Pepper-spray incident shut down three metro lines during morning rush hour
Published Wednesday, January 9, 2019 8:55AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 9, 2019 7:03PM EST
There was a major disruption of Montreal’s metro system Wednesday morning after someone released pepper spray. The incident resulted in three metro lines being shut down at the height of rush hour.
The 30-minute service suspension was due to an "emergency response" at Champ-de-Mars station on the Orange line, according to STM spokesperson Amelie Regis.
Service on the green line went down between Lionel-Groulx and Frontenac, on the orange line, between Lionel Groulx and Beaubien, and the yellow line between Longueuil-Universite-de-Sherbrooke and Berri-UQAM stations.
Only trains on the blue line continued to circulate at a regular frequency.
According to the SPVM, a conflict between two men at Champ-de-Mars degenerated around 8:10 a.m., resulting in one of them using pepper spray inside an AZUR train.
The suspect, in his 40's, fled after the incident. No arrests were made, but the SPVM is investigating.
Meantime, two people were taken to hospital and six were treated at the scene, mainly for respiratory issues related to the spray.
Régis explained that since the Champ-de-Mars station is very close to Berri-UQAM, the service had to be interrupted on all three lines. As many as 70,000 people pass through Berri-UQAM at rush hour, and Mayor Valerie Plante said for health reasons authorities could not take any chances of the pepper spray spreading.
“Because of the air ventilation, we had to close three metro lines,” said STM Chairman Philippe Schnobb. “We wanted to avoid the fact that pepper spray would be spread around.”
Maintenance workers ventilated the stations in question. Normal service resumed at 9 a.m.
"It shows me that the emergency plan worked. I am very proud of that," Plante said.
The mayor took the opportunity to stress the importance of public transit - an issue she's been at odds with the provincial government over.
"Montreal is the economic heart of Quebec and that mobility is key," she said. "That means metro."
She used the opportunity to talk up her proposal for the pink line.
"If there's any other plan that can assure that the heart of the metro is secure and useable when there's an incident or when there's too much people - well, fair enough," Plante told reporters at City Hall. "But I do think the pink line is a good measure, a good project."
(With files from The Canadian Press)