Downtown Montreal company sets up satellite offices in West Island, Laval due to REM construction

Click to play video: 'Downtown Montreal company helps employees navigate REM construction'
Downtown Montreal company helps employees navigate REM construction
WATCH: Financial consulting firm Richter is making a move to help its employees struggling with a potentially long commute due to the closure of the Mount Royal Tunnel. Global's Dan Spector explains. – Feb 6, 2020

With the full closure of the Mount Royal Tunnel for REM construction just a few months away, many are still trying to figure out the best way navigate much longer commutes to the city.

To help its employees, a downtown Montreal company has decided to set up two satellite offices in the suburbs.

Vyshak Sukumaran lives in Pierrefonds and works at Richter, a financial consulting firm on McGill College. He often takes the train to the office starting from the Roxboro-Pierrefonds train station.

“It’s about 50 minutes to an hour from house to work,” he said.

As of March 30, though, it will no longer be possible for him to take the train. The Mount Royal Tunnel will be totally closed on that date, as construction on the REM ramps up.

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Whether it’s taking the bus and metro or driving, Sukumaran figured his commute could become twice as long.

“It’s put me I guess in a stressful position, knowing a lot of time would be in my commute now,” he said.

READ MORE: North Shore companies offer employment closer to home for Deux-Montagnes train commuters

People have considered changing jobs or even selling their houses just so they don’t have to spend countless extra hours getting to work.

“We live in DDO, but won’t be able to get to our jobs downtown, so we’re moving to Cote Saint-Luc,” commuter train user Robin Fagen told Global News last year.

However, Sukumaran will soon be able to do his job just minutes from his West Island home. Because of REM construction, his employer has decided to open two new fully-equipped satellite offices.

“We have an office in Pointe-Claire and there’s going to be one in Laval, as well,” explained Tanya Greenidge, a partner at Richter.

Click to play video: 'More commuters consider teleworking as REM construction ramps up'
More commuters consider teleworking as REM construction ramps up

Through internal polling, Richter realized more than 100 of their employees, many of whom live in the West Island, would be hindered by longer travel times.

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“Thirty per cent of our Montreal team members were going to be impacted, because they drove in from those areas or they were taking those train lines into the office,” Greenidge explained.

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

Satellite offices are one of the mitigation measures officials have been proposing. To Richter, it made financial sense.

“When we look and compare it to the cost of re-hiring, re-training, on-boarding new team members, this was the one that worked for us,” she said.

Sarah Bigras, a spokesperson for Transport Minister Francois Bonnardel, said, “We are happy to see large employers collaborating to reduce travel.”

Sukumaran said he will be able to spend more time with friends and family, and worry less about commuting.

West Island Chamber of Commerce president Joseph Huza told Global News he salutes Richter’s initiative and invites other companies to set up satellite or permanent offices in the West Island to be more efficient during REM construction.

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