As the years pass, more and more focus has been turned to developing cities in a greener, smarter and efficient way. For example, densifying cities, adding more green space and huge transportation projects to reduce congestion and greenhouse emissions. Montreal is on the brink of building a huge 67-km long light rail transit system, also known as the Réseau électrique métropolitain. Personally speaking, this project excites me for many reasons, such as greener environment, more transport options, economic benefits and transit-oriented development which will densify the city.
Just recently the federal Government of Canada pledged to invest $1.28 Billion to the project, matching the Government of Quebec’s investment, while nearly $2.7B will be invested by the Caisse, a private investment company from Quebec.
About the project
The new REM will go in the middle of the new $4B Champlain Bridge, which is scheduled to open late 2018/early 2019.
The project, which is scheduled to start this fall has a total of 27 stations connecting the 4 regions of Montreal. The project will have trains go as fast as 100 km/H and will operate 20 hours a day/ 7 days a week. As seen by the map above, this massive system has the goal to make commuting to the Island of Montreal easier and more efficient than cars. In the past decade or so, not only has the population of Montreal increased, so has the number of cars being used by people, thus leading to more traffic and congestion. For example, as someone living on the main Island, traffic has gotten to the point where you can expect it at any time of day and on highways or side streets. With the Island of Montreal surpassing 2 million people as of July 2016, it only makes sense to increase transit coverage.
In my opinion, the key stations are the 3 downtown stops, which are Gare Centrale, McGill and Édouard Montpetit, along with Trudeau airport. The 3 downtown stops will be connected to existing metro stations on the orange, green and blue lines respectively. In addition to greater connectivity to metro stations, the underground mall and schools/businesses, the REM will help the city of Montreal with its downtown strategy.
As seen in the map above, which constantly changes due to more people moving downtown, many new buildings are going up in the downtown area. With Montreal wanting to have 200,000 people downtown by 2050 (it’s at 120-125,000 as of 2016) it only makes sense to add more transit options in addition to newly implemented ones such as taxi sharing, BIXI (bike sharing) and existing metro lines. With downtown metro lines being 100% oversaturated, and with a booming population, the REM is important to make sure downtown grows stronger. What also makes Montreal unique compared to other cities is pedestrian priority being first, such as human scale buildings, street stores/services, wide sidewalks, increasing green spaces and of course the amazing transit coverage.
With the airport finally getting its long awaited station, passengers can now easily travel from the airport to downtown or to any of the 4 regions of Montreal, which in turn will decrease congestion and make travel time to destinations much faster and efficient.
The project is one of, if not, the largest transit projects starting in North America. It’s not every day where a city adds 67-Km of rapid transit into the region, and many cities should turn to Montreal since the city is a leader in transit and green energy. In addition to those, the economy is going to benefit Montreal and Quebec as a whole. According to CDPQ infra, economic benefits from this project include
- $3.7B into Quebec’s GDP
- 34,000 jobs to be created with this project from 2017-2020, with 1,000 permanent jobs at the end of construction
- $5B+ of private real-estate investments along the route, which will create more jobs, densify the city with TOD developments and help with the increase in population
- With the line being connected to the South Shore, the elimination of 900 buses that travel to downtown Montreal will most likely be eliminated, leading to less congestion.
As someone who’s taken economics classes, from Microeconomics to developmental econ, this project will help the city, province, and the people as well. With less money being lost from traffic congestion, the city can become more productive with making up lost time in traffic, and this will increase the GDP of the entire metropolitan region and Quebec by billions of dollars.
Montreal is booming like never before, from increasing population, to lower unemployment rates than Toronto, new infrastructure projects such as Turcot interchange, Champlain Bridge and now the REM, it’s an exciting time to be in the city. I’ve always been proud of my city, but now I’m ecstatic and optimistic for the future of the city. Montreal is also a leader in green energy, and seeing as the city prioritises transit, pedestrian safety and green spaces/ planting trees shows the commitment to reduce Co2 emissions. This project will reduce car usage, will be all electric and use hydro and the company has committed to planting 250,000 trees and have a green belt in agricultural lands in the South Shore. According to CDPQ Infra, 35,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases will be eliminated in the REM’s 1st year of operation, with 680,000 tonnes in 25 years.
Environmental impacts: https://www.cdpqinfra.com/en/bape-rem
More info on the project.