Pressure is mounting for the provincial and federal governments to improve mass transit to the West Island.
A Trudeau airport committee sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier François Legault, pleading their case for a REM extension that would link the VIA Rail train station in Dorval to Montreal Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport.
The proposed plan is to build a 700-metre tunnel running between Trudeau airport and the VIA Rail train station in Dorval.
The group says the extension is logical both for financial and environmental reasons.
“I think it’s a win, win, win, win,” said Joseph Huza, executive director of the West Island Chamber of Commerce.
Huza is one of several people who signed the letter. Others include Tourism Montreal, the Conseil du patronat du Québec and several academics.
The group believes fewer people would use their cars to get to the airport.
“And we also are looking to allow the biggest economic engine in the West Island bring in more people to fly elsewhere,” Huza added, referring to Trudeau airport.
The group joins a chorus of voices who have been pushing for the extension for months, including the mayors of Ville-Saint-Laurent and Dorval.
Dorval Mayor Edgar Rouleau says it’s urgent to act now.
“It does make sense; it’s a no-brainer,” Rouleau said.
Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau promised $2 million last year to conduct a feasibility study.
But Rouleau says he has no word on the study from Garneau’s office.
In an email to Global News, the transport minister’s director of communications, Amy Butcher, wrote that Garneau raised this matter with his Québec government counterpart, Minister François Bonnardel during their last meeting “as the study pertains to a project let by the Caisse de dépôts et placements du Québec.”
“These studies and analysis, as well as the conversations with our partners will inform our decision on this file,” Butch wrote.
However, when asked about the timeline of the study, Global News obtained no answer.
Both Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante and François Legault support the idea. But the issue is who will foot the bill.
On Wednesday, Legault reiterated he’s open to the project.
“We have to look at that, it’s not easy,” Legault said.
“Of course it has to do with the federal government and the rail company.”
Once completed, the 67-kilometre automated light rail network will include 27 stations and operate 20 hours a day, seven days a week.
It will link Montreal’s downtown to Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport as well as the areas north, south and west of the city.
— With files from Global’s Tim Sargeant and Felicia Parrillo