By Daniele Iannarone
The planned REM light-rail network is set to open in the coming years, though residents of Vaudreuil-Dorion may never see the new transit system extended west of the island of Montreal.
This comes after François Legault’s CAQ government announced this week that they will be reconstructing the Île-aux-Tourtes Bridge connecting Vaudreuil-Dorion to Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, yet not promising to free up a lane on the new bridge to allow for a potential future REM expansion.
Marie-Claude Nichols, MNA for the Vaudreuil region, says that she was clear with the CAQ government that there needed to be a reserved lane for the REM on the bridge, and is disappointed that the CAQ was not able to commit to this. “Yet again, we are disappointed to learn that the needs of our fellow citizens are not going to be taken into account,” said Nichols in a press release.
The CAQ government did, however, commit to designating a bus lane on the new bridge in both directions. According to Camille Lambert-Chan, press secretary for Junior Transport Minister Chantal Rouleau, the government will construct the new bridge with the intention of eventually operating a more advanced form of public transportation, which could be the REM light-rail.
“Engineers are going to have to think of a way that transport technology can make its way onto the bridge,” says Lambert-Chan. “But the type we cannot say for now.” She adds that there is not yet any clear time frame for the construction of the bridge, as it is currently in the stage of being planned.
For Nichols, a bus lane is simply not enough. She explains that the Vaudreuil-Dorion region is one of the fastest-growing in Canada, and technology needs to keep up with rising demand. She also cites climate change as requiring governments to move more quickly toward clean energy, saying that it’s something the CAQ is not acting upon quickly enough. “There is a total lack of vision on this,” says Nichols “All this is very long, and the citizens are paying for it.”
About the REM
Metropolitan Express Network; previously known as Réseau électrique métropolitain) is a rapid transit system under construction in the Greater Montreal area around Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The system will link several suburbs with Downtown Montreal via Central Station. It involves the conversion of the existing Deux-Montagnes commuter rail line to rapid transit standards. A station at Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport will serve as the terminus of one of the four branches.
The 67 km (42 mi) light rail system is projected to cost CA$6.3 billion. It will be independent of—but connected to—the existing Montreal Metro, operated by the STM. Trains on the network are expected to be fully automated and driverless, and it would become the fourth longest automated transportation system in the world, after the Singapore Mass Rapid Transit, Vancouver Skytrain, and Dubai Metro.