Extension of Metro's Blue line delayed yet again

The Quebec government is delaying its decision whether to go ahead with an extension of the Metro's Blue line, despite promises an announcement was forthcoming.

Quebec sees more short-term returns in light-rail system than Metro extension

In its latest iteration, the Blue line extension would go from the current Saint-Michel station into the borough of Anjou. (Radio-Canada)

The Quebec government is delaying its decision whether to go ahead with an extension of the Metro's Blue line, despite promises an announcement was forthcoming. 

An eastward extension of the subway line was mentioned in the recent provincial budget, and Transport Minister Jacques Daoust had previously said the government would unveil details about the project this June. 

But speaking to reporters on Friday, Daoust appeared to push back that timeline, saying the government would make an announcement "within a year from now." 

Jacques Daoust had previously said the government would unveil details about the project in June. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)
He suggested that the government's near-term financial interests were better served by another ambitious public transit project, the light-rail network that has been proposed by Quebec's pension fund.

That project would link parts of the South Shore and the West Island to downtown, but requires the provincial and federal government to kick in funds to complement the $3 billion committed by the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.

One of the new commuter rail stations envisioned as part of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. (Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec)

The Metro extension, however, would be the entirely the responsibility of the Quebec government, Daoust said.

"When I have a project where I finance it 100 per cent, and another where I finance it in the range of 25 or 20 per cent, then my return on investment on investment is much quicker in that case," he said.

The federal government has indicated it is willing to fund the Blue line extension. Ottawa has set aside $775 million for public transit infrastructure in the Montreal area over the next three years.

During a visit to Montreal last month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said some of that could go to the Metro extension, if Quebec signaled the project was a priority.

On Friday, Daoust insisted that the extension remained a priority for his government. Proposed extensions of the Blue line have been announced in 2009 and 2013 — neither of which materialized.   

with files from Radio-Canada's François Cormier