Five Competing Métro Expansion Proposals

Updated: October 30, 2012

None of these are of my own design; judge for yourselves:

I found this one a while back, seems like an interesting idea. It incorporates three rapid-bus systems plus a Parc Avenue light rail system, with a considerably larger Métro system in general, though with considerable focus on the higher-density regions closer to the downtown core.

The following proposal for system improvement doesn’t involve any non-Métro systems, but has considerably more lines and stations. Also notice how all three airports are connected, and how the downtown would be connected by four parallel East-West lines and seems to indicate a type of network-sharing system where multiple lines would use the same track. Further, consider the number of junction stations:

I also like this proposal because it very clearly allows access to all four corners of the Metropolitan region. Keep it in mind Рthis system is nothing more than a dream, though its always encouraging to see random people envisioning their ideal M̩tro system. If only our elected officials would get the picture and pursue a more ambitious expansion program. Imagine what could be if we were building at a rate of 26 stations every 4 years. We did it without blinking between 1962 and 1966.

October 27th update:

Another find!

Looking at this plan I can’t help but remark on the similarities in the three designs, as it seems to have borrowed from each in addition to the current MTQ plan and elements of very early designs. Among other things, closing the Orange Line loop, extending further into Laval and Longueuil, following bridges and highways, extending the Blue Line East to Anjou, connecting Ile des Soeurs and additional East-West lines to cover the downtown and a Pie-IX line are all featured in these three designs. The first plan is highly reserved and realistic whereas the second is bold (though less accurate than the others), and the third seems constrained by the dimensions of a Métro map poster. That said – check out that Brown Line – it goes everywhere! What a great idea, a ‘sight-seer’ Métro line running from Brossard through the CBD and onto the airport.

I also like the idea, oft repeated, of having additional multi-line hubs East of Berri-UQAM, such as at the Olympic Stadium, and of course the second plan’s design to link all the airports with the urban core. What’s striking is that it doesn’t seem to me like any official plan would even consider the possibility of building entirely new lines and hubs; these plans are realistic given that by 2012-2013, the metropolitan population is going to reach 4 million, and the citizens will no longer be able to rely on their cars to get around the metropolitan region. Public transit will require a massive investment in order for large cities to remain operationally competitive, we just cannot afford the same carbon footprint in the future. Thus, it makes sense to begin a massive development project and wildly expand the Métro, as soon as possible. Any of these designs are feasible as long as we demand it, but we must demonstrate clearly and effectively that we will not stand for anything less than the world’s finest Métro system. It is our responsibility, it is our heritage and a credit to our high-tech industries, but it must be kept at a perpetual ‘state-of-the-art’ status if we’re to make any money off it. The citizens need better than what is currently provided and Métro development needs to become a principle priority for the Mayor. If we were as motivated to build a Métro system today as we were fifty years ago, we could attain total metropolitan coverage within forty years, maybe sooner. That kind of long term steady investment is exactly what we need to keep our economy stable and create real, insurable employment. Public works and infrastructure projects worked in the States with the New Deal, so there’s no reason why we can’t do the same basic thing today on a localized scale. Building a massive new Métro could be money in the bank.

Métro Extension proposal by Matthew MacLauchlin

A very interesting proposal. What I like most: far better commuter rail development is integrated into the project, with multiple AMT-SMT inter-modal stations, vital for traffic dispersion. Given Matthew’s vast and extensive knowledge of the Métro, his bears many of the planned extensions, something else I like – many of the abandoned extension plans were rather well conceived. The Métro and commuter rail network would permit connections to Trudeau and Mirabel, and Matt’s plan further incorporates many closed loops (though, surprisingly, not through Laval, a likely extension to close the Orange Line). I also like how the different lines would have branches in this plan – very unique, it’s as if the colour of the lines define certain geographic areas, corridors of sorts. The magenta line running under Boul. René-Lévesque is an interesting touch, as is the aquamarine line along the northern ridge of the city, something that would be beneficial given the high population density in that sector. It seems as though his plan would opt to either follow existing rail lines, incorporate the Mount Royal Tunnel into the Métro scheme, and further would seek to re-establish rail use at Viger or Dalhousie Station.

Métro expansion proposed by Fouineux

Another fascinating proposal – I’m so impressed with what people can come up with, seriously. This plan does not involve former expansion plans – as you can see, no extension into Longueuil or Laval or Anjou. Instead, multiple ‘scooping’ lines that funnel people onto the Orange and Green lines at multiple stations. I like how this plan features many more multi-line stations, including the proposed super station at McGill with four connections. The extension into the Cité du Multimedia and Griffintown is solid because the area is still oddly detached from the rest of the city. Further, I like how this magenta section would bring a second Métro station to Parc Jean-Drapeau (though I’d much prefer the station to be called Place des Nations rather than Casino) which may finally make the at times desolate park more integrated into the urban fabric.

A question came to mind while thinking about these expansion plans. How quickly could be build any of these expansions? If we wanted it done quickly, would we mandate that the entire expansion operation be conducted at three-shifts per day? How many thousands, if not tens of thousands of people are we willing to hire and for how long? Between 1962 and 1966 we built 26 stations. How much of any of these plans could be accomplished at a similar rate?

How high will gas prices have to rise before these plans are seriously considered? With systems like these (or any amalgam of these systems, in conjunction with commuter trains and buses etc.) we really wouldn’t have much use for cars in the city anymore. It just wont be practical. Further, with Métro expansion comes Réso expansion, and in turn the area defined as being ‘city’ or ‘urban’ increases. With more area coming under the envelope of the city’s high-intensity public transit network, land prices within that area increase as an extension of the added convenience of this heightened level of accessibility. I’m convinced that a better Métro system could be a valuable marketing tool when encouraging people to move back to the city.

13 thoughts on “Five Competing Métro Expansion Proposals”

  1. All great metro ideas, But this goes way over the budget and this could be accomplished in 2045.

  2. Taylor:


    Not only did we fuck up the last Olympiad, I am still hanging my head in shame over all the mess, the construction strike, the corruption, the lousy construction work ethic, the graft, and finally – an unfinished stadium which ended up costing over 5 times what it should have! An engineer with the RIO even went so far as to exclaim: “The Olympic Stadium is a monument to the incompetence of Quebec.” I’m sure that didn’t put him in good stead with other engineers! I’m also sure that because of all the brouhaha about the stadium some people are still loathe to go there, not the least of which is fear – i.e. will some part fall off and kill us while we’re there?

    Nonetheless, this is a forum about mass rapid transit in Montreal. I am a grandson of a streetcar conductor. In retrospect, it was indeed a big mistake to cover up all the streetcar tracks in Montreal. That said, Montreal is a large island and many people who work here live off island or far away from the downtown core. The only way to entice them to leave their cars at home is to bring rapid transit where they live. For those who must take bridges every day,the bottlenecks and ongoing bridge repair/construction is a nightmare. There has to be an alternative to commuting by car. I don’t see other forms of surface transportation (unless this would included dedicated bridges for buses or light rail) as a solution.

    So, expensive in the short, medium, and long term as it might be, I think the only real solution is metro expansion to major population areas on and off the island of Montreal.



  3. Exactly – we need a public transit that can easily bring an individual citizen to any part of the city, directly. If we can further assure that we bring life and social inter-connectivity to sectors of the city which are lacking, such as the Olympic Park, all the better.

    Besides which, an Olympic station would in effect join Viau and Pie-IX, which would be a truly Olympic-sized Métro station. If they ever go ahead with a surface tram line or a subway along the vitally important Pie-IX sector, I think we might be able to seriously entertain a major return to the Big O for all manner of entertainment and sporting events.

    And I want another crack at an Olympiad – we fucked up the first time, let’s learn from our mistakes and make our next one the greatest success the Games have ever seen.

  4. Taylor:

    Another thought crossed my mind. With the second design, although very expensive, is necessary, given tha the population density in Montreal is concentrated in many multi-family dwellings, flats in the main. In this sense, Montreal is not unlike New York. People living in such housing require mass transit to move around. Parking is becoming more and more scarce downtown so the onlh logical way around this is mass transit.

    Second point. In studing the second design further, I note that many lines cross the area of the Big Owe. Many Montrealers don’t like going there for sporting or other events (too far…). Having more metro lines leading there, including lines from the West Island, therefore, make a trip there less expensive, considering the drive, parking fees, and the nightmare of trying to exit the underground parking after an event.


  5. I really like this one.

    At a certain point population density in the current urban core is going to top-out. There won’t be any new land to develop and an outward expansion will begin in earnest. In effect, the idea of what urban will change for locals, and a massively expanded Métro system, such as design number two, will quickly open up the potential area for high-density development outside the urban core. Major junctions of outlying lines will be the first sites for new densification.

    Also, consider how much revenue a system like this one could bring in – there are three million people living within that design’s coverage area.

    When it comes to designing mass transit systems, bigger is always better, because I feel it naturally increases the area considered to be ‘within’ the city. That means land value rises, while pollution and negative environmental consequences of a highly mobile urban society can be mitigated by the provision of a eco-friendly and inherently efficient public transit system. It’s win-win regardless of initial cost, because once a comprehensive metropolitan system is operational, the quality of life begins to improve. All it requires is a long-term development strategy and public commitment.

  6. Taylor:

    Was the second picture of the Montreal metro expansion your own design or one that you found elsewhere? The caption in the bottom left-hand corner states Thomas J. I’m not sure that version 4 refers to the software used, or whether that desing was the 4th version, and that there are others. I will await your reply.



  7. Actually, I think the second metro map, while perhaps utopic, is a very good (and very expensive!) one. This essentially gives all the population centres, especially those furthest from the downtown core, ready access to mass transit. The frequency of trains in these areas could be adjusted to passenger movements over time. For students, this is even better as it provides them access to the metro to study at whatever institution they choose, univesity or Cegep. Good job!

  8. Here’s the problem as I see it.

    While getting rid of the tram system was a colossal mistake, you can’t increase population density on the Island of Montreal without a proper Metro.

    Ultimately, successful cities – and in particular, successful cities that have a relatively large and/or complex geography require multiple modes of public transit, operating on different schedules and accommodating different kinds of traffic. Thus, if I were mayor, I’d buy a new tram and extend the Metro, and then I’d compel CN and CP to re-invest in our train stations (I really like the inclusion of Gare Viger; I’d rehabilitate almost every closed train station in the city for the purposes of enhanced surface rail access) and then I’d try to get the AMT to build more commuter rail lines. My end goal would be to assure that the entire region of Montreal (i.e. 3.75 million people) would one day have access to a public transit system that could provide near ‘door-to-door’ service 24 hours a day, albeit across multiple modes. I can imagine a system that complex may ultimately be better operated by a single metropolitan transit authority for the entire region. At that point, so many people would be using it fares could be subsidized and advertising revenue would be astronomical.

    Excellent post, that’s the tram I’d love to see one day, or perhaps something close to it. I wouldn’t mind renovating the Palais des Congres so as to re-introduce the Craig Street Terminus – could you imagine how cool that would be!!?!

  9. Building the Métro itself was a mistake.

    There is not enough density to warrant an underground transit system, except in the downtown core.

    Montréal had a comprehensive streetcar system that was senselessly scrapped; what should have been done is a modernization of that system, along with running the lines in underground tunnels downtown.

    Most people would have had a transferless ride to their destination from downtown, and in case a line was disrupted, service could have been offloaded to a parallel line with much less adverse effect than when a Métro line is disabled.

    Here is what should have been done instead:

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