The heavily travelled Galipeault Bridge has been closed due to rising floodwaters for several days now, making for a longer, more frustrating trip for off-island commuters.
Usually, it only takes 10 minutes for Île-Perrot resident Alison Meyer to drive her kids to their school in Baie d’Urfé.
Since the Galipeault and Proulx bridges have been closed, her commute has been a lot tougher.
“I took me an hour and a half just to get onto the island,” said Meyer.
Now like, many others, Meyer is taking advantage of the free Exo train service being offered on the Vaudreuil-Hudson line until the Galipeault Bridge opens back up. At the Île-Perrot station on Wednesday morning, there were a lot more people than usual.
“The volume has exponentially increased,” said commuter Kathy Bowman, who recounted not being able to get on a train on Tuesday because it was too packed.
To get onto the western tip of the island by car, the alternative is the Île-aux-Tourtes Bridge, which has seen gridlock traffic since the Galipeault Bridge closure.
“It’s a long detour,” said Île-Perrot Mayor Pierre Seguin. “It’s an hour and a half easy now.”
Those long delays are prompting commuters to come up with elaborate schemes to stay out of traffic.
“My car is at my kids’ school,” said Île-Perrot resident Magda Olszewska before getting on the train. “Now, I leave it there overnight and then I go to work, pick them up early and leave my car there and come back here by train.”
Île-Perrot has shuttle buses bringing people to the train, and the town has opened extra parking lots to deal with the increase in demand.
The lot closest to Île-Perrot Station is bursting at the seams, with many people parking on the grass.
“Now, everyone knows about the train so there’s no parking,” said one commuter who didn’t want to be named. “We were struggling to find a parking spot for 30 minutes.”
Île-Perrot’s mayor is trying to look on the bright side.
“If the experience is not bad, then they will keep taking the train so that’s one good thing,” said Seguin. “There will be less cars on the road.”
For now, commuters are just thinking about how to get their kids up and out of the house earlier than usual.
“I had to be up at 5:30 this morning to get the kids out of the house at 6:10,” said Meyer.
However, Seguin is urging local residents to give it time.
“To the citizens, be patient,” said Seguin. “The situation will only get better.”
The mayor said the situation is being evaluated on a day-by-day basis but that it could take weeks before the water recedes enough for the bridge to reopen.
On Monday afternoon, the town said it had added 429 parking spots to help out train commuters including 171 spots at the Maxi Pincourt, 108 near Scotia Bank and Remax at the Développement Iberville field in addition to spaces in the Faubourg de l’Île.
Exo is also adding extra train cars on the Vaudreuil-Hudson line for the following departures:
- Vaudreuil Station at 6:25 a.m. and 6:45 a.m.
- Beaconsfield Station at 8:45 a.m.
- Lucien-L’Allier Station at 7:50 a.m., 5 p.m. and 5:40 p.m.