheaga, Piknik or Heavy MTL in Parc Jean Drapeau fortunately won’t be, or at least it won’t be any harder than normal.

South Shore commuters

They will be affected, or at least those who make the trek to and from Montreal on the weekend (for work or play). The line will remain open during regular hours Monday to Friday.

It will also re-open on the weekend, with fifteen minutes’ notice if there is a problem on the Champlain Bridge. That bridge is how public transit users will get on and off the island as well, by way of special shuttle buses that will travel between the closed metro stops.

The tunnel itself

Workers will replace deteriorated concrete and fill cracks in the tunnel’s roof and install channels to pumping stations for water that is constantly infiltrating the tunnels. The STM wants to insist that this is preventative work and not an emergency operation.

Considering this line and these tunnels have been in service since 1967, even before the video below was shot, and run under a river, it’s probably a good thing that they get fixed up every now and again.

For now, just remember…