(And it’s about time they started hollering!)
From the Hudson Saint Lazare Gazette
Lobby Fights For Better Train Service
by JIM DUFF
POINTE CLAIRE – A coalition of West Island and off-island municipalities, business associations and environmentalists is gearing up to fight a proposal that would put an end to the promise of faster, more dependable commuter train service between Vaudreuil-Soulanges, the West Island and downtown Montreal.
Last Thursday, Montreal mayor Gérald Tremblay announced he was backing an Aeroports de Montreal (ADM) proposal for a $550 million shuttle between Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport and Central Station.
Led by former Lac St. Louis MP and MNA Clifford Lincoln, the Train de l’ouest coalition includes elected officials, economic development organizations such as the West Island CLD, chambers of commerce, representatives from Transport 2000, environmental groups such as the Green Coalition and community groups.
They’re accusing Tremblay of short-circuiting a $1.2 million federal/provincial study commissioned in 2007 to determine the best way to improve public access to the West Island and the airport. They speculate the ADM pushed Tremblay to make a decision because the study concluded that the best way to serve the West Island and off-island communities on the AMT’s Hudson/Vaudreuil line (Rigaud is out as of June 30) was to double the rail lines from the Bell Centre to Ste. Anne de Bellevue and share them with a shuttle to and from the airport. Estimated cost: $450 million and service every 30 minutes.
Lincoln said the coalition’s goal is to turn this into a fight between the people and a small circle of decisionmakers proposing to use tax dollars to serve a limited number of travellers.
“We are not opposed to an airport shuttle service,” he said. “But in a period of budgetary austerity, we find it unacceptable to invest more than $600 millions for a capital project as exclusive as the airport shuttle.
“This dedicated shuttle will be used exclusively by airport travellers and employees. In no way does it meet the needs of the population of greater Montreal.”
The group has the support of Vaudreuil mayor and president of the Conseil intermunicipal du transport (CIT) La Presqu’Île, Guy Pilon, who said Tuesday the Charest government risks alienating its staunchest political supporters by supporting the ADM proposal.
“The current government must be well aware that their vote is in the West Island, not in Henri-Bourassa,” he added.
Cabinet hasn’t announced its preference, but in the last budget, finance minister Raymond Bachand earmarked $200 million for the shuttle and named the ADM the project manager.
However, in a communiqué released last Thursday, seven West Island and off-island Liberal MNAs, including Vaudreuil’s Yvon Marcoux and Soulanges MNA Lucie Charlebois, insisted that improved public transit for the West Island and Vaudreuil-Soulanges must be a key consideration in any plan.
“We think that for the citizens of Montreal’s West Island and Vaudreuil-Soulanges, it’s important to have a solution that provides for improvement in public transit,” Marcoux said Tuesday. “Not just for the airport, even if it’s a top priority.”
Among those present at Monday’s news conference was Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie de Vaudreuil-Dorion president Pierre Patry.
“We don’t forget Montreal,” Patry said. “You must not forget the West Island, you must not forget Vaudreuil-Soulanges.”