Quebec opts for LRT on new Champlain Bridge
MONTREAL—If the Quebec government gets its way, a light rail line will run on a Champlain Bridge replacement when it opens in 2021.
Quebec Transport Minister Sylvain Gaudreault announced the creation of an office on Friday with a $28 million budget to study and coordinate the LRT plan.
The actual bridge, which should cost between $1.5 and $2 billion, will be funded by the federal government.
The Conservative government has yet to commit funds to the train project, with federal Transport Minister Denis Lebel stating that Quebec can fund the LRT line if it decides to go along with that plan.
However, Gaudreault pointed out that Ottawa had already funded similar rail projects in Ontario and British Columbia.
In the past, Ottawa had asked Quebec to create a proposal for integrated public transit on the future bridge. So far, the PQ’s plan for LRT is long on ambition and short on detail.
“It is in synch with our industrial strategy to electrify our transport,” said Jean-Francois Lisee, the minister responsible for Montreal.
“We've decided not to get in to estimates because of the fact that we've been burned before, Montrealers have been burned before with estimates that are in the end off the map,” Lisee continued.
About the only detail Quebec is willing to divulge is that the LRT would run on electricity. An electric train is more environmentally friendly than a bus and can carry a lot more people.
Currently, 22,000 people use buses to cross the bridge in rush hour—the Champlain Bridge is Canada’s busiest span.
“The number of people who will want to cross this bridge will increase significantly in the next ten, twenty years,” said Lisee. “With the LRT a 100,000 will be able to use the LRT instead of the buses.”
The Agence Metropolitaine de Transport has the task of coming up with estimates for the route and the total cost.
“It's going to be 15 kilometer LRT with seven or eight station,” said AMT President Nicolas Girard.
The compete trip from the south shore to downtown Montreal: just under twenty minutes. However, Girard thinks it'll be about two-and-a-half years before a final plan is ready.
In the meantime, negotiations will begin among all levels of government on how to share the costs.
While Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum likes the idea the trick will be coming up with the money to pay for it
“We've been asking the provincial government to come up and allow us to receive 0.5 cents on gas and also on registrations in order to finance public transit in the future,” said Applebaum.
A small price, the mayor said, for a greener future.