Montreal

Montreal's jam-packed Metros show need for a new line, head of STM says

"Higher ridership is good news, but it shows we need to think seriously about a new Metro line," said STM chair Philippe Schnobb.

'It shows we need to think seriously about a new Metro line,' Philippe Schnobb says

Berri-UQAM is a busy place at rush hour. (Radio-Canada)

If you think the Metro has seemed more packed than usual in recent weeks, you're not mistaken.

More than 1 million people used the underground network on seven different days in October.

That's a considerable jump from 2017, when there were only two days with more than 1 million Metro passengers in the entire year.

STM chair Philippe Schnobb said the increase points to an urgent need for more public transit options.

"Higher ridership is good news, but it shows we need to think seriously about a new Metro line," he told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

"It shows that we need to address that problem and we are very concerned about that."

In laying out its annual budget earlier this month, the STM announced plans to boost the number of Metros during peak hours on the Green and Orange lines.

Overall, the STM promised a 2.2 per cent increase in Metro service and a 1.6 per cent increase in bus service as part of its $1.5-billion budget.

But Schnobb acknowledged that any kind of disruption on one of those lines can create a major backlog.

STM users have, in recent weeks, complained about being forced to wait on the platform for upwards of 30 minutes as Metro cars filled to capacity pass through.

A line that doesn't go through Berri

Schnobb said it would make sense to build a new Metro line that doesn't go through Berri-UQAM, to alleviate pressure on the transit hub.

As it stands, 66,000 people use the station every day between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. — the equivalent of more than three sold out hockey games at the Bell Centre, he pointed out.

"When we're talking about a new metro line, a metro that doesn't go through Berri-UQAM​ is something that makes sense," he said.

Montreal set aside $1 million in its own budget to study Mayor Valérie Plante's proposed Pink line, which would connect Montreal North to Lachine without going through Berri.

The new provincial government has so far been noncommittal to the idea.

With files from Daybreak's Laura Marchand and Etienne Lajoie

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