New proposed path for the REM de l'Est. Right: Mayor Valérie Plante's 2017 proposal for a pink metro line.

New proposed path for the REM de l'Est. Right: Mayor Valérie Plante's 2017 proposal for a pink metro line.

After the original plans for the so-called Montreal REM de l'Est fell apart, a group is proposing a new light-rail line with a slightly different path — a path that resembles Mayor Valérie Plante's signature proposal for a "pink" metro line.

First, a recap.

You may recall that the REM de l'Est was proposed in December 2020 as East-End Montreal's response to the under-construction Réseau express métropolitain, a light-rail metro line that will connect the South and North Shores, West Island, Montreal-Trudeau Airport and downtown.

The REM de l'Est was to be a sister network, running from boulevard Robert-Bourassa downtown east along rue Notre-Dame parallel to the green line and splitting into two branches, one that would go up to Montréal-Nord and another that would continue east to the neighbourhood of Pointe-aux-Trembles at the tip of Montreal Island.

The project faced almost immediate pushback from the communities it would traverse. Many argued its elevated tracks would be a blight on downtown neighbourhoods. The regional transit planning organization, the ARTM, also raised concerns the REM de l'Est would suck ridership from the nearby green line.

The controversy was enough for the City of Montreal and the Government of Quebec to take over the planning of the REM de l'Est from its original designer, CDPQ Infra, and scrap the downtown segment, leaving only a single line between Pointe-aux-Trembles and Montréal-Nord with no direct connection to the centre of the city.

That brings us to the present proposal.

The plan, by the heads of urban development organizations Vivre en Ville and the Société de développement Angus (SDA), would still have two branches to Pointe-aux-Trembles and Montréal Nord.

But instead of going down rue Notre-Dame toward downtown, the branches would meet farther north, near the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, and travel southwest through Rosemont and the Plateau-Mont-Royal, neighbourhoods that currently lack extensive rail service.

New proposed path for the REM de l'Est.New proposed path for the REM de l'Est.Vivre en Ville and the Société de développement Angus (SDA)

Vivre en Ville and the SDA's REM de l'Est would have five points of connection with the STM metro system, bypassing the busy Berri-UQAM station with stops at Sherbrooke and Saint-Laurent stations and a western terminus near Bonaventure station and the Gare Centrale.

Proponents say that under this proposal, it would be just a 28-minute ride from Montréal-Nord and a 35-minute ride from Pointe-aux-Trembles to get to the Gare Centrale.

New proposed path for the REM de l'Est.New proposed path for the REM de l'Est.Vivre en Ville and the Société de développement Angus (SDA)

The proposed route recalls that of Mayor Plante's proposed "pink line," which, according to a 2017 plan, would cut diagonally across the city from Montréal-Nord, through the Plateau and past Berri-UQAM to downtown.

Mayor Val\u00e9rie Plante's 2017 proposal for a pink metro line.Mayor Valérie Plante's 2017 proposal for a pink metro line.Projet Montréal

"We are putting on the table a structuring and ambitious project that will ensure wide geographic coverage of the East, particularly for a clientele that is currently underserved, and a direct link with the heart of the city," SDA President and CEO Christian Yaccarini said of the new proposal.

"The new REM de l'Est would give the desired impetus to accelerate the revitalization and development of the territory, both from an economic perspective and in terms of social and ecological transition."

"The time has come to put an end to decades of neglect and half measures for the East."

We'll see if the plans go anywhere.

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