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For West Islanders, Montreal’s festival season can be tough to get to

POINTE-CLAIRE – Andre Gordon estimates she’s only been to the Montreal Jazz Festival once – and that was at least 10 years ago. Although much of the festival is outdoors and free, she says her primary obstacle is the commuter train schedule.

“It’s frustrating when transit stops at a certain time. If you want to go out and enjoy your evening, it makes it a challenge,” she said.

The AMT trains serving the West Island are timed to serve commuters going to and from work.

The service is not timed for anyone wanting to go dancing into the wee hours of the evening, or pub crawl through the downtown core, a facet of suburban life that highlights the divide between Montreal and municipalities in the West Island.

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Urban planner Robert Libman suggested that area transit agencies should invest in expanding their hours.

“Put more buses on the road, stay during the weekly rush hour schedules, so that people could prefer to take public transit to get downtown to these festivals,” he said.

Mark Przybylowski is a bank manager in Westmount. In part, he notes, he’s lucky because he often has weekdays off to go into the city and can take advantage of the commuter schedule. But on weekends it’s much more difficult.

“I was on Mont Royal doing an activity for my work, and I was at the mercy of the train,” he said from an AMT station in Pointe-Claire. “I had to end up taking a car.”

The agency that handles the metro and buses, the STM, contends they offer public transit between the West Island and downtown Montreal.

“People can use public transit and it is a viable alternative,” said Marvin Rotrand, the agency’s vice president.

“The STM runs a number of express bus services from the West Island to downtown or to the Cote Vertu metro.”

But West Islanders counter those are hardly convenient routes.

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“As cities become more far flung, it becomes more complicated.”

“You can’t just hop on a metro and head straight downtown,” said Dorval resident Amber Stephen.

This issue of suburban transport occurs all over North America, but Montreal, known for it’s extraordinary festival season, is unique.

“As cities become more far flung, it becomes more complicated,” said Libman. “It poses challenges to the cities, poses challenges to the infrastructure.”

What do you think? Should there be better transportation to the West Island – or does Montreal need to bring some of its festivals to the West Island? Let us know in the comments below. 

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