Photo: Jacques Boissinot Archives The Canadian Press The Quebec Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault, is in contact with the REM and ARTM teams to ensure that measures are taken to remedy the situation.
January 29, 2024
In the wake of the repeated service shutdowns that occurred last week and the confusion surrounding communications with users, Quebec judges that the Réseau express métropolitain (REM) service must improve.
“To cause a modal shift, our public transport networks must work. […] The problems encountered over the past six months must be taken seriously and we must ensure that users are well informed. It is imperative that the system improves,” indicated the office of the Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility, Geneviève Guilbault, on Monday.
Minister Guilbault, it was specified, is in contact with the teams of the REM and the Regional Metropolitan Transport Authority (ARTM) to ensure that measures are taken to recover the situation.
Over the past week, the REM has experienced four service interruptions, including a major breakdown last Wednesday during rush hour. Users reported to the Devoirof their great frustration, denouncing the too frequent breakdowns, but also the mess in communications and bus service.
In an interview with Radio-Canada, the president and CEO of CDPQ Infra, Jean-Marc Arbaud, admitted that the month of January had been difficult and that the service interruptions were too long, but that it was a “bad combination of circumstances”. “We had four problems in four days. This in no way excuses the situation. We are fully aware of the inconvenience this causes to users,” he said. “Our suppliers, AtkinsRéalis and Alstom, know very well that they must quickly provide solutions to various problems. »
Jean-Marc Arbaud also believes that the succession plan, which is the responsibility of the ARTM, will have to improve. “That doesn’t take away from the fact that, to me, it’s not acceptable. […] Long outages like that should be close to zero. We shouldn't have any. That’s all,” he explained, while asserting that the effectiveness rate of REM remained high.
“The anger and frustration of users are completely legitimate,” says Sarah V. Doyon, general director of Trajectoire Québec.
Last December, REM managers promised to improve communication with users in order to guide them during breakdowns. “We’re at the end of January and it’s still chaotic. We direct users to the wrong place, we inform them poorly. This is absolutely unacceptable to me. Communication problems must be resolved immediately,” says Doyon. Broadcasting messages in the Montreal metro network would be a good start, because it would prevent users from having to go to Central Station unnecessarily, she adds.
Ms. Doyon believes that the buses and the reserved lane on the Samuel-De Champlain Bridge should be put back into service during the REM's running-in period. CDPQ Infra should also consider compensation for users forced to take taxis during prolonged outages, she said.
Axel Fournier, spokesperson for the Association for collective transport of the South Shore, also judges that it would be legitimate to reestablish a bus service on the bridge, at least as long as the station in Griffintown is not built.
According to him, it is ridiculous to direct users to Longueuil station during breakdowns during rush hours. He suggests that the Mont-Saint-Hilaire train line be used. Passengers could get off at Saint-Lambert station. “This station is much closer to Brossard than Longueuil station is. And there is already a bus service. »
The ARTM indicates that it is working with its partners to improve the succession plan, but maintains that from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., the shuttles from Longueuil station are there for good.