Montreal’s REM: Revolutionizing urban transit in Quebec

Montrealers riding the REM from where they live to go to work and school. Photo by Isabella Belafi / The Concordian

The Réseau Express Métropolitain will connect urban and downtown areas across the city.

Transportation is at the forefront of most people’s worries nowadays, whether you take the metro, car or bus. Planning to get to a destination is always stressful. The Réseau Express Métropolitain (REM) network is expected to be completely operational by 2027, revolutionizing Montreal’s transportation system by connecting the suburbs to the city’s bus and metro network. People traveling from suburban areas will find it much easier to access downtown areas. 

According to Statistics Canada, just over 80 per cent of Canadians live in the suburbs and must venture to the city every day for school or work. According to REM info, it’s expected to accommodate 42,120 riders during rush hours. Some commuters have already felt the difference in their commute time.

Giuliana Iacano, 20, resident of Sainte-Dorothée, Laval, studies at John Abbott College in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue. She is looking forward to the REM’s arrival in her neighbourhood. 

Iacano’s current commute takes nearly an hour, as there are no convenient transit routes from Laval to the West Island. “I am eager to ride the train to school next year because I currently spend $100 a week on gas. As a full-time student, the cost of gas takes a significant portion of my earnings,” Iacano said.  

Montreal is known for having a well-connected transport system, though many claim it isn’t perfect. In addition to the REM, the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) bus and metro system connects most of Montreal and is cost efficient. A monthly Opus card fare is $58 for students and $97 for the regular fare for commuters who remain within Montreal.

The bus routes usually pass every 10 to 20 minutes during peak hours and 15 to 30 minutes regularly. The metro usually arrives every two to five minutes during peak hours and five to 10 off peak. It is overall an efficient system, but may have some drawbacks, oftentimes experiencing delays that are unreliable and irritating for people on a tight schedule. 

The REM is a self-automated electric rapid transit system that will allow Montreal to be even more interconnected and accessible, as it will connect three existing metro lines: blue, green and orange. The system will also bring Montrealers to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport, the South Shore and the West Island.

The REM will be operational for 20 hours each day. Trains will arrive every two and a half to five minutes during rush hour, and every five to seven minutes during non-peak times. 

The main line that is currently open goes to Brossard, Verdun, Le Sud-Ouest and Ville Marie. In 2024, the main line will extend to Côte-des-Neiges, Mount Royal and Saint Laurent. 

Two other branches will open in 2024: Deux Montagnes and Anse-à-l’Orme. The Deux Montagnes branch will have stations in Pierrefonds, Laval and Deux Montagnes. The Anse-à-l’Orme branch will have stations in Pointe-Claire, Kirkland and Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue.

Ashley Sakaitis, 22, a resident of Brossard, has started taking the REM since its opening on July 28. She gets on at the Brossard station and off at Gare Centrale before hopping on the metro. Sakaitis’ commute takes around 30 minutes.

“I enjoy it so far because it’s smooth, quiet, and clean,” Sakaitis said. “I frequently stand up because I can’t tell how fast we’re moving. I’ve also used the REM at night to attend the Bell Center hockey games. It’s an extremely convenient 10-minute commute.” 

Jaimie Litwin, 21, resident of Pointe-Claire, takes the metro to Concordia every day. Since the West Island does not have any metro stations, Litwin gets dropped off at Fairview, rides the bus to Côte-Vertu, and then catches the metro from there. She said the commute takes over an hour and often experiences delays. 

“If there’s a delay in the bus or metro, I’m usually late for class,” Litwin said. “I’m looking forward to the REM because it will have a station nearby and a simpler transit route.”

When the REM opens, Litwin will get dropped off at Fairview. She will ride the REM from Fairview to Gare Centrale. From there she will take the connected metro Bonaventure for a short ride to Guy-Concordia. The commute will take approximately 30 minutes.

The REM network system is expected to save many headaches as the car drives from suburban to downtown areas during the morning and afternoon rush often takes over an hour.

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