The people on Montreal's North Shore have finally received their Train de l'est — five years late and grossly overbudget.
The agency responsible for commuter trains, the AMT, originally announced the plan for the Train de l'est in 2006 and estimated it would cost $300 million.
It was supposed to be up and running by 2009.
- 2006: Train de l'est announcement
- 2007: Bombardier clinches deal for new commuter trains
- Links between Mascouche mayor, contractors probed
If the first day is any indication, the line will be popular.
The first train was already nearly full by the time it got to Repentigny, the third station on the line originating from Mascouche.
AMT president Nicolas Girard said he believed severe traffic congestion had people on the North Shore looking to "try something else."
"I think it's an historic moment for public transit because the Mascouche line is the biggest mass train project since the Laval Metro in 2007," Girard said.
$61,000 per user
The AMT estimates the line will see 11,000 daily users, or 5,500 passengers for both the morning and evening rush hours.
Considering the project cost $671 million, that makes for an investment of $61,000 per user.
Girard told CBC Daybreak on Monday the initial $300-million pricetag announced in 2006 was never a true reflection of how much the train line would cost.
He said it was wrong to rush a sticker price on the project.
Girard said some of the early delays were due to poor management — including at the city level.
"What we did we put in place more effective management to complete this project," he said.
Girard, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and Transport Minister Robert Poëti took the inaugural Montreal-bound train at 5:40 a.m.
10 new stations
The agency laid 13 kilometres of new track for the project and put in 10 new stations. Three other existing stations will be used by the line.
The stops are: Mascouche, Terrebonne, Repentigny, Pointe-aux-Trembles, Rivière-des-Prairies, Anjou, St-Leonard-Montreal-North, St-Michel-Montreal-North, Sauvé, Ahuntsic, Mont-Royal, Canora and Central Station.
Adamo Greco says he'll take the train downtown from St-Leonard.
"For sure that would help. I mean, I don't really go downtown for work related reasons, but for recreational reasons, it will be perfect," Greco said.
It will take just over an hour for people to travel the entire length of the line.
The train will have 16 daily departures Monday to Friday and will not run on the weekends.
A one-way adult ticket will cost $8.50.
Girard said the AMT is now focusing on a train to the West Island.