Train commuters unimpressed with REM mitigation efforts

WATCH: In a few short months, Exo commuter trains will stop running through Roxboro-Pierrefonds station for good as REM construction enters a new phase. Authorities will be spending $192 million to shuffle Exo train users to metro stations when their lines shut down. As Global's Dan Spector reports, it means a much longer and more crowded commute for thousands of travellers.

In a few short months, Exo commuter trains will stop running through Roxboro-Pierrefonds station for good as REM construction enters a new phase. Commuters who rely on the train like Deborah Richardson say they are full of dread.

“I’m very, very upset,” she said.

Others like McLean Belasso wonder if the changes will impede their daily commute.

“I’m sad. I’m devastated,” said Belasso. “I don’t know how I’m going to go to Montreal.”

As the Deux-Montagnes train line and part of the Mascouche line are transformed into the new REM network, things are about to get difficult for commuters.

The Mount Royal tunnel is shutting down in January 2020, meaning trains will no longer bring people downtown. Authorities instead plan to use shuttle buses and shuttle trains to bring people to nearby Metro stations.

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READ MORE: REM construction means more commuters on Montreal metro’s orange line

Until REM construction is complete in 2022, what was once a 25-minute commute from Roxboro-Pierrefonds will now take over an hour.

“I’m not sure I’m going to be taking the shuttle buses because to come here, take the shuttle, it’s going to be more people and take longer,” said Maya Grigoradis. “I’ll probably just take a bus close to my house, but it’ll still double or triple my time.”

Belasso says he doesn’t have any other choice but to accept a longer commute.

“We have to work, we have to pay taxes, we have to maintain the family,” said Belasso.

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To avoid the longer travel time, some suburbanites are making huge changes. Robin Fagen is moving on Nov. 1.

“We live in Dollard-des-Ormeaux right now, except we’re not going to be able to get to our jobs downtown, so we’re moving to Cote-St-Luc,” said Fagen. “It’s strictly because we won’t be able to get to work.”

Others are making their own alternative plans to go to another train line not affected by REM construction.

“A lot of us will be taking the train in Beaconsfield,” said Erica Nahal.

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READ MORE: Kirkland mayor fears lack of negotiations could hinder parking at future REM station

Exo says the already busy Vaudreuil-Hudson line will be ready for an increase in capacity come January.

“The closure of the Deux-Montagnes line could mean an increase in ridership not only on the Vaudreuil-Hudson line, but the St-Jerome line too, and we will be ready to adjust our trains to this increase of ridership,” said Exo spokesperson Catherine Maurice.

Train users recognize there is light at the end of the tunnel, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are in for years of frustration.

“Long term, it’s fantastic, but there will be short-term pain,” said Nahal.

The full mitigation plan can be seen here.