On Wednesday, Ensemble Montréal announced a proposal to extend the orange line. The Mayor of the Borough of Saint-Laurent and spokesman on transportation, Alan DeSousa, proposed a motion to the Quebec government, asking them to commit to extending the STM's orange line from Côte-Vertu to the future Réseau express métropolitain (REM) station at Bois-Franc. 

Since it was announced that the federal government would finance the remainder of the blue line extension, Mayor DeSousa thought it was appropriate to present this motion to the city of Montreal and the provincial government. 

I spoke with Mayor Alan DeSousa to find out more about his proposal to extend the orange line.

According to Mayor DeSousa, the last work that was done on the orange line in Montreal was in 1986 (though an extension to Laval opened in 2007). Apparently, there was always an intent to extend it to reach the Deux-Montagnes train station and now, Bois-Franc. 

"In 2009 the government of Quebec put in place a bureau de projects to examine metro extensions. The three proposals that they considered were the blue line extension, the extension of the orange line, and the Yellow line. Out of that report that was deposited in September 2013, the priority was given to the blue line. The orange line though, scored very well, very high on all aspects. That being said, the blue line took priority."

Though the orange line wasn't given priority at first, Mayor DeSousa understands that the blue line had to take precedence. 

"There was no quibble with it, the project was studied, the approvals were sought and the financing — which was the most recent part of the puzzle — was put in place on July 4th when the Prime Minister announced that the Government of Canada would be financing the remaining portions of the blue line extension." 

According to him, now's the perfect time for the city of Montreal to get behind a project to extend the orange line and as he says, "to put it on track."

Since the blue line extension was first approved, there has been a lot of stirring to go ahead with the orange line project. 

"Things have evolved — we've had the addition of the REM and as a result, the orange line extension takes on an added interest. One, because there's an increased number of passengers that would be brought to the REM in Bois-Franc and because the REM would need some sort of connectivity with the orange line for security purposes and client service purposes."  

"The orange line extension has been given new impetus. In recent times, there have been other issues that have cropped up such as a proposed development West of Decarie and that caused experts to give a mandate to the city of Montreal to extend the orange line to Bois-Franc."

Many government officials in the city of Montreal have shown their support for the orange line extension. According to Mayor DeSousa, all sides of the aisle agree with this proposal.

"The Minister of the metropole, Chantal Rouleau was in agreement, the Mayor, Valérie Plante was in agreement, and the other people responsible for transport signified their agreement, all of a sudden — there seems to be a broad consensus that's developing. As soon as the blue line was given the Green Light, I thought it was appropriate to bring forth the resolution to the council so the orange line can get the priority it deserves." 

In fact, Mayor DeSousa is meeting with federal government officials in the next few days to discuss this proposal. In a week and a half, he plans to bring the motion forward to the city council, which will hopefully get through with unanimous support. 

"If the council approves it, it'll send a strong message to the provincial government about the importance of it." The timeline for the project is still up in the air, but Mayor DeSousa hopes it can happen soon. 

"The REM will be constructed and operational by 2023. The distance from Côte-Vertu to the Bois Franc station is barely 2.2 kilometres, of which 1.2 kilometres is already constructed as a tunnel because of the garage that has been constructed. All that remains is 1 kilometre of tunnelling. It's quite possible for the government to greenlight this proposal. The timeline for making it happen can be done almost in parallel with the REM or shortly thereafter." 

The benefits of extending the orange line would supposedly be huge as well. From economic opportunities to real estate development, there's plenty of reason to be optimistic about an orange line extension.

"It would take many cars off the road, it would reduce huge amounts of greenhouse gases and will stimulate economic development and providing access to public transit for workers in the area. The benefits have all been well documented and I think this project is ready to roll."

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