Montreal's unfinished bus terminal open for business
Published Thursday, December 8, 2011 1:16PM EST
MONTREAL - Six years after construction began -- and though the building isn't finished -- Montreal's Voyageur bus terminal has moved.
Called Ilot Voyageur, the new terminal is located at the intersection of Berri St. and Ontario St., half a block north of the old station.
As many as 300 buses arrive at and depart from the terminal every day.
All traffic transferred to the new station, now officially known as the Gare d'autocars de Montréal, without any fanfare on Thursday morning.
The parts of the building that are finished include interior depots for travellers getting on and off buses throughout the day.
However the building itself is nowhere near finished, and it's not known when, or if, that will ever happen.
"It will be perfect once it's all finished," said long-time bus user Paul Doyon.
Project brought UQAM to brink of bankruptcy
The plan for the Ilot Voyageur building was for the lower levels to house a bus station, while the upper levels would be an expansion as student housing for l'Universite du Quebec a Montreal.
Construction on the $300 million building began in 2005 and quickly ran into problems, when the university was on the brink of bankruptcy after $550 million was sunk into the building.
The provincial government handed over $200 million, but when that wasn't enough, the government stepped in and purchased the building outright in 2010.
That also convinced the Liberal government to keep post-secondary funding throughout Quebec on a tighter leash, and require schools to get approval from the government before engaging in new construction projects.
Earlier this year the province spent $60,000 on a canvas cover to wrap around the upper floors of the eight-storey building, both to protect what hasn't been finished, and to present the illusion that the building is complete.
Old terminal closed
The old terminal at Berri St. and de Maisonneuve Blvd. is now cordoned off and closed.
The lunch counter, which hasn't been upgraded in 60 years, will not reopen.
The spot used to be a lifeline for the many homeless people in the neighbourhood, said former employee Suzanne Pomerleau.
"Yesterday evening we left everything for them, and they are very, very happy," she said.
This story has been updated