Train de l'Ouest's time has come

Marc Lalonde
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It's time for the government to make it happen; climate change is a very real phenomenon

In retrospect, maybe we should have seen it coming, but this week's announcement that a feasibility study for the Train del'Ouest project – which would see commuter trains running constantly between downtown and the western part of Montreal and its off-island area all day long – has still not been made public, but the provincial agency who oversees commuter trains in Montreal can't say when that will happen

In fact, said Agence Metropolitain de Transport (AMT) spokesperson Brigitte Leonard, the study is now complete and will be examined by a 13-member ad-hoc committee, who will analyze the study and make recommendations.  

The caveat  that the Aeroports de Montreal brain trust is pushing hard for a dedicated airport-only shuttle train, which AMT head Nicolas Girard has said is a non-starter – and it's hard to figure how the airport would get a dedicated line while the West Island – and western off-island area – commuters are stuck with service that is so pitiful as to be laughable.

If you live in swing-riding-rich Laval, good for you. It makes sense that you don't pay the extra car-registration fee that on-island residents pay to fund public transit, while the metro doesn't come within 30 minutes of the West Island, while the south shore and Laval both have unimpeded all-day underground access to Montreal. West Islanders pay higher taxes for the privilege of living on Montreal Island, but get precisely none of the privileges that go to Laval and south shore residents. It's ludicrous, really.

To think that the Train de l'Est project was green-lit before the Train de l'Ouest project got the go-ahead is understandable, from a political standpoint. The French-speaking east-end suburbs are much more likely to switch their votes from party to party depending on who's giving them goodies, while the West Island 'burbs have historically handed power to the Liberals.

Last week's warm-subarctic-warm-subarctic weather trend has to be of some concern to West Islanders. That thunder Saturday morning was very real; the snow  squalls and cold fronts that foillowed are just another indication we've done some very real damage to our ecosystem.

Adding up these facts paints a powerful picture indeed; it is clear that the provincial government would rather throw its money into just about anything else than the western tip of Montreal Island, as though the West Island were some ghetto, separate from the first-class citizens. It's a bit dramatic, but being treated like second-class citizens for so many years has sort of worn out West Islanders' patience. The onus, now ,must be on the government to get this right – and do what's right – right now.


Organizations: AMT, Aeroports de Montreal

Geographic location: Montreal, West Island, Laval West Islanders

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