Im moving forward on métros Pink Line: Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante

I\m moving forward on métro\s Pink Line: Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante
Mayor Valerie Plante says shes moving forward with metros pink line extension
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante speaks about her proposed metro expansion project, the Pink Line, in Montreal Oct. 22, 2018. Allen McInnis / Montreal Gazette

Montreal is setting up a municipal office to carry out studies on the Pink Line, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante announced Monday.

Montreal presses forward with Pink line despite provinces ambivalence

At a press conference prior to the monthly city council meeting, the mayor said she was moving forward with the proposed métro extension, a key campaign pledge on which she was elected a year ago.

The Pink line was initially proposed as an expansion of the Metro network. The Montreal area's regional transport agency (ARTM) began studying the technical aspects of the suggested route in July.

“I made a promise to Montrealers” to make mobility a top priority, said Plante, who brushed off questions on the differences between her vision of transportation and that of newly elected premier François Legault.

"For us, the Pink line is much more than a mobility project that will have a crucial impact in our fight against greenhouse gas emissions," Plante said during a news conference at city hall.

With the bulk of the Coalition Avenir Québec caucus elected in regions outside Montreal, Legault has promised suburban-friendly measures like highways extensions on the North and South Shores and creation of a $4-billion third road link between Quebec City and Lévis.

Montreal will spend $1 million making the case for an ambitious expansion of its public transit network, hoping to persuade a new provincial government already skeptical about the idea.  

He also supports the current $6.3-billion Réseau express métropolitain light rail project and the extension the métro’s Blue Line to Anjou and has pledged to build a tramway in east-end Montreal and to support the $3-billion tramway project in Quebec City.

However, Legault has said the Pink Line’s projected $5.9­-billion price tag is too expensive.

Premier François Legault was cool to the Pink line during the provincial campaign, and his new transport minister, François Bonnardel, so far doesn't sound any warmer to the idea.

Plante said she was confident Legault will listen to fact-based arguments in favour of the Pink Line. Plante said the line is needed to take pressure off the crowded Orange Line, which will become even more packed when the Blue Line is extended eastward.

She argued the current proposed route would give underserved parts of the island better access to employment hubs and reduce the cost of congestion, estimated at $4 billion per year.  

The new métro line would also be the centrepiece of future efforts to combat climate change, which cannot succeed without significant investment in public transportation to relieve road congestion, she said.

Mayor Valérie Plante announced Monday that her administration is creating a project office to study the benefits of the Pink line, which would connect Montreal North to Lachine.

The planning office will receive $1 million in next year’s budget to carry out studies on the project’s future impact on urban development, mobility and socio-economic needs, she said. Those studies will complement ones already being done by the Société de transport de Montréal, she said.

She said she welcomes the proposed east-end tramway and said it could happen in parallel with the Pink LIne. The project will not only be good for Montreal but also for the entire region and province, she added.

"We want a government in the service of citizens, and we have to think of drivers before anything," Bonnardel said last week, shortly after being sworn in.

Pressed on when she thought the project could possibly happen, Plante was evasive but said the first studies by the new office will be completed by next spring.

"I'm in collaboration mode," she said, adding the city would need the province's help in order to build the Pink line, in whatever form it takes.

Plante promised during last year’s election campaign to break ground on the Pink Line by the end of her first mandate.

It is a priority for CBC to create a website that is accessible to all Canadians including people with visual, hearing, motor and cognitive challenges.

At Monday’s press conference, she also announced the creation of a six-person advisory committee on the project. They are:

Opposition Leader Lionel Perez said that one year into her mandate, Plante has made no progress on the Pink Line and only announced the creation of the office as a way of showing she was doing something about it.

Plante, for her part, insisted that she wasn't seeking confrontation with Legault's government by pushing forward with the project. 

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante says shes determined to move forward with STMs pink line, making two announcements about its development during a press conference Monday. 

"It would cost a lot, a lot, a lot of money," said Rouleau, an opposition city councillor in Montreal before the provincial election.

Plante told reporters at City Hall on Monday that a new office will be assembled, with a budget of $1 million, to assess the potential of the proposed transit project.

Monday's announcement comes amid uncertainty about the provincial government's willingness to invest in public transit projects. 

An additional advisory committee will be introduced, made up of experts. "Also with having the Pink line office within the city, its another way to complement all the technical studies the ARTM will be doing to come up with more data on the economic potential, the social development potential… surrounding a project like the pink line," said Plante.

The minister responsible for Montreal, Chantal Rouleau, also reiterated her party's opposition to the Pink line as a Metro extension. 

The pink line was one of the core promises during Plantes campaign during the municipal elections.

"We're more in favour of surface transit. In the 21st century, there are other technologies that might be more efficient."

The line, which comes with a billion-dollar price tag, is expected to link Lachine and Montreal North through a new metro line.

But making progress with the Quebec government, Plante says, could be more challenging over the next four years, because the newly-elected CAQ government, as it stands, is not as keen on the project. Its transit plan does not include any money for the pink line. Plante, however, said shes confident the project will move forward with this concrete measure in place.

The pink line will eventually ease congestion on the roads, she said, as well as decrease environmental impact and ease traffic on the orange line.