More trains, more money

Anthony Abbondanza
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West Island municipalities must share cost of added train service: AMT head

More trains on the Vaudreuil-Hudson line means more money from municipalities, the head of the AMT told the Chronicle last week.

If the West Island wants added train service on the lone Vaudreuil-Hudson line, municipalities must share an added operational cost, according to Nicolas Girard, CEO of the Agence Metropolitaine de Transport (AMT).

When asked why the West Island was receiving unequal service compared to the four other rail lines served by the transport agency, Girard said the “municipalities need to pay 40 per cent of the bill” to  have more trains during a private meeting last week with local journalists at Holiday Inn in Pointe Claire.

Such was the case for the St. Jerome line.

A couple of West Island mayors are not buying it, however, telling the Chronicle their cities pay the agglomeration of Montreal for services for which their residents are presently not benefitting.

Baie D’Urfe is one of 16 cities sharing the cost for public transportation in Montreal (which falls under the jurisdictional responsibility – operating fees and all – of the agglomeration).

“We are currently paying $2.2 million a year for public transportation that we’re getting very little of,” said mayor Maria Tutino.

The figure represents 19 per cent of the $11.2 million the small town of 3,000 people pay to the agglomeration for public transport.

The Vaudreuil-Hudson line has a total of 27 trains, with very limited to no service between rush hours, Monday through Friday. There are only 14 trains Saturday and Sunday, most of which are separated by a minimum time interval of four hours.

The Deux-Montagne line runs just over 80 train seven days a week.

According to Tutino, Baie D’Urfe would be willing to share the cost of the added operation fee attributed to added train service as long as “we benefit from it.”

We are paying a lot of money to the [agglomeration], I don’t see why we should be paying more for added services Beaconsfield Mayor George Bourelle

Beaconsfield, on the other hand, would not.

“We are paying a lot of money to the [agglomeration], I don’t see why we should be paying more for added services,” said Mayor Georges Bourelle.

In 2014, Beaconsfield is paying $3.8 million to the agglomeration for public transportation – close to $10,000 more than 2013.

Bourelle is also concerned with the agglomeration’s expressed desire, via the Metropolitan Land Use and Development Plan (PMAD), to have high residential density located near transportation hot spots, like metros and train stations. Though it may work for other cities, the circumstances in the West Island are different, said the mayor.

“I don’t see in any way, shape or form that density in West Island can be increased given today the road system we have, and given the fact we do not have adequate train service,” he said.

For Tutino, the only solution is the highly-coveted Train de l’Ouest project, a passenger-only rail way, from Vaudreuil to Lucien-Allier, which would run trains every half hour from morning until evening.

The mayor, who sits on the Coalition for the Train de l’Ouest Steering committee, said her focus is to continue to lobby the Quebec government in implementing a promise they labeled as “high priority” before and after their successful electoral campaign in April.

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Organizations: Agence Metropolitaine de Transport, Holiday Inn, Coalition for the Train Steering committee

Geographic location: West Island, Montreal, Pointe Claire Quebec

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