Traffic jams in the city during rush hour

The announcement of the upcoming closure of three of the six lanes in the Louis‑Hippolyte‑La Fontaine tunnel has caused much concern for people in the affected areas, and also for the Conseil provincial du secteur du transport terrestre (CPSTT) of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents 8565 members in city and intercity land transportation in Quebec.

This closure scheduled for October 31, 2022, will be for three years and will likely increase traffic on the other already heavily travelled bridges serving the South Shore of Montreal. For many drivers, public transit could be a solution.

However, residents west of the South Shore will only be able to take the Réseau express métropolitain (REM) to go to downtown Montreal. Recall that under the terms of an agreement between the Ministry of Transport and CDPQ, the REM will be the exclusive transit provider for passengers west of the South Shore to downtown Montreal.

According to the CPSTT, much uncertainty lies ahead in terms of system reliability, especially since reliability tests in the winter will not begin until the REM is launched on December 1, 2022. Judging by the problems, including service outages, power failures, and a general lack of information, that impact the light-rail system in Ottawa, the same fate could befall the REM.

“We believe it would be preferable to maintain bus service to downtown Montreal until such time as the CDPQ Intra can demonstrate that REM service is reliable,” says Pino Tagliaferri, president of the CPSTT of CUPE. “Uncertainty calls for preventive measures, and we think it’s essential that users can still take the bus, especially during rush hour,”

CPSTT is urging authorities to make the right decision so that users west of the South Shore don’t become captive customers of the REM.