Letter: The REM Is Not the Answer to Montreal’s Public Transit Problems

It was surprising to see an article in The Link in favour of the Caisse de Dépôt’s Réseau Électrique Montréal.

It does not service either Concordia campuses.

We need to extend public transit to the West Island, but along populated corridors, not through ecologically-sensitive natural green lands. We need to increase the frequency of AMT trains along the northwest train route—add a track.

Even though driving a car may be faster, there is the stress of traffic congestion and, to top it off, looking for parking and feeding the meter. Time spent on public transit by reading the newspaper, answering emails, and writing papers is time well spent.

We need to increase the reliability of buses. Let’s put some money in the budget to allow the STM to do that—electric buses too.

The Vancouver Skytrain has many breakdowns, and is stopped by snow and ice on the tracks. If you think current infrastructure construction is causing disruptions in Montreal traffic, the REM would cause even more. Cement manufacturing releases a large amount of CO2. The REM would block our views like the “L” in Chicago.

Some environmental groups support the REM only if there is no net loss of agricultural land, natural areas are not threatened, and there will be surveillance to monitor potential urban sprawl effects. But after it is built, it is too late to study urban sprawl. The REM is a recipe for sprawl. They recommend a sustainable mobility policy. We need it before any projects are considered.

These sustainable mobility plans need to be designed by our transit authorities and companies, city urban planners, and schools of urban planning, with consultation by citizens. Public transit solutions proposed by groups like Option transport durable, Pour un meilleur projet, and Transit Research at McGill demonstrate that viable alternatives perform better to build a more livable, human-centric city. Solutions might be an electric light rail train in combination with the new Champlain Bridge, an electric light train to the airport, a pink metro line between McGill and Anjou, extending metro lines, and bus lanes.

Trainsparence.ca shows us this project is just hiding the destruction of Montreal.

Jane Jacobs managed to stop expressways from damaging New York and Toronto. The REM, as planned by the Caisse de Depot, has to be stopped too.

Claire Adamson