STM adding service to Orange line to curb 'sardine class'
The STM is taking immediate steps to improve the commute for people who rely on the Orange metro line: it will add extra trains during rush hour and launch new bus routes.
The line from Laval to downtown Montreal is notoriously overcrowded during the rush hour, with Montreal City Hall saying that metro passengers were frequently packed in like sardines.
Upwards of 20,000 people get on the Orange line between Beaubien and Berri-UQAM each weekday, which the STM says is the busiest stretch of the entire metro system.
Metro riders trying to board at those stops frequently have to wait for several trains to pass before they can get on.
Over the next few years the western half of the Orange line is expected to get more crowded as REM construction will force riders on the Deux-Montagnes train line to disembark in TMR.
To deal with the flood of commuters, as of September the STM will add extra trains to the line during rush hour and launch several new bus routes.
Two of the trains will leave the Henri Bourassa station, while three others will be waiting on secondary tracks near Cremazie, Berri-UQAM, and Lionel-Groulx in case of delays on one section of tracks.
One bus route, the 445 Papineau Express, will mostly run parallel to the Orange line. It will start at 20th Ave. and Bellechasse St., then go south on Papineau Ave., ultimately ending around Peel and De la Gauchetiere before reversing the journey.
Replacing the 435, the 465 Cote des Neiges Express will run from the Mount Royal train stop along Cote des Neiges to René Levesque and through the downtown core and back.
The 480 will run from Guy and St. Mathieu along René Levesque to Park Ave, then head toward the Park metro station, and the area northwest of that station.
Mayor Valerie Plante said she hoped the options would convince people to ditch their cars and take public transit.
"If the options that are out there are comfortable and fast and efficient, then people will say you know, I'd rather be in a subway that's fast and doesn't stop and not stuck in traffic," said Plante.
"The more we invest into public transit the more people are interested."
Plante touts Pink line
Plante took the opportunity to reference her signature transit plan, the Pink line.
“We are doing everything we can with the tools that we have, but in the medium and long term there has to be more than that and that comes from other levels of government,” she said.
To date, the Quebec government has shown little interest in the Pink line.
But Plante said more public transit is the best way to get people out of their cars.
“The more we invest into public transit, the more people are interested and feel like, ‘Yeah, I could switch,” said Plante.
The city is spending $1 million this year to study the Pink line. The earliest estimates show the Pink line would not be operational before 2028.
Riders like plans for more service
Riders packed into the Orange line during Monday's commute were happy to hear plans to add more buses.
"I think more bus and reserve lanes would be more cost-effective," said Thomas Doyon, although he preferred trains to buses.
"The advantage of the subway is that it's not affected by the traffic on the surface. I mean it's a constant flow; they control the flow."
One rider, who did not want to give her name, said the Orange line was "insanely crowded, claustrophobic and disgusting," although it was still the easiest way for her to get to work.