I love finding these – so much to think about.
It goes without saying I think we need to prioritize public transit expansion in our city. We need to transition off of our over-reliance on automobiles, cut down considerably on local pollution, gridlock and the endless cycles of roadway destruction. Train, subways, buses, trams etc. are all part of a veritable transit cocktail we’ll need to build over the course of the coming generations to make public transit the principle fashion by which we get around the city.
And there’s really only one fundamental underlying reason why we need to expand – it will make money for the city and allow you to keep more of yours. Cars cost a fortune in terms of fuel, insurance, repairs and maintenance. Roads require constant renovations because of the massive quantities of corrosive salt we need to pour on them every year just to keep the roadway passable in the winter months, and this in turn means every year your tax-dollars are being wasted repeating the same work. The combination of these factors have made driving a bit of a hassle in a city which is lovely to drive in – a shame. If we had a public transit system so well developed personal automobiles were used far more sparingly, not only would the value of the car increase while its associated costs decrease, we’d also be able to potentially cut back on costs associated with road maintenance as well.
And as our recent massive snow-storm has revealed, public transit is absolutely vital when the roads are otherwise impassable, especially the systems we have (such as the Métro and Réso) which allow the city to continue operating regardless of conditions outside. It’s a strong argument for why we need to expand the Métro system and Réso concurrently, and seek to include as much direct access to residential and office buildings as possible.
But there’s no single transit system which will solve all of our transit needs, and I’m very much in favour of utilizing different systems to connect different parts of the city in different ways. That said, even if we use diverse modes, there should be a single agency running the show for the whole of the metropolitan region. I point again to Vancouver’s TransitLink as an excellent example we should follow. A single agency with a single transit police, single fare, single union, single collective bargaining agreement and most importantly, a single (massive) pension fund and planning department. More organized, lower overhead cost, more accessible – we can’t go wrong.
This would be something I’d like to see in the coming years, as it would make public transit not only more effective but efficient as well. Greater public transit integration and efficiency passes the savings back to tax-payer in better service while allowing more revenue to be generated on the whole.
Put another way, the status quo is very expensive and the cost is going to rise. If the city gets out ahead of this issue and plans for a massive transition we can start reaping the benefits sooner, and we’ll be better off the earlier we start.
That said, let’s consider three new fantasy mass transit systems I’ve recently come across.
I’ve posted plans by ‘Dashspeed’ before as I found them all pretty interesting. This one’s novel because it presents a modest Métro expansion plan along with the development of an integrated LRT system.
Métro expansions would include a five and three-station extension on either side of the Orange Line (west and east respectively) without closing the loop and six stations to the Blue Line towards Anjou. These are very likely developments given population growth in Saint-Laurent, Petite-Patrie, Rosemont, Saint-Leonard and Anjou. What’s fascinating here is the idea that the airport ought to be served by a new Métro line which in this case would follow part of the once-proposed western extension of the Blue Line and link it up with Bonaventure and Peel stations (and Gare Centrale by extension) with an apparent stop somewhere very close to the Mountain. Based on the map I wonder if the idea isn’t to dig out a Métro tunnel alongside the existing Mount Royal Tunnel. What an impressive job that would be!
I like this proposed Red Line development, but I like the proposed LRT network even more. It’s an effective way of providing a higher capacity alternative to a bus while spending less on infrastructure. Examples: the Magenta Line connects Bonaventure and Windsor station with Griffintown, Goose Village, Pointe-St-Charles and Nun’s Island, the Grey Line crosses the Champlain Bridge and serves all the South Shore communities from Brossard to Longueuil, there attaching to the Yellow Line. A Violet Line connects Papineau station, crosses the bridge and on to Saint-Hubert Airport, a Blue Line LRT runs from a proposed intermodal station at the Université de Montréal through Cote-des-Neiges, Saint-Laurent and Laval onto Mirabel Airport. Dashspeed also includes some ‘redundancy’ lines, such as the tram running along The Main from Jean-Talon to Place-d’Armes on the Métro Orange Line and along Boul. Decarie and Marcel-Laurin.
I also like how the tram lines anticipate future on-island densification, and that the West Island requires a comprehensive tram network if we have any hope of cutting back on their car dependency. I think buses have outlived their utility, and reserved-lane LRTs could serve the area much better. Also, interesting idea to have both LRTs and a Métro Line connecting directly to Trudeau.
This plan is pretty bold and would, if implemented, greatly increase the area we consider to be ‘urban Montréal’. A lot of this based on other plans touted about for years, such as extending both ends of the Blue and Green Lines, having part of the Yellow Line twinned with the Green Line in the downtown, using the Métro to connect to Trudeau Airport and closing the Orange Line to form a loop.
What’s novel here is the orientation of the map, more aligned with true north than we’re used to. Doing so makes the case for eastern and northern development a bit easier – I think we too easily forget there’s 500,000 people on the other side of the river and another half-million living in the ring of northern suburbs. These areas need to be better connected to the CBD, in a more direct fashion. The Red Line in this example would connect Griffintown, PSC, Goose Village and Nun’s Island to the CBD in addition to the Plateau and McGill Ghetto. A true North-South Line is a very novel proposal indeed, and would seek to link to separate but nonetheless iconic neighbourhoods. We could call it the Hipster Line.
Other neat ideas here – a Parc Avenue focused Métro Line linking the city with Brossard and Saint Laurent. Also, many more two-line access stations and a Métro linked directly to the Montreal General Hospital and Rockcliffe Apartments over Cote-des-Neiges road.
It also occurred to me looking at this design that spacing out stops farther away from the city is a neat solution to the problem of population density in transitional residential zones. One of the many arguments against Métro expansion is that many think it would require stops as frequent as we currently have, which in turn would make the commute very long indeed. By stretching the average distance between stations Métro trains could conceivably reach higher speeds. As population density increases new stops can be placed in between.
Our final entry is like the former heavily influenced by contemporary planning and proposals, including a Pie-IX Line going up into Montréal North and RdP, closing the Orange Line loop, and adding a few stations to the ends of the existing lines. I find this plan a bit underwhelming and think too many stations have been added to the Orange Line in Laval. I’m also not crazy about having a y-shaped Métro Line even if part of it is attached to the airport. This plan also utilizes trams, but does so as if to build bridges between Métro lines almost as if to bypass them. Final point on this one, utilizing the Mount Royal Tunnel for a Métro Line is one thing, but this makes it seem as if a Métro Line would be built under the CN track and AMT’s Deux-Montagnes Line all the way to Pierrefonds. I’m not sure what the logic is here unless.
In any event, glad people are still making these. If we truly want our city to grow we’re going to have to start thinking big about public transit in Montréal. The bigger and more useful the system, the more we all save in car-related expenses we no longer have. Not having to plunk down anywhere from $15,000-45,000 every ten-to-twelve years would mean a lot more money in your pocket.
Think about it – this isn’t hippy-dippy bullshit, it’s basic economics and the cost of a personal car is high and getting higher. Providing an efficient and comprehensive alternative throughout the metropolitan region by extension transfers a considerable amount of disposable income back into the pockets of the citizenry.
A thought for the New Year perhaps. Change is coming in November.