Quebecs transport minister fails to see Pink after ride on Orange line – CBC.ca

Quebec\s transport minister fails to see Pink after ride on Orange line - CBC.ca
Transport minister gets taste of rush hour in metro as Plante makes case for pink line
Quebec Transport Minister François Bonnardel finally took a ride on the Metro's packed Orange line, but it didn't convince him the Pink line is necessary.

Bonnardel said after a trip during the morning rush hour the province is working to alleviate pressure and "we have many projects on the table."

Quebec transport minister rides the métro, says I already understood

When asked about the Pink line, Bonnardel said the province already has a plan in place to improve mobility.

Bonnardel acknowledged the Metro wasn't necessarily as busy as usual, given it was a sunny day after a long weekend and many university students have wrapped up classes.

Orange Line overcrowding is “a situation that we consider seriously and we have a lot of projects for Montreal,” Bonnardel said, pointing to the métro’s Blue Line extension, an under-construction rapid-bus system on Pie-IX Blvd. and the new métro garage at Côte-Vertu station.

"That being said, we know, I mean we've all seen pictures and videos being posted of how crowded it can get," he told reporters.

Tuesday's ride came after repeated invitations from Mayor Valérie Plante to take the Orange line during peak hours.

She had suggested that the minister was "out of touch" when he dismissed her proposed Pink line.

Bonnardel previously stated the Pink line was not "a priority in the short, medium and long term."

The Société de transport de Montréal says the Orange Line reached capacity in 2011 and has surpassed it every year since. At rush hour, some riders must wait for two or three packed trains to go by before being able to board.

Plante said Tuesday it was important that the transport minister witness the problem on the Orange line first hand. 

Bonnardel also dismissed Plante’s contention that the CAQ’s proposed Réseau express métropolitain (REM) light-rail extensions to Laval, Chambly and St-Jean-sur-Richelieu will exacerbate congestion on the Orange Line.

She said it's good news that more people are relying on public transit to get to work but, at the same time, the congestion shows improvements are needed.

But after their ride, Transport Minister François Bonnardel and Chantal Rouleau, the minister responsible for the Montreal region, stood by their government’s existing plan, which does not include the Pink Line.

The proposed Pink line would link Montréal-Nord to downtown with nearly 20 stations without going through Berri-UQAM station.

Plante, for her part, said she hopes the métro journey will help the ministers understand the plight of métro users and the need to improve the situation so more car drivers are convinced to switch to transit.

Quebec Premier François Legault, however, has said he favours expanding the Blue line to the east and hasn't earmarked any money for the Pink line.

Mayor Valérie Plante hosted two powerful provincial ministers on a packed Orange Line on Tuesday, including one she has accused of being disconnected from reality when it comes to Montreal public transit.

She leaves early with hopes of beating the rush, but she often finds herself waiting every morning for a few trains to pass before she finds room.

"I leave at 6:30 in the morning to be able to avoid the 7:30 jam inside the Metro," she told CBC News on Tuesday. "You sometimes get a seat."

The CAQ MNAs were responding to an invitation Plante extended in February after Bonnardel said the Pink Line was “not a priority, short, medium or long term, for our government.”

Hearing that the transport minister was taking the Metro for a ride, she said it will give him a chance to see what Montrealers go through every day just to get to work.

“Yes, we want more public transit across the Montreal region but we have to ensure that the heart of the network — the Orange Line — continues to beat strongly.”

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Quebec Transport Minister Francois Bonnardel rode the rails of Montreals metro system during rush hour on Tuesday morning.

Bonnardels voyage came at the invitation of Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante, whose proposal of building a new pink line for the metro has received a lukewarm response from the Coalition Avenir Quebec government. Plante has called Bonnardel out of touch for dismissing the project.

The transport minister has said the pink line is not a priority in the short, medium or long term. On Tuesday, he refused to say whether his ride on the metro had changed his mind. 

Plante, Bonnardel and Minister Responsible for the Montreal Region Chantal Rouleau travelled on the orange line before attending a press briefing.

"It was a little packed this morning," Bonnardel acknowledged, noting that with many university students done classes for summer, the situation could have been worse. "Its a situation that well consider seriously. Well see what projects well prioritize in the future."

He and Rouleau said transit projects already in the works will provide relief on the Orange Line. They were vague when asked about the Pink Line.

In February, Plante thanked Bonnardel for accepting her invitation to try the orange line, which transports hundreds of thousands of Montrealers every day. Plante has called the line oversaturated and said the proposed pink line would alleviate the pressure by offering a new way to reach the downtown core.

Rouleau said the CAQ government is looking forward to an ARTM study of the Montreal region’s transit needs over the next 30 years.

"We all see pictures and videos being posted of how crowded it can get on the orange line," said Plante. "I keep on saying the orange line is the heart of our metro network and the entire network in Montreal, whether you live in Laval, Longueuil or Montreal, you see the orange line often. Its about doing what needs to be done to make sure the heart of the network stays strong."

Earlier this month Plante said she had concerns about plans to expand the REM light rail network thats currently under construction, saying she believes it would overload the existing metro network. Bonnardel said nothing is set in stone and the government is waiting for proposals from the Caisse de Depots infrastructure wing on what the expansion could look like. 

Then, it will “necessarily be studied” by the provincial government was as far as Bonnardel would go.

The orange line is always packed. I understand the situation, said Bonnardel. The situation is complicated for the user, for sure. But we have to have more solutions for them – and I really think in the future we will have more projects that will help Montreal.

At a CAQ national convention in May 2018 before his election as premier, CAQ leader Francois Legault said the party had not worked the pink line into its financial framework, saying there are already two metro lines for Montreals downtown.

The STM will add more trains to the orange line later this year and an express bus from Beaubien to Papineau later this fall – but those are long short-term solutions said transit advocate Francois Pepin of Trajectoire Quebec.

We need to think, with the work of the Autorite Regionale de Transport Metropolitain, of an integrated plan long-term to ease the pressure of the orange line, he said.