It’s time for Montreal to join the global urban hubs and introduce an air-rail link

Posted on in News

Mike Bones, Senior Consultant at North Star Consultancy

OPINION: The theme of the recent UITP Transport Summit which took place in Montreal was ‘Lead the Transition’ and whilst there were some excellent presentations and workshops where this was at the helm, Montreal itself has some work to do to make their own transport network work more collaboratively.

The Montreal Metro System (inspired by the Paris Metro) was inaugurated in 1966. It is therefore surprising, that there is still no metro service linking the airport to downtown Montreal. A Blue Line extension has been proposed and has been in the pipeline for several years and is still a priority for the Mayor of Montreal and Société de transport de Montréal (STM). However, this proposal faces conflicting budget and political pressure from the Federal Government with their preferred priority of a light rail line.

Montreal Airport Bus

Therefore, alighting passengers at the airport requiring public transport into downtown Montreal are faced with a single option of the regular 747 bus. Whilst this operates on a 24/7 basis for a flat fee of $10, it seems a somewhat inefficient and rudimentary option of transportation, if compared to other major international cities. The bus must negotiate its journey into town via an already congested road network and therefore can take between 45-60 minutes, for what is a distance of only 9 miles.

Taxis are a rather expensive option at a fixed fare of $40 so the demand for the 747 buses is high, but this does not give visitors a very good first impression to Montreal’s transport system or the city for that matter. It is hard to think of any other major cities where the city centres are not connected to the airport via some type of rail system. Montreal needs to bite the bullet and extend the metro, not at the expense of the alternative mass transit system but as a pre-cursor and, subsequently, as a complementary option. To make this happen, there needs to be alignment between federal and local government to agree on a joined-up plan that will allow both options to be funded and developed within their own differing timescales, synergising where appropriate.