De Cotis: Blue line extension “doesn’t help Laval”
By Robert Frank
The Société de transport de Montréal (STM) will be taking over financial responsibility for operating the Metro system in Laval.
Operating the Metro on Île Jésus has hitherto been the responsibility of the regional transit authority Agence métropolitain de transport (AMT). STM will hand over some $600 million to AMT to compensate it for the underground transportation infrastructure that it will be handing over by March 31, at the latest, sparking concern about ballooning STM’s already-high indebtedness.
“STM will assume the deficit as part of the budget of the AMT in 2015,” Laval executive committee vice-chairman David de Cotis told The Suburban.
The handover was not unexpected, after a similar transfer fell through in 2007.
“The question was already addressed when AMT set forth its budget proposal in 2014,” de Cotis explained in an interview.
“STM runs the Metro and is responsible for its operations and new cars and it receives new metro cars from Bombardier and Alsthom as part of its responsibility and role,” he said. “Now it will be given responsibility for the budget [for Laval] as well.”
De Cotis underscored that the move will have no impact on the hoped-for extension of Laval’s Metro network westward to Chomedey, whence it will turn south again to link with the current orange line terminus at Côte Vertu in St. Laurent.
“STM is not responsible for determining whether Laval gets new Metro stations or not,” he said. “Laval pays a portion of the STM budget because it operates Metro service in Laval. We pay for a portion of the maintenance, as does Longueuil on the South Shore.”
In fact, it is the Quebec government that will play a determining factor as to if, when, where and how a Metro extension will be built in Laval, de Cotis added, correcting recent news reports that he said misled readers into believing that STM will have a say in deciding the fate of Laval’s Metro system.
“It’s the provincial government in conjunction with AMT,” he said. “It gives AMT the green light to start different studies to decide whether there will be an extension for the blue line, orange line or red line.”
“STM becomes responsible and takes ownership once the construction is complete and the Metro goes into operation,” de Cotis continued. “The run the trains and set the schedules, but it’s the provincial government that will ultimately decide where to extend the Metro.”
Péquistes prefer blue
“It’s in Laval’s interest to have the Metro enter Laval from the west by extending the orange line from Côte Vertu to Laval, adding four stations in Montreal and two or three more in Laval,” he declared. “It would reduce the heavy [automobile] traffic that we see on a daily basis.”
“People from the west [part of Laval] would rather go west on the Metro, rather than to Montmorency station,” de Cotis said. “We’re looking for an opportunity to speak to Montreal. If Montreal doesn’t expand the western portion of the Metro, it will never go to Laval. We have to get Montreal to agree to extend the Metro in Montreal, and then approach [Quebec] Transport Minister Robert Poëti.”
“Discussions are ongoing,” he continued. “We want to make sure that we have the facts and the funding, so we are talking to different politicians in Montreal to see whether we can work together.”
“Right now, AMT is working on a feasibility study initiated by the Parti Québécois government to extend the blue line east and west,” de Cotis concluded. “That doesn’t help Laval.”
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