Controversy and reversal after talk of dropping station from blue-line metro plans
MONTREAL -- Public transit advocates are breathing a sigh of relief after an apparent reversal from the Quebec Transport Ministry.
La Presse reported Tuesday that the province was considering scrapping one of the five proposed metro stations on the blue line extension in order eliminate cost overrun.
But in a statement to CTV News, a spokesperson for Chantal Rouleau, Quebec’s junior transport minister, seemed to change the ministry’s position.
“Minister Chantal Rouleau is still expecting a metro extension with five new stations, to Anjou, that respects the budget of $4.5 billion,” the statement reads.
“Our expectations are clear and this is the mandate that the task force has.”
CTV News asked if eliminating a station is still on the table.
“That’s not in the mandate,” the spokesperson responded.
The blue line extension has not yet broken ground, but the province is already looking for ways to rein in the budget. Advocates insist it can be done without shrinking the size of the project.
“It has to be built with five stations,” said Francois Pepin, chairman of Trajectoire Quebec, a non-profit organization that advocates for universal access to public transit.
He says it’s vital the extension go all the way to Anjou, as planned.
“For many, many years, people from the east end, south and north of the Galleries d’Anjou, even in Riviere-des-Prairie and Pointe-Aux-Trembles, [have been asking] for a link to the shopping centre,“ he said.
Simply removing a station, doesn’t make sense, he insists.
“It’s not a good solution,” he said. “The main cost is the tunnel, so getting one station out of the project won't save a lot of money.”
Mayor Valerie Plante said she's also against the idea of eliminating one of the stations.
“I don’t think we would gain anything,” she said. “If you build, you build for the long term.”
According to the mayor, the committee that oversees the project is already working on solutions.
“Less entry/exit points, that could be a way, or to cut on the parking space,” she said. “But, for me, what's been very clear is we cannot reduce the stations."
The mayor also suggested the city could make use of land already expropriated for the project, but not needed for construction.
She said building housing developments on the land could help raise revenues, offsetting the cost of construction.