The numbers are out, and 2018 is not a year that officials at exo, Montreal’s public transit service, will be celebrating.
Overall ridership on its six commuter rail lines was down 1.2 per cent. That’s the first time the combined commuter rail lines have lost riders in years.
The busiest line on the network, Deux-Montagnes, also saw the greatest loss of riders. There were 6.1 per cent fewer rides in 2018 compared to 2017. That’s a drop of 474,600 rides in one year.
“Well, it’s not surprising. Seeing what is coming, people have to look for different alternatives,” Beatrice Nasui, a Deux-Montagnes rider, told Global News on Wednesday morning.
READ MORE: Exo commuter rail service rolls out changes
Exo spokesperson Catherine Maurice told Global News the drop in ridership was partly due to decreased service on the Deux-Montagnes line as construction for the light rail electric train network (REM) continues.
“Remember some trains were cancelled during the week, and trains during the weekend were cancelled. And the delays, seen more and more, are caused by the single track due to the REM,” said Maurice.
Moving forward, things could get worse before they improve.
Next January, the Mount-Royal Tunnel will close, stopping exo trains on the Deux-Montagnes and Mascouche lines from passing through.
Service on the exo’s Deux-Montagnes line will also stop in 2021 as the line is eventually converted over to the REM.
“Yes, there is a short-term impact, but in the long term, it will allow us to deliver significantly improved service. We will multiply by five the departures a day for them from 50 a day to 250,” said Macky Tall, the Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec official overseeing the REM project.
On-time performance on the Deux-Montagnes line was also disappointing in 2018, according to exo’s standards.
The trains were considered on time 89.1 per cent of the time in 2018 — short of the 95 per cent goal exo sets for all six lines.