Deux-Montagnes train users to get discounted fares in wake of construction woes

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Deux-Montagnes train users to get discounted fares due to construction woes
WATCH: Frustrated commuters who rely on the Deux-Montagnes train line are in for a bit of a financial break, but as Global's Billy Shields reports, not everyone is happy with the solution – Aug 17, 2018

Frustrated commuters who rely on the Deux-Montagnes train line are in for a bit of a financial break.

The Quebec government announced Thursday it will offer a reduced fare for public transit users on the train line as construction ramps up for the new electric Réseau express métropolitain (REM) transit system.

The move comes as delays on the Deux-Montagnes line continue to plague commuters. The spotty service recently caused a Laval resident to file a request for a class-action lawsuit.

READ MORE: Class action lawsuit authorization requested against exo over ‘unreliable’ train service

Exo, the recently renamed transit authority that serves greater Montreal’s northern and southern ring, announced in July it could no longer guarantee people will get to work on time due to construction work related to the REM.

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The transit authority has also blamed the extreme heat for this summer’s delays as well as the cold and snow during winter.

As part of the plan, Quebec Transport Minister André Fortin said commuters on the Deux-Montagnes line could be eligible to up to 30 per cent in savings on their annual or monthly train passes.

Yet many commuters Global News talked to viewed the discount as too little, too late.

“What they’re offering is a drop in the bucket, and doesn’t even come close to compensating for the nightmare that’s ahead of us,” said Sandy Weigans, a Dollard-des-Ormeaux commuter.

In 2020, the section of Deux-Montagnes that lies between Du Ruisseau and downtown Montreal will close for two years so that construction can take place on the new REM electric commuter train. With that done, the section from Deux-Montagnes to Du Ruisseau will shut down the following two years.

The busiest station on the line, Roxboro-Pierrefonds, lies west of Du Ruisseau, meaning that many West Island commuters who rely on the train to commute downtown won’t be able to use it for four years.

“I’m thinking about buying an electric car,” said Céline Cusson, a commuter from Pierrefonds. “I’m looking at my options but it’s really going to be a mess for sure.”

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Contacted by email, the agency that manages the rail line told Global News that the situation is “exceptional” caused by an equally “exceptional” construction project, and added that the agency is listening to its users.

It is planning on deploying shuttle buses to mitigate the situation, but riders Global News spoke with are skeptical.

“We’re all just sitting back waiting for the other shoe to drop,” said Jean-Marc Bourgon, another Pierrefonds commuter.

READ MORE: REM construction blamed for new commuter train delays

“Many projects are under way to improve our network and implement the largest transportation electrification project ever seen in Quebec,” he said in a statement.

“This work can disrupt daily commutes, which is why we must coordinate to make life easier for motorists and public transit users in the greater Montreal area.”

Commuters have until Aug. 20 to fill out a form through exo in order to get their new reduced fare.

Construction on all four lines of the REM is expected to last until 2023, when the new train system is scheduled to open.

—With files from Global’s Gloria Henriquez and Dan Spector


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