PQ expects extending Metro's Blue line to Anjou will cost $2 billion
A host of provincial ministers and Montreal officials gathered Friday to announce that, once again, the feasibility of extending Montreal's metro lines will be studied.
Transportation Minister Sylvain Gaudreault said the Blue line extension must happen, and the first step in creating a group to draw up specific plans and locations.
He later told a radio interviewer that the extension "would cost between $1.5 billion and $2 billion, maximum."
The province is setting aside $38.8 million to create an office which will look at creating five new metro stations on the Blue line, stretching from St. Michel to Anjou. That group will also draw up plans to extend the Yellow and Orange lines.
Minister for Montreal Jean-Francois Lisée said the provincial government had no idea how much an extension would cost, nor how long it would take.
"The rough estimate is between $250 and 300 million per kilometre," said Lisée. "We're not committed now to a figure because we don't know enough about it and we want to be responsible and transparent."
Analysts have projected a $940-million cost to extend the Blue line, and expect it would take at least six years. The Orange line extension to Laval, completed in 2007, cost $750 million.
At Friday's announcement the PQ government said pushing the Blue line eastward could convince 80,000 people to abandon cars and buses for the metro system, and would likely convince developers to build 12,000 new homes in the city of Montreal's east end.
They also predicted the new tunnel would create 9,000 jobs.
One expert criticized the plan in an interview with CTV Montreal.
“I think the government has a priority problem,” said McGill Urban Planning Professor Ahmed El-Geneidy. “There are a lot of better investments, for example, there are 300 metro cars that need to be upgraded from 1967 and 1976.”
He said that metro suicide barriers, wheelchair accessibility and an overground train to the east end would be better ways to spend the money.
El-Geneidy said that his studies have also shown that beefing up the orange line would be more useful than adding to the relatively-unpopular blue line.
Extensions to Montreal's Metro system have been oft-discussed but rarely realized. The AMT confirmed that an extension of the Blue line alone has been part of 110 separate reports.
The most recent analyses on the topic happened In 2009 and again in 2011. In 2009 the mayors of Montreal, Laval and Longueuil asked the provincial government to cough up $3 billion for a 20-kilometre extension of the Orange, Yellow and Blue lines. That proposal included looping the Orange line through Laval, pushing the Blue line east, and extending the Yellow line further into the south shore.
In 2011 the Agence metropolitain de transport (AMT) unveiled a $17-billion plan Tuesday to overhaul Montreal's public transit system by the year 2020, part of which included metro line extensions.