Will the Montreal Metro ever be open 24 hours a day? STM chairman answers your questions

Will the Metro ever be open all day? Will it extend to the West Island? Philippe Schnobb, the chairman of the STM, answered these questions and more in an interview with CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

City celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Montreal Metro system

STM Chair Philippe Schnobb was at Place-des-Arts station Friday morning for the Metro's 50th anniversary. (Cecelia MacArthur/CBC)

Exactly 50 years ago this week, former Montreal Mayor Jean Drapeau invited the archbishop of Montreal to bless the city's new Metro system and the first trains began rolling.

Fast forward to 2016: Montrealers who ride and use the Metro every day have things they both love and hate about the system — as well as questions and suggestions about how to make it better.

Philippe Schnobb, the chairman of the STM, answered some of these questions in an interview with CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

Montreal was the 26th city in the world to open a Metro system. (Melissa Fundira)

Realistically how fast can we expect all the Metro cars to be switched to the new ones?

That will happen around 2036, so roughly 20 years from now, he said.

"We'll be replacing all the MR-63, the trains that have been running for 50 years today. We decided to keep the other trains, the MR-73s (primarily in use on the Orange and Blue lines) for another 20 years because we think, and the government agrees, that it's preferable to spend money renovating the stations and in 2030 we'll be able to start replacing the other [trains]."

Why the metro has not been extended to the West Island and what are the plans to extend it in the future?

Schnobb said the light-rail project unveiled earlier this year will take care of that. There will be connections between the Metro system and the new light-rail trains at Edouard-Montpetit, McGill and Bonaventure stations.

"The way they will set up the station at the Gare centrale will be close, underground, to Bonaventure, so people won't have to walk very far to access the station."

Can you extend the hours of the Metro so it will be open all day?

It's impossible, Schnobb said.

"The Metro closes around 1 a.m., and opens at 5, 5:30 a.m. That's not a lot of time for employees to do the important maintenance we have to do, if you consider they have to set up the worksite and clean up before the opening, and we have to keep a time period to check everything. That leaves about 2.5 to 3 hours for important work to be done, and that's not a lot of time. If the Metro would close later or open earlier, that would mean they would work an hour a day.

"In other networks they can do that because they have parallel lines, so they can close one and people travel on the other but that's not the case here."

Artist Jean-Paul Mousseau uses ceramic to create a display at the Peel Metro station in 1966. (Archives de Montréal)

When is Berri-UQAM Metro station going to be completed?

"Most of the work will be finished in 2017, and everything should be finished in early 2018. A lot of the things are happening behind the walls, so we don't see it, but a lot of work has been done."