Last August, Montreal’s transit agency promised Notre-Dame-de-Grâce residents that they would be getting their very own bus lane on Sherbrooke Street West — and that it would be up and running by November.
The bus lane is meant to run eastward, from Elmhurst Avenue to Vendôme Metro station, in the mornings, and westward in the evening rush hour.
Tune in to CBC Montreal TV at 5 and 6 p.m. for Leah Hendry's report on the reserved bus lane in DDO.
But it’s halfway through November, and no bus lane has materialized on NDG’s main artery.
Now, STM vice-chairman and city councillor Marvin Rotrand is saying NDG residents will have to wait until the spring to get the reserved bus lane.
Rotrand says a few factors are at play in the prolonged delay: first, the City of Montreal hasn’t begun changing the traffic lights that would, in some cases, give buses priority over regular traffic.
He also says the putting off of the demolition of the St-Jacques viaduct has reduced the urgency of the bus lane.
Finally, Rotrand says, it comes down to timing.
“It makes sense to do it in the spring,” he says, explaining that they would need to repaint the lane after the winter anyway.
NDG’s ongoing traffic trouble
The 2011 census pinned the population of the Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough at 165,031, making it the fourth most densely populated borough in Montreal.
On top of that, the borough is also home to several schools, including Concordia University’s Loyola campus and Royal Vale, Villa Maria and Loyola high schools.
In August, Rotrand estimated that the 105 bus route and the 420 Express NDG route have about 13,000 daily users.
But traffic has been particularly chaotic over the past couple of years due to construction around Vendôme metro station.
The detours and delays have some residents grumbling about how slowly the bus moves along Sherbrooke St. W.
“Usually in the morning, the early morning time, it’s 15 minutes. When there’s a traffic jam, it’s more than 30 minutes,” one resident told CBC Montreal’s Daybreak.
“I walk faster than the buses get to the metro from here,” said another resident. “I don’t even bother taking the buses.”
NDG city councillor Peter McQueen says there are some things that could be done in the interim while residents wait until spring for the bus lane, including moving the bus stop at Cavendish past the traffic light and removing some of the metered parking that flanks either side of Sherbrooke St. W.
“I think our borough should start, no more delays,” McQueen says. “Let’s start taking some steps, especially that morning lane — that’s what people are complaining about.”
Too many cars in DDO, says mayor
The people of NDG may be waiting for their bus lane, but in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, a bus lane on St. John’s Boulevard that has been in operation for a bit more than a year also has some residents grumbling.
This time, it’s the drivers who find themselves facing gridlock during rush hour times who are complaining.
DDO Mayor Ed Janiszewski says local council began discussing reserved bus lanes on St. John’s Boulevard about 18 months ago and decided to give them a try in August 2012.
“We did want to encourage public transport, because the road was blocked regardless,” he says, referring to the stretch of St. John’s between Pierrefonds Blvd. and the Fairview shopping centre and bus terminal.
On weekday mornings between 6 and 9:30 a.m., the outside southbound lane of St. John’s operates as a reserved bus lane, while the outside northbound lane serves as the reserved lane between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m.
Janiszewski says that, while he’s heard complaints from residents saying the bus lane is the root of the traffic problem, the real problem is the number of cars on the road.
“It’s not the bus lane. It’s the quantity of automobiles,” he says.
He says until more people give up their cars in exchange for public transit or carpooling, the problem on St. John’s will persist.