Quebec does not rule out a downtown connection for the Eastern REM

Quebec does not rule out a downtown connection for the Eastern REM

Quebec does not rule out a connection to the city center for the Eastern REM

Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press “These are systems that are called upon to evolve” , said Minister Geneviève Guilbault before the East Montreal Chamber of Commerce on Monday.

The Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility, Geneviève Guilbault, does not rule out the possibility of a direct link from the Eastern Metropolitan Express Network (REM) to the city center in a subsequent phase of the project.

During a speech to the East Montreal Chamber of Commerce (CCEM) on Monday noon, the Minister extolled the benefits of the future REM de l'Est project, renamed “Projet structurant de l'Est “. Although the downtown section was abandoned when the government withdrew the REM de l'Est project from CDPQ Infra and entrusted it to a working group led by the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM) in May 2022, Geneviève Guilbault believes that this idea should not be given up.

“These are not closed systems. These are systems that are called upon to evolve. If I take the Quebec tramway, we have an east-west axis. But one day, will we have a north-south axis? Will we want to connect to Quebec airport? “, she confided to the CEO. of the CCEM, Jean-Denis Charest, who expressed the concern of business people on this subject. “I could say the same here. Whatever happens, the connection with the city center will never be impossible. »

In a scrum at the end of her speech, the minister pointed out that the mode of insertion and the route would be “decisive questions in terms of social acceptability” if such a connection to the city center was considered. Recall that in the initial project included aerial structures above René-Lévesque Boulevard, an element that had aroused strong criticism.

The Minister however insisted on the fact that no decision had been taken on this subject and that the government was immediately awaiting the final report of the working group led by the ARTM – expected for June – which should specify the extensions to be preferred for the two axes already planned for the future REM de l'Est as well as the estimated cost.

The initial project for the REM de l'Est unveiled in December 2020 was valued at $10 billion . Since then, the project has been modified with the abandonment of the downtown section and that of the aerial structures in the Mercier-Est sector.

The Minister also pointed out that in its new version, although it will not have a section in the city center, the REM de l'Est will be connected to the green line and the blue line of the metro when the latter this will be extended. “The green line is capable of absorbing the traffic that will come from the Eastern Structuring Project,” she assured, citing the study conducted by the Société de transport de Montréal stating “a significant residual capacity that should suffice for at least a decade”.

Subsidies for electric cars

The Minister of Transport also considers that the financial incentives granted to motorists who buy an electric car must be maintained. In its annual report on Quebec's energy consumption, HEC Montreal suggested redirecting the purchase assistance of $7,000 for each electric vehicle sold to other forms of reducing pollution and automobile congestion such as public transportation. or carpooling, so as to achieve the province's climate objectives more quickly.

Minister Guilbault does not share this opinion. “Anything we can do to encourage car sharing is a good thing. But I believe we're still at a time when it's crucial to support the purchase of electric vehicles because I don't think it's installed and established enough,” she said in a scrum. “I think it would be unfavorable [to withdraw this credit] and that there are people who would not buy an electric car when with a credit they would buy one. »