Aéroports de Montréal’s (ADM) proposed shuttle train linking Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport with Montreal’s Gare Centrale has nabbed some key support in its battle with the Agence Métropolitain de Transport (AMT). On Thursday, the City of Montreal, the Montreal Metropolitan Board of Trade and the STM all came out in support of the project piloted by ADM head James Cherry, thus siding against the AMT’s preferred project of a broader train link serving both the airport and the West Island, and calling at a proposed new terminus situated adjacent to Windsor Station.
According to Montreal Mayor Gérard Tremblay, there is a “broad consensus” on the importance of Gare Centrale as the terminus for the new line, both due to its proximity to businesses and hotels, as well as its connection to the metro, suburban train lines, and the underground pedestrian network. Michel Leblanc, president of the Board of Trade, also stresses the location of Gare Centrale at the heart of the business district, and agrees with Mayor Tremblay that the ADM’s project would be completed in less time, be more profitable, and would attract more users than the AMT project. Similar arguments were made by the STM.
Tremblay’s “broad consensus” however would not seem to be broad enough. The Quebec government, through a spokesperson for Transport Minister Julie Boulet, hinted that any new train line must aim to expand service to the West Island, and not simply be a tourist train between the airport and downtown. While spokeswoman Jolyane Pronovost, the Minister’s press attaché, denied that this implied support for the AMT’s project, it would also seem to imply tepid feelings at best towards the ADM’s current proposal.
The AMT made a similar argument in response to the outpouring of support for the ADM project: “It’s not the AMT we’re letting down so much as the project of expanding public transit service to the West Island,” deplored Martin Rouette, a spokesperson for the agency.
Abandoning the AMT’s project would also put the revival of Windsor Station in great doubt. The iconic 19th century edifice, once a central component of Montreal’s train network, was to be a key aspect of the new AMT line, which sought to revive the building for use as a transport hub, welcoming Amtrak trains, buses to the South Shore, suburban commuter trains, and planned new tramways. Joel Gauthier, president of the AMT, has thus argued that it was to be every bit as central to Montreal’s transit network as Gare Centrale. What’s more, its location a mere two blocks west of Gare Centrale, says Gauthier, make it every bit as central to businesses and services.