13 years and $520 million later, Pie-IX bus rapid service inaugurated
The STM inaugurated with great fanfare on Thursday the fast bus service (SRB) Pie-IX, announced for more than a decade, but a major construction site will force its buses to make a detour for another year.
• Read also: Another public transport project, the extension of the Pie-IX SRB, put on hold
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As of Monday, public transit users will be able to use the brand new infrastructure, which will be gradually put into service. This new bus service will run from Saint-Martin Boulevard in Laval to Pierre-De Coubertin Avenue in Montreal.
Buses will pass in 4 to 10 minute intervals, a higher frequency of 40% on weekdays and 50% on weekends. For users, the time saving would be 30%. For a user traveling between Henri-Bourassa and the Pie-IX metro, the travel time would thus decrease by 10 to 15 minutes out of the 40 minutes that the trip previously took.
According to estimates by the Société de transport de Montréal (STM), up to 70,000 people will eventually use the SRB line every day. Currently, an average of 20,000 people per day use one of the bus lines that run along Pie-IX Boulevard.
According to the STM, the new infrastructure will allow buses to travel more quickly, thanks to the central reserved lanes and intelligent signage.
“We will avoid the intercalation: the buses which collect in tapon on Pie-IX, now this phenomenon will be reduced. It’s a quick connection,” assured Éric Alan Caldwell, Chairman of the STM Board of Directors.
Work still in progress
Work that is still underway at the intersection of boulevard Pie-IX and rue Jean-Talon, as part of the extension of the blue line, will however force buses to make a detour to neighboring streets.
For now, both arteries remain closed to traffic. A situation that should continue until the fall of 2023.
Fourteen of the 17 planned stations will be ready on Monday. Those located at the intersections of Jean-Talon and Bélanger will have to wait for the end of the work and the detours.
Further south, although there are buses, the station located on avenue Pierre-De Coubertin has not yet been developed either, due to a possible construction site at the Pie-IX metro station.
“These are works that remain to be done. The stop is available, people will be able to use it, but the comfort we have elsewhere will not be available until the work is finished,” explained Marc Dionne, senior director of the SRB Pie-IX project.
Other work is also continuing on the Pie-IX bridge, which buses must cross to get to the Saint-Martin incentive parking lot in Laval. However, this project will not cause detours.
A long project
The SRB Pie-IX project was initially announced in 2009 by Mayor Gérald Tremblay, at a cost then estimated at $154 million. In 2015, teams were mobilized to do the engineering for the project. It was not until nearly 10 years later, in 2018, that work began.
The project ultimately cost a total of $523 million. Of this number, $393 million was financed by the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM) with a contribution from the Ministère des Transports. The City of Montreal for its part disbursed 130 million.
According to the STM and the ARTM, however, the project was completed on time and within budget.
“Many years of planning. In 2018, the project scope and budget were confirmed. This budget and the deadlines defined at that time, when we entered the implementation phase, have been met,” said Mr. Caldwell, Chairman of the STM Board of Directors.
A long overdue extension
A phase two of the SRB Pie-IX project, announced in 2019, provided for an extension southward to Notre-Dame Street to serve the Hochelaga sector.
Last Friday, however, our Bureau of Investigation revealed that this part was put on hold, due to higher than expected costs.
“There is a call for tenders which was published last summer. The result was unsatisfactory for our team, so the tender was cancelled. We went back to analysis to try to reduce costs. We will be able to make an announcement when we have completed this analysis, ”said Mr. Dionne, who also assured that the project was not canceled.