Why has there been so much foot dragging when it comes to the question of a dedicated rail service to the West Island? You know, something that runs longer than just the commuter hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.?
It seems so counter-intuitive that this has not been done years ago. Cities usually like to bring their suburbs closer. This helps their economy grow. But the way rail transportation from downtown out here to the West Island has been handled, you’d think that there was some kind of conspiracy against it. Now, I am not usually a conspiracy theorist, but let’s look at one possibility.
Right now you can buy a large detached four-bedroom house with a two-car garage surrounded by a nice yard full of flowers in a quiet neighbourhood in the West Island for the same price as a small downstairs flat in a semi-detached four-unit building in N.D.G. Plus, you will have to pay extra in N.D.G. for some kind of parking arrangement. You will get even less in Westmount or in the Plateau.
Why this discrepancy? It is because the commute from the West Island can be so punishing. Thanks to anti-car politics, all West Island commuters are squeezed through two orifices that are gridlocked from 7 to 9 in the morning and from 3 to 6 in the afternoon. We might as well live on the South Shore. Except, of course, that the South Shore is at least serviced by a subway that runs until 1 a.m.
So imagine if the West Island was also serviced by an all-hours métro or a dedicated light rail line? Would this not make our real estate much more attractive? And the dense, noisy, claustrophobic real estate closer to the centre of town that much less attractive?