MONTREAL -- Thousands of commuters should brace themselves for a whole new system of routes as construction on the REM ramps up in the new year.

Minister of Transport Chantal Rouleau, CEO of the ARTM Paul Cote and executive director - corporate affairs and development of CDPQ Infra Harout Chitilian presented a detailed report today on mitigation measures for work on the REM (Reseau express metropolitain).

Rouleau said, though the pain will be in the immediate future for commuters, the relief will come in time.

"There are too many cars already. We are working on that situation already, and it will come by collective transportation, so this project of the REM is the first part," she said. "There will be more REM or that type of collective transportation in the future."

The Cote Vertu bus and metro are going to see numbers rise in a big way and go from around 30,000 to almost 50,000 visitors.

"I can tell you that Cote Vertu at the present time is quite congested," said St. Laurent Mayor Alan Desousa. "I took the metro just the other day at rush our, and it was four deep."

The REM project will close the Mont-Royal tunnel in 2020 and have significant impacts on those who take the Deux-Montagnes and Mascouche trains, as they will need to take a number of transfers between different modes of transportation.

The temporary network will include a rail shuttle between Deux-Montagnes and Bois Franc, a route bypassing Mont-Royal for three departures during morning and evening rush hours on the Mascouche line with direct access to the Central Station.

Also, bus shuttles toward the orange, green and blue lines of the Montreal metro will be in place, and a shuttle in off-peak and on weekends between Deux-Montagnes and downtown.

Those shuttles will go to Cote Vertu metro.

Buses will be given preferential treatment along the redesigned routes, and the STML, STL and exo line buses will see improved service.

There will also be park-and-ride lots at the Bois-de-Boulogne Station and the Saint-Jerome train line.

Travel delays are expected to be between 20-45 minutes.

It is bound to get worse a year after January when, at some point in 2021, the Deux Montagne line will shut down entirely as crews convert the tracks and stations to the specifications for the REM.

Commuters will have to transfer to shuttle buses that will take them to nearby metro stations so they can continue their trips downtown.

Transit officials expect that will add an extra 20 to 45 minutes per trip, depending on how far away people live from the city of Montreal.

Transit price reductions

The MTQ said the rail shuttle and some of the bus shuttles will be free for users of the Deux-Montagnes line, and for current users who have an annual pulic transit pass on the Island of Montreal will get the first four months of subscription for free.

The cost after will be $86.50. 

"The train is going to be free," said Transport Quebec's Sarah Bensadoun. "The shuttle is going to be free. We wanted to make sure to put in place measures that are interesting for public transit users and we want to encourage them to stay in public transit instead of taking their cars."

Fare reductions of up to 30 per cent will also be in place for Mascouche line users.

The REM is scheduled for completion in 2023.