Letter to the Editor: Transit Planning in West Island - A Huge Challenge

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In response to the Editoral published on Oct. 5 - St John's Boulevard is clogged enough as it is, I agree that implementing a reserved bus lane could make traffic congestion worse. However, where along the busy artery will it be placed? Some preferable measures for buses and taxis - like advanced traffic light "candles" could also be applied on some stretches where a bus lane is not necessary. This gives STM buses a 6-second jump start before the red light turns green, saving valuable time.

North of Autoroute 40 into Dollard-des-Ormeaux, the morning rush can be hectic on St. John's, with traffic snarling back to Lake Road at its peak. There is little right-of-way space on this road to adapt a bus lane, except near Fairview Pointe-Claire Mall between Labrosse Ave. and Autoroute 40 where a fourth lane could be adapted southbound for that purpose. Obviously, some compromises between all parties involved may have to be applied for this new transit corridor to take shape from Pierrefonds Blvd to both Autoroute 40 and Autoroute 20.

Transit planning in the West Island have been a huge task for the STM and its predecessor the MUCTC to master from the day 40-foot buses began running locally over 30 years ago. Unlike in Montreal where the built form adapts to walking and transit, with mixed land uses, and higher population densities; the West Island is more car-oriented with limited through traffic and separated land uses as collector streets feeds the main artery to the autoroute, industrial sectors and commercial outlets from various residential districts.

Take note, not everyone takes public transit directly to or from the Metro or downtown as getting to their main destination off the frequented path still means multiple transfers and a long ride. Yes, almost all West Island bus routes still end at Fairview requiring a transfer to go the rest of the way. Also as some people need the flexibility to multi-task - not only to go to work or school - public transit is trying to keep up as an economical alternative to the car with a local transit network (and the itinerary of some bus routes) needing serious restructuring. 

It looks like the priority continues to be getting commuters from the West Island to downtown regarding the future reserved bus lane on St-John's for the STM. Although with the Turcot reconstrction project nearing, I hope a silver lining can come locally with the political will to provide a more easier and direct bus ride from home as more headaches are ahead for both drivers and bus riders.

Julian Rodriguez

Pierrefonds, Quebec

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