Five mayors of municipalities in northeast Montreal are joining forces to demand a guarantee for an extension of the Eastern Metropolitan Express Network (REM) outside the island of Montreal, in order to reach Mascouche and Repentigny.

“This is the most promising project for our cities. It would connect the three largest cities of Lanaudière with the east of Montreal, the green line and Laval”, hammered Monday the mayor of Laval, Stéphane Boyer, in a press conference, alongside the mayors of Terrebonne, Repentigny, Mascouche and Montreal East.

More specifically, the mayors are calling for an extension of the Marie-Victorin antenna to Mascouche, via Laval and Terrebonne via the Highway 25 corridor. They are also asking that the Pointe-aux-Trembles antenna be extended to in Repentigny, via the Canadian National (CN) corridor. A station in Montreal East is also requested.

In its interim report, published in January, the committee led by Quebec and Montreal had made public several scenarios for potential extensions of the Eastern REM. Among them: an extension to Rivière-des-Prairies and up to Mascouche, another between Laval and Mascouche via the A25 and a final one in Laval via Rivière-des-Prairies, then on to Mascouche. The option proposed by the five chosen therefore essentially amounts to “unifying” all these extensions.

Mr. Boyer says he was informed during a recent meeting that such a route has been examined by the Regional Metropolitan Transport Authority (ARTM) “recently”. By email, the ARTM confirms that this route is “under study”, even if it was not included in its most recent interim report in January. The organization says it is “continuing work to deliver” its final report, scheduled for June.

This route would allow a “better connection” with Terrebonne and Mascouche, but also with Saint-Martin Boulevard in Laval, where a “structuring mode” project is already under study, says Mr. Boyer. In the east of Laval, “there is also a large territory that is not yet developed, one of the last,” he says. “It’s a golden opportunity to make it a neighborhood focused on sustainable mobility. »

Thus, the two extended antennas would form “a unified network falling back on the green line of the metro [at Radisson station], and on the future blue line of the metro [at Lacordaire]”, indicate the elected officials in a joint press release. “This route also offers the possibility, for the Pointe-aux-Trembles antenna, of a new station in the territory of Montreal East, a large part of which has immense potential for redevelopment,” they also note.

The mayor of Terrebonne, Mathieu Traversy, believes that this route would allow “more frequent round trips than the train de l’Est”, which is already in a “moribund” state. With the closure of the Mount Royal tunnel, then the pandemic, attendance on the Mascouche train dropped to less than 400,000 trips in 2020. And in 2021, the line transported around 110,000 passengers. “We have a population that despairs of having a structuring network”, judges Mr. Traversy.

“We want real alternatives to solo driving,” says the mayor of Repentigny, Nicolas Dufour. “In our MRC, only 6% of the population takes public transit. And it’s not their fault! It is for lack of optimal means, “slips the mayor, asking for a” precise timetable “from the provincial authorities. “It is time for the government to show up. We can’t afford to wait any longer,” he said.

Montreal East Mayor Anne St-Laurent is asking for the construction of a station on her territory. “It can’t just pass through our city as planned in the current route. He absolutely has to stop there. This is an essential condition for the redevelopment and revitalization of our industrial sites. The potential is unique in Quebec, even in Canada,” she argues.

The mayor of Mascouche, Guillaume Tremblay, argues that the offer for its population “simply does not work”. “The latest studies we have show that about eight out of ten vehicles work either in Laval or in Montreal. A route that passes through Laval would be a great opportunity to allow people who work there to stop with the REM,” he believes.

At the end of April, Transport Minister Geneviève Guilbault said she wants to have a “final project” for the Eastern REM by 2026. Her cabinet recalled Monday that Quebec has already “committed to studying extensions of the structuring project from the east towards Laval and towards the northern crown, and that is what we are doing”. For the rest, says press secretary Maxime Roy, “there are different scenarios and analyzes are taking place to compare them”. “We expect the final results in June,” he concludes.