By Kevin Woodhouse
A few days after the announcement of the partnership with the provincial government and the Caisse de dépot et placement du Quebec (CDD), Train de l’Ouest co-founder Clifford Lincoln received an important phone call from the CDD informing him that the grassroots coalition, that has been actively seeking a commuter light rail project for the last half decade, will indeed be “partners in the discussion.”
“We will be consulted and part of the process,” Lincoln told a packed house last Thursday morning at the West Island Community Resource Centre adjacent to the Valois trains station.
Lincoln, joined by mayoral spokesperson and Baie d’Urfe Mayor Maria Tutino, wore the yellow Train de l’Ouest T-shirts and were flanked by numerous past and present mayors including Ste. Anne de Bellevue’s Bill Tierney and Paola Hawa, Beaconsfield’s Bob Benedetti and George Bourelle, Pointe Claire’s Bill McMurchie and Morris Trudeau as well as Senneville Mayor Jane Guest, CLD executive director Nicolas Roy and Train de l’Ouest co-founder Georges Nydam.
Although the group was formed five years ago, many West Island municipalities have been working for decades to secure more reliable and frequent public transportation and the recent news that $5 billion in funding has been set aside for the light rail project on the Champlain Bridge and for Train de l’Ouest with a completion date assigned for 2020 is a solid step in the right direction.
Some unknowns include the timeframe for when the government will pass a law allowing the construction of dedicated rail tracks and will the government and CD respect the coalition’s original concept of Train de l’Ouest transporting commuters from Lucien L’Allier to Vaudreuil, servicing 400,000 citizens.
For Tutino, the new rail project could mean the expansion of industrial parks since shift workers would have a lot more train choices with runs happening twice an hour instead of the current schedule that has a few trains at afternoon and morning rush hours with a paltry number of rides available in between.
More trains would mean more businesses would be attracted to set up shop knowing workers would have easier access instead of the current 26 possible trains a day accounting for almost 4 million riders every year. In a press release by Train de l’Ouest it noted “the AMT forecasts that after completion of the project, annual ridership could reach nine million” users every year.
“Lack of public transportation for our industrial park has always been an Achilles heel but we are overjoyed with the recent announcement because our industrial parks will thrive and West Island residents will finally get the public transportation they deserve,” said Tutino.
Although West Island residents living near the Train de l’Ouest’s corridor will immediately benefit from the new commuter rail project, The Suburban asked if the coalition would be able to include some help for citizens who must travel north and south along the congested boulevards to gain easier access for the coming trains.
“Train de l’Ouest will not solve all of our public transportation problems,” said Tutino. “But we will be able to help the residents around the corridor and maybe later there will be other announcements to help other citizens.”
Nydam believes there needs to be “rapid access from buses for residents living outside of the corridor which is part of Train de l’Ouest’s global vision.
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