The Parti Québécois announced on Tuesday that they would scrap plans for the 26 station REM (light rain line) if elected, focusing instead on an ambitious transportation plan called “Le Grand Déblocage” — or the “big breakthrough.”
The proposed network would consist of 21 public transit projects and 175 new stations, connecting tramways, express buses, and extensions to existing train lines in the Montreal region. PQ hopes to complete the project by 2025.
What does the PQ hope to accomplish with Le Grand Déblocage?
- 9 new high speed bus routes connecting the Eastern and Western points of Montreal Island.
- Buses connecting select highway routes such as Highway 15, Highway 13, and Highway 20.
- 5 high speed trams lines between the airport, St-Laurent Blvd., the former Blue Bonnets horse-racing track, Montreal East, and the Champlain Bridge to the South Shore.
- Extensions to current train lines include:
- The “Train de l’Est would extend to Joliette.
- The Train de l’Ouest, or Vaudreuil-Hudson line would extend West to Coteau-du-Lac
- The Mont-St-Hilaire line would extend East to St-Hyacinthe.
- The Candiac line would reach to St-Jean-sur-Richelieu.
What are some pro’s of the project?
According to the PQ website, the new transportation plan would massively reduce gridlock and commute times within Montreal. Expected benefits of the public transportation system include:
- A 10% reduction in cars during rush-hour, and 133,000 fewer private vehicles by 2025
- 510 more public transit trips per day, which is 4 times higher than the expected REM amount
- A price tag of $7.4 billion, which is a $1 billion higher than the budget projected for the REM. The funds would come from the Caisse’s $3-billion REM contribution, provincial debt payments, the province’s Green Fund and Ottawa.
What are some con’s of the project?
According to Liberal Transport Minister André Fortin, the PQ proposal is financially “irresponsible” in that it threatens the future creation of large-scale transportation projects such as the REM line. The Liberal party favours the current plan, which includes the REM line, 300 hybrid buses and an extension to the existing metro Blue Line.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante announced that plans for the REM project are already underway, and believes that the project is a step forward for Montreal.
Critics have also pointed to the farfetchedness of PQ’s plans, dismissing them as far too optimistic, and risky when it comes to the burden of potential penalty fees.
All in all, it is heartening to see Quebec’s political parties taking the issue of public transportation seriously and working towards environmentally friendly alternatives to private vehicles.
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