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Gérald Tremblay used a Montreal Transit Corp. bus to get to his news conference on Sunday. ((CBC))

Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay says his No. 1 priority will be improving public transit using revenues from a network of tolls.

Making his first promise of the election campaign, Tremblay said Sunday the toll network, which would include access to the city from Laval and Longueuil, could bring in as much as $400 million for the region.

The money would be used to fund measures aimed at reducing the number of drivers on the roads by 15 per cent over the next decade, and to increase public transit use by eight per cent by 2012, Tremblay said.

In order to implement the toll system, Tremblay said, the city would require the help of the provincial government.

He said the toll would operate with a system of cameras that would capture a car's licence plate number — meaning the city would require access to the province's registry of licence plates.

Tremblay said his Union Montreal party's commitments also include:

  • Extending the Metro's Orange line to St-Laurent, and extending  the Blue line to Anjou.
  • Creating a light-rail link between downtown and Montreal-Trudeau airport.
  • Modernizing the Montreal Transit Corp.'s fleet of buses by completing the purchase of 200 articulated buses by 2011, and buying 400 new buses over the next four years.
  • Starting the process to replace Metro cars, and adding new trains to increase passenger capacity.
  • Launching a reserved bus lane on Pie-IX boulevard starting in 2010.
  • Reaching the objective of 800 kilometres of bicycle paths by 2013.
  • Launching a tramway linking Lachine and downtown.
  • Continuing discussions with the Quebec government to link Highway 440 and Highway 40 via Jacques-Bizard Boulevard to support the development of the West Island.

Recycled ideas: opposition

Tremblay's opponents accuse him of recycling old ideas.

"The orientations are good," said Vision Montreal Leader Louise Harel. "But the danger is that they will become a catalogue of good intentions."

Harel said she did not object to the tolls in principle, but that some of the money should be spent on improving the city's infrastructure.

Several of the mayor's commitments are already outlined in the city's transportation plan, adopted in 2008, said Projet Montreal Leader Richard Bergeron — ideas he said are the brainchild of his own party.

"[But],there is nothing that is moving forward," Bergeron said. "Tolls — it has been 10 years that we've been talking about that."

Tremblay said his party will also outline commitments aimed at improving the city's quality of life, economic and cultural development and the environment.

Montreal voters go to the polls on Nov. 1.