A flurry of news in the past month has given Montrealers new hope for the future of transit in the city. The completion of the new Champlain Bridge between the South Shore and Montreal Island is the most promising sign of advances to come.
At the centre of the enormous new structure are dedicated lanes for the new Réseau express métropolitain (REM), the light-rail train network that will better connect dense suburbs, the airport, and downtown Montreal.
But officials have made other important gains, too. In a deal between the city of Montreal and provincial government announced at the end of June, the city is also set to contruct its first tramway since the discontinuation of the streetcar network in the 1950s.
The new tram line, Montreal mayor Valérie Plante claims, will compose the western branch of her promised "pink line" addition to the STM network.
Then, at the beginning of July, Justin Trudeau announced that his government would provide funding for the long-planned extension of the STM blue line to the east-end borough of Anjou.
Though it will be years (even a decade) before all of these projects come to fruition, it's fun to imagine how the new, expanded transit system will alter the city landscape. That's why we've put together a provisional map of what the Montreal rail network might look like when construction finally comes to an end:
To do this, we've made use of both exisiting diagrams of ongoing projects as well as statements from public officials. This map is not definitive, but does give a good idea of what Montrealers may expect in the (hopefully) near future.
In the map above, you can zoom in and explore the particulars of each extension or line addition.
Below are the details of each project.
Blue line extension to Anjou (light blue on map)
The blue line extension to the Galeries d'Anjou has long been in the works. In July, prime minister Trudeau promised the funds that will finally propel the project forward. According to the STM website, the 5-station extension will follow rue Jean-Talon with stops at boul. Pie-IX, rue Viau, boul. Lacordaire, boul. Langelier, and boul. les-Galeries-d'anjou.
The extension will go a long way toward making transit more accessible in the underserved East End and give commuters along autoroutes 40 and 25 an alternative to driving into the downtown.
Howevever, there are concerns that the elongated blue line will only draw more passengers to the overcrowded orange line.
Construction on the blue line extension is set to wrap up in 2026.
'Pink line' streetcar to Lachine (light pink)
At the end of June, mayor Plante announced that the city had secured a promise from the provincial government to fund a tramway that will run from the borough of Lachine to the downtown.
Plante claimed this announcement as a victory for her proposed 'pink line' project — a new line that she hopes will one day run from Montréal Nord, through the downtown, and into Lachine.
But though there is no definite route for the new tram, it will likely take a path different from that which Plante initially proposed.
As the Montreal Gazette points out, provincial minister for Montreal Chantal Rouleau has suggested that the tram will run along rue Notre-Dame. The Coalition Avenir Québec (the governing party) has already proposed that path for a tram between Montréal Est and the downtown (in purple in the map below from the CAQ):
Earlier reports placed Plante's pink line route slightly further north, turning into Montréal-Ouest before continuing through Monkland Village and meeting the orange line at Vendôme station.
In our own map above, we have depicted the tramway as a route along rue Notre-Dame (ave. Victoria in Lachine). In a tweet, the mayor seems to have confirmed that this is the most probable route.
Since the eastern branch of the tram system is not definite, it is so far unclear where the new 'pink line' will end. In our map, for convenience, it concludes near the Gare Central.
There is no timeline for the construction of the new tram.
Réseau express métropolitain (REM; light green)
Construction on the REM is already well underway. In addition to the track along the new Champlain bridge, crews are at work to excavate new stations below the Édouard-Montpetit and McGill metro stations.
When all three of its lines are complete in 2025, the REM will provide faster and more frequent service between Deux-Montagnes, the Montreal West Island, Airport, downtown, and Brossard on the South Shore. The light rail line will also connect with the orange, green, and blue metro lines.
We composed the REM routes on our map using information on the project website.
Watch the video below for a preview of a ride inside one of the REM cars:
Proposed orange line extension to Bois-Franc (light orange)
This is the least definite project on this list, though it has received a lot of attention recently.
The extension of the western branch of the orange line from Côte-Vertu to the exisiting Bois-Franc station would allow commuters to transfer from a regional train line to the metro without going downtown, thus alleviating congestion in the city core.
The proposal has taken on an increased sense of urgency in light of the Royalmount project — a mega mall and residential development in the Town of Mount Royal. The line extension to Bois-Franc would reduce the additional traffic brought by the project.
Though, according to La Presse, the provincial government has expressed interest in the project, there are no plans to construct it.
The future of other proposals for the expansion of rail service in Montreal, like Plante's line to Montréal Nord and the CAQ's tram in the east, remain uncertain.
What are your dreams for the future of public transit in Montreal? Have you noticed construction crews at work on the REM?
Stay tuned to MTLBlog for more transit news.