Projet Montréal says Champlain Bridge needs light rail

Projet Montréal is calling on city council to give its unanimous support for light rail transit on the Champlain Bridge.

Emergency motion calls for unanimous support for light rail option over buses for new Champlain Bridge

Projet Montréal's Richard Bergeron says the provincial government is not considering all of its options when it comes to light rail transit for the new Champlain Bridge. (CBC)

Projet Montréal is calling on city council to give its unanimous support for light rail transit on the Champlain Bridge.

The emergency motion made public Sunday comes as the provincial government evaluates public transit options on the bridge’s new span, which is scheduled for completion by 2018.

On Friday, Quebec’s new transport minister Robert Poëti said the government is considering both an LRT option and a rapid bus service option for the new span.

However, it’s believed that the province favours the bus option, believing it would be cheaper

The new motion tabled by Projet Montréal’s Richard Bergeron says that going with buses over an LRT train is in no way sensible.

The motion points to an inspection report by the firm Aecom that endorsed light rail as the best public transit option for linking downtown Montreal and the South Shore via the Champlain Bridge

Projet's motion says the report determined that buses would only inhibit the flow of traffic across the bridge.

The province’s cost analysis also left out a number of light rail options for the Champlain span, the motion contends. LRT options vary between $650-million and $1.5 billion for the 16-kilometre line, it says. 

Furthermore, a light rail option would not only accommodate more passengers compared with buses, but the motion cites STM figures that show the cost per ride of operating a light rail system is less than half that of buses ($1.30 versus $3.10).

Bergeron said such savings make the high cost of building an LRT line worth the expense in the long run.

“The LRT option is the only one possible between downtown and the South Shore,” Bergeron told reporters on Sunday. “We can’t put in place a bus system that’s already proven not to work.”

Seconding the motion was councillor Craig Sauvé, whose Saint-Henri–Little-Burgundy–Pointe-Saint-Charles district bears the brunt of the 400 buses that ferry commuters to and from the South Shore at peak hours.

“It’s extremely hard on residents — it’s loud and it’s dangerous,” he told reporters.

Sauvé said the rapid bus lane option would increase the number of buses entering his borough to upwards of 900 at peak periods, and that’s not acceptable.

“It will affect the quality of life of borough residents,” he said. “They need an option that’s calm, that’s clean and efficient.”