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Deux-Montagnes commuters call on exo president to resign after ‘condescending’ comments

Train service will be disrupted starting on Jan. 6, 2020.
Train service will be disrupted starting on Jan. 6, 2020. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Frustrated commuters are demanding a key figure for exo, the transit authority responsible for trains in the Montreal area, step down over remarks she made about Deux-Montagnes train line users’ longer, more difficult commute starting in January.

Josée Bérubé, the president of exo’s board of directors, is under fire for the advice she doled out during an information session Thursday evening over what Deux-Montagnes residents can do in wake of the partial train line shutdown.

“I am under the impression we will all have to do our part,” she said.

“We can ask our employers to modify our work schedules, we can ask our employers sometimes to maybe [make] a space for our children at work.”

READ MORE: Deux-Montagnes train user appeals to premier to delay REM construction

The Deux-Montagnes train line will partially shut down starting Jan. 6, 2020 as part of work on Montreal’s light rail network, known as the REM.

While there will be mitigation measures in place, the work requires the closure of the Mount-Royal tunnel, which means trains will no longer bring commuters directly downtown. As part of the plan, train users will have to also use buses or the Montreal Metro — which could add up to 45 minutes to their daily commute.

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Bérubé said that perhaps commuters can hire unemployed people to help prepare meals in advance for their families or students could work later to extend the operating hours of daycares.

During the information session, she also suggested that Deux-Montagnes residents take the time during the holidays to re-evaluate their lifestyles and habits as part of their New Year’s resolutions to make their lives a bit easier amid the train line shutdown.

“Maybe the reflection this year could focus on what we can do ourselves,” she said.

READ MORE: Additional mitigation measures announced to ease disruptions on Deux-Montagnes and Mascouche train lines

A video of Bérubé’s comments was posted to the Mouvement /Rally Train Deux-Montagnes Facebook page.

Francis Millaire, a spokesperson for the group, wrote that the president’s words were “condescending” and show she is disconnected from the reality of train users.

“We now understand why the mitigation efforts are so poor,” he wrote, calling on her to resign.

As part of the REM construction, there is expected to be service disruptions to the Deux-Montagnes train line until at least 2023.

STM on damage control after reports that shuttle service for users of the Deux-Montagnes train line will be insufficient
STM on damage control after reports that shuttle service for users of the Deux-Montagnes train line will be insufficient

— With files from Global News’ Annabelle Olivier and the Canadian Press