Snowdon councillor Marvin Rotrand’s motion calling for preferential measures for busses was adopted by city council on May 27.
“The motion speaks for itself. It’s clear that in terms of bang for your buck, no other transit measure is as affordable and has as major an impact in increasing ridership,” said the vice-chair of the Montreal Transit Corporation (Société de transport de Montréal).
Rotrand presented the motion after some boroughs showed uneasiness in supporting transit.
The city adopted an ambitious transportation plan a few years ago and has always supported the STM in its 2020 strategic plan, which aims at increasing ridership by 40% over the next 8 years, states the motion.
According to Rotrand, bus lanes can be the backbone of the entire transit system. It means that busses are no longer stuck in traffic, and when there’s congestion the bus gets priority. When busses start to zoom by them car drivers often switch over to public transit. Bus lanes can result in modal shifts of 10-20 per cent.
Rotrand feels that the motion is an important step in the right direction, pointing to other cities with extensive bus lanes. “It seems that in Quebec they’re realizing that we have the best plan, but we just don’t have the funding yet.”
He is anticipating that the provincial government may not announce the blue line extension, or that it may not be for the entire five stations that were in the plan. Bus lanes can be done more quickly. “They don’t cost much to do, they’re not complex, and they have a big impact on transit,” he said.
Right now, there are 130 km of bus lanes and priority measures for busses on the island of Montreal. That’s not enough. The strategic plan calls for 370 km by 2020. “And including some of the Quebec government proposals, which were not in the plan, we’re looking at about 380 km, with an impact of more than 700,000 rides a day, » he says.
Rotrand estimates that if the plan for 370 km of bus lanes moves forward, the STM will need to purchase 40 fewer busses over the course of the plan. “When busses are moving slowly and are stuck in traffic, you need more vehicles - otherwise there could be too much congestion at some particular bus stops,” he said. There are also huge economies on fuel consumption and a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Bus lane survey on Sherbrooke
NDG Councillor Peter McQueen conducted an online survey on Projet Montréal’s website concerning reserved bus lanes on Sherbrooke West from the Montreal West train station to Girouard, heading east in the morning rush hour and west in the afternoon rush hour, but he has since changed his position somewhat.
At the June 4 borough council meeting, he said he is still hesitant about the afternoon reserved bus lane and wants Upper Lachine to remain open. “NDG people are unanimous and very concerned. About 135 busses (routes 90 and 104) go through Upper Lachine every day, almost as many as the 175 busses a day on route 105 in each direction. I’m calling for Mr. Rotrand’s support to help us keep Upper Lachine open for the 90
and 104 buses,” he said.
McQueen also supports the eight requests to the STM from the South-Eastern NDG Quartier vert actif et en santé (QVAS) committee, calling for additional safety measures for pedestrians, cyclists and people with reduced mobility, including parking and slower traffic on the Sherbrooke section of the project.
Rotrand said that he received a letter from the Projet Montréal councillor asking the STM to change the proposed hours so that the bus lane is more restrained. “Obviously the STM is not going to do so,” he commented. The paper asked McQueen to provide a copy and was still awaiting his reply before going to press.
Rotrand hasn’t seen McQueen’s survey, “but one of the planners wrote to me to say that the information being circulated is inaccurate.” The paper is also awaiting a call from the STM, or a copy of the planner’s letter that Rotrand promised.
“I question the validity of a party questionnaire for partisan purposes, signed by Peter McQueen and a party candidate from another district, determining what people really think.
On top of this, I find it inconceivable that his party votes against measures at city council because there isn’t enough transit. When the government gives them what they want the local councillor is opposed to it,” he said.
According to Rotrand, the STM planners are still working on the project. “I am told that there have been some meetings between the planners and the borough services, and the STM is doing its best to meet the autumn deadline. I will have more information at the next borough council meeting,” he promised.