After four gruelling years of construction, the bus rapid transit (BRT) service on Montreal's Pie-IX Boulevard is finally ready and riders will get a chance to try it out starting Monday, Nov.7
The BRT will feature dedicated bus lanes along a 10-kilometre, north-south route.
There are 17 stops in Montreal and Laval. Two of those stops are in eastern Laval, with one on Saint-Martin Boulevard and the other on de la Concorde Boulevard. The other 15 are along Pie-IX Boulevard.
The project cost $472 million, according to the province, with most of that money coming from the Quebec government. The route is expected to serve about 70,000 people daily.
The regional transport authority (ARTM) expects the new service will cut the commute time along the boulevard by 30 per cent.
On Thursday, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said the new service not only helps the environment, it also levels the playing field for people in the city's east end whose transportation options are more limited.
"It was absolutely necessary for this project to see the light of day," said Plante, who was accompanied by several municipal, provincial and federal officials.
"It also contributes to social and economic development because a population that can move, that is mobile, it's really good....These are densely populated neighbourhoods."
The Pie-IX stops will serve four Montreal boroughs: Montréal-Nord, Saint-Léonard, Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie and Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.
Commuters will be able to use the route to reach the Pie-IX Station on the Metro's Green Line as well as the Saint-Michel–Montréal-Nord stop on the Exo commuter train that links Mascouche, Que., to downtown Montreal.
Although the project was completed within the four-year timeline that was presented in 2018, it was first put on the table in 2009 and ran into several delays.
Travelling between Laval and Montreal
The 439 bus line will be the main way to get up and down the BRT lanes.
It will travel to each stop in Montreal and Laval during weekday rush hours, heading southbound from Laval in the morning and going the opposite direction during the afternoon. The 439, however, will not stop in Laval outside of rush hour, on weekends and on holidays.
During those hours, Laval commuters will need to take a bus to reach the BRT's Montreal portion and then hop on the 439.
The 139 bus line, which is heavily used on and around Pie-IX boulevard, will have fewer daily trips as of Monday and be used primarily for shorter trips given that the 439 is expected to become the go-to bus line.
Ready to roll but work is still incomplete
When the BRT service begins on Monday, not every Montreal stop along the route will be available.
The stops on Jean-Talon and Bélanger streets won't be ready until the fall of next year due to work being done to build a pedestrian tunnel that will connect the BRT to a future Metro station that is part of the Blue Line extension.
Until then, the 439 bus will need to use a detour before on residential streets before getting back on the BRT's dedicated bus lanes and arriving at its other stops.
The reserved bus lane on the Pie-IX bridge, which links Montreal to Laval, is also expected to be ready in the fall of 2023.
The stop at the corner of Pie-IX and Pierre-de Coubertin Avenue — steps away from the Olympic Stadium — will be available but its bus shelter isn't built yet. That will get done some time in 2023.
Transport officials are also considering extending the BRT further south with stops on de Rouen Street, Ste-Catherine Street East and Notre-Dame Street.
For now, there is no timeline for that possible extension.