1674500180 565 million to improve service on Montreal subways blue line

$565 million to improve service on Montreal subway’s blue line

The project, announced jointly on Monday by Transport and Sustainable Mobility Minister Geneviève Guilbault and Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, aims to introduce new technology that will manage the spacing between trains more effectively and provide better Control over them ensures speed and smoother and safer lane changes.

The new real-time train control system CBTC (Communications-based Train Control) aims to optimize the management of metro traffic on the blue line and possibly on the other lines of the STM network. The current management system is almost 50 years old.

The tender was launched on Monday morning, Minister Guilbault confirmed.

The majority of the project is being funded by the Quebec government in the amount of $296.6 million. The City of Montreal will contribute $65.6 million through the STM. A federal government funding request for the remaining $202 million is currently the subject of negotiations between Quebec and Ottawa, Geneviève Guilbault said.

This technological change will improve the reliability, frequency and comfort of trains at departures and stops. Initially installed on the blue line, the technology is then to be implemented throughout the network.

The STM AZUR train on the tracks of a Montreal metro station

The current train protection system has been in use for almost 50 years.

Photo: Radio Canada / Karine Morin

“We are making a strong gesture to support metropolitan public transportation and increase sustainable mobility in East Montreal. »

— A quote from Geneviève Guilbault, Minister for Transport and Sustainable Mobility

extension of the blue line

The implementation of this new train management system is in line with the nearly six kilometer extension of the blue line, which is due to be completed by 2029. The implementation of the entire system on this line – which will have five others – must be completed in 2028.

We are using the blue line extension because we will definitely need a train control system in the five new blue line stations to install a new one, a modern one similar to what is being done elsewhere in the world,” explained Geneviève Guilbault.

Remember that the tender for the construction of the tunnel and the preparation of the land for the future blue line stations was launched last December.

This project will ensure the technological viability of the metro network for decades to come, says STM Director General Marie-Claude Léonard.

“That support [des gouvernements] will be critical to ensuring the survival of Quebec’s public transit system for years to come. »

— A quote from Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montreal

Those hundreds of millions of dollars spent on modernizing the Montreal subway are certainly good news for the Société de transport de Montréal, which is struggling to recover from the decline in visitors recorded since the pandemic.

A situation that had an impact on the finances of the transport company, which ended its 2022 with a deficit of 43 million dollars and an expected deficit of almost 78 million dollars for 2023. Deficits that have already forced the STM to reduce rather than increase their service offerings to attract more users.

Rethinking the financing of transport companies

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante.

Photo: Radio Canada

Although public transit funding was a challenge even before the pandemic, COVID has exposed the limitations of the public transit funding model, said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante.

Rider numbers, stagnant at around 70% of their pre-pandemic levels, are now a reality for STM to grapple with. This forces the transport company to perform acrobatics to balance its finances while maintaining an efficient level of service and reasonable fares.

In addition, there is a significant increase in labor and building material costs, which is driving up the prices of all ongoing projects.

“We have no choice but to find new financing solutions, because obviously we can no longer rely on the gas tax for obvious reasons. »

— A quote from Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montreal

The last thing a transport company wants to do is cut back on their services. We want to attract people to public transit so as not to be forced to stop service, the Mayor of Montreal pleaded.

According to Qs, the quality of daily service must come first

A situation denounced by Quebec Solidaire MP Etienne Grandmont, for whom the government of the CAQ is multiplying the announcements of public transport projects for the future, while the service is currently declining in the large metropolitan areas of Quebec.

“It looks like the minister is much more interested in cutting ribbons than making sure the service is really good and appropriate. »

— A quote from Etienne Grandmont, spokesman for Québec solidaire on transport and sustainable mobility

We welcome this news of investing in the Montreal subway, Mr. Grandmont assured. Despite this, it is still surprising to see this type of announcement when, on the other hand, we see that the minister responsible for transport and sustainable mobility refuses to wash her hands when asked whether to support transport companies , if they have operating deficits.

More than a million people use the Montreal subway to get around every day.